Unlocking the Observatory: Ideal Triangles in the Great Mirror

Where were we? We’re in the middle of discussing the obscure Telescope of Zoroaster (ZT), a manual of divination and spirituality originally published in French in 1796 (FZT) at the close of the French Revolution, which was later translated into German in 1797 (GZT) and then again in an abridged form as part of Johann Scheible’s 1846 Das Kloster (vol. 3, part II, chapter VII) (KZT), with Scheible’s work then translated into English in 2013 as released by Ouroboros Press (OZT).  Although OZT is how most people nowadays tend to encounter this system, I put out my own English translation of FZT out a bit ago as part of my research, and while that translation was just part of the work I’ve been up to, there’s so much more to review, consider, and discover when it comes to this fascinating form of divination.  Last time, we talked about the various figures and mirrors used for divination, especially the Great Mirror itself. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

※ For those following along with their own copy of ZT (get yours here!), the relevant chapters from ZT are the “Fourth Step” and “Third Supplement”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZT has this to say about the ideal triangles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ideal Small Horizontal Triangles

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

Upwards (27 total)

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

Downwards (27 total)

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

Ideal Hollow Horizontal Triangles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ideal Full Horizontal Triangles

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

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

Internal (2 total)

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

Fully external (6 total)

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

Partially external (12 total)

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

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

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

Ideal Large Horizontal Triangles

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

Upwards (3 total)

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

Downwards (3 total)

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

Ideal One-Skip Vertical Triangles

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

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

Rightwards (19 total)

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

Leftwards (19 total)

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

Ideal Two-Skip Vertical Triangles

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

Rightwards (7 total)

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

Leftwards (7 total)

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

Ideal Three-Skip Vertical Triangles

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

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

Ideal Two-Move Skewed Triangles

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

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

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

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

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

Sun + Two Zodiac Signs (12 total)

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

Small Single Zodiac (12 total)

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

Ideal Three-Move Skewed Triangles

Two Zodiac Signs (6 total)

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

Small Zodiac-Planet (12 total)

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

Large Single Zodiac (12 total)

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

Ideal Four-Move Skewed Triangles

Elemental Zodiac Groups (4 total)

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

Large Zodiac-Planet (12 total)

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

Ideal Principle Triangles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlocking the Observatory: Figures, Mirrors, and 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 112 (or 113) tiles used for divination, what each needs to have on it, and what each means in divination. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

※ For those following along with their own copy of ZT (get yours here!), the relevant chapters from ZT are the “Second Step”, “Fourth Step”, “Seventh Step”, and “Third Supplement”.

Alright!  As of the last post, we now have the toolset required for divination; in Tarot terms, we’ve taken a good look at all the cards (so to speak) and know what they are, what they represent, and the like.  What comes next is how to make use of such tools, and just as Tarot cards get drawn and arranged into spreads, so too are the tiles of ZT drawn and arranged into…well, there’s a bit of terminology we have to go through and sort out first, I suppose, because ZT was trying to innovate its own terms in a time when such terms were still in the process of taking shape and becoming standardized.

  • Figure: A geometric shape composed of tiles, named after the shape that it forms.
  • Mirror: A whole figure that is used for divination.
  • Tablature: “The reasoned and just enunciation of what a Great Mirror gives to read”, i.e. the interpretation and reasoning of a divinatory session (especially, but not necessarily, making use of the “Great Mirror”—more on that term later).

In order to form a figure from tiles, one composes a figure by arranging successive tiles in an outward spiral, starting from one tile then proceeding counterclockwise, with the second tile always to the lower left of the first then proceeding outwards from there.  Tiles within figures are always densely-packed, meaning that there is no space between them and tiles are pushed together against their own edges and corners.  In this way, given the hexagonal geometry of the tiles, figures can be formed in shapes that are overall triangular, quadrangular, or hexangular.

There are four kinds of triangular figures that ZT allows:

  1. The 3-tile triangular figure, also called the “small triangle”.
  2. The 6-tile triangular figure, also called the “simple triangle” or “hollow triangle” (because its center is a meeting of three tiles at a vertex instead of a whole tile itself).
  3. The 10-tile triangular figure, also called the “full triangle” (because its center is a whole tile).
  4. The 15-tile triangular figure, also called the “large triangle” or “double triangle” (because its center is another whole triangular figure).

There are three kinds of quadrangular figures that ZT allows (which it calls “lozenges” or “diamonds”):

  1. The 4-tile quadrangular figure, also called the “small diamond” or the “hollow diamond”.
  2. The 9-tile quadrangular figure, also called the “medium diamond” or the “full diamond”.
  3. The 16-tile quadrangular figure, also called the “large diamond” or the “double diamond”.

There are three kinds of hexangular figures that ZT allows (which it also just calls “hexagons”):

  1. The 7-tile hexangular figure, also called the “small hexagon” or the “orbital hexagon” (because the outer six tiles form an orbit around the center tile).
  2. The 19-tile hexangular figure, also called the “medium hexagon” or the “double hexagon”.
  3. The 37-tile hexangular figure, also called the “large hexagon”, the “triple hexagon”, or “the totality” (because it includes all other possible figures that are permissible according to ZT).

ZT gives a lot of precedence and eminence to the large hexagon, because it forms the basis of many of the divinatory processes and cosmological models used in its “Great Cabala”.  Although that is one of the reasons the large hexagon is called “the totality”, the other is more in the sense of a limitation.  One might wonder why we might not make larger triangles or diamonds by adding in more tiles and continuing the spiral; ZT disallows this by saying that only the figures that can be contained within the large hexagon are permissible for use in divination.  Thus, one cannot make a triangular figure out of 21 tiles or a quadrangular figure out of 25 tiles because they wouldn’t be able to “fit” inside the large hexagon.

This leads to a distinction that ZT makes between what it calls “real figures” versus “ideal figures”:

Any isolated figure is called “real”; it therefore forms a picture, a mirror. Any included or contained figure is called “ideal”.

In other words, a whole figure that is composed from tiles and seen as a whole is considered “real”, while any subset of tiles within such a figure that could also be composed as a separate figure on its own is called “ideal”.  Let’s say that we draw three tiles and form a small triangle; this would be a real figure.  If we draw another 16 tiles and, with all the tiles put together, make a medium hexagon, then this is another real figure.  However, if we look at the bottom “pie slice” of that medium hexagon (tiles 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, and 11), and note how those tiles form a sort of sub-figure in the shape of a hollow triangle, then this sub-figure is an ideal figure, because it is not a figure on its own but is part of a larger figure that it is found within.  In that light, a real large hexagon contains all other possible figures as ideal figures within it; thus, although one might consider the large hexagon to be the goal of being built-up from smaller figures, ZT takes the opposite approach and says that the large hexagon is what “came first” in a sense, from which the smaller figures could be broken out.  Although this seems like an odd distinction to make, it forms the basis of a powerful interpretive technique later on, so it’s good to start paying attention to the possible ideal figures that might occur within a larger real figure.

When it comes to the structure of the large hexagon, it helps to consider it in terms of its general structure as having one center and three “belts” or “zones:

  1. Center: house 1 (also called the “focus”)
  2. Inner belt: houses 2 through 7
  3. Middle belt: houses 8 through 19
  4. Outer belt: houses 20 through 37 (also called the “frontier”)

With all that out of the way, we’re finally able to talk about ZT’s main approach to divination: the Great Mirror.  This is a large hexagon formed in the usual way, but each tile-position (what I’ll call “house”) in the Great Mirror has particular cosmological signification.  As a result, ZT also talks about the large hexagon as using the “astronomical aspect” or “sidereal aspect” (in contrast to the “temporal aspect” or “chronic aspect” which is another use of the large hexagon we’ll get to later).  In many ways, the Great Mirror is the ZT equivalent of the Celtic Cross spread in Tarot or the Grand Tableau in Lenormand.

The above diagram is a reproduction of ZT’s own Plate III, which includes a bit more information than what’s shown above but which we’ll get to in a bit:

The Great Mirror is generated the same way as with any large mirror: counting in an outwards counterclockwise spiral starting from the center and proceeding to the lower left.  The Great Mirror is broken down into four regions based on its overall structure:

  1. The center, which is the single house 1 in the middle of the Great Mirror.
  2. The solar belt, which consists of houses 2 through 7 (i.e. the Great Mirror use of the inner belt), immediately around the center.  This belt is also called the “central belt”.
  3. The planetary belt, which consists of houses 8 through 19 (i.e. the Great Mirror use of the middle belt), immediately around the solar belt.  This belt is also called the “sidereal belt”.
  4. The zodiacal belt, which consists of houses 20 through 37 (i.e. the Great Mirror use of the outer belt), immediately around the planetary belt.

Of special significance in the Great Mirror are houses 1, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19, because these are the houses given (respectively) to the Sun, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, the Moon, and Saturn.  All the other houses are said to be “in the orbit” of one or two planets; thus, when we look at Mars (the “inner corner” of the Great Mirror on the lower left), then we can say that house 9 is Mars itself; houses 21, 22, and 23 are houses exclusively in the orbit of Mars; house 10 is in the shared orbit of Mars and Venus, house 2 is in the shared orbit of Mars and the Sun, and house 8 is in the shared orbit of Mars and Saturn.  Note how, while all the non-solar planets have three houses that are in their own orbit exclusively, every house in the Sun’s orbit is shared with another planet.  Thus, if we consider a planet together with that planet’s orbit, then what we’re doing is effectively considering an “ideal small hexagon” within the larger Great Mirror.  This is why the other term for a “small hexagon” is “orbital hexagon”, because it represents a single planet in one of the focal points of the Great Mirror and the six houses that surround it.

And yes, we’re being bumped back down to seven planets here, not to nine planetary intelligences.  As opposed to a 9-fold system of numerology, we’re using a 7-fold system of geometry here, which necessitates that we talk about seven places of interest and not nine.  To that end, it would be inaccurate to say “house of Adamasto” or “orbit of Seleno” (rather “house of Mars” or “orbit of Moon” respectively), because the Great Mirror focuses on planets and not planetary intelligences, even if the intelligences have their seats in their own planets.  Thus, both Genhelia and Psykelia share the same orbit of the Sun, just as Seleno and Psykomena share the same orbit of the Moon.  (It gets a little more complicated later, but that’s later, not now.)

So, as you might have predicted, each house in the Great Mirror has its own set of meanings, its own contextual or semantic field, just as the twelve houses do in an astrological horoscope or each of the card positions in a Tarot spread.  When a tile is placed in one of these houses, the meaning of that tile is to be interpreted in the scope of the house it’s found in.  Thus, there are 37 such houses, each with their own meaning—but again, there’s a system behind this.  Recall how when we were talking about the Intelligences and Numbers how, although each Number has its own signification, the significations didn’t have to be memorized but rather “generated” based on their smaller digits?  A similar approach is used for the meanings of the individual houses of the Great Mirror.

Take a look at the layout of planets on the Great Mirror: we have the Sun in the Middle, Mars to the lower left, Venus to the lower right, Jupiter to the right, Mercury to the upper right, the Moon to the upper left, and Saturn to the left.  Each planet has its own orbit of six houses, but if you consider things at a grander scale, the large hexagram is a collection of seven orbital hexagrams in the same geometric arrangement as an orbital hexagram has seven houses, kinda like a fractal.  If we consider a smaller “fractal” of the Great Mirror…

…then we can overlay this on each orbit of the Great Mirror as a whole to get a sort of “main planet vs. sub-planet” arrangement.

Consider house 24.  This is a house in the orbit of Venus, but it’s to the lower-left of this planet, which is the “fractal direction” of Mars.  In this light, we might say that house 24 is the house of “Mars of Venus”, so even though this house fundamentally has something to do with Venus, it’s about the Martian aspects of Venus’ domain.  Thus, this house has the meaning of “intense or violent passions and senses”.  By taking the overall planetary layout of the Great Mirror and applying it on a smaller scale to an individual planet’s orbit, we can arrive at a specific context through pairwise planetary interactions—not unlike the how we paired together the tens-digit vs. ones-digit of the compound Numbers to arrive at a specific indication through pairwise interactions of the primitive Numbers.

What about the planetary houses themselves?  Well, they have the “fractal direction” of being in the center, which is the house of the Sun: thus, the “Sun of whatever-planet” house is just that planet itself; just as the font of all power in the solar system is the Sun, the font of all power within a given planet’s own orbit is that planet itself.  Thus, house 9 (the house of Mars itself) is given to “military status, valor or bravery”, and house 13 (the house of Jupiter) is given to “high wisdom, science”.  The system checks out pretty well in this case.

What about houses that are in two orbits at once?  Consider house 7: this is a house in the orbit of the Sun, but it’s to the left of the Sun, the “fractal direction” of Saturn.  Thus, house 7 is the house of “Saturn of the Sun”, so this house is about the Saturnine aspects of the Sun’s domain.  Thus, this house has the meanings of “advanced age, health”.   At the same time, house 2 is also in the orbit of Saturn, to the right of the planet and thus the “fractal direction” of Jupiter.  The indications of “advanced age and health” can be thought of as much as the Saturnine aspects of Saturn’s domain as it is the Jovian aspects of Saturn’s domain, in this regard.  Likewise, if we consider house 10, the house between the positions of Mars and Venus, this house has the meaning of “romantic adventures” (again, “romantic” in the sense of being chivalrous and novel-worthy events).  From the perspective of Mars, house 10 is to Mars’ right in the “fractal direction” of Jupiter (so “Jupiter of Mars”), but at the same time, it’s also to Venus’ left in the “fractal direction” of Saturn (so “Saturn of Venus”).  Sure, it might be about “romantic adventures”, but the different perspectives here can shine a different light on that same topic.

So, in that light, here’s what ZT gives as meanings for the 37 houses of the Great Mirror, along with what the planetary considerations are of each house.

  1. Grandeur, power. (Sun of Sun)
  2. Strength, triumph, glory. (Mars of Sun, Mercury of Mars)
  3. Beauty, happy love. (Venus of Sun, Moon of Venus)
  4. Genius, great reputation. (Jupiter of Sun, Saturn of Jupiter)
  5. Treasures, gains of all kinds. (Mercury of Sun, Mars of Mercury)
  6. Domestic prosperity, inheritance. (Moon of Sun, Venus of Moon)
  7. Advanced age, health. (Saturn of Sun, Jupiter of Saturn)
  8. Severe bodily injury. (Moon of Mars, Venus of Saturn)
  9. Military status, valor or bravery. (Sun of Mars)
  10. Romantic adventures. (Jupiter of Mars, Saturn of Venus)
  11. Good fortune. (Sun of Venus)
  12. Marriage, pure feelings. (Mercury of Venus, Mars of Jupiter)
  13. High wisdom, science. (Sun of Jupiter)
  14. Magistracies or judiciaries, equity and fairness. (Moon of Jupiter, Venus of Mercury)
  15. Finance, trading or business. (Sun of Mercury)
  16. Maladministration or bad management. (Saturn of Mercury, Jupiter of Moon)
  17. Family, sedentary or domestic life. (Sun of Moon)
  18. Melancholy, weak health. (Mars of Moon, Mercury of Saturn)
  19. Envy, sorrows, setbacks or reversals of fortune. (Sun of Saturn)
  20. Birth, candor, inaction. (Mars of Saturn)
  21. Infancy, playfulness or mischief. (Saturn of Mars)
  22. Puberty, turbulence, quarrels or squabbles. (Mars of Mars)
  23. Adolescence, sympathy. (Venus of Mars)
  24. Intense or violent passions and senses. (Mars of Venus)
  25. Debauchery, infidelity. (Venus of Venus)
  26. Tenacious passions, constancy. (Jupiter of Venus)
  27. Celibacy, marital fidelity. (Venus of Jupiter)
  28. Moral perfection, maturity. (Jupiter of Jupiter)
  29. Prudence or caution, good philosophy. (Mercury of Jupiter)
  30. Bad faith, decline. (Jupiter of Mercury)
  31. Illicit and perilous fortunes. (Mercury of Mercury)
  32. Travel, hectic life. (Moon of Mercury)
  33. Inconstancy, wasted or lost time. (Mercury of Moon)
  34. Ancestors, old age. (Moon of Moon)
  35. Apathy, waning of fortune. (Saturn of Moon)
  36. Infirmity, indigence. (Moon of Saturn)
  37. Ruin, death. (Saturn of Saturn)

The list of meanings above makes sense, given the structure of the Great Mirror and these “fractal directions” that allow for different planets to overlap their meanings.  According to ZT’s own admission, however, the table given above is intentionally limited and limiting:

Be extremely careful to not take the Table that follows for a fixed indication of the significations of each of the 37 boxes from which the Great Mirror is composed. This Table is only a vehicle by which the Candidate should orient themselves, especially in the approaches which have as their goal only the ordinary career of human life.* However, if the Candidate has retained well all that we have established as precepts up until this point, then they will soon regard this Table as of little use, since there is not a single piece of the Great Mirror which does not modify, either for weal or for woe, the box assigned to it—and here we say “modify”, not “distort”.

* It will be seen, for example, that this table would furnish nothing to whoever would occupy themselves with the future destinies of empires, nations, &c.

What ZT is saying is that, even though it gives this table of contextual and semantic meanings for each of the 37 houses, it’s meant for illustrative purposes only as regards an individual human’s life, and as such, the indications above aren’t really valid for whole groups of people, the governments of nations and state, companies or industries, and the like—because the indications of table above were generated using that “sub-planet of main-planet” approach only for the scope of an individual human.  ZT, given that it is “only a key and not a treatise”, does not give tables for other scopes, but it gives us the means to come up with such tables using the same underlying method as this one.

For instance, say we’re in a battle with some army, and I want to know something about the tactics and strategy I should engage with in order to emerge victorious.  Understanding the difference of “strategy” (overall battle plan) and “tactics” (individual steps + logistics), I would want to turn to houses 2 and 5.  If we consider the table above, these two houses have the respective meanings of “strength/triumph/glory” and “treasures/gains of all kinds”, which…yeah, kinda work, I guess?  But if we look at the planetary considerations, house 2 is both “Mars of the Sun” as well as “Mercury of Mars” (the planning and direction of battle, i.e. strategy), and house 5 is both “Mercury of the Sun” as well as “Mars of Mercury” (the attacks and drives of planning and plotting, i.e. tactics).  By doing this, we can expand the indications of each house in the Great Mirror from the scant description given in ZT by understanding the overall method and then extrapolating from it as necessary and as befits a given situation we might be faced with.

Personally?  I think this is a really ingenious and elegant system of dividing up a situation into its many different aspects based on particular considerations.  Just like with the compound Numbers, a few basic principles are used on general ideas to produce a wide variety of specific ones.  Of course, just like with the compound Numbers, this is a lot to take in all at once, or so it’d seem—but the trick behind it is that we don’t need to take it in all at once, but rather just need to understand the method behind the madness.  While the table as given above is great for readings at the level of the individual human being, we yet have a method to expand on that to any level or field or context.  That said, we’re not done talking about the Great Mirror yet, because there are a few more considerations we have to work through, first.

First, when it comes to drawing tiles to compose the Great Mirror, the process works much as we would expect with Tarot cards or runes: individual tiles are drawn from the Urn without replacement (i.e. a tile can only be drawn a maximum of once), and it is placed in the first available house in the Great Mirror, not skipping to any later house nor replacing the tile in any earlier house.  While this makes obvious sense to us modern folk (you don’t take the first Tarot card you draw for a Celtic Cross spread and put it anywhere else but the first position, nor do you take any later card and swap it out with a card in an earlier position), I assume that ZT makes this point explicit because of how new the idea might have been and to reduce any chances of people “making their own fate” by fiddling with the order tiles come out of the Urn and thus how the Great Mirror ought to be composed.

As one reads through ZT, it establishes the rule that, even though there are 112 (or 113) tiles in the whole set used for divination, no more than 37 tiles are to be used in any given reading, because the large hexagram (i.e. the Great Mirror) has only 37 houses.  However, that is not technically entirely true, because ZT also has the rule that the two Principles are never used in a Great Mirror.  It’s not that they’re separated out from the Urn and can’t be drawn, but if one or both are drawn in the course of composing a Great Mirror, then they’re placed outside it entirely:

Sisamoro (the Good Principle) is placed at the zenith of the Great Mirror, at the top vertex of an equilateral triangle with the leftmost and rightmost corners of the Great Mirror.  Senamira, likewise, is placed at the nadir of the Great Mirror, below it in the same sort of arrangement.  ZT is, perhaps unsurprisingly, unclear on the exact signification of the Principles if they should appear in a Great Mirror, just that it makes such a divination super notable:

The presence of a Principle, whether one or both, imparts to the Great Mirror superlative properties, the development of which is not the responsibility of a Key. The Pure Spirit then must speak, or the student remains more embarrassed than enlightened by the intervention of these extreme influences; it is even worse when there is conflict [i.e. when both Principles appear]. On the contrary, the true Cabalist is never better served than by those effective extractions where Fate majestically reveals its most admirable decrees.

The only concrete advice that ZT gives us is this, along with what to note when considering when an Intelligence is drawn and put into the Great Mirror as well:

  1. Let us observe at which junction in the laying out of pieces for a Great Mirror where a Principle or Spirit appears.
  2. Let us pay great attention to the quality of two numbers by which an Intelligence, drawn from the Urn, follows and precedes, and also how, in the Great Mirror, such an Intelligence is surrounded, and whether it forms a full orbit in its placement or a truncated one.

That latter point is especially interesting when it comes to the Intellligences.  If an Intelligence is drawn, then it has a meaning just like any Number tile, but it also forms a sort of incidental planetary house of its own, and thus the houses that surround it form a sort of accidental orbit—but if such an Intelligence appears in the outer belt of the Great Mirror, such an orbit will necessarily be “truncated” and, thus, incomplete.  If such an accidental orbit is a full/complete one, then that might give an extra planetary consideration to each of the houses according to its “fractal directions”; if such an orbit is a truncated/incomplete one, then not all planets would get to be represented in such a way.  It’s a really neat idea to play with.

Astute readers will note that I’ve avoided talking about the inclusion of the signs of the Zodiac in the Great Mirror.  For the most part, the signs of the Zodiac don’t matter all that much for the overall indications of the houses.  However—and we’ll get to this more in a later post—the signs of the Zodiac are used by ZT to relate to the various stages of life that one undergoes, starting with Aries as birth and ending with Pisces as death.  Each of the sides of the zodiacal belt relate to one of the “six divisions of life” according to ZT (childhood, youth, adulthood, middle age, old age, senility), and so the signs of the Zodiac within them correspond to particular aspects of that growth (which is why house 20, given to Aries, also has “birth” in its indications, 21 “infancy”, 22 “puberty”, and so forth).  Beyond that, however, ZT doesn’t really do a whole lot with the Zodiac here, although that doesn’t say that one couldn’t feasibly find some way to work it into the system (even if ZT might discourage doing so, given its anti-astrology bias).

One last topic to round out this discussion on the Great Mirror.  Although ZT says that the planets are all equal and aren’t ranked among themselves in the planetary belt of the Great Mirror (the only planet with primacy being the Sun in the center), ZT also notes that it doesn’t have an account for why the planets are positioned on the Great Mirror the way they are: it notes that it does not appear to have anything necessarily astronomical about it nor anything that is particular astrological, either, just that it’s something that (it claims) is “of such antiquity sunk deepest into the darkness of the past; sub judice lis est [the case is still before the judge]”.  Admittedly, I’m not sure where ZT might have gotten this planetary arrangement from, either.  When it comes to hexagonal arrangements of the planets, one might be more inclined to recall the planetary hexagram…

…which is, of course, a development from the qabbalistic Tree of Life, like that of Athanasius Kircher in his Œdipus Ægyptiacus from 1652, and later used for any number of Hermetic or Western occultists who make use of the so-called “Kircher Tree”:

Of course, given how distant ZT’s own “Great Cabala” is from anything properly seen in kabbala of any sort, to say nothing of how much it would caustically say about established traditions anyway, I somehow doubt that this would have been an influence here along these lines.  However, if we compare the qabbalistic planetary hexagram with the hexagram formed by the Great Mirror, we see the same planetary triangles (Saturn-Mercury-Venus, Mars-Jupiter-Moon), just with a different rotation/reflection applied.

That being said, wherever the pattern of planets here came from, there is a logic and order in it.  If we proceed through pairs of the planets counterclockwise around the Great Mirror, we see two kinds of patterns arising of similar pairs and dissimilar pairs:

  1. Similar pairs arise between Venus-Jupiter (the benefics), Mercury-Moon (the neutrals), and Saturn-Mars (the malefics).  This has the result of making the horizontal rows of the Great Mirror form pairs as well: the middle row (Saturn-Jupiter) represents the greater planets (the greater malefic and benefic), the lower row (Mars-Venus) the lesser planets (the lesser malefic and benefic), and the upper row (Moon-Mercury) the neutral small planets.
  2. Dissimilar pairs arise between Mars-Venus (male/female), Jupiter-Mercury (king/servant or philosopher/sophist), and Moon-Saturn (creator/destroyer or youth/elder).  This suggests an awareness of the opposition of particular zodiac signs and extending that to the planets, e.g. how Mars rules Aries and Scorpio, which are in opposition to Venus-ruled Libra and Taurus.

As of this writing, I’m not familiar with any source that arranges the planets in the way ZT does; while ZT definitely has a logic that suggests a good awareness of basic astrological principles and zodiacal correspondences, I’m not sure if that’s enough to trace it to any particular origin, especially when such arrangements have usually been more magical than astrological.  This is another of those unanswered questions I have, and it may be that this arrangement is unique to ZT.  If you have any notion of where such an arrangement might have an antecedent or any similar leads for further research, dear reader, or if you spy any other insights or patterns in this arrangement, do let me know in the comments!

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Putting The Table Together

Where were we?  We’re in the middle of discussing the early modern conjuration ritual The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC), attributed to the good abbot of Spanheim, Johannes Trithemius, but which was more likely invented or plagiarized from another more recent source by Francis Barrett in his 1801 work The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer.  Many who are familiar with it either read it directly from Esoteric Archives, came by it through Fr. Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) in either his Red Work series of courses (RWC) or his book Seven Spheres (SS), or came by it through Fr. Ashen Chassan in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (Fr. AC and GTSC, respectively).  I’ve been reviewing the tools, techniques, and technology of DSIC for my own purposes as well as to ascertain the general use and style used by other magician in the real world today, and right now, we’re in the middle of focusing on the Table of Practice and how DSIC instructs the table and pedestal to be made.  Last time, we continued our talk by figuring out the planetary stuff we needed to fill in around the edge of the table, but due to vague wording and phrasing, it’s not quite clear exactly what planetary stuff is needed, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus on that front.  If you need a refresher, go read the last post!

Now that we have our choice of names, symbols, signs, and everything else out of the way, how do we actually put them all together?  DSIC tells us:

…Let them be all written within a double circle, with a triangle on a table; on which place the crystal on its pedestal: this being done, thy table is complete (as in the Fig. D,) and fit for the calling of the spirits…

The major thrust of this is describing something that surprises nobody: a triangle within a circle.  While I can’t actually cite anyone specifically that might say so (because this is something that I feel is pretty common at this point to say and think), the triangle and circle is pretty much the mainstay of the locus of conjuration.  We see, basically, the same thing in the Triangle of Art from the Lemegeton, just with the circle inside the triangle instead of outside it:

The general thinking on this is that the effectively circle binds the spirit (because the circle is a shape that has no end to its lines, or corners to slip through, but an infinite unbroken boundary), while the triangle (being the first possible polygon with the fewest possible points/lines) helps to give the spirit form.  But, there’s also the fact that the triangle, being a shape with three sides, is also qabbalistically connected by that number to the planet Saturn, which could also suggest making the spirit more obedient and susceptible to our threats and demands.  It’s reminiscent of what Agrippa says in his Fourth Book when dealing with “evil spirits” whose oaths or statements you doubt (book IV, chapter 12):

And after all the courses are finished, then cease a little; and if any Spirit shall appear, let the Invocant turn himself towards the Spirit, and courteously receive him, and earnestly entreating him, let him first require his name, and if he be called by any other name; and then proceeding further, let him ask him whatsoever he will: and if in any thing the Spirit shall shew himself obstinate or lying, let him be bound by convenient conjurations: and if you doubt of any lye, make without the Circle with the consecrated Sword, the figure of a triangle or pentagon, and compel the Spirit to enter into it; and if thou receivest any promise which thou wouldst have to be confirmed with an Oath, let him stretch the sword out of the Circle, and swear the Spirit, by laying his hand upon the Sword.

Here Agrippa uses either a triangle (figure of Saturn) or a pentagon (figure of Mars), though he might also mean “pentagram” instead (but which would suggest a pentagon in its center by virtue of its geometrical shape), and considering the context here, I’d be more inclined to think that the triangle isn’t used so much to help the spirit take physical form as much as it is constrain it, at least according to Agrippa.  Your mileage may vary.  It is interesting, however, that Agrippa describes no such device for working with “good spirits” earlier in the Fourth Book when he mentions how to call upon “good spirits” using either his prayer-based approach or his ecstasy approach (book IV, chapter 10).  (We’ll see more of this weirdness in future posts about the difference in approach between “good spirits” and “evil spirits”.)

All well and good, but there’s that phrase “double circle”.  It seems that everyone who’s worked with Drawing Spirits Into Crystals DSIC, whether or not they use the pedestal, interprets this to mean that there are two rings of names, one for the planets and angels (along with “their seals or characters”), and one for the four elemental kings inside that; this is the form of table that’s used by everyone that I’ve ever seen.  In this system, the four kings are placed evenly spaced on the inner ring aligned with the four elements, typically with Oriens (or Michael) aligned with the Sun towards the East.  For the sake of simplicity for now, let’s use a very basic table design that spells all the names out in the Latin script, uses the four kings instead of the four archangels, and uses only the glyphs of the seven planets along with the names of their corresponding angels:

And, of course, there’s at least one interpretation out there that puts the four kings on the outside, with the seven planets on the inside.  This is certainly a far more uncommon arrangement (most people would cosmologically place the planets “higher up” and the elemental/worldly “further down”), and I’ve only ever seen one such Table of Practice design made by Eryk Adish on Etsy:

But…on a closer reading of the phrasing being used here, and thinking back to other texts that use similar phrasing, I’m not entirely certain that this double-ring-of-names setup is what the text actually implies.  I mean, it makes graphical sense, but “double circle” may not mean two circles of names, but rather, two geometric circles between which the names are written. In this case, I think what DSIC is suggesting is that we have only one ring of names and seals, which is bounded on the outside and on the inside by a circle; these two circles would be the “double circle” within which would be all the things we’d be engraving.

In this case, we’d need to figure out an order for placing the names of the four kings into this, as well, since these things must be given “in order”.  I think we should tie this into the order of the planets we mentioned above, and seeing how the four kings (being representatives of the four elements) come after the planets, it suggests that there’s a notion of density at play here: the further we get along in the order, the denser we get.  This argues in favor of starting with Saturn, then proceeding to Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, and then to the Moon, and then the four kings.  What order for the kings?  Keep the order going in terms of density: Oriens (Fire), Paimon (Air), Egyn (Water), Amaymon (Earth).  This would use the elemental domains of the four kings rather than their directions; if we were to go clockwise starting with Oriens in the East (to befit a magician operating in the northern hemisphere to match the passage of the Sun), then we’d have the order of Oriens, Amaymon, Paimon, and Egyn; those in the southern hemisphere might use the reverse order.  Of course, if we were to just use the elemental density order, then it wouldn’t matter where we’d be on Earth.  Fitting the four kings into this descending order of the planets just ties it into a grander descending order of forces of the cosmos, as can be seen in the Cosmographia diagram above (look closely at the elemental patterns in the center of the diagram).

That said, even though that might be a strict interpretation of “let them be all written within a double circle”, that might be a little too strict and literal.  It kinda breaks with this notion we have that the four kings are a species apart from the planetary angels, that the elements of this world are of a different nature than the planets of the spheres above; while, yes, it can be reasoned out to make everything “fit” within one ring of names, it’s probably more graphically pleasing and cosmologically sound to use two rings of names, writing everything essentially “within a triple circle” instead of a double circle, with the planetary engravings on the outer ring and the four kings (or four archangels, if that’s your jam) on the inside.  However, the DSIC text says what it says.

In either case, using either two rings of names or one ring, in the inside of all the above would be the triangle.  Though DSIC doesn’t specify where or how it should be drawn, it makes sense to have the innermost circle circumscribe the triangle.  Given the description in DSIC, there’s nothing to be engraved inside the triangle, nor outside the triangle and inside the inner circle.  This is probably the easiest part to interpret from a lack of depiction and description of the entire DSIC introduction, and completes the construction of the table itself.

In that light, let’s compare the one ring design with the two ring design, with the planetary order of decreasing geocentric distance followed by increasing elemental density.  Let’s agree to use the four kings for this, and for the sake of a simple construction as above, we’ll limit ourselves to using the names of the four kings, the glyphs of the planets, and the names of the the planetary angels, all spelled out in Latin script, with nothing else.  Completed with the innermost triangle, we’d get ourselves two designs like the following:

The first one on the left has the planetary stuff and the four kings given in the conventional layout of, but that second one on the right with just one ring of names “all written within a double circle” follows from a strict and literal interpretation of DSIC, and…it works.  It makes sense.  We start at the bottom and, going clockwise, proceed through the four kings (in order of their corresponding element based on zodiacal direction), then the seven planets/angels, proceeding from the Moon/Gabriel and going up to Saturn/Cassiel.  This works, and is entirely a valid way to construct a table according to the instructions given in DSIC in the absence of any illustration.  Plus, it also reminds me of the conjuration circles used in texts like the Grimorium Verum, Grand Grimoire, and Grimoire of Pope Honorius, though admittedly those were intended for the conjurer to stand in, not for the basis of the conjuration area for the spirit.  Still, using this single-ring approach does make sense, it follows from the DSIC text, and is an entirely valid approach to creating the table.

But, despite its cleanliness and orderliness…it’s taking me a while to like it.  While it does appeal to me, it seems that literally nobody has ever used this interpretation of what “double circle” means.  Not that it’s unbalanced, but it does feel a bit mismatched to put the four kings in the same ring as the seven angels, on top of it probably feeling unfamiliar and with me not recognizing this as a proper table.  I think it would make more graphical sense to more people, at least, to interpret “double circle” as two circles of names, not one ring of names written between two circles, but that’s not a strict and contemporaneous interpretation of DSIC.  For the sake of keeping the conversation going, I’m going to stick to the two-circles-of-names and not one-ring-of-names-in-two-circles design, because that’s what makes the most immediate cosmological and aesthetic sense to me.  That said, if you were to take a single Table of Practice approach that uses the four archangels instead of the four kings…that could well be appropriate.  We said before last post that figuring out what “seals or characters” would be needed for the planetary parts of the table design was the most serious linguistic point of contention, but I stand corrected: it’s this, at least for the table (there are others which we’ll talk about when we get to that point of our DSIC discussion).  Despite putting the lid on the single-ring design, we’ll come back to it at a later time; for now, we’ll stick to the two-ring design, only for the sake of expediency and it’s what everyone already knows, likes, and wants.

But while we’re here, there is one plausible reason I can think of for putting the four kings on the same “level” as the seven planetary angels.  Given their nature, and considering their potentially old predecessors going back to Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian times, this is actually something to consider: the four kings could be considered survivals of the “four winds” from ancient Mesopotamian times, which were considered deities in their own right and on the same level as the planetary gods of those cultures.  If we consider the role of the four kings here and what they’re doing based on what we said before (and consider also Agrippa, book III, chapter 24, my emphasis in bold text: “every one of these Spirits is a great Prince, and hath much power and freedom in the dominion of his own planets, and signs, and in their times, years, months, days, and hours, and in their Elements, and parts of the world, and winds“), and if we consider the role of the seven planetary angels here to channel and distill their respective planetary forces in a way that the kings would the worldly, elemental forces, then it makes sense that the four kings here would be included with the seven planetary angels.  This would mean that the table isn’t necessarily a cosmogram or anything to show how everything is ideally arranged, but that the presence (and support) of the seven planetary angels and four kings of the world would collectively help to channel, focus, and materialize the spirit in the crystal as visibly and physically as possible, lending it a share of all the forces that combine to manifest everything in this world.  In other words, the presence of these spirits isn’t about the actual planetary and elemental forces, but about the spheres of heaven and four corners of the world, using distinctly worldly processes to bring something to manifest within the triangle; consider how the Circle of Art from the Lemegeton has the snake with all the divine names and attributes of the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life curling inward towards the center.

On top of that, the “four winds” of back then were assigned to the four zodiac signs of Scorpio (or Aquila), Aquarius, Taurus, and Leo—the four fixed signs, which later became identified with the four archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, and Michael.  In this light, this means that not only the four kings can (and arguably should) be arranged with the seven planetary angels, but that they would, reaching back to their shared origin, be essentially interchangeable with the four archangels.  Not a bad idea, and another point in favor of those who would use the four archangels instead of the four kings on their DSIC tables.

Anyway, let’s continue.  If we were to go with our earlier design choice of using the planetary glyphs, the planetary characters, the names of the angels, and the names of the kings, with the names written in Latin, we’d get the following for our one ring and two ring forms:

Forgive me for having to bunch up the (more numerous) characters for the Sun and Jupiter, but I didn’t want to rebalance all of the spacing for all this just yet.  The idea is there, though.  You can envision what it’d be like for incorporating the angelic seals, too, based on this; smaller font, smaller characters, and a lot more densely-packed use of space on the outer ring.  But, despite all the complexity here, I think this is closer to what DSIC is actually instructing us to do:

…the table on which the crystal stands the following names, characters, &c. must be drawn in order.  First, The names of the seven planets and angels ruling them, with their seals or characters. The names of the four kings of the four corners of the earth. Let them be all written within a double circle, with a triangle on a table…

But, in the end, there you have it.  More table designs for use with DSIC based on different yet equally strict and accurate interpretations of the rather terse instructions given by the text itself.

Whugh.  That took a lot more words, explanation, surveying, and arguing with Adobe Illustrator than I expected, to be sure.

Now, in light of everything above?  Given the lack of explanation of the table in DSIC, as well as the fact that there’s no visual depiction given, along with the level of specificity that is given to the pedestal itself, I want to make the claim that the specific design used for table itself probably doesn’t matter that much, honestly.  It seems like the real focus in DSIC is given to the pedestal supporting the crystal with the names and symbols to be engraved around it, with the table itself being described almost as an afterthought.  In that light, it’s not the table doing the bulk of the protective and spiritual work as far as providing for the right woogity in the ritual (besides the magician themselves, of course), but the pedestal itself.  If we were to actually give credence to the notion that Johannes Trithemius wrote DSIC (and, personally, I don’t), well…recall that he was an abbot, and thus would be more inclined towards religious magic of a higher and more theurgical nature rather than goetia or necromancy, and recall how we likened the pedestal to a monstrance.  In that light, the shape and purpose of the pedestal makes a lot of sense: it’s a monstrance not for displaying the Host or relics, but the presence of actual spirits themselves; the table should be decked out in the signs and symbols of the seven planets and four elements to facilitate the presence of spirits, sure, but beyond that, I don’t know whether DSIC really cares as much about the table as about the pedestal.  Honestly, if somehow you got the money and means to get one, my hunch is that even the use of an actual monstrance that once held a consecrated Host would alone be sufficient, with a crystal or some material held in the chamber, to perform DSIC with, even without a table or names of angels or kings or whatnot; if you can get such a mosntrance and use it on a table, all the better.

Note that I’m not saying that the table doesn’t matter at all; if it didn’t matter, DSIC would probably say as much, or even just decline to mention anything about the table at all.  But so long as the basic idea of the table is there—a triangle circumscribed by two circles, along with planetary names/angels/characters and names of elemental kings (or elemental angels if that’s the route you want to take)—then I think you’ve got enough of what you need to perform the DSIC ritual.  Heck, I’m not 100% convinced (more like 99%) that you need the planetary stuff and the names of the kings at all, honestly, so long as you’ve got the appropriate pedestal made in the appropriate way.  There’s nothing saying you shouldn’t use them, of course, and I’m not making that claim either, but I don’t think it’s as necessary or as important to the spirit of DSIC than having the pedestal.

So, then, why do we focus on the table, or as we like to call it, the Table of Practice?  Because so many of us like simplicity, and let’s be honest: it’s a lot simpler to have a single tool (one Table of Practice) than two tools (table and pedestal), and it’s a lot simpler to have a free-standing crystal ball than having to set it in something else, which requires some specialty crafting skills that not everyone has.  Heck, already not a lot of people have the crafting skills necessary to make even a rudimentary Table of Practice, despite that it’s not that hard to do.  Since DSIC-compatible Tables of Practice began being made about ten years ago, until the advent of Fr. AC’s reintroduction of the pedestal as a separate item, the general approach has largely been focused on combining the designs of the pedestal with the table into a single Table of Practice, and that approach is workable enough, simple enough, and effective enough to do what DSIC claims to do.

Those readers of mine who somehow maintained their mental acuity after all this time that I’m only just now using the phrase “Table of Practice”.  When it comes to the DSIC method on its own terms, of which Fr. AC tends to hit closest to the mark, DSIC says to use both a table and a pedestal; however, when the pedestal and table are combined into something like what Fr. RO (and Fr. Acher, and the Scribbler, and Satyr Magos, and myself, etc.) uses, then you get the Table of Practice.  I’m using the phrase “Table of Practice” to refer to the single-apparatus approach instead of the dual-apparatus approach of table and pedestal, and I think that might help clarify some of the language around all this stuff.

The three symbols of the hexagram with central Yod, the pentagram, and the cross are placed in the corners of the central table triangle, while the use of the name Tetragrammaton tends to get dropped out, though some magicians engrave circularly around the triangle in the gap between the triangle and the (inner) ring of names.  The names of the angels from the pedestal either get left out entirely or replace the names of the four kings, making those names left out; I’ve never seen a Table of Practice that has both the four angels and the four kings.  I’ve seen only one such example of this from Tye, and it puts the names of the angels in the same ring as that of the kings on tyetknot’s Tumblr but in a way that doesn’t follow much with the directions we should see (Raphael in the North?  Uriel in the West?), and though I get the logic behind it, that doesn’t seem to mesh well with me.

But what would it look like if a Table of Practice did have both sets of names that did agree with the nature of the tools that DSIC instructs us to use?  Given how we’re combining the inscriptions on the pedestal with the inscriptions on the table, and noting that we combined the three symbols inside the triangle, this would suggest we should have the four angels inside the triangle as well.  This doesn’t completely surprise me; I mean, we see something similar going on with the Triangle of Art from the Lemegeton Goetia (see the earlier pictures in this post), after all, with the name Michael being split into three—and note how it’s fundamentally a table unto itself, consisting of a circle and triangle and divine names including “Tetragrammaton”.

Further, note how, in the Lemegeton Goetia’s Triangle of Art, there’s a circle inside the triangle itself.  This leads me to a design choice where, just as we can have the names of the four kings on an inside ring within the ring of planetary angelic names, bounded by a circle above and below it, we can have the names of the four archangels on a ring within the triangle, bounded by another pair of circles above and below it.  If I were to make a final, let’s-get-it-all-in Table of Practice design, based on everything above, then we’d end up with this:

This design of the Table of Practice, using two rings as is conventional at this point, with all the names spelled out in Latin script, has all the elements from both the pedestal and the stand on a single surface, and even though foregoing the pedestal isn’t true to the instructions in DSIC or to Fr. AC’s grimoire-strict methodology, this does have all the symbols necessary and in roughly-equivalent positions, just presented in two dimensions horizontally rather than three dimensions horizontally and vertically.  As a result, this might be the most true-to-the-spirit Table of Practice for DSIC-type work, should one forego the pedestal, and it also resolves the debate between having either the names of the four kings or those of the four angels by including both sets of names in an appropriate location.

And, for kicks, let’s do one more design: a final complete Table of Practice that has all the above plus the twelve zodiacal angels in another ring outside that of the planets and their angels, with the planetary and zodiacal angel names written in Celestial Hebrew :

It is weird, I admit, to have the four archangels “underneath” the four kings, but I’m not trying to represent a vertical relationship anymore once we get under the four kings.  Remember that everything in and around the triangle comes from the design of the pedestal, which is supposed to be stand above the table; if we do away with the pedestal (and it’s not true to DSIC to do so), then we should still make an effort to keep the same symbols from it onto the table to make a combined Table of Practice.  It’s common enough to do this by putting the three symbols of the hexagram with central Yod, pentagram, and cross into the corners of the triangle, but those could just as easily go outside the triangle, too; the circumscribed “Tetragrammaton” is unheard of in the way depicted above, either, but I’ve never seen anyone include both the four kings as well as the four angels.  While one could restructure the Table of Practice to put planetary angels on the outside, the four archangels inside them, and the four kings inside them, I think putting the archangels closest to the center of the Table of Practice makes more sense because those are supposed to be closest near the crystal.

One more conjecture at this point, now that I’ve plowed through enough Illustrator work for one day.  Now that I think about it…well, remember what I pointed out about the Triangle of Art from the Lemegeton above?  It’s fundamentally the same thing as the table: a triangle and a circle with some divine names written around it.  If you had a properly-constructed pedestal—or a consecrated monstrance—you could probably just plop that on the Triangle of Art and it would work as well.  After all, nobody’s complained about the Triangle of Art lacking kings or angels or planets and it’s been used for goetic conjurations for quite some time, and they’ve gotten great results with that tool, despite the lack of planetary stuff or the four kings.  My hunch is that you could use just a regular, simple, boring Triangle of Art and a properly-made stand for the crystal and it would be sufficient for DSIC ritual use, omitting everything above about the specific needs of the table from DSIC despite what DSIC says about it.  That’s just a conjecture, but given some of the discussions above, I think there’s a good logic to it that could well be experimented with for those who have a pedestal or monstrance.

When I set out to write about this topic, I had no intention of making this a full survey of the various Tables of Practice that are currently in use by a variety of magicians, nor did I anticipate going into detail on the various versions of the names one might use, but I’m glad I did.  Still, this is just one aspect of the DSIC equipment; there’s still the lamen, circle, and wand to talk about.  We’ll pick up on some of those next, though given how DSIC actually gives examples of those, there’ll be a lot less to discuss, and we’ll have more fun with the Fourth Book of Cornelius Agrippa, besides!

Search Term Shoot Back, May 2014

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of May 2014.

“why is yesod important in ring of solomon” — As far as I know, it’s not.  The Ring of Solomon, given in the Lemegeton, has the names “Tetragrammaton”, “Tzabaoth”, and “Michael” written on it; the one given to John Dee is known as the “PELE Ring”, having that word inscribed on it (perhaps a reversed romanized “Aleph”?) with a circle with a V and L sticking through it.  None of this is particularly associated with Yesod, the sephiroth associated with the sphere of the Moon, whose commonly-associated godname is Shaddai El Chai and whose angel presiding over it is Gabriel.

“big cock anal” — Yes, please.

“can orgonite be used for penis growth ?” — First, orgonite can’t really be used for anything that, say, a rock, a crystal, or a piece of wood can’t, and honestly anything else looks prettier than orgonite.  Second, the penis is pretty much a fixed size once you hit puberty; with the exception of prolonged penis pumping or jelqing (either of which can be dangerous if you don’t do it right, including literally exploding the penis), you really won’t be changing the size much.  Third, no.  No, you cannot use orgonite for penis growth.  You must be extraordinarily desperate to be thinking of that.

“black pepper in rituals” — It’s a pretty useful ingredient, actually.  Anything that has a sharp or stinging smell or taste to it tends to be Martial, while anything dark black tends to be Saturnine; black pepper, being both, is a good example of an herb that combines both of these forces, but pepper generally tends to be a Martial ingredient.  It’s good for banishing things, and a standby banishing incense of mine combines black pepper, red pepper, myrrh, clove, and star anise.  It’s also good for offensive magic, especially if you’re trying to get someone to get the fuck out of your life or cause them slow-burning harm.  Be careful when burning it, however, and don’t inhale it directly or get the smoke in your eyes.

“since greek god hermes had a big dick do virgo guy born on august 23 have big dicks as well” — …again?  Why is this a thing people are searching for?  (I may as well ask why there exists Rule #34 on the Internet.)  First, August 23 is really on the cusp between Leo and Virgo, and depending on the year and exact time of birth, someone could be clearly on one side or the other, or could be really right on the fence between the two.  In my experience, cusp people who have the physical attributes of one sign have the personality characteristics of the other.  Second, the bigger (…erm) thing is that one’s rising sign really influences one’s physical form, which I would assume continue down to the girth and length of one’s cock; it’s not just the Sun sign that matters.  Third, it’s really in very few depictions of Hermes that he’s presented with a huge dick; the hermai statues weren’t always Hermes but acted as generic intermediary messengers between humans and gods in ritual depictions, and it’s really only that huge ithyphallic Roman drawing of Mercury that we see a Pan-like figure with a caduceus.  I mean, sure, the gods can present themselves (heh) in any way they chose, including the size of particular attributions of theirs, but I genuinely don’t think a huge cock is something attributable to Hermes in the same way the caduceus or winged sandals are.  That said, he definitely has nothing to worry about, either.

“likeness between virgo males and greek god hermes” — If search term results are any indication, apparently a huge cock is one of them?  This question is kinda weird to me, since it’s like asking the likeness between a Jew and YHVH, or a citizen of the United States and George Washington.  Virgoan and Geminese people are both born under the Zodiac signs ruled by Mercury, but that’s hardly much to talk about.  Again, the rising sign, Moon sign, signs of the Parts of Fortune and Spirit, and the planet of the almuten are all hugely important factors that can change from Virgo to Virgo, Gemini to Gemini, and so forth.  In many regards, if a particular Virgo male has a huge cock, it’s probably coincidental and attributable to many other factors besides their Sun sign.

“can you pray to summon satan” — Totally, yes!  Just make sure whom you’re praying to and why you’re praying for it line up right.  Don’t pray to the Judeo-Christian God to summon Satan for world domination, and don’t pray to Satan himself to imprison himself for the rest of eternity.  You might make more enemies than friends that way.

“religious amulet sash that you wear across the shoulder and end at the hip in yoruba” — I’m not an expert on ATR practices, but Santería (or Lukumi, which has its origins in the Yoruba culture) doesn’t wear these.  They wear elekes or collares, beaded necklaces and bracelets, the colors and patterns of which reflect different orisha (Santerían deities).  The sashes are from a nearby culture from the Congo, whose religion is known as Palo (viz. Palo Mayombe, Palo Kimbisa, Palo Briyumba, etc.).  They don’t wear the beaded necklaces or bracelets (except maybe as a personal affectation), but instead wear the bandera, a sash that goes over the shoulder and down to the other hip, the beaded patterns of which represent the different nkisi (Palo deities), along with chains, cowrie shells, and other charms to reflect ancestry, ancestors, and the like.

“can i use orgonite in my crystal grid” — You can, but why?  Crystals tend to be cheaper and more easily accessible and tend to have a purer energy feel to them.  Besides, crystals are already present in orgonite, which tends to be a mishmash of metal shavings, glitter, sticks, and glue, so why bother?  Just use crystals and leave the orgonite crap alone.

“keys of solomon used in a ritual death” — Very little in the Key of Solomon has to do with ritual deaths or killing, much less those of humans.  However, animal sacrifice is a thing, and the use of blood as ingredients in ink or pigments is common in several of the rituals, as well as in making offerings to the demons in the Lemegeton Goetia.  If you do this, first make the white-handled knife (which itself requires the blood of a goose) to consecrate it, then use that as the sacrificial blade for further sacrifices.  Be careful, and also study how Jewish kosher slaughter works and try to use that method to ensure a quick and as-close-to-painless-as-possible death.  If you cut yourself, halt all working and make sure you don’t get any of your own blood mixed up in the offerings or ink, and GTFO the ritual area.  If you’re at all squeamish about using sacrifices of animals or blood, just look elsewhere or work on making plant-based substitutes for blood.

“hermetic wand pricing” — Depends on whom you ask.  I can make wands for you as a custom commission, depending on complexity and style, though for wands used in the Golden Dawn, you’d be better off looking elsewhere or studying the craft and making one for yourself.

“are there any of the penticles of the moon out of the greater key of solomon that have to do with arc angel azreal” — Sorta?  Azrael, sometimes known as Azriel, is commonly known as the Angel of Death, though his name literally means “One whom God Helps”.  He’s known in Islamic traditions, though never by this name in the Qur’an, instead being referred to as the angel of death.  The Zohar of Jewish Kabbalah has this angel receive the prayers of the faithful in Heaven and leads the heavenly hosts, and some esoteric forms of Christianity associate this angel with Sealtiel or Selaphiel, the angel of prayer.  All told, though, he’s most known in his function of giving death to mankind.  Though I didn’t think this angel appeared in the Key of Solomon, there is actually a pentacle of the Moon that references a very similar name to this: the Fifth Pentacle of the Moon, which “serveth to have answers in sleep”, and “serveth unto destruction and loss, as well as unto the destruction of enemies”,  as well as “against all phantoms of the night, and to summon the souls of the departed from Hades”.  This pentacle has the name “Azarel” written on it, which could just as easily be romanized from Hebrew as “Azrael”, so maybe this is the pentacle you’re looking for.

“i want to write my name in angelic script” — First learn to write your name in Hebrew, or find a Hebrew version of your name; then simply write the same letters in angelic script, which is basically a different font of Hebrew.

“letter v in isopsephy” — There isn’t one.  Isopsephy is Greek gematria, and there is no letter V in Greek.  The modern pronunciation of Beta or Upsilon can sometimes sound like the English V, but there is no such letter.  Likewise, in Hebrew gematria, there is no letter V either, though Bet or Waw can sometimes sound like it, too.  If you’re using isopsephy based on purely phonetic principles, you could pick either of those letters from those scripts, but the thing is that you’d be applying phonetic principles to a text-based system, and the disconnect is large enough to give me pause for concern.  And no, I haven’t found an English/Latin isopsephy/gematria worth discussing yet.

“how to write a curse tablet in latin”  — Much the same way as you’d write a curse tablet in any other language.  The language doesn’t really factor into the magic unless you’re working with specifically Latin-speaking spirits, and depending where you are, those might be few and far between.  Write in the language most comfortable to you; the spirits will understand.  That said, if you happen to know Classical Latin or Greek comfortably well, by all means write in those languages.

“are summoming triangles evil?” — As much as pens and paper are.  The summoning triangle is a tool used in rituals, which I suppose can only be declared “good” or “evil” based on their intent and result.

And, as you may have noticed, dear readers, I’m back!  I’m all situated in the new house, all the spirits and altars are set up, and a few days’ worth of housewarming parties are complete.  I’m getting settled back into a routine of commuting, ritual, and martial arts practice, so everything’s going well.  I’m now open for craft commissions again, though I now have a minor backlog of things to do from people who happened to order something over the past month.  How’ve you been this past May?