New Ebook: De Archangelis

Late in 2013, after my week-long ordeal of conjuring all the angels of the elements and planets, culminating in my conjuration of the angel of the fixed stars Iophiel, a good chunk of my Work took a distinctly Christian tone.  This wasn’t intentional on my end, but signs kept appearing more and more that, hey, I should probably start investigating this Christ dude more.  Not being raised Christian, but calling upon him much in my rituals and prayers, I suppose this was inevitable, especially as I got closer to the sphere of Heaven itself and working with my roots in a Christian Hermetic framework. This is just my experience; not everyone will have this happen to them, for what it’s worth.  Still, it’s not like I’m suddenly going to church every week and forsaking magic.  Quite the opposite!  It’s only spurred me on to work more and more closely with the forces of divinity in a way that’s most culturally accessible to me, including with the Greek theoi, a few African spirits here and there, and the like.  It’s all very Hermetic, in the classically-Hermetic confusingly eclectic way that I’m used to it being.

One of the big changes that’s happened since then is that I began a practice to the seven archangels of the Christian tradition, at the suggestion of my good colleague Michael Strojan.  These are not the same as the seven planetary angels, and indeed, the seven archangels go higher and are a different type of entity; if they are the same entities as the seven planetary angels, then they’re much rarer, much holier, and wear scarier hats than their planetary counterparts.  Working with the seven archangels has benefitted me in subtle ways, making my life better as a result, and it’s ended up with me having to dig deep and find out prayers for them, sometimes writing my own sets of prayers for their devotions.

Eventually, I got tired of having to use printouts of prayers I found online and compiled them into a single document for my own ends.  As these things usually turn out for me, this ended up with me elaborating on practices one can develop with the seven archangels, which then resulted in a new ebook for sale: De Archangels, “On the Archangels”, available from my Etsy for only US$10.00!

angelis

Coming in at almost 100 pages, this ebook contains pretty much all you need for starting a practice with the seven archangels of the Orthodox Christian tradition with regular devotions, prayers, and offerings, as well as how to seek their aid and presence in your life:

  • Information about the history, divine presence, and powers of each archangel
  • How to set up an angelic shrine for one archangel or all seven at once
  • How to make offerings to and requests of the archangels
  • Litanies, chaplets, and novenas for each archangel
  • A conjuration ritual to get in more intimate contact with each archangel, including original seals for each of them

This is one of my longer ebooks, and even though it’s a compilation of many Catholic, Orthodox, and general Christian prayers, there’s a lot in there from my own research and development in my own angelic practice.  It’s a work I’m proud of, and given the importance of these spirits, I’m kinda surprised there’s not a lot of work being done with them by other occultists.  Sure, it’s more churchy than conjure-y, but that doesn’t mean the archangels don’t have anything to offer you.  Rather, they have plenty to offer, and are eager to help.

Still, this ebook is not for those who are solidly set against involving any kind of Christian activity in their own practice.  This book is pretty much dedicated to Christian magicians or those Christians who have occult inclinations, so don’t expect attempts to link the archangels to the amesha spentas of Zoroastrianism or connections to ancient Mediterranean gods.  If you’re set against calling on the name of Jesus Christ, then you may want to pass this book over.  Someone on my Facebook asked me if there was anything for “non-monotheist non-Christians” to use when working with angels, and I had to reply that there wasn’t, because there isn’t.  Angels exist because of God and for the sake of God; you can’t remove God from the angels.  It’s similar to working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch, really, upon which Jason Miller has touched before:

At this time, as my reputation and the reputation of other saints is growing, there are many who invoke us, yet revile and reject the name of Christ.  I understand this, as it comes from deep hurt and pain caused by those who act in the Lord’s name, but it is a mistake. Christ is not what you think.  He does not care what religion you belong to.  He does not care about your acceptance.  But if you call upon a saint, have no illusions, you are calling upon the power of Christ.  Invoking his name will empower your work.  The spirits will respond to it whether you believe or not.  The steeples of all the churches will resonate with your working.  Taking holy communion will solidify your results.  You should not call upon the saints and ignore Christ.

While I know there are people who work with the angels and deny Christ, I can’t say that that’s a smart move, because it denies the ultimate reason they exist in the first place.  The angels, especially the seven archangels, are entities from the tradition of Christianity and serve Christ, only carrying out the will of Christ (who is God).  If that’s distasteful to you, I don’t hold it against you, but I warn against working with the angels in that case.  Otherwise, if you don’t mind calling on Christ or the names of God, or if you actually are Christian and do so with regularity, then you won’t have a problem working with the seven archangels, and highly suggest you do so.

Likewise, this book is intended for Christian occultists or occult-minded Christians, not necessarily for uber-gnostic super-magical Christianity.  The prayers and the like in this book are pretty standard stuff you’d find in any Catholic manual of prayer, and doesn’t really have much in the way of making talismans, mojo bags, or candle rituals.  Still, such acts can be greatly empowered by calling on the angels and working with them in a devotional form, and this text offers some guides on how to do just that without things seeming overtly ritualized or occult.  It’d fit right in with a conjure-worker’s handbook as it would a liberal priest’s, as I plan for it to.  If you’re interested in the more explicitly magical stuff you can do with the archangels, I suggest investigating things along the lines of Catholic folk magic or conjurework, or the excellent books from Hadean Press on working with the Archangel Michael and Archangel Gabriel.

So, if you’re willing to work with the archangels, then check out my ebook today on Etsy for US$10!  This is especially good timing, given that we’re approaching the Christmas season and Advent Sunday was this past week in the Catholic calendar.  Angels are in the minds of a lot of people, so why not tap into that current with the holiday season?

The Role of Hermes in Mathetic Exploration

As might be evidenced by the ritual of self-initiation, one is basically making oneself into a student of Hermes in the study and exploration of mathesis.  In Greek, we might be calling ourselves οἱ μαθηταί τοῦ Ἑρμοῦ (hoi mathētai tou Hermou).  We’re basically taking him on as teacher, guide, if not even a patron for the purposes of exploring the Tetractys and, depending on how far we take this, the study and practice of theurgy generally.  This is a really big thing, and although it might be expected that Hermes should have a central role in mathesis, we’re getting really involved with him really fast.  We’re begging him to release us from darkness and ignorance and to lead us through to light and knowledge, taking us from the Agnosis Schema to the Gnosis Schema.  We’re bringing his influence and presence into our most personal and deepest of spheres and forging an intimate connection with him.  We are supplicating him and putting ourselves into his hands, putting all our trust in him.

Think about that.  We’re putting all our trust into Hermes.  Hermes is the trickster god of the Greeks, the one who steals, lies, and shits (literally) on the other gods.  We’re relying on him to keep us out of agnosis when he lies to the other gods and disguises himself so he can’t be seen.  Rather than asking “is this wise”, it might be more proper to ask “why the fuck are we trusting him?”

Caduceus

It’s not because Hermes is my own patron god and I’m trying to proselytize or prostitute him out to others (though it’s not like he wouldn’t mind).  Consider: the sphere of Mercury, Hermes’ sphaira, is in the center of the entire tetractys.  Mercury is the center of all the extreme sphairai (αἰ ἔσχαται σφαῖραι, hai eskhatai sphairai) and the middling sphairai (αἰ μέτριαι σφαῖραι, hai metriai sphairai), and connects to all the middling sphairai in a single locus.  Astrologically speaking, Mercury is the only planet without a sect; he is neither diurnal (with the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn) or nocturnal (with the Moon, Venus, and Mars), but is changed based on whether he’s occidental or oriental of the Sun.  Alchemical mercury is the mediating force between the pure action of Sulfur and the pure materiality of Salt.  Plato’s Timaeus has the third principle of Existence mediating between the two principles of Sameness and Difference.  Mercury is, all at once, a distillation of complementary forces (Light and Dark) as well as a source (Air and Water), and Mercury is the mediation between opposing forces (Salt and Sulfur, Light and Water, Dark and Air).  Mercury is as much “being between” as much as it is “being transformed”.

Indeed, it’s because of Hermes’s role as neutral and shifty guide that Hermes will not accompany us within the sphairai themselves.  He waits outside the gates of each sphairai, just right outside the threshold, and once we cross that threshold from the sphairai to the paths, the οδοι (odoi), we’re back in his hands.  He leads us up and down the paths, always flitting between and among the sphairai but never entering them.  Hermes is the guide; in a sense, he is the god of the roads and he is the roads, but roads are only ever between destinations.  Once we reach our destination, however temporary, we’re off the road and out of his hands.  However long we remain at our station, we are not traveling.  Hermes will accompany us for as long as we need to travel the paths, but he will never accompany us beyond the gates of where we’re going.  The road is between destinations, and words are between people and meanings; Hermes is the interpreter and transformer, but never the one that is interpreted or transformed.  He is the messenger, but we are the message.  The message depends on the messenger to deliver it from its source to its destination, just as the sender and receiver rely on the messenger, too.  We are the thing to be interpreted, transformed, delivered, guided, led.

That said, when you’re not part of any one realm of existence and are capable of flitting to and fro between them, it’s not hard to make the trip from “casual tourist” to “curious thief”.  Hermes, after all, is the divine thief who stole Apollo’s cattle literally right out of the crib.  One possibility that I’ve yet to explore is what might be called the “lost in translation” issue.  Consider: if we’re messages being delivered, or words being translated, something is going to have to change between point A and point B, the sphaira from which and the sphaira to which we proceed.  What is it that changes?  When we speak to one another, the message usually gets across pretty clear, although some nuances I intend to communicate might be lost and some nuances I never spoke get substituted instead.  Sometimes the entire word is wrong, sometimes the entire message, and there needs to be backtrack to make sure everything makes sense.  This isn’t necessarily the fault of either speaker or listener, or for that matter the two sphairai between which we travel, but the choice of the message itself.  Every message is different; some messages are worded better, some are intended for specific ears, and so forth.  When Hermes leads us to a new sphaira, he becomes a cross between a guide on a highway and a highwayman, taking something from us.  Whether it’s an aggregation that makes us human or bound to this world, or whether it’s simply borrowing something from us and rearranging us, or a toll we have to pay or sacrifice is unknown to me just yet; I’m not even sure whether anything needs to be taken, but it might make sense given his mythology.

Which leads me to another aspect of Hermes that I haven’t been too familiar with, that of Knife-holder and Argos-slayer.  Hermes himself, when I was going over the ritual with him, liked the ritual in large parts but wanted something added.  I had difficulty understanding why; after some thinking and discussing with him, he said that “there is no initiation without cutting”.  A blade of some sort, then, is necessary; as for why, I recalled that “of the golden knife” is one of the epithets of Hermes but I didn’t know the story why.  That story is the slaying of Argos Panoptes, the many-eyed giant and favored servant of Hera, set to watch over Io when she was transformed into a cow by Zeus (Metamorphoses, Book I, chapter 8):

The head of Argus (as with stars the skies)
Was compass’d round, and wore an hundred eyes.
But two by turns their lids in slumber steep;
The rest on duty still their station keep;
Nor cou’d the total constellation sleep.
Thus, ever present, to his eyes, and mind,
His charge was still before him, tho’ behind…

Now Jove no longer cou’d her suff’rings bear;
But call’d in haste his airy messenger,
The son of Maia, with severe decree
To kill the keeper, and to set her free.
With all his harness soon the God was sped,
His flying hat was fastned on his head,
Wings on his heels were hung, and in his hand
He holds the vertue of the snaky wand.
The liquid air his moving pinions wound,
And, in the moment, shoot him on the ground.
Before he came in sight, the crafty God
His wings dismiss’d, but still retain’d his rod:
That sleep-procuring wand wise Hermes took,
But made it seem to sight a sherpherd’s hook.
With this, he did a herd of goats controul;
Which by the way he met, and slily stole.
Clad like a country swain, he pip’d, and sung;
And playing, drove his jolly troop along…

Hermes eventually lured Argos to sleep after singing to him and telling him enough stories, at which point Hermes kills Argos with his golden knife.  In this way, the watcher of Io was taken care of, and Hermes led Io out of this danger though some might say out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Argos with his many eyes (some sources say 100 or 10², some say 4, where the numbers should strike you as portentous for all this) keeps an eye on and guards Io, keeping her from being free, although it is the will of Zeus that she be freed so she can accomplish great things, including being an ancestress of Herakles.  Of course, the ghost of Argos also chases after Io once she’s freed, pursuing her as far as Egypt around the Mediterranean.  Only then is Io transformed back into a human.

We can see something of ourselves in this story.  While trapped in the Agnosis Schema, we are unaware of our true nature to some extent and are trapped by the forces around us; we cannot be free as long as we are trapped.  We have things to do, and even the gods want us freed…or, at least some of them.  But there are bigger problems than simply being stuck in our weird form; there are things watching over us, wanting us to stay where we are and doing their level best to keep us there.  Argos might be considered an archonic figure for us, watching over us with his many eyes, understanding and being of the nature of the Tetractys (10² or 4 eyes) though operating solidly within it.  For as long as we’re trapped in Agnosis, we cannot reach Gnosis.  The gods must send Hermes to us, and we must seek his help, in order for this archon-guard to be slain so that we can be free and follow Hermes to our salvation.  Thus, the knife: the knife is to cut the darkness, freeing ourselves from the hold it has upon us.  With the knife of gold we set ourselves free with the help of Hermes, but the knife’s use doesn’t end there.  After all, Argos’ shade pursued Io; even in death, the spirit of the archon will still try to bring us back to Agnosis, luring us off the path of Gnosis at any given stage.  As long as we’re staying stationary in the sphairai of the Tetractys, we are at risk; we can take temporary shelter, but if we stay too long then Argos catches up and takes us back to our prison.  During our travels on the odoi, we are fleeing in ways that Argos cannot follow, but we cannot live or stay on an individual path.

All this leads me to one last thing: if there are days sacred to Hermes, and Hermes is sacred in mathesis, is there a day sacred in mathesis?  After all, we decided that the ritual of self-initiation should be held on the first day of the lunar month, so why not consider it?  In my lunar grammatomantic calendar, Hermes is given to the letter Zeta, so the seventh day of the month is sacred to Hermes in this practice.  Traditionally, however, Hermes was given the fourth day of the month in the Attic calendar for monthly observances, and the Homeric Hymn has his birthday as the fourth day of the tenth month of the lunar year, starting with the first new moon after the summer solstice.  The fourth day of the tenth month.  Four and ten.  The Decad represented by the Tetractys.  Cute, innit?  This day is Hermes’ birthday, the day into which our guide was born to bring joy and power among the gods and the worlds, and is therefore fitting for us to honor.  Perhaps, in the future, initiation rituals should be timed to this date or around the yearly Hermaia, or similar observances held to honor this trickster god in this Hermetic system.

So, all this is just some extrapolation from mythology and basic understanding of Hermes on the paths.  It’s not so much that we should be trusting the tricky little fucker, but that we don’t really have a choice; the tricks he plays on us are as much as part of the journey as is traveling down the odoi themselves.  The Work must be done, and there’s so much more to find out.  We can make the jump from Agnosis to Gnosis; now we need to figure out what’s going on with the sphairai.  The first one we’re brought to is that of Mercury, which is one we’ll be visiting the most, and it’s the sphere most closely associated with Hermes.  But if Hermes does not enter into any sphere, what kind of nature does this sphaira have?  What can we find out and learn about these sphairai and how they relate to the other aspects of the Tetractys, to mathesis, to magic, and to the world generally?  Let’s find out, shall we?

Mercury as Abyss, Island, and Bridge in the Tetractys

Last time we discussed how we might traverse the Tetractys of Life in pathworking through two sets of paths, collectively termed schemata:

  • The Gnosis Schema consists of 12 paths that link every sphaira on the Tetractys in a pattern not unlike the Mitsubishi logo, looping around through three systems of four spheres each, passing through Mercury multiple times.
  • The Agnosis Schema consists of 12 paths that link all but the Mercury, Monad, Fire, and Earth sphaira together in two cycles, the hexagon and hexagram paths around the Mercury sphaira.

The big difference between these schemata is that the Gnosis Schema allows one to see into the deepest and highest reaches of the cosmos, as well as the Source of the cosmos itself, for theurgical and henosistic purposes, allowing us the choice of reincarnation as we desire until we reach our final henosis with the Monad.  The Agnosis Schema, however, keeps us trapped in a Hermetic samsara of sorts, always flitting around like bats in a cave around real Life and yet just out of reach of real Truth.  In other words, as long as we’re trapped in the Agnosis Schema, we’re not making progress to the real ends of the cosmos where the real treasure lies.  We need to make that schematic leap from Agnosis to Gnosis, and as we discussed before, it all starts with Mercury.

alchemical_planetary_tetractys_paths

The question is, though, how do we make that leap?  Mercury is at the center of the Tetractys of Life and is connected to all the sphairai but the most extreme ones, that of the Monad, Fire, and Earth.  However, it’s only in the Gnosis Schema that we can get from any of these “middling” sphairai (Darkness, Salt, Water, Air, Sulfur, and Light) to Mercury.  The Agnosis Schema has these middling sphairai all connected to each other but not to Mercury, Monad, Fire, or Earth.  As long as we’re on the Agnosis Schema, we’re barred from attaining access to those spheres, and if we can’t even get to Mercury which is the closest and most easily accessible of them all, how can we even consider being able to get to the Monad?

Thus comes in an idea that’s also present in the Tree of Life, though I’ve seen it far more in Hermetic qabbalah than Jewish kabbalah.  That idea is that of the Veils, though there are two sets in qabbalah, one of two and one of three.  The former set is the one I’m talking about: the Veils of Paroketh and of the Abyss.  In the Tree of Life, the Veil of Paroketh separate the sephiroth from Tiphareth and up from Netzach and below.  The Veil of the Abyss (or, more commonly, the Abyss) separates the sephiroth of Binah and above from Chesed and below, often with the Abyss itself represented by the “false” sephirah (se-faux-rah?) of Da`ath.  The former veil of Paroketh is illusory; there is no real separation between the personal world (represented by the lower four sephiroth) and the interpersonal world (represented by the higher sephiroth), except that of our own making.  By tearing down the veil of our own making, or at least by temporarily parting it, we gain access to higher spiritual truths.  As long as we continue thinking that the world must follow the rules we conceive to be law, and as long as we refuse to accept the universe and the cosmos on its own terms, the veil remains firmly in place.  Leave all that behind, and the veil is easily parted.  The comic series Promethea by Alan Moore gives this scene in bloody detail: on the Kircher Tree, the path that links Tiphareth with Netzach (transcending the Veil) is associated with the letter Nun, given to Scorpio and Tarot trump XIII, Death.  In order to attain new life in the Sun, the protagonists must die, literally rent apart and completely dissected.  It was all an illusion, however, but a painful one all the same to dismember.  By dismembering our preconceptions, we remember the truth of the world.

The Abyss, on the other hand, is much more of a problem on the Tree of Life.  To keep it very simple and brief, almost to the point of a lie, the Abyss is the division of the mundane and the spiritual; it’s the gulf between what the world should be and the world that is damned to be, the mirror between what is and what Is that cannot normally be transcended.  It’s the purpose of the magician or theurgist to transcend this gulf and attain divine understanding, wisdom, and finally the crown of all that exists and not-exists.  It’s a dangerous thing, especially since the Lightning Bolt Path on the Kircher Tree doesn’t actually have a path where it should between Chesed and Binah.  All the same, the Abyss must be transcended and crossed over, and it’s no easy thing.  Some people never do and get lost in it, while others spend a long time in dark places only to come out a completely different person (which is quite the goal of the whole thing).  Going back to Promethea, as opposed to a few pages where Promethea and Barbara crossed the veil of Paroketh, a whole issue was devoted to their crossing the Abyss, and it wasn’t a pleasant or rational part of their journey.

A similar case exists with making the jump from the Agnosis to the Gnosis Schemas.  While we’re stuck in our cycle of mindless and uncontrolled rebirth, we lack the ability to achieve true life, power, and knowledge.  At any stage on the Agnosis Schema, we have the option of going to the sphaira of Mercury or to the nearest extreme sphaira (the one of the same system which belongs to the one one is already in, e.g. if one is in the sphaira of Salt, the nearest extreme sphaira is that of Earth).  However, making the jump from the Agnosis Schema to Mercury on the Gnosis Schema is most important, even though one could feasibly start their path at any point on the Tetractys.  Mercury is the most preferable starting point, because Mercury is a figure of balance and allows one to start with equal footing and a clean spiritual slate; further, given the road-opening, guiding, and quickening abilities of this sphaira, starting with Mercury is arguably the best choice and continuing along the Gnosis Schema paths as normal.

Still, the process of getting from any of the middling sphairai to Mercury is, itself, crossing an abyss of sorts.  It’s not because there’s no path that exists (because Mercury is connected to all the middling spheres), but because the types of path are so divergent from the normal roles of Mercury.  The Agnosis Schema seeks to circumvent Mercury however it can, while the Gnosis Schema leads right to Mercury time and again.  The first abyss we must cross in order to get to Mercury from any of the middling sphairai is that of desire: we must first seek out Mercury, we must first seek the path to take before we even take it.  Once there, we have suddenly jumped to the Gnosis Schema.  As one of the prayers in my gnostic work goes, “in order for us to understand the gnosis, we must first seek a firm foundation”; Mercury provides us with that foundation.  We must first seek our guide, our protector, our initiator to assist us in our real work.  Finding that guide and opening the door is just the beginning to it all; it might be that your guide is Hermes, your Holy Guardian Angel, a yidam, or some other tutelary spirit, but something that guides you along the Gnosis Schema as it applies to you is just about crucial to starting the Work.

But, once we get to Mercury, what then?  If we stay where we are, we’ve crossed the abyss only to be stranded on an island.  If we forget that, hey, we have a cosmos to explore (and then some), reveling in our initiation and fact that we can go anywhere without actually doing so, we end up back on the Agnosis Schema.  But wait!  There are no paths connecting the sphaira of Mercury to anything on the Agnosis Schema, so we end up trapped there.  We end up in a one-node loop; rather than running around in circles, we end up twisting in the wind.  Being trapped in Mercury is always dangerous, not just after our first initiation into the Gnosis Schema, but because we risk this every time we return to Mercury on the Gnosis Schema.

  • We go through the Hot System and we return to Mercury, thrilled that we’ve overcome our obstacles on that part of the cosmos, yet end up burning up too much with joy and think we’ve accomplished and are in charge of everything.  Only by recognizing our inability to act fully within the cosmos and our ultimate nature as finite, non-omniscient, and manipulatable creatures and allowing ourselves to be acted upon can we free ourselves from the Agnostic sphaira of Mercury.
  • We go through the Cold System and we return to Mercury, feeling confident that we understand how things are affected by others in the cosmos, and end up passively waiting for true action to happen to ourselves when we need to accomplish it ourselves.  Only by realizing that we still need to play an active role in the cosmos do we free ourselves from the Agnostic sphaira of Mercury.
  • We go through the Cosmic System and we return to Mercury, catching a glimpse of the Source and really grokking important truths about creation as a whole.  After this, we end up with what Fr. Rufus Opus elegantly calls “insufferableprickitis”, or “Moses Off The Mount Syndrome”.  After all, when Moses came down from the Mount and jamming with the Lord, his face was so radiant and glowing from the divine interaction that he wore a veil to mask himself.  Without wearing the veil (and this isn’t like the veils we discussed above), we come across as a holier-than-thou (even if it’s true) douchebag who thinks they know everything because they had one brush with God.  In this state of pride, we think we’ve done everything there is to do and are confident that we’ve attained the Great Work, when all we’ve done is made a loop around the cosmos once.  We end up stuck at the Agnostic sphaira of Mercury until we realize that there’s still so much more, that no finite amount of practice can truly equate infinite gnosis.

All that being said, while getting to Mercury can be a bitch of an abyss in and of itself, and while visiting Mercury has its own dangers that turn it into a deserted island isolated from the rest of the cosmos, when approached properly and respectfully, Mercury becomes a bridge from something into its complement.  That’s Mercury’s role, after all; to balance things out between opposites.  Mercury is placed between Sulfur and Salt, Light and Water, and Darkness and Air.  We continue on our path of the Gnostic Schema by traversing Mercury and transforming ourselves from one thing into its opposite.  Mercury is not only our beginning but our constant transformation; it is only in the extreme sphairai of the Monad, Earth, and Fire do we have no choice but to continue along our path of Gnosis and keep going in one direction or another without immediate recourse to Mercury.  Mercury, in a sense, is our “home away from home”, our place of respite between systems as well as our nexus of transformation between systems.

We can fall into the Agnosis Schema at any stage of the Gnosis Schema if we linger too long or if we lose our way; with Mercury as our guide leading us away from and towards our cyclical destination, that shouldn’t ideally pose a problem, but we humans (and, for that matter, all entities) are constantly fighting against what we should do, even if it’s a subtle and instinctual reaction.  If we stray from our path even a little bit, we lose our way; if this happens at the Monad or the sphairai of Fire, Earth, or Mercury, then we end up stranded until we loosen ourselves up and make ourselves capable of further progress, or until we strengthen our resolve and continue along the path of transformation.

It’s not that we fall by fate from Gnosis into Agnosis or vice versa, but it’s a choice we make, even if we’re unaware we’re consciously making it and the repercussions of doing so.  Tying the sphaira of Mercury back to its mythological counterpart, Hermes is the god of guides and guide of gods, men, spirits, souls, and heroes.  If we choose to progress along the Gnosis Schema to accomplish the divine imperative given to us, then ouranic (heavenly) Hermes will lead us on; if we choose to linger or abandon that quest, then chthonic (underworld) Hermes will lead us to Styx and leave us there until we dig ourselves out again.  It’s dangerous falling back into Agnosis, especially if we’re at one of the extreme spheres, since we may not be able to find our way back.  Of course, the rules change a bit once we achieve henosis and union with the Monad, where we can freely choose to leave the Tetractys completely and enjoin what becomes of us with the Infinite and Simple, at which point we’ve completed our path and ended up exactly where we need, and no longer need a guide to continue our path.  That said, that’s the endgame, and chances are we’re nowhere near that stage of spiritual evolution yet.  If you were, then I hope your divine prerogative includes something more than reading one magician’s ramblings on the Internet.

Personal Shorthand in Use

Working off the last post where I introduced my shorthand, I figured I should follow it up with another about what it looks like in use.  Below I have written Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Simple enough, and a good illustration of what a text in my shorthand would look like (Omniglot tries to use it for every language and script they have on their site).  Below, I have the same text written in four different ways: my normal handwriting (which is awful), the “standard” version of the shorthand, my personal note-taking shorthand style (which is more cursive-y), and my calligraphic form with lots of flourishes.  I apologize that I didn’t touch these up or make them all professional, but I tried using Illustrator to trace them out and pretty them up, and it was hell.  Straight scans for you, instead.

Hopefully that illustrates how I use my own script.  I use the third one, the cursive-y form, the most; the second style is used for labels or other lengthy texts I write to myself that demand some semblance of order; the fourth style is used for decoration or artsy purposes only.  I pretty much never use the first style, actual English script, anymore.

In addition to writing notes and texts in this shorthand, I also use it to make sigils.  Let’s say I want to sigilize the phrase “Planetary hours are so cool” (because I’m a total geek).  According to the rules I was taught, you remove all vowels first from a phrase like that, then remove all repeated consonants.  Given that phrase, this leaves us to work with the letters “P L N T R Y H S C” (I consider Y to be a consonant).  To make a sigil out of this, I usually link up all characters, H, N, M, W, and V, since they all share the same basic zig-zag shape.  I do the same for Y, L, and T, which share the same step-like shape, and B, C, D, P, S, and R, which all share the same wavy shape.  Putting this all together, we get the following shapes:

However, I’ve recently gotten into the habit of forming some kind of “circuit” or closed loop for my sigils, so that there are no loose ends in the image.  Plus, within the enclosed space formed by the sigil, I have some sort of monogram with the initials of the person(s) the sigil is made for.  By linking the C, S, R, and P in a slightly different way and attaching the Y, L, and T differently, I can make an enclosed space as the following, with my initials inside.

Then, I’ll make the sigil mantra based on the visual sigil and where the letters appear in it.  I take the letters as they appear from left to right and top to bottom.  For the first sigil, the order of the letters becomes “C S R P Y L T H N”, which I might intone as “KASER PEEL TAYHEN”; for the second, the order is “Y H N R S C P T L”, which might be intoned as “YAHEN RAS KEPTEL”.  The letters V and W might be used as an “OO” or long-u vowel or as a consonant, depending on where they appear, much how the letter Y was vocalized as “EE” or a long-i vowel in the first mantra above but a consonantal-i/y sound in the second.

Personal Shorthand

My penmanship is awful.  Sure, I do calligraphy once in a while, and I can write clearly enough for business use.  However, it can get to the point where even I can only stare in confused befuddlement at what I had written a few days earlier.  I can abuse the proper letterforms of the Roman script pretty fierce, y’all.  I make no claim as to the contrary.

To fix this awful state of illegibility, back in high school, I developed my own version of the Roman alphabet to be used as a cursive or shorthand for personal notes, journal entries, and the like.  I was big into developing writing systems back then, and came up with a number of them, some even with their accompanying languages (yes, I’m a conlang nerd, go away).  I ended up sticking with this script I developed, and over the six or seven years it’s been in use I’ve made a few changes to it.  It’s getting slightly more elaborate, but only for the sake of making writing easier without sacrificing clarity too much.

I claim that this shorthand, which I just call my shorthand, cursive, or “it’s how I write, stop treating it like some arcane manuscript (even though it probably is, wink wink)”, is simple to learn.  Most of the letterforms are simply the Roman script reduced or simplified in some way: there are no capital letters, double letters are usually represented with a single dotted letter, the letter A is the same with the horizontal bar removed, the letters B, D, R, and P are the same with the vertical bar removed, and so forth.  There are some new letters I devised, based on Greek, Tironian notes, and so forth, that account for ligatures or digraphs in English, but they’re easily learned.

As you can see, most of the letters have a 1-to-1 correspondence with those in the Roman alphabet for English.  There are also several new letters for the digraphs Ch (like in “chance”, not “chemistry”), Gh, Ft, Ng (like in “angle”, not “angel”), Ph, Qu, Sh, Th (like in “thence” not “Thomas”), and Wh.  Two special symbols is used for the words “and”, which is basically a simplified ampersand, and “of”, which is a lot like the Japanese hiragana character “no”, which is also the Japanese possessive particle.

There are also special forms for Ee, Ff, Jj, Ll, and Tt; these double letters are written and cross or join each other, although the other letters simply take a dot.  In theory, all letters that aren’t those listed above take a dot for doubled forms, some are simply never used in English (one will never have a doubled Q or Sh, though this may be the case in other languages).

Because there are a lot of Latinate derivatives in English, which often use trigraphs like “sio” or “tio”, I also have forms for these groups of letters.  Although there may be others, the only letters I can remember having these forms are Gio, Rio, Sio, Tio, and Xio.  Adding an N to make Tion or Sion to them is natural and can be done by simply continuing the stroke.

Some letters have descenders and ascenders that go over the next or previous letters.  This is more to save space on the actual line of text than anything else, and is also why, from an aesthetic standpoint, the letters F, J, L, and T have special doubled forms.

The letters K, N, U, V, W, X, Ch, Ph, Th, and Wh are special since they fall into a class of letters that have a high diagonal stroke upwards and to the right.  Some letters join them easily, such as K and D.  However, when the letter E or Ee follows these letters, their forms are changed into little dashes that cross the diagonal stroke on these letters.  The E dashes on these words come last in stroke order so that other letters might be able to join up with the base letter first.  This is a time-, space-, and ink-saving gesture.  Wh also falls into this class, but only for the letters E and Ee; other letters don’t do anything with this letter since its diagonal goes too far up.

So, putting this all together, we can write words that are both easily read by someone not used to the shorthand and those that take some practice to read.  All, however, take fewer strokes and less time to write.

Notes on the above:

  • “Never”, “Version”, and “Chess” are all written with a single stroke with the addition of half-E strokes and doubling dots.
  • The S in “Version” looks similar to Ph, since it’s joined to the preceding R and is in its Sio form.  However, I don’t use Phio for anything, so it by default has to mean Sio.

Why am I showing you all this?  Well, a drunken conversation with my sister helped spur this post when we were talking about how we do our sigils.  Some people might be interested to see what kind of script I use for devising my sigils, since the simplified letterforms lead themselves well to sigilization and linking up with each other for an appealing but still easily visualizable shape.  I have a few rules for making sigils using this shorthand, such as always linking all Ms, Ns, Hs, Vs, and Ws (which all share the same basic zig-zag shape), and so forth.

Otherwise, if I die and someone wants to claim all my journals and notes, this post will help them decipher my otherwise unintelligible handwriting.  I have the convention of using my shorthand for notes, directions, and instructions in my notebooks and tomes, with Roman script used for orations or prayers.  Plus, if I ever decide to hand-write and -illustrate a tome for myself (either as a completed copy of my current vademecum or as a gift for someone else), I’ll probably use the calligraphic form of my shorthand, which will look pretty indeed for a whole book.  Tedious, but pretty.  That’s all that really matters, right?