Notes on the word AZOTH

I’ve gotten the crafting bug again, which is both a good and bad thing.  It’s good because, honestly, making pretty shit to be used in the Art and Work is kinda awesome, not to mention it gives me a physical reminder of how far I’ve come and what it is I’m trying to do.  That said, it’s also nerve-wracking, because some of these supplies are rare or expensive, and I sometimes only get one chance to get them done right.  I have such a project coming up soon: an ebony wand based on the wand from Trithemius’ Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals.  A good and exceptionally generous friend of mine gave me an ebony dowel perfectly cut to the length of my forearm (elbow to middle finger), which I plan on engraving with the requisite names and symbols from Trithemius plus those of the wand from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 8).  Overall, the design will look like this:

Ebony Wand Design

Engrave that into a very expensive and rare gaboon ebony dowel with a friend’s flexishaft, inlay the engravings with gesso and 24k gold leaf, mixing the sizing oil with holy oil set atop the tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and capping the ends with bronze and, who knows, maybe setting a quartz point on one end.  Simple project, right?  (I already want it to be over.)

I’m breaking from the Trithemius instructions in that I’m adding the symbols from the Key of Solomon to the wand and using Hebrew instead of Latin script for the names of God, but I’m also making another change.  The Trithemius wand is to have “AGLA + ON + TETRAGRAMMATON” on one side, and “EGO ALPHA ET OMEGA” on the other.  Instead, I’m using the magical word “AZOTH” in place of that last phrase, because…well, I hate that phrase.  I find it tacky to use Latin with Greek like this, and I think there are better ways to say the same thing.  Besides, I don’t think this phrase is essential to the wand, either; my first wand (which I currently still use) omits it entirely, and I’ve used the word “AZOTH” on similar projects before.  AZOTH is a funny word, because it’s the only time I’ll ever willingly mix up scripts like this: Phoenician, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew:
Word of AZOTH
What does it all mean, dear reader?  Let me explain the letters themselves:

  1. ‘Alp, the first letter of the Phoenician script, which was used by traders across the Mediterranean and which was adopted by various tribes and cultures all over the Mediterranean world.  Over time, these adopted scripts were customized and developed in their own ways and became a variety of other scripts, including (but by no means limited to) the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew scripts; this letter became the Latin letter ay, Greek alpha, and Hebrew aleph.  Phonetically represents the glottal stop, but eventually became a placeholder for a vowel or a vowel in its own right for various front-mid and mid-low vowels.  Has its origins in the Proto-Canaanite script derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs for ox.  Numerological symbolism of one and Unity, and stoicheic associations with Air and the Moon.
  2. Zee (or Zed, if you’re from the Commonwealth), the final letter of the Latin script.  Has its origins in the Phoenician letter zayin, meaning weapon, by way of Greek zeta.  Was not originally a Latin letter, but was included in the Latin script to write Greek words when a “s” wouldn’t cut it; because of its late appearance and limited use, zee was appended to the end of the Latin alphabet and seen as a generally worthless letter.  Generally represents the voiced sibilant; due to the Latin method of using Roman numerals, zee has no native numerological significance, though modern occultists have attributed it large or final numbers.  In addition to referring to the least or most worthless, zee also indicates finality or totality right down to the most minute or oft-overlooked detail.  Stoicheically associated with Taurus, via Greek, but Cornelius Agrippa assigns zee to Fire; however, since stoicheia was not traditionally done for the Latin script, such correspondences are on shaky ground, though Taurus indicating Earth is the stronger of the two.
  3. Omega, the final letter of the Greek script.  Unique among these letters, omega has no direct relationship with any of the Phoenician letters, having derived from an alternate form of omicron, itself derived from `ayin, meaning “eye”; although the ancient Greek name for this letter was merely ō, it was renamed in Byzantine times to omega meaning “big o” (as opposed to omicron, “little o”).  Traditionally it had the phonetic value of the long open-mid back vowel, but is now pronounced like any other o in Greek.  Numerologically it signifies 800, but also “the last” or “the ultimate”; there was originally sampi used for a value of 900, but this ceased being used as an actual letter for writing Greek early on.  Stoicheically associated with Saturn, and thus any sort of final, ultimate boundary.
  4. Tav, the final letter of the Hebrew script.  A development of the older Phoenician letter with the same name with the form of a cross, meaning a mark, wound, engraving, or cross, it originally had a phonetic value of the voiceless dental stop, what we would call “t”; some dialects of Hebrew use “s”, and in some foreign words it can take on a theta-like sound.  Numerologically, it signifies 400 (the most of any non-specifically-final-form letter), but again with the sense of finality and being rounded-out.  Associated with Saturn in Qabbalah, especially given its associations with the Tarot trump “The World”; these give it similar associations to omega above.

Overall, the word “AZOTH” indicates a totality, a wholeness consisting of a single, unified, unitary, primordial Source of all things, which through transformation and evolution becomes all begotten, made, transitory, and created Manifestations.  In other words, it’s more than just saying “I am the First and the Last”; it’s saying “I am the One and the All”, and “I am the Source and the Creation”.  It represents all of manifested reality that we see Down Here, down from every minor and minuscule speck of dust (zee) to the greatest and most distant of celestial objects (omega) and everything in between crossing the cosmos and universe (tav).  It similarly represents that no matter how different things may seem or appear, everything comes from the self-same One Thing (‘alp), Kether, the Ain Soph Aur, Divinity.

Using a bit of questionable gematria, AZOTH can be given the value 1201: 1 from ‘alp, 800 from omega, 400 from tav, and 0 from zee (since numerology wasn’t traditionally done for Latin letters, and since zee was always seen as worthless or nothing anyway).  This number, although not related to any Greek or Hebrew word I can find with the same value, can also be read as 100 × 12 + 1.  100 = 10², the perfect number multiplied against itself, indicating a multiplicity of perfection and harmony in all directions across the cosmos.  12 is the number of signs in the Zodiac, indicating the primary step in an idea first separating from Kether to the rest of the Tree by means of the sphere of the fixed stars, where the Idea becomes ideated, the Thought is thought.  Thus, 1200 can indicate perfection in every thought, abundance of holiness in every idea, and also that the entire cosmos is reflected in toto in all other parts of the cosmos.  That extra one that makes the number 1201 indicates the Divine Unity that began all this, at once immanent yet transcendent, part of the number yet sticking out.  Using the Zodiac image from before, we have 1200 around the sky forming a complete circle, and a single One in the middle around which all the 1200 revolve and derive their power from.  In other words, All comes from the Source, yet the Source is present in All, just as all light in the solar system comes from the Sun (circle with a point in the middle), or all Light from the Son (God with the earth below, heavens above, and hung on the Cross between them: Alpha, Zee, Omega, Tav).

This word also has very important alchemical meanings, too: similar to the Philosopher’s Stone, azoth is said to be the end goal and purpose of alchemy and the Great Work, a Universal Solvent, an Elixir of Life, the Panacea, and so forth.  Basically, it is pure Mercury, the pure spiritual essence of life and creation, present both within and without all things, the First Substance, transcendent yet immanent in all of the cosmos, universe, and world.  And, fittingly enough, it often takes the caduceus as its symbol.  I’ve even given the word AZOTH its own fitting talismanic design using a hexagram, the Star of Azoth, to be used to represent all the essences both before being split and after being rejoined, pure quintessence and all essences combined.  (Please excuse the use of the Hebrew aleph there, dear reader, for I lack a readily available Phoenician font.)

Star of Azoth

An Attunement Ritual

As part of my Q.D.Sh. ritual, I suggest a stage where one performs a kind of tuning, a sort of sync between oneself and the forces of the cosmos.  There are lots of different ways one can do this, and I show a real quick and dirty way in the above ritual.  The basic point of the ritual is to center the body, soul, spirit, and mind as well as to get one synched up with the energies one interacts with.  It’s not part of the basic grounding-centering-banishing-shielding framework a lot of magic lite practitioners do, but it’s something recommended to do all the same.  Energy cycling, balancing, charging, and other terms suffice for this kind of working.

One such ritual I’ve been using is Jason Miller’s “Pillar and Spheres” ritual, but I had some issues with the technique that simply weren’t working for me.  After some experimentation, I decided on the following ritual, with which I get some better oomph from.  It’s based on the seven vowels of Greek and the five complex letters theta, xi, phi, khi, and psi, each of which has attributions to the seven planets and five elements (four classical elements plus azoth/spirit/quintessence).  It’s kept the Pillar from Miller’s ritual, but incorporates a kind of plane-based element tuning as well as the Heptagram Ritual, a planetary attunement ritual that has its roots in the PGM.

  1. Banish and center if desired, and make three deep breaths, each time making repeated Ψ sounds (like making popping sounds, “pss pss pss pss pss pss”) with your whole breath.  Stand up straight, feet shoulder-width apart, and shoulders back.
  2. With your arms slightly extended with palms facing upward, picture a bright white light in the heavens.  Breathe in, intone the phrase “DESCENDAT COLUMBA” (“the dove descends”) or “ΙΑΩ” (“EE-AH-OUGH”); breathe out, and visualize a beam of pure white light descend through the crown of the head, down the spine, and out through the base of the spine.  Breathe for a few counts as desired, letting the light fill your body with a purifying, ennobling energy.  Feel your body move upwards into the heavens as the light passes through you downwards.
  3. With your palms facing downward, picture a bright red light in the depths of the earth beneath you.  Breathe in, intone the phrase “ASCENDAT SERPENS” (“the snake ascends”) or “ΩΑΙ” (“OUGH-AH-EE”); breathe out, and visualize a beam of fiery red light pass upward through the base of the spine, up the back, and through the crown of the head.  Breathe for a few counts as desired, letting the light fill your body with an empowering, strengthening energy.  Feel your body move downward into the earth as the light passes through you upwards.
  4. With the right arm raised and the left lowered, feel both shafts of light mingle and mix within the body, filling the entire body and all its parts with a mixture of red and white light, purifying and empowering all at once.  Breathe for a few counts as desired.
  5. Extend both your arms out and downward.  Breathe in a dark brown to black, heavy, cool, compressing energy.  Exhale and exclaim ΘΙΑΩΘ (like you’re spitting out a “tah” sound, followed by “EE-AH-OUGH”, followed by “tah”) with your whole breath, letting the energy form a solid plane of earth underneath you.
  6. Raise your left hand and keep your right hand lowered.  Inhale a fluid, cool, wet, pressuring energy.  Exhale and exclaim ΞΙΑΩΞ (like you’re hissing out “kssss”) with your whole breath, letting the water drain out to form an ocean at your waist.
  7. Raise both your right and left hands.  Inhale a bright yellow, fast, buzzing, light, moist, and warm energy.  Exhale and exclaim ΦΙΑΩΦ (like you’re gently breathing out a “pah” sound) with your whole breath, letting the air rush out and forming a sky and clouds and wind around you from the waist up.
  8. Lower your left hand and keep the right hand upheld.  Inhale a red, hot, active, expansive, and parching energy that rises upward.  Exhale and exclaim ΧΙΑΩΧ (like you’re coughing out a “kah” sound) with your whole breath, letting the fire rise up and fill the sky above you.
  9. Stretch your arms out to your sides.  Inhale in a pure, white, clear light.  Exhale and exclaim ΨΙΑΩΨ with your whole breath, letting the light fill all the space and elements around you.
  10. Stretch out both your arms to the left.  Inhale and intone Α (“AH”) for one beat.  This could be a heartbeat, a second, or whatever, but note the length.  Visualize a dark purple light.
  11. Face north.  Put out your right fist, lowering your left hand.  Inhale and intone Ε (“EH”) for two beats.  Visualize a bright orange light.
  12. Face west.  Extend both your arms, palms outward.  Inhale and intone Η (“EYY”) for three beats.  Visualize a vibrant green light.
  13. Face south.  Place both your hands on your belly.  Inhale and intone Ι (“EE”) for four beats.  Visualize a golden shining light.
  14. Face downward.  Bend down and touch your toes.  Inhale and intone Ο (“OHH”) for five beats.  Visualize a fiery red light.
  15. Look up towards the middle distance and relax your eyes.  Put your right hand over your heart, lowering your left hand.  Inhale and intone Υ (“OO” or German “Ü”) for six beats.  Visualize a rich blue light.
  16. Look up towards the sky.  Put both your hands on top of your head.  Inhale and intone Ω (“AUGH”) for seven beats. Visualize a pitch black light.
  17. Face east again and raise your hands as far up as they can go.  Intone ΑΕΗΙΟΥΩ, seeing the seven colors around you in all directions.  Intone ΙΑΩ ΑΩΙ ΩΙΑ ΑΙΩ ΙΩΑ ΩΑΙ as you slowly lower your hands straight down, feeling the forces of the pillar, elements, and planets around and within you.  Intone ΩΥΟΙΗΕΑ, again seeing the seven colors.
  18. Inhale deeply, press both hands over your sternum in a covered fist, and seeing all the forces around you shine vibrantly.  Inhale deeply again, breathing in all the forces into your inner being.
  19. Extend both your arms outwards, right hand lifted up and left hand lowered, and intone ΙΑΩ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ (“EE-AH-OUGH SAH-BAH-OHT”).  Feel the vibrations conquer, master, and rule over all the cosmic, celestial, and elemental forces within you.
  20. Go forth and be powerful.

It being a Monday and I was distracted by a Mercury timing this morning as well as the last dregs of a hangover from the weekend, I forgot to do my morning attunement.  To make up for that, I’ll be doing it later, and figured to share this with the world just in case someone wants yet another method of working with forces in a Hermetic cosmology.

A Circle of Art

Almost every magician likes circles.  It’s not really our fault; they’ve been used since before written records of magic for protection, isolation, containment, or just simply marking a boundary of working space in a magic ritual.  They’re important, of course, but sometimes magicians can go overboard with them (see the Clavicula Solomonis, Trithemius rite, Munich Manual, or the Heptameron).  It’s even gotten to the point where there are whole networks of artists in the video game, anime, DeviantArt or other communities who specialize in elaborate and intricately detailed magic circles.  They are pretty cool-looking, admittedly, but we have to keep in mind that the circle is still a tool used for protection and containment of a consecrated space.

For all the hype, magic circles don’t need to be that complex.  A simple ring around yourself, drawn in the dirt or carpet or sprinkled around with salt, will suffice for most intents and purposes.  PGM or classical styles of Hermetic magic may use a few voces magicae (Ablanathanalba, Sesengenbarpharanges, Lerthexanax, etc.) and maybe a cross in the center.  Wiccans might use a ring of candles, pinecones, or rope.  Goetic magicians, especially those of the Lemegeton persuasion, might go full-out with the complete Solomonic circle.  The effect could be stronger to include all those geometric designs and names of God, but the effect is the same at its core.  Such a complex circle, though, might be preferred for permanent working spaces or for carpets/rugs/platforms that can be transported from place to place.

Well, I want a circle of my own.  I don’t have the space for a full 9′ Solomonic circle, and I keep getting images from dreams or my astral temple of something simpler, anyway.  After some doodling, thinking, and research, and struggling to keep this a clean design, I’ve come up with the following Circle of Art.

The construction of the circle is as follows: make two circles, one in the other.  In the ring between the circles, write the godnames Agla towards the east, Adonai towards the south, Eheieh towards the west, and Eloah towards the north.  These names of God represent the four elements in their quarters according to Agrippa, and I got them from Frater Osiris’ New Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, a revised version of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram that updates or cleans up some of the possible inconsistencies in its format (though I kept the older Agrippa-style elemental and directional attributions that I use for my altar and other work).

  • Agla (אגלא), a contraction of Ateh Gibor Le-Olam Amen, is associated with Fire through the word Gibor, part of the godname of Mars and Geburah, Elohim Gibor.
  • Adonai (אדני) is associated with the Earth through the godname of Malkuth, Adonai ha-Aretz.
  • Eheieh (אהיה) is associated with Air since it is entirely breathed out without any hard or soft consonants, and also since it is associated with pure spirit through connection with the sephirah Kether.
  • Eloah (אלוה) is associated with Water by its first two letters El (אל) which is the godname of Jupiter and Chesed which, although airy, is made passive by its last two letters of the word which it shares with the passive letters of the Tetragrammaton.

In this scheme, all the names of God on the outer circle have four letters and begin with the letter aleph (א), showing a harmony between them that links all the elements and directions together in a kind of spacial and spiritual unity.  It helps to omit the use of the Tetragrammaton here, especially since use of the Tetragrammaton should (but hardly ever is) be used sparingly (never, as my orthodox Jewish brother would say), and since the Tetragrammaton already comprises all four elements.  Plus, these godnames link up to the four sephiroth used in the Qabbalistic Cross, lending both an elemental/microcosmic and planetary/macrocosmic power to this part of the circle design.  Major major props to Fr. Osiris for being so ingenious with this.

On the inside of the circle, there’s a diamond for the magician to stand, with a cross inside with a letter of the Tetragrammaton on each end of the cross.  The corners of the diamond, the cross, and letters of the Tetragrammaton are aligned towards their proper directions and elements (yod for east and Fire, one Heh for south and Earth, the vav for west and Air, and the other Heh for north and Water).  The inner ring can be considered the boundaries of the celestial world, and the diamond the boundaries of the terrestrial world.  Outside the diamond and aligned with each of the four directions are four hexagrams, which are known to have a protective or banishing quality against harmful energies.  However, unlike the Solomonic style of hexagrams that have the letters of the word ADONAI written around it and the Greek Tau cross in the middle, I came up with my own design, a figure I call the Star of Azoth.

The Star of Azoth is a hexagram or Star of David with the letters composing the word “Azoth” in it.  This is a very powerful word, coming from alchemy to refer to the essential spirit of all things, the supreme reason, and the action that determines all things in all realms.  Further, it can be formed from four letters of the three big scripts used in Western occultism:

  • A from aleph (א), alpha, or ay, the first letter of all Phoenician-derived scripts
  • Z from zed, the last letter of the Roman script
  • O from omega (Ω), the last letter of the Greek script
  • Th from tav (ת), the last letter of the Hebrew script

In this way, you have the beginning of everything and the end of all things combined into a single unit Azoth (אZΩת).  It’s got a similar meaning, in this way, to the phrase “[EGO] ALPHA ET OMEGA”, but that phrase really bothers me.  I mean, the names of Greek letters spelled out in Latin?  Really?  How gauche.  Besides, I’ve used the same word on my fancy magical cane before, and I rather like this construction over the Alpha et Omega construction.

Anyway, the Star of Azoth combines the letters of the word in a hexagram, using aleph as the center of the star and the other letters outside, with each triangle holding the other three letters.  The same letter shares the same axis, giving the star rotational symmetry.  Using the hexagram as an image of the seven planets, as in the following image,

we can associate planets that share the same progression of Z-Ω-ת, the same letter, or the same triangle:

  • Saturn, Mars, and Mercury share one progression of letters, starting at the top Z and going counterclockwise. These planets are all on the Pillar of Severity on the Qabbalah, and all show cold, logical, or harsh qualities.
  • The Moon, Venus, and Jupiter share the other progression, starting counterclockwise from the bottom Z.  Jupiter and Venus are both on the Pillar of Mercy, though the Moon is on the Pillar of Balance.  However, these planets all share generative, kind, and generous qualities.
  • Saturn, Mercury, and Venus share the upwards-pointing triangle, indicating the ascent to the Almighty through the cosmic boundaries (Saturn) through the use of magic and spirituality (Mercury and Venus).
  • Mars, Jupiter, and the Moon share the downwards-pointing triangle, indicating the descent of spirit into the physical world, with Jupiter and Mars determining the quality and quantity of spirit allowed and the Moon giving birth into the physical world as the lowest part of the heavens.
  • Moon and Saturn share the letter Z, which reveals their natures showing boundaries (Saturn as the boundary between the celestial and the divine, the Moon as the boundary between the celestial and the terrestrial) as well as their feminine and generative nature (Saturn being associated with Binah, the black Mother and God as Female, and the Moon representing the fertility of mother goddesses and generation through the feminine cycles).
  • Mars and Venus share the letter Ω, and these too are associated with being the masculine and feminine poles of energies and forces.  They both represent kinds of nonlogical drives, that of force and action by Mars and that of emotion and reaction by Venus.
  • Jupiter and Mercury share the letter ת, and it’s been shown through Qabbalistic texts that Mercury and Jupiter, or Hod and Chesed, share a connection of their glory, which both sephirah names can translate to.  Both are related to education and nobility, for one, and both rely on each other as a forest on its trees and trees on its forest.  As the smallest and largest planets in the solar system, these share a kind of size extremity on opposite ends.
  • In the center of the hexagram, we have the Sun associated with aleph.  Aleph and alpha, in terms of gematria, both have the numerical value of unity, representing the Almighty, which has its representative in the solar system as the Sun.  In addition, in terms of the Qabbalah, the sephirah Tiphareth is known as the Lesser Countenance of God, revealed to the world as the Son by whom all things can be done.  You can’t exactly do much without eating a good meal, grown by the light of the sun, now, can you?

Putting it all together, we come up with this magic circle which combines representations of the elements (through the Tetragrammaton and the four four-letter names of God on the outer ring) and the planets (through the use of the hexagram figure and the Star of Azoth in the inner ring).  With the magician standing in the center of it all, we complete the circle in a third dimension and add one final part to the whole setup, the operative force or the quintessence that binds the entire cosmos together, the magician himself.  This looks promising as a circle design, and I hope soon enough to get a big enough piece of canvas to roll out, paint on, and use in my own work.