Unlocking the Observatory: Further Guidance from Another Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following stones were drawn from the urn:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Looking at (not yet through) Zoroaster’s Telescope

In my last post, I announced that I translated this obscure French book that dates back to 1796 on an equally-obtuse form of divination, Zoroaster’s Telescope (which I’ll refer to as ZT for short, both to the divinatory system itself and to the general body of texts that describe it).  The full title of this book is more properly (when rendered into English) The Telescope of Zoroaster, or, the Key of the Great Divinatory Cabala of the Magi (basically the same in any language it’s been written in or translated into), and…well, I have quite a lot to say about it.  Perhaps some of you, dear readers, might already be familiar with the book in one form or another, and might see where I’m going what with the whole “Unlocking the Observatory” bit in the title.  All the same, even though the book itself is pretty short, there’s still a lot to talk about when it comes to ZT, both the book itself as well as the divination method and spiritual system it contains—so let’s get started, shall we?

※ 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.

Let’s start with a review of the literature as it stands.  I touched on this briefly in the last post, but here’s what we’ve got:

  1. Up until my last post, there was only one English translation of ZT available, the 2013 Ouroboros Press version of the text translated by Dr. Jenn Zahrt (which I’ll abbreviate here on out as OZT).  The earliest social media posts and records I can find of it are that it was published sometime in summer 2013, at least by August 12, 2013.
  2. OZT is an English translation of Johann Scheible’s Das Kloster (1846), volume 3, part II, chapter VII (KZT).  Scheible (as mentioned in the last post) was a German antiquarian and compiler of folklore and superstition, and in this specific volume of his monumental 12-volume series dating from 1845 through 1849 containing various magical texts, superstitions, fairy tales, and other stories or records, Das Kloster III contains a number of other well-known occult texts (a good number of which are referenced up on Esoteric Archives).  The one I referenced was digitized by the University of Michigan Library on July 3, 2007 (and the whole series are up for public access, too).
  3. KZT itself is based on an earlier French book from 1796 (FZT).  The publication details of this are scarce; all I can find out is that at least one copy of this book survived into the modern era and was digitized by the Bavarian State Library on January 13, 2009.

That is…basically it!  However, I do want to note that, in the course of my studies, I found a fourth version of the text: an earlier German version from 1797 published by Wilhelm Rein in Leipzig (GZT) explicitly as a translation from FZT (“aus dem Französischen”) which was digitized in 2017 by the National Library of the Czech Republic.  Fascinatingly, although GZT comes hot on the heels of FZT (especially compared to KZT), a brief inspection of the text shows that KZT was not based on GZT; there are too many differences in structure and wording between KZT and GZT, while there are weirder similarities between KZT and FZT suggesting that KZT was based directly on FZT, with Scheible consulting a source that was likely ignorant of GZT and only familiar with FZT.  Also, technically, OZT being the only English translation of ZT put out so far (besides my own) isn’t quite true: William Kiesel, the man behind Ouroboros Press, put out an original translation by Robert William Mattila in 2003 as part of a very limited run, but I can’t easily find anything about such a work (just one oblique footnote in a 2008 French text, mentioned below).  While I don’t doubt that Kiesel put out such a book, it may as well not exist for the purpose of this study, and overall still seems to be based on the same source as OZT, so I’d guess it to be equivalent to OZT anyway.

So, like, that’s it for primary sources.  If it’s not apparent yet, then it needs to be emphasized that ZT is an exceedingly obscure divination system; even though the end of the 18th century in France was a super crazy and productive time for the occult scene (this was the time period, after all, when geomancy hadn’t yet lost all its vigor and was also the time of Etteilla’s popularization of Tarot as a divination system), ZT seems to have been made and then all but forgotten about—kinda.  In 1797, towards the close of the French Revolution, the French Jesuit priest Abbé Augustin Barruel published his Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du Jacobinisme (Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism) (originally in French but translated into many other languages as well, English just being one of them).  This is a crazy book that basically goes ham on trying to pin the French Revolution on the Freemasons, Illuminati, and various other factions and subcultures in French society that wanted to subvert the royal, aristocratic, and religious institutions in France.  ZT gets a shout-out/call-out in Barruel’s book, but beyond that, we don’t see much in the way of other mentions of this book until a few decades later, most notably with Scheible’s Das Kloster.

Whereas other, more popular forms of divination—or at least occult texts and traditions that have garnered at least some public notoriety and awareness—are able to be researched through secondary or tertiary sources that mention or bring up such methods or texts, we really don’t have a lot to go on with ZT.  I have otherwise only found only a small handful of other texts that substantially discuss or talk about ZT in any way:

  1. “The Seven Mystery Names” in Lucifer, v. 4 n. 23 (July 1889) by Jakob Bonggren.  This barely warrants a mention, but this article in the Theosophical Society’s monthly newsletter does mention the names of the planetary intelligences in ZT.  Supposedly, there are other issues of Lucifer with articles by Sepharial or Westcott that reference ZT (or at least the same Das Kloster volume as what KZT comes from), but I’m not able to find any such references in Lucifer or by those authors.
  2. Die wahrsagende Kabbala der Magier: die Kabbala des Zoroaster, published in 1933 by theosophist-turned-ariosophist Karl Kern and later reprinted under the name “Baron André-Robert Andréa de Nerciat” in 2009. While this text preserves some of the material verbatim from KZT while abridging others 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, and also incorporates the recently-discovered Uranus and Neptune into its system.
  3. Astrologie lunaire: essai de reconstitution du système astrologique ancien by Alexandre Volguine (originally from 1972, English translation from 1974). Although this text focuses on a rather different occult art and practice, it includes a brief section treating on the angels of the mansions of the Moon as they appear in ZT.  It doesn’t really touch on anything in any meaningful way, and the conclusions it draws don’t really line up with anything I’ve been able to uncover about the book, so it’s just kinda there, I guess.
  4. Télescope de Zoroastre, ou Clef de la grande Cabale divinatoire des Mages: ouvrage présenté définitivement restitué à son auteur légitime et annoté by a group of authors working under the name “Alexandre de Dánann”, published in 2008 by Edizioni Archè di Milano.  This book, while offering a modern reprint of FZT, justifies that the text (originally all-but-anonymous) is indeed attributable to André-Robert Andréa de Nerciat, while also providing further context of secret societies.  (This is also that aforementioned French text that listed the earlier 2003 translation put out by Kiesel; we’ll talk more about this specific book and what it has to say in the next post.)
  5. Zoroastro, Wizard of the Renaissance (2021), volume 3 in the series The Dark Side of the Da Vinci Legacy by Susan Audrey Grundy (published as an ebook through Google Play Books). Although this volume focuses on the claim that the Codex Atlanticus was not the product of Leonardo da Vinci but rather his friend and companion Tommaso di Giovanni Masini (also known as “Zoroastro da Peretola”, with “Zoroastro” being a common nickname for those engaged in the occult), the section on pages 59–62 specifically touches on the potential authorship of ZT to lie not with Nerciat but rather this earlier “Zoroastro”.

That’s it: beyond the ZT source books themselves and Barruel’s conspiracy-minded condemnation thereof, there are just two books on their own and a handful of paragraphs from another two that discuss ZT that I’ve been able to track, beyond a smattering of other smaller oblique references in footnotes here or there from the past several centuries.  As I said, it’s really obscure.

So what even is ZT about?  At a high level, the book is fundamentally about a form of divination, one which I would describe as “numerological sortilege with an astrological flair”.  The system makes use of a number of 112 (or 113) hexagonal tiles, each randomly drawn from a collection, then assembled in a number of tightly-packed geometric spreads that ZT calls “mirrors”.  While some of these mirrors are used for simple forms of divination (largely relying, as the text describes it, on a process of elimination by trying to find where one tile is to indicate one particular option out of many possible options), the bulk of the text talks about “The Great Mirror”, which makes use of 37(ish) tiles put together in a large hexagonal arrangement: one center hexagonal tile, surrounded by six more, then by another twelve, then by another 18.  Of the 112 (or 113) tiles, 108 have their own planetary and zodiacal associations, and 90 of those have further associations with the 28 mansions of the Moon; the other four (or five) are attributed to much grander cosmological notions of good versus evil, creation versus destruction, or ascent versus descent.  In the Great Mirror, likewise, each of its 37(ish) houses has its own planetary (and sometimes zodiacal, and also sometimes lunar mansion) associations, along with its own set of significations that establish that particular house’s context and bounds for interpreting whichever tile might appear in it.

Yes, there is vagueness and vagary in the above description for a reason, which we’ll get around to covering, but the gist of the system is basically just that.  Despite its up-front complexity that can easily daunt those who are used to somewhat more modern forms of divination (much of ZT was written when divinatory Tarot was still new, so many conventions we take for granted nowadays in divinatory manuals weren’t established so firmly back then!), ZT is (as I find it) a really elegant form of divination that allows for a lot of intuitive investigation without all that much fixity or rigidity of rules and processes.  The thing is, however, is that ZT only introduces such a system of divination; as the text is fond of repeating, “a key is not a treatise”, and so the text insists on only giving a high-level introduction to its divinatory system and leaves both the exploration and development thereof as an exercise for the reader.  Frustrating as it might be for us modern folk, especially when faced with such a daunting system, the divinatory system of ZT really kinda only allows for one of two kinds of text: either a short handbook that gives the basic principles of the art, or a massive text that attempts to flesh out as much as it can (which would still necessarily be incomplete to one degree or another).  In the interest of brevity, the author of ZT opted for the former.  This is one of the reasons why I was snagged in my interest so hard by this text; while some occultists can’t seem to make heads or tails of it (as I wasted this particular 20 minutes of my life finding out in the course of my research), the fact that the ZT system was so ill-defined was something that I couldn’t pass up for filling in the blanks and fleshing out what it left empty.  (Not unlike some other projects of mine, I suppose.)

I will note something here, though: why is this called “Zoroaster’s Telescope” at all?  Yes, the name of Zoroaster and the Magi get dropped a handful of times in ZT as something it pretends to descend from; perhaps surprising absolutely nobody these days, this book is as much a product of orientalizing pseudohistory as Antoine Court de Gébelin’s attribution of Tarot to the venerable wisdom of the ancient Egyptians earlier that same century as FZT’s publication.  However, let’s be honest: ZT is fundamentally a product of the more-or-less bog standard continental European occulture of the late 18th century.  And yet, the use of “telescopes” and “mirrors” is striking here; although mirrors are certainly an old thing throughout the world in one form or another, telescopes are a much more recent invention.  It should be noted that, although telescopes were already in wide use by the end of the 18th century, there is a difference between refracting telescopes (which use lenses to magnify images at a distance) and reflecting telescopes (which use internal mirrors to do the same) in how well they are able to clearly magnify distant objects.  Although reflecting telescopes had been around in one form or another since the mid-17th century, they were significantly improved on in the 18th century and quickly became popular throughout the astronomical world, facilitating William Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781.  In this light, we might consider ZT’s use of “telescope” and “mirror” (especially in the context of its own praising of astronomy and dismissal of astrology—I know, I know, we’ll cover that weirdness later) to be a sign of the times in keeping up with scientific progress, much as many New Age folk attribute various spiritual or occult things to quantum physics or string theory.  In other words, ZT gives us a telescope by which we may inspect the spiritual heavens, facilitated by looking directly at the mirrors we produce that reflect their spiritual motions and influences.  I think it’s a really beautiful metaphor, at least—and given how ZT gives us a key (specifically a “master key which will open not just the main doors but all the side doors, all the cupboards, all the drawers, and even the smallest secrets”), well, I think you’ll understand now why I’m entitling this series “Unlocking the Observatory”.

Let’s turn back to the source texts for a bit.  As I mentioned in the last post, although OZT is a fantastic translation of KZT, KZT was based on FZT, but not exactly so; rather, KZT provides more of an abridged version of FZT and leaves out quite a lot.  If we use FZT as the exemplary version that contains all possible bits, then we can compare the other versions of ZT to it to see what we’re missing.  In order, FZT provides us with the following:

  1. Seven beautifully-engraved plates with diagrams (technically six plus a large foldout)
  2. An introductory (and lengthy) “Epistolary Essay to One Privileged to be Placed at the Highest Rank in the Social Order” (hereafter just “Epistle” for short)
  3. Seven chapters focusing on basic techniques and information entitled “Steps”, plus one introduction of its own
  4. Three chapters focusing on advanced techniques and information that it calls “Supplements” (and which OZT translates acceptably as “Addenda”)
  5. A concluding “Epilogue from the Editors” (hereafter just “Epilogue”)
  6. A brief errata offering minor corrections in the French text
  7. A good number of footnotes throughout the Steps and Supplements

How do the different versions compare?

Plates Yes Yes Yes
Epistle Yes Yes No
Steps Yes Yes Yes (mostly)
Supplements Yes Yes Yes (mostly)
Epilogue Yes No No
Errata Yes No No
Footnotes Yes Yes Very few

GZT, KZT, and OZT all drop something out that is present in FZT, the big ones being either just the Epilogue or both the Epilogue and Epistle, with the Epilogue containing further refinement of technique (and an explanation of something present in one of the plates of all the other versions but which is never explained) and the Epistle providing a passionate defense and spiritual contextualization of ZT’s use and purpose.  In addition to the fact that KZT/OZT drop most of the footnotes given in FZT/GZT, KZT/OZT also don’t maintain all the core text of FZT/GZT, either; to be sure, the core content is present in KZT/OZT, but sections of it are abridged or omitted for the sake of brevity and (what I assume it considers to be) clarity.  This isn’t so much a problem with GZT, which (at a glance) preserves the structure, length, and content of FZT much more accurately than KZT/OZT do.  It’s no wonder, then, that when modern occultists approach ZT through the popular OZT version, they often feel like the text is incomplete; to a degree, this is attributable to the fact that ZT provides “only a key and not a treatise”, but also, it’s because the text that they’re reading is fundamentally incomplete, as well.  As I said earlier, this is no fault of Zahrt et al. over at Ouroboros Press; this is the fault of the text that they happened to translate.  This is why I went with FZT for my studies and as the basis of my own English translation, because it offers the most complete version of ZT that is extant.

When it comes to the actual contents of ZT, what are we faced with?

  1. Epistle: a lengthy, long-winded letter by the “Baron de N……” to an unnamed French nobleman, dedicating the production of ZT to the recovery and rediscovery of ancient wisdom and true spirituality and offering a defense against skeptics
  2. Introduction: a brief introduction to what ZT is and how it contrasts with other (lesser) forms of divination
  3. First Step: the size, shape, and form of the 112 tiles used as the main toolset for the divinatory method of ZT
  4. Second Step: the ways the tiles are put together into “figures” (geometric compositions of tiles that create a larger geometric shape, e.g. three or six or ten tiles to form a triangular figure)
  5. Third Step: the two Principles, two Spirits, nine celestial Intelligences, and the 99 Numbers that are used in the divinatory method of ZT, including a small treatise of base-10 numerology
  6. Fourth Step: the Great Mirror, its cosmological structure, and the notion of reading particular triads of tiles placed within it (“ideal triangles”)
  7. Fifth Step: the life of humanity according to zodiacal and planetary notions according to their layout on the Great Mirror
  8. Sixth Step: reinterpreting the Great Mirror as the Great Dial to determine matters of time and temporality
  9. Seventh Step: a summary of the meanings of the 37 houses of the Great Mirror
  10. First Supplement: specific methods of finding dates and times according to the Great Dial, how to engage in divinatory processes with querents and queries, and a summary of the meanings of the two Spirit tiles, nine Intelligence tiles, and 99 Number tiles
  11. Second Supplement: a summary of the 28 natal stars and their angels, their planetary natures, and what Numbers they are associated with, along with encouragement and directions of conduct to facilitate spirituality and contact with spiritual entities
  12. Third Supplement: further guidance and considerations on engaging in divination with ZT and understanding spiritual influences in the life of humanity
  13. Epilogue: further guidance, clarifications, cautionary warnings, and corrections regarding the content of ZT and how it should be applied and developed, along with an introduction to the errata
  14. Errata: a small list of emendations to particular words or phrases throughout the text of FZT

That is, effectively, the whole of ZT (at least as FZT has it).  Rather than trying to cover, summarize, and discuss each individual chapter on its own, I’d rather take the approach of discussing particular topics related to ZT and reference the related sections throughout the ZT, because the text is “a key, not a treatise” and so doesn’t discuss things in a clearly-defined way, rather presenting bits of technique or information piecemeal as a means to educate the reader, starting with the basics and working up iteratively to more advanced topics.  From basic approaches to divination to the weird 17th century German astrological texts that influence ZT, from estoeric spirituality to revolutionary civic religion, there’s a lot to discuss; now that we’ve gotten a high-level bird’s-eye view of the text, we can dig in more to the text itself in the next post.