Skip to content

Principle Eleven, Exercise Ten

by Tony Willis   

With our examination of the occult significance of the eleventh Trump we reach the half-way point in the Major Arcana. From here onward, the Way of Initiation grows incrementally steeper, metaphorically speaking. The forces of inertia pulling the seeker back into the trammels of everyday life with the intention of distracting the seeker’s mind from the delights and rewards of spiritual life. To inoculate ourselves from these encumbering forces, we will henceforth, at the start of each exercise, create around ourselves a bubble of disinfected space, as it were. And after we have completed the exercise, we will dissolve this spiritualized ambiance so that we can return to the workaday world with our consciousness recalibrated so that it may with ease meaningfully engage in the material concerns caring for our personal hygiene, dressing and feeding ourselves, and such like necessary activities.

To create this invisible sphere of protective energy around you, you will need: A candle set in a candle-holder together with matches or a lighter. Put these items on the table you have in front of you whenever you undertake any of these exercises. Regard this table as your workbench.

Procedure: Stand somewhere in the room where you have plenty of space around you. Hold out your active arm (your right arm if you are right-handed), fingers extended so as to form a small paddle somewhat like a table-tennis bat. Turn slowly in a clockwise direction, sweeping your arm around the room as you go. Make one complete circuit. Do this with the intention of clearing the area around you of unwanted or intrusive energy. As you rotate say, out loud or in your head, “With this action, I release any energies that might restrain, limit or interfere with the magickal operation I am about to embark upon. Let them be carried off by the breeze created by the sweeping gesture that my arm is making.”

That done, light the candle, saying as you do so: “This candle that I light is the visible symbol in the outer world of the Spirit that lives within me. With this act, I commence this exercise, a journey into the Astral World.” Lighting the candle symbolizes a blossoming in your mind of a heightened type of awareness and the awakening of your magickal consciousness. However, a symbol lacks power if it has no parallel in the mind of the occultist using the symbol. To put this in basic terms, no a symbol can have any effect unless it means something to the person employing it. When you light the candle, therefore, pause mentally and “read” the mood or tone present around you in the room. “Feel” a shift in atmosphere occur as you light the candle, as the flame glows and leaps into life, and then burns strong and bright, warm and vital. Until you can feel (or sense) that shift, your action is ineffective.

Then, at the end of the exercise, turn anticlockwise around the room with your active arm extended, making sure you complete a full circuit of three hundred and sixty degrees. Then blow out the candle flame, and earth yourself and write up your notes as usual.

It is not of vital importance that you follow this procedure when undertaking Exercise Ten. But it will be necessary to do so for all the exercises that come after it. That being the case, it might be just as well to treat Exercise Ten as a dummy run so as to make certain that you are thoroughly familiar with the process when you come to engage with it when carrying out Exercise Eleven.

Important note. This exercise cannot be undertaken by anyone who does not have the sword, the cup, and Hecate’s key in their carryall.

Exercise Ten

Begin by mentally clearing the space around you as directed. Next sit, close your eyes, and imagine yourself surrounded by an infinite blackness. Slowly the darkness lightens, becoming a thick, swirling dark mist. The mist turns a lighter shade of gray and attenuates. It grows ever paler and little by little fades away. When the mist has cleared, you see that you are seated on the raft made of tree trunks floating in the middle of the now-familiar lake. Beautifully maintained parkland lies all around you, the sweeping lawns, the stands of linden (basswood) trees and beech trees, and the Temple of Themis with its domed roof almost dead ahead.

The water of the lake is shifting gently, causing the raft to turn slowly, and this circulating motion permits you to view the park from almost every angle. As you revolve on the raft, you notice, in one direction, an ancient oak tree with a thick, gnarled trunk. Its branches are covered in leaves, all vivid green in the glorious sunlight of this summer’s day. Coiled over and around the tree’s lower branches is the body of a massive grey snake. Its head droops, its eyes are shut, its scales are dull. The snake, whose name is Massuraby, is the guardian of the park. It is sick. If it dies, the park will fall rapidly into decay. It is your task to find the medicine that will revivify the snake, to bring the medicine back to the oak tree and get the snake to drink it.

As you sit contemplating your quest, a fish leaps out of the lake right in front of you and splashes back into the water. The appearance of the fish reminds you that your destination lies at the bottom of the lake. That thought in mind, stand up, collect your carryall and step to the edge of the raft. Jump in to the water, feet first, as usual, and begin your descent. Down and down you sink. At first, the water around you is cloudy but gradually the cloudiness clears until at last the water is completely transparent.

You reach the bottom of the lake and can feel an uneven surface underfoot as if you stood in newly plowed field, all ridges and furrows. Walking is difficult on this terrain. As you struggle to move around, you catch sight of a dark opening in a vast wall of rock not far away from you. Giving up the idea of walking to this cave, you push upward into the transparent water and swim there. The mouth of the cave is wide and the inside is illuminated by a soft, pale gold light. The passage tends downwards at an angle. Swim into the cavern and press on with your descent. Little torpedo-shaped silver-grey fish dart to and fro in the tunnel, some going down, others ascending. As you proceed, the light become a little stronger, and the passage widens until at last you enter an open space with a high, arching roof. Looking up, you catch sight of a symbol painted in red up there on the roof of the cavern. It is a circle from which an Mars sigilarrow protrudes – the astrological symbol for the planet Mars. The cavern floor is littered with broken wooden boxes and some old and dust-covered bottles laying on their sides. Among the debris you spy the head of a battle ax severed from its wooden handle and the base of a statue showing the bare feet and legs of some figure but snapped off at the thighs, the other half of the statue nowhere to be seen.

The most striking item in the cavern is a large, grey, metal safe large enough to hold a human being. There is a keyhole in the safe’s door but the safe is bound around with an iron chain. The chain winds around the safe multiple times, going from top to bottom and also all around its middle. The chain is drawn so tight that it would be impossible to open the door to the safe even if the door was unlocked. Take your sword from the carryall and strike the chain with it. Hack at the chain until you have cut through it. This may take several strokes of the sword. Once the chain is severed, loosen it so that you can get at the safe’s door. If the chain cannot be loosened due to the way it has been wound around the safe, cut through the chain again using the sword until you can access the door with ease.

Clear the loose sections of the chain away and exchange your sword for the key of Hecate. Using the key, unlock the safe. Pull open the door and inside the safe you will find a wooden casket such as might be used as a jewelry box. Open the casket and within you will find a single small glass phial containing a sparkling amber liquid. Place the phial and the key in your carryall and make your way back to the entrance to the cave. From there swim upwards and keep on going until you break the surface of lake. Looking around, you see that you are near to land, the vast oak tree not so very far away, with the great grey serpent twined immobile around its lower branches.

Make for the shore and draw yourself up onto the grass that fringes the lake. Walk to the trunk of the oak tree. Lift your cup from your carryall and stand it upright between the roots of the tree. Next take out the phial and pour its amber liquid into your cup. Setting aside the empty phial, offer the cup to the serpent. At first the creature takes no notice of you. Continue holding the cup to its mouth while saying: –

“Great protective spirit, Massuraby:

May you become well; may your spirit stand tall on the Astral.

May the waters of heaven nourish you.

Come, drink of the cup of life

That your body may be made whole again.

May you be healed by the blessing of the waters of heaven.”

Aroused from its torpor by the sound of your voice, the serpent drinks and having drunk transforms, its scales changing color and become green and gold, glowing with vitality. The snake is at once more lively, its eyes bright, alert, its body more agile. Massuraby slithers swiftly into the higher branches of the tree. Your quest accomplished, you put your cup into your carryall, and return to the raft which is waiting for you at the edge of the lake. Seat yourself, ankles together, hands flat on your thighs, your carryall at your side.

The water around your raft swirls, drawing it toward the center of the lake, turning it slowly as it does so. You are afforded a panoramic view of the entire park, seeing it from every angle, the perfectly manicured lawn, the trees, the Temple of Themis, the gentle roll of the hills that seems to hold the lake in a great bowl of greenery infused with natural goodness. Before you can consider the landscape further, a breeze ruffles the surface of the lake disturbing its peace. The breeze then gains in strength and drives a fine white-grey mist across the lawns of the park. The mist grows thicker and darker as it envelops you until you sit in utter darkness. After a moment you realize that the chair on which you are seated is no longer swaying with the motion of the waters of the lake. You are not any more on the chair lashed to the raft. You are seated on your own chair in a room in your own home. Opening your physical eyes, you confirm that this is indeed the truth. Stand up and stamp on the floor as the first stage of your earthing process. To complete the earthing process, have a warm drink or eat something before making a record of everything you experienced on your journey into the Astral World.

If you created sacred space at the beginning of the exercise, be sure to dissolve it now as you were shown at the beginning of this article.

The Eleventh Principle, Part II

by Tony Willis   

The tarot card Strength represents in emblematic form an occult principle assigned a variety of names depending upon the level at which it is operating. It is commonly known as Strength because that word can be so easily adapted; for the card stands for physical strength when acting on the material plane, moral strength on the mental plane, and spiritual strength on the divine plane. It is associated with the heroic virtues of courage, endurance and stability. In divination, the card often represents those qualities or the results of them. Let me remind you of a meaning for the Trump quoted in the previous post: “Invincible strength and dauntless courage. It promises victory and attainment of the end in view to those who know how to direct their natural gifts and will-power into the right channels and who persevere in their efforts with unflagging energy.” In questions concerning a person’s health, Strength signifies vitality. Following the 4 of Swords it would denote recovery from sickness or an operation.

From an occult viewpoint, the card stands for Endurance. In all tarots of the Tarot de Marseille type, the card follows the Wheel of Fortune, signaling the fact that, although evolution consists of a series of cycles, constantly revolving, acting like wheels within wheels, something, some factor or quality, persists. The occultist takes this something to be, at the highest level, the human soul. In Freemasonry, the story of the soul is represented symbolically by the Rough and Smooth Ashlars.

Portland Stone Ashlars LR

The Rough Ashlar is a visual image of the soul in its untutored, untried state; the Smooth Ashlar is the image of a soul that has been given instruction and tested, that is to say that its inner nature has been developed, purified and harmonized, that all its rough edges have been made smooth. At the end of the process, Freemasonry implies that the Smooth Ashlar is in a state that would allow it to become one of the building blocks of the Temple of King Solomon. This whole story is a metaphor for the ascent of the soul to Heaven.

Yet occult teaching states, in these words of the Master Jesus found in one of the Gnostic gospels: “I will take you to the depths of hell, so that you may raise yourself to the gates of heaven.” This journey of descent followed by ascent is no common deed, for as the poet Virgil made crystal clear more than two thousand years ago: "Easy is the descent to hell; all night long, all day, the doors of dark Hades stand open; but to retrace the path; to come out again to the sweet air of Heaven – there is the task, there is the burden." If the assignment is undertaken without due preparation, the soul will be frustrated in its attempts to take Heaven by storm. It will be summarily returned to Earth, its quest for the present time forsaken, and there it must gain its second wind before readying itself for a fresh assault upon the Castle of Hades.

The British occultist Dion Fortune uses another metaphor to outline the same process. Relying on imagery from the Old Testament, she states:

“So in the great journey of the soul to the Promised Land, which is the Way of Initiation, the safety of human habitations has to be left, and the soul journeys houseless and alone into the wilderness and comes to the Red Sea; here it is that the weak turn back and return into slavery to make bricks without straw for which they receive no wages. But if the supreme test of the Red Sea is faced, the waves are parted by an unseen force and the traveller passes though dry-shod, with a wall of waters standing up on either hand; this is the test of faith, for by mundane law those waters would fall; it is only a higher law that keeps them back.”

Esoteric Orders and Their Work and The Training and Work of an Initiate (The Aquarian Press, 1987), p. 19.

This great journey, this descent into hell so that one might raise oneself up to the gates of heaven, should only be embarked upon by those who have developed in themselves the quality of determination, or perseverance, or endurance, however you care to name it. Books on tarot reading tend to associate one or other of these words with the Strength card; either that or they speak of ‘inner strength’. Another word regularly linked to the Trump is courage. From an occult standpoint, determination and courage are key features all would-be Adepts need to possess if they are to gain entry into heaven on the one hand, or to be of practical assistance to their fellow human beings on the other. In respect of the latter aim, occult teaching tells us: “You must have the courage to go down to hell so that you may come back to help others.” That is why Trump 11, courage, precedes Trump 12, the sacrifice that will bring the aspirant to Death (Trump 13). And as Death is not the end of this journey, the aspirant will then have to face in turn the devil (Trump 15) and the House of Pluto as Trump 16 was sometimes called in past times.

12T knapp hall       See the source image

In decks of the Marseille tarot type, the image on the Strength card shows a woman subduing a lion. 11t niceIt is usually taken to represent the higher nature holding the lower nature in check, dominating it. Never forget, however, that discipline must precede domination. Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts, for if you cannot control what you think, you cannot control what you do. Those following the Path of Initiation must induce and correspondingly strengthen their weak points, since only by this means can psychic balance be created.

The aspirant for Adepthood is taught that “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that is your own self.” At the same time, it is said, “The work we do on ourselves becomes our gift to everyone else,” and "What you do for yourself dies with you; what you do for others lasts forever." Dion Fortune again: “For this pursuit industry and intellect are not enough; certain conditions of character and certain attitudes of mind are required, and the would-be student must discipline and develop his nature as well as pursue his researches.” (Esoteric Orders and Their Work and The Training and Work of an Initiate.)

Before we can confront spiritual wickedness in high places we have first to win the battle that rages within ourselves. This is the struggle the Lady Strength has won. As one school of occult thought explains it: "The battle of Horus and Set is within your self. One must become Horus-Ur to conquer the lower demons of self. One then becomes Horus-Set and uses the lower nature to support the Higher Self, one’s divine self." The Strength card illustrates the first half of that equation, the conquest of the lower demons of self. From the stage of spiritual development represented by Trump 11, the aspirant moves to the stage denoted by Trump 12 in order to commence the process learning to use the lower nature to support the divine self. The aspirant advances towards the experience represented by the Hanged Man alone, and, if all previous lessons have been well learned, is heartened by the motto their initiator now awards them. This motto, though frightening to some, is intended to act as support and nourishment along the next leg of the quest: “The serpent, if it wants to become the dragon, must eat itself." (Francis Bacon.)

See the source image

The Eleventh Principle, Part I

by Tony Willis    

As a preface to what I am going to say concerning the Eleventh Occult Principle and the card Strength, I want to give readers some insight into my own tarot journey. It was back in 1958 that I first became aware of the tarot. I was thirteen. That is an age when, for reasons I cannot explore fully here, many find the veil between the Seen and Unseen worlds to have lifted, or to have become so thin that the young adolescent can, more easily than at any other time of life, without effort see through into the enchanting realm of symbol. When my maternal grandmother found out I was reading up on tarot cards, she undertook to teach me how to read with them. She taught me the predictive tarot. In the ’50s there was no other way of reading the tarot. Sixty-three years later – how things have changed!

There have been other changes, too, in addition to the current dominance of the psychological approach to tarot reading. All the tarot decks I saw in the early years of my study had the card Justice numbered 8 while Strength was number 11. This is the sequence of the Trumps in the Tarot de Marseille pack, designed around 1650, but based on an older tradition. It is the sequence of Trumps known to, and used by, the Great Names of the French Occult Revival – Eliphas Levi, Paul Christian, ‘Papus’, Oswald Wirth, etc. I was four, maybe five, years into my study of the cards before I set eyes on a Waite-Smith tarot deck. Therein I found Strength numbered 8 and Justice numbered 11. I was at first puzzled by the exchange but on learning that the meanings given to the cards remained unchanged, I put the conundrum out of my head.

In 1967, now aged twenty-one, I was fortunate enough to acquire a tarot teacher who understood the Golden Dawn approach to the subject from the inside out. He explained that the positions of the cards had been switched because, in the GD system of correspondences, Justice equated with the sign Libra and Strength with the sign of Leo; and since, in the natural order of the signs, Leo precedes Libra, Strength was therefore placed before Justice. But, my tutor explained, the exchange was more notional than actual. That is to say that, while initiates were taught the attribution used in the GD, the numbering of the cards in some places in the Order documents remained traditional. At a later date, when I had the opportunity to scrutinize the GD papers published by Israel Regardie between 1938 and 1940, I found this to be true. For example, in Section 5 of Book T, a document not received until student attained the grade of Zelator Adeptus Minor, Justice falls between the Chariot and the Hermit and is numbered 8. Accordingly Fortitude (as the Order calls the Strength card) appears between the Wheel of Fortune and the Hanged Man and is numbered 11.

For further elucidation, my tarot teacher directed me to Crowley’s Thoth tarot deck.

8T thoth    thoth Strength Lust

Crowley, as an initiate of the Golden Dawn system, accepted that Justice equated with Libra and Strength with Leo. Nevertheless he retains the traditional numbering for the cards in his Thoth deck. Moreover, despite believing that The Emperor corresponded to Aquarius and The Star to Aries (another exchange of attributions peculiar to Crowley’s magickal system), he retained the numeration of the Marseille Tarot for these cards, The Emperor being numbered 4 and The Star 17 in the Thoth pack. For Crowley, the Trump order was one thing and the numeration of the cards another. He appreciated that what might be called “the traditional numbering” of the Major Arcana had validity and was worth preserving, the alteration of the position of certain cards upon the Tree of Life notwithstanding.

In my examination of Numerology, I discovered that all the writers I consulted attributed to the number Eight a good many of the qualities generally ascribed to the tarot’s Justice card. I was making my investigations in the 1960s and consequently the authorities I turned to were, perforce, pre the Second World War, and sometimes Edwardian or Victorian. All the experts cited either long-standing occult tradition or the opinions of classical authors regarding the esoteric significance of numbers.

Count Louis Hamon, whose life spanned the end of the nineteenth- and the early part of the twentieth-century, was an occultist best known to the world as ‘Cheiro’, under which name he published several books. In Cheiro’s Book of Numbers, he makes these comments:

“The symbol of the number 8, I may also mention, from time immemorial in occult studies is called the ‘symbol of human justice’.”

“The occult symbol of 8 has from time immemorial been represented by the figure of Justice with a Sword pointing upwards and a Balance or Scales in the left hand.”

“From the earliest ages it has been associated with the symbol of an irrevocable Fate, both in connection and the lives of individuals or nations.”

“There are many very curious things in history as regards this number. The Greeks called it the number of Justice on account of its equal division of equally even numbers.”

By that last remark Cheiro means that 8 can be divided into two equal parts, 4 and 4, and that these parts can themselves be divided into two equal parts, 4 dividing equally into 2 and 2. Two can also be divided into equal parts since 2 is composed of 1 plus 1. After this point no further division entailing whole numbers can continue.

W. Wynn Westcott, one of the founding fathers of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, has many interesting things to say about the number Eight in his book on numerology.

“Camerarius, in his edition of the Arithmetic of Nicomachus, calls it [8] Universal Harmony, because musical ratios are distinguished by this number. . . .

“Hence the Ogdoad was also called “Cadmeia,” because Harmony was looked upon as the wife of Cadmus; and Cadmus meant the Sub-lunary World, as Olypiodorus says. Eight was called also the Mother, and Rhea, Cybele and Dindymene, from being the first cube, and a cube representing earth. . . .”

In speaking of the first cube, Westcott refers to the fact that 2x2x2 = 8. Dindymene is an alternative name for the goddess Cybele. Westcott continues:

“Macrobius says the Ogdoad was a type of Justice, because it consists of evenly even numbers, and on account of its equal divisions. . . .”

These ‘equal divisions’ of 8 into two 4s and of 4 into two 2s, has been explained above.

In addition, Westcott informs his readers:

“John Heydon tells us that 8 [unpleasant] Events befall the Damned, and that there are 8 rewards of the Blessed.”

The idea of Justice is, of course, implicit in that last remark.

In relation to the idea of Eight being associated with good or ill-reward, take note of what Isidore Kozminsky says of Eight in his Numbers: their meaning and significance:

“Attraction and repulsion, life, terrors, and all kinds of strife, separation, disruption, destruction, promise and menace.”

John Heydon’s unpleasant events and enjoyable rewards are here transmuted into “menace” and “promise”. These notions, along with “attraction and repulsion”, are derived from the number 8 being composed of two circles juxtaposed, one thought to indicate “good” and the other its opposite in some respect.

A.E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith were the first to publish a tarot deck that numbered Strength 8 and Justice 11. Paul Foster Case, like Aleister Crowley and A.E. Waite himself, received instruction in the Golden Dawn system of magick. In the tarot deck Case had designed for his own organization, The Builders of the Adytum, he follows Waite in the numbering of the Trumps. However, from what Case says of the number Eight on page 13 of The Tarot (Macoy Publishing Company, 1947) it is apparent that he recognizes the “attraction and repulsion” aspect of the number and the alternating cycles suggested by the two circles of which the figure 8 is composed, formed, when the figure is inscribed, by a descending ‘S’ followed by an ascending backward ‘S’ going in the opposite direction. The symbolism suggests balance; that attraction follows repulsion which gives way itself in time to attraction, like the flowing of a tide, in and out, back and forth eternally. This is part of what Case has to say regarding the number Eight:

“. . . the form of the figure suggests vibration by the shape of the lines and alternation by the two kinds of motion used in describing it. It is also the only figure except 0 which may be written over and over again without lifting pen from paper. Thus in mathematics the figure, written horizontally, is the sign of infinity. Among its occult meanings are:

“Rhythm, alternate cycles of involution and evolution, vibration, flux and reflux and the like. It represents the fact that opposite forms of expression (that is, all pairs of opposites) are effects of a single Cause. . . .

“Its Hebrew name is Splendor, and the aspect of consciousness to which it corresponds is called Perfect Intelligence. The Hebrew adjective translated “perfect” is ShLM [Shalom]. A noun spelt with the same letters mans “peace, security, health, wealth, satisfaction,” and thus refers to the perfect realization of the success represented by the number 7.”

All the attributes Case speaks of in the final paragraph – peace, security, health, wealth, satisfaction – are the social results we find manifested in a well-run, even-handed and just civil society, a state of affairs again suggestive of Justice.

As numerologists pay greater attention to the single digits One to Nine than to other numbers, they have less to say about the number Eleven. But what they do say is instructive. Of that number, Count Louis Hamon observes that its Mystical Symbol is “A Clenched Hand, A Lion Muzzled.” It is, he says, “an ominous number to occultists. It gives warning of hidden dangers, trial, and treachery from others. Symbolizes a person who will have great difficulties to contend against.”

Arcane-Arcana-11-force-strength      11t Egyptian Tarot

Isidore Kozminsky declares Eleven to be the signifier of “Violence, power, bravery, energy, success in fearless ventures, liberty, and the knowledge of how to ‘rule the stars’.” Compare Kozminsky’s verdict on the number Eleven with an overview of the significance of the Strength card written circa 1936: “Invincible strength and dauntless courage. It promises victory and attainment of the end in view to those who know how to direct their natural gifts and will-power into the right channels and who persevere in their efforts with unflagging energy.” Clearly Kozminsky and the person writing on the tarot are describing the same force, the potency known in tarot circles as Strength but ascribed by Kozminsky to the number Eleven and by the tarotist to the card Strength which he identifies as Trump 11.

In my twenties, I commenced a study of tarot numerology. As commonly understood, Numerology concerns itself mainly with the single digits One to Nine. All other numbers are reduced by addition, so that Ten becomes One (10 = 1+ 0 = 1), 24 becomes 6 (2+4 = 6), and 317 becomes 2 (3+1+7 = 11, 1+1 =2). In tarot numerology, the key number is Twenty-Two. All numbers greater that 22 are reduced in the same manner as just demonstrated. Thus Ten remains Ten, 24 reduces to 6, and 317 reduces to 11. These numbers relate to the tarot Trumps, with 22 denoting The Fool.

There is a method of numerically calculating which of the tarot Trumps exerts the strongest influence in each year of a person’s life. There are number 3 years where the overall tenor of the year is fruitful, and there are “15 years” in which obstacles and setbacks abound. Over my fifty years spent working with this system, I have found “8 years” to be those wherein some kind of judgment is made upon a person. It is generally the judgment of their peers or of the social milieu within which they move. Very occasionally, it refers to legal matters. The judgment is not necessarily negative; everything depends on the type of personality the number 8 is working upon.

I knew a man who had spent time in prison. His upcoming year number, I noted, was Eight. During the time that number held sway over his life, he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to a further term of imprisonment. At the other end of the scale, a woman of my acquaintance received a surprise inheritance during an “8 year”; a great uncle, to whom she had been helpful at a time when he was adjusting to the loss of his beloved wife many years previously, had remembered her in his will. Both examples are extreme. They do, however, demonstrate the wide variety of results to be expected from a Year Number.

08 II         11 II

I have found “11 years” to usher in tension and emotional distress. Yet, if the person under the influence of the number Eleven does not falter, they are able to handle the situation well enough and steer a course successfully through troubled waters. These are years when adversity offers hidden opportunities. At times, certain people find “11 years” to be among the most rewarding years of their lives.

These rules produce similar results on the global stage. In 2009 (an Eleven year), the world was shakily recovering from the financial crash of 2008. In the latter year, the Wheel of Fortune (2+0+0+8 = 10) had turned dramatically, throwing money markets across the globe into disarray. The following year, 2009, was stressful for many. But those who directed their natural gifts and will-power into the appropriate channels, and consistently applied their efforts with unflagging energy, were able to rescue their lives from the worst consequences of the slump.

I report the results of my investigations into Tarot Numerology using formulae I was taught in the 1960s. There are other methods of calculating a person’s Year Number. I have not experimented with them. Those who apply those methods pronounce themselves well satisfied with the results and I have no doubts that these investigators speak as they find. My only comment is that, in numerology books written since the 1960s, the occult significances of Eight and Eleven noted by Count Louis Hamon and Isidore Kozminsky, both adepts of some standing in the esoteric circles of their day, have been left out of assessments of these numbers. Eleven especially (along with Twenty-Two for those numerologists who have anything to say about numbers greater than Nine) has had its traits so thoroughly overhauled that today its character is markedly at odds with that given to it in former times. With that observation, I am ready to pass on to a consideration of Strength in relation to the Eleventh Occult Principle.

Principle 10, Exercise 9

by Tony Willis   

Exercise 9

Mentally clear the space around you. Imagine you are pushing the everyday energy in the room where you are sitting away from you. Push it beyond the confines of that room. That done, imagine light descending into the room from high above you. You can picture white light or a very pale blue light. Imagine the light bringing with it calm and peace and altruistic love. Make yourself comfortable within this new atmosphere and close your eyes. Allow your inner eye to accustom itself to the darkness that now encompasses you. In a few seconds, the blackness will change into a dark, slightly swirling mist. Gradually the mist turns from black to gray, and from dark to pale gray. It thins and beings to lift. As it does so, you become aware that you are seated on the raft on the lake, the Temple of Themis almost directly ahead of you. Your carry-all containing your wand and sword is at your feet.

The raft sways gently and turns, little by little, taking you in an anticlockwise direction. As the raft turns, you lose sight of the Temple of Themis, and soon you are looking out over a broad vista of parkland. Sunlight glints on something half hidden by trees and bushes. It appears to be a tiny shine with a white domed roof. The sun is behind you and its rays sparkle on the water at your feet creating a kind of pathway stretching in the direction of the shrine.

Stand and take up the carry-all. Step to the edge of the raft, clasp the satchel to you, and, by making a small jump forward, plunge feet-first into the lake. As you drift down, descending at a modest, even, stately pace, the water around you changes color. At first it is grey-green and opaque, but by degrees it becomes a pale, pearly green, so transparent that you are able to see for what appears to be miles. Fish swim about you. Some are slim and short, others long and fat. One shape looks to be the outline of a whale, far off, which would be remarkable as a whale couldn’t possibly fit into the lake. Nevertheless, what you see in the distance shows all the signs of being a whale.

The water around you eventually becomes colorless and your feet touch solid ground. Right at that moment, a great shoal of fish rushes past you, sardines or pilchards as they are also called. You search with your eyes for the twisting path that leads to palace of the Lord and Lady but you find no sign of it. Nor is there any sign of the large fish with the curious design on its belly. You turn around slowly, looking for some clue as to which way to go. No one direction looks any more promising than any other until a beam of light, seemingly coming from high above, illuminates a starfish, sky blue with white dots on its body, some distance away from you. Making your way toward it, you find a dozen such starfish spread across a depression in the ground, all laying still, as if asleep. One opens its eyes and you notice that this starfish has a face; as well as the eyes, it has a narrow-lipped mouth and tiny holes resembling nostrils slap bang in the center of its star shape. The creature rises up and floats away from you, going to the far side of the underwater dell in which its fellow starfish are basking.

Taking great care not to disturb the starfish who are still asleep, you follow the active starfish until you come to the beginnings of a path. Pebbles have been brought together so as to form a cobbled road wide enough to take a wagon. Its staring point is marked by a golden square – four straight, thin bars of gold joined together so as to form a square – laying as if discarded on the glistening stones. The path bends to the right in a wide curve and is flanked on either side by a row of marble sphinxes, each one looking like the sphinx on the Wheel of Fortune card, by lying down, like the sphinx at Giza, on pedestals also made of marble. The starfish that led you to the path has settled on the golden square; clearly it intends to go no further.

Tentatively you step on to the pebbles and begin to follow the path. As you move forward, you can see that the path ends at a small circular building, windowless, with a domed roof, the twin of the small shrine you noticed in the park above. Sensing the sphinxes watching every step you take, you continue along the path until you come to the door of the domed building. When you push at its door, it opens smoothly to reveal a warm orange glow within. Peering inside, you see that the orange glow emanates from flames flickering in a small metal cauldron atop a short column positioned in the center of the room. You enter and as you do so the space within expands creating an area some thirteen feet (four meters) in diameter. The floor of the space is paved with unglazed tiles and around the perimeter of the space there are a series of daises, each occupied by a single figure. Some figures are male, some are female. Some are young, some more mature.

An imposing male figure catches your eye. He is bearded with long curling hair and he is dressed in a white robe over which he wears a purple cloak. His skin has a healthy golden glow and he radiates energy. He is Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. On the dais to his right stands Hermes, a young man in a short tunic, wings on the heels of his shoes, a winged helmet on his head, and a caduceus in one hand. On the dais to Zeus’s left stands the matronly Demeter, her grass-green robe embroidered with flowers, a sheaf of wheat held to her side in the crook of one arm. From where you stand you cannot see the figures on the other daises.

Standing before Zeus, the understand come to you that you are here to choose, or rather to be chosen by, the deity who will your mentor for the next phase of your spiritual education. Circle the space slowly going clockwise, observing the gods and goddesses ranged about you. From Zeus you move to Demeter, from Demeter to Hephaistos, from Hephaistos to Ares, god of war; he wears a bronze breastplate, a helmet with a horsehair crest dyed red, and his sword is drawn, ready for action. Next to him stands Artemis, the huntress, in a short tunic, carrying a bow, a quiver stuffed with arrows at her back. After her comes Hestia, goddess of the hearth, then stately Hera, queen of the gods in a blue robe spangled with sequins.

Then comes Poseidon, bearded like Zeus and carrying a sharp-pointed trident, his weapon of choice. Next is Athene, helmeted and armed with a spear. She is followed by Aphrodite, goddess of love, her skin like alabaster. Passing the door by which you entered, you come next to Apollo, who, like his sister Artemis, carries a bow, and then Hermes, with his serpent entwined caduceus, and so back to Zeus once more. Having viewed all Twelve Olympians, make one more turn of the space and choose your teacher and protector who will stand by you in the next stages of your inner development, or allow yourself to be chosen. Do not resist if you are chosen. Even if you consider yourself a macho man and it is the modest, virginal Hestia who singles you out, remember that the gods know best. The same applies if you are a woman with strong pacifist leanings and warlike Ares puts you under his protection.

The choice having been made, your mentor will present you with a cup. It may be of silver or of gold, it may be of simple clay, or the finest porcelain, it may be wrought of brass, or copper. Whatever form it takes, accept the cup and hold it up in both your hands, and your mentor will bless it for you, placing her or his hands over it, allowing a stream of energy to flow down into it. When this hallowing of the cup has finished, bring it down to chest height and look into it. The cup should appear empty; all the energy poured into it will have been absorbed into the actual cup itself. If you sense energy remaining, like traces of liquid or smoke, in the cup, wait until it has all worked its way into the cup before moving to the next stage.

Having assured yourself that all the energy has been absorbed into the cup, slip it into your carry-all and return to Zeus. Kneel and thank him for allowing you to visit this pantheon (temple to all the gods). Then, making a wide circle of the space, go back to the door and leave the shrine. Once outside, turn to close the door. Looking back into the space within, you observe that it has shrunk, and that the central altar stands now in the middle of a circular enclosure not more than nine feet (one and half meters) wide.

Shut the door and set your feet on the path of glistening pebbles. Walk the broad arc of the path leading through the avenue of sphinxes and retrace your steps to the place where your starfish guide lingers, awaiting your return. The starfish stands, like an attentive manikin, on two of its five legs, a warm smile brightening its sky blue face. On its right (your left) is the golden square, lying on the pebbles; on its left lies the outline of an octogon, also made of gold. The golden square, which has associations with the number Ten, acts as a signpost, telling the wanderer in this area of the Astral Plane that they have found the path leading to the pantheon of the Olympian gods. Finding the octogon is an indication that the wanderer has completed the work of Exercise Nine; for Eight plus the original Four equals Twelve, the number of Olympian deities. The Four and the Eight in combination is a symbol worth meditating on . . . but not at this moment, as the time has come for you to return the world above.

Your starfish guide leads you back to the shallow depression where its eleven brothers lie fast asleep. It joins them, settling itself down, shutting its eyes, and falling fast asleep in a matter of seconds. Pass through the depression, taking care not to disturb the slumbering starfish. On the other side of it, stand still for a moment and scan the scene before you. Almost instantly you see a beam of white light shining down from above, like a gigantic spotlight. Go and place yourself in the spotlight and, once there, you will find yourself ascending very rapidly. Up through clear water into murkier reaches you go, until with a great splash, you break the surface of the lake near to where your raft is bobbing.

Toss your carry-all onto the raft and haul yourself aboard. Seat yourself on the chair. Within seconds, a thin white mist will gather around you. Rapidly, the mist grows denser and darker and before you know it you have become aware of yourself, your physical body, seated in a room in your own home, eyes closed, your breathing even, regular. Return you mind to a state of everyday consciousness before getting up and taking a couple of steps around the room. Take yourself through the usual earthing procedures, the practice of which ought to be second nature to you by now. End by stamping once on the floor or clapping your hands sharply together. Drink something warm or have a bite to eat. Then make a note of whatever events have impressed you most as you put yourself through Exercise Nine. If you don’t keep notes, you are likely to forget what happened on your astral journeys, or – a potentially more damaging scenario – you will misremember events, englamouring them or investing them with a greater weight than they in fact possessed.

The Tenth Principle

by Tony Willis      

The Wheel of Fortune tarot card exemplifies the principle of cyclical movement, the idea that everything in existence, whether in the visible or invisible world passes through cycles. One of its geometric symbols is the circle, indicative of rotation. This symbol is not placed above or beside the main illustration on occult tarots because it is embodied in the actual Wheel of Fortune itself. In the case of The Hermit, the circle represented the end of a cycle; specifically the cycle of single digits from 1 to 9. This meaning is to be applied esoterically, as denoting the growth or maturation of the soul up to the point where it is ready to receive its first initiation. The esoteric message of The Wheel of Fortune, on the other hand, is that life goes on; that the rhythm of life is continual; that the pattern of rise and fall is an inevitability; that good and bad luck interchange; that work, rest, and play are not just an advertising slogan but a potent formula for maintaining physical and mental health.


The words on the first card shown in this article translate as: The Kingdom of God, Order, and, literally, Fortune. Together they embody the key occult tenet: The universe is built and ordered under the rule of sacred law. In this instance, the ‘universe’ referred to is what we understand today by the term ‘cosmos’ – our solar system, the myriads of other solar systems that surround ours, stars, black holes and what have you; everything, in fact, that comprises all existence. But behind physical appearances, so occultism teaches, lies another force. Depending on a person’s stage of evolutionary growth, this force will be called God, Brahman, the First Cause or the Tao. We find the Chinese sage Lao Tzu saying of this First Cause, “The reason why the Tao is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.” Like The Wheel of Fortune, the Tao is always in motion, making its stately way from Yin to Yang and back to Yin again.

Having passed through the initiation of visiting Despoina and receiving a blessing from her, and hopefully taking possession of the Key of Hecate, will the student of occultism immediately be granted even greater favors? Will they encounter the dread lord Despotes and receive a blessing from him too? And will he dispense to them some bauble from his wooden chest of esoteric knowledge, transforming them at a stroke from student to adept or even magus? No. Not immediately, at any rate. Before any of that can happen, the student must learn to cope with the ebb and flow of invisible forces; must learn when to swim with the tide and when to strike out against it. These lessons the study of The Wheel of Fortune card can teach us.

Governments across the world work to eliminate the cycle economic boom and bust. Even the Chinese government, which should know better having direct access to Taoist teachings, seeks to do this. In reality, governments ought to be preparing during periods of financial expansion for the leaner times that are to come. Every nation under the sun is subject to these cycles, of which there are many, the financial and the expansionary being but two. Anyone who can read the passage of these cycles through their growth, flowering, and decay phases is in possession of valuable information that can be applied with profit to the situation that person finds themselves in.

Example: In Europe, towards the end of the Hundred Years War, the English king, Henry V, who had conquered practically all of modern day France, died in his prime. He bequeathed his empire to an infant son. William Shakespeare, near the start of Henry VI, part I, has Joan of Arc declare, “With Henry’s death the English circle ends; Dispersed are the glories it included.” Joan has seen, with her prophetess’s eye, that the death of Henry V marks the end of England’s cycle of good luck. She knows, so Shakespeare suggests, that England’s fortunes have already started on a downward cycle, initiating a period of bad luck in the political arena. France, Joan informs the Dauphin and his retinue, must strike England right away if it is to take back all that Henry won from it.

The Wheel of Fortune signifies natural change, such as is to be found in the cycle of the seasons. In Europe and the USA four seasons are recognized; countries lying closer to the equate regularly have more. Hinduism has six. Either way, across the globe, one season merges into the next by smooth transition as opposed to the more dramatic changes denoted by the Death card. In a divination, Trump 10 represents the same thing – a gradual change, whether of ascent or descent, expansion or contraction. There are times, however, when the card marks the culmination of a cycle, either the zenith of good luck or its nadir having been reached, the latter being denoted when card is reversed.

One who wishes to gain a deep understanding of these natural cycles and predict coming trends as Shakespeare implies Joan of Arc was able to do must first observe the seasons. Having observed them, one must then practice working with them. Let us take agriculture as our model. I live in the UK. Here farmers sow spring wheat in March, reaping the crop in late summer. Failure to observe the seasons, and planting spring wheat in May, will result in a poor crop and bring financial ruin on the farmer. Yet spring does not always commence on March 21st in the UK, no matter what the almanacs say. Signs of an early spring, or a late one, can be picked up by those who know what to look for. That kind of knowledge can only be amassed by careful and incessant observation. As you may recall, care and observation are assets associated with The Hermit card. In the pattern formed by the numerical progression of the Trumps, what is being suggested is that the occult student should take up an observer stance (Trump 9) and apply it to the natural cycles that surround them (Trump 10).

After observing the cycles and working with them, the third step is to learn to blend with them. One of the tenets of higher magick is that no one can hope to manipulate the basic building blocks of the universe without becoming one with the cosmos. This is not an easy feat and few master the skill in its entirety. It must, however, be achieved to some extent or the student will fail to develop the opportunities offered them once they have passed their first astral initiation epitomized in tarot lore by The Hermit card.

Other tenets of higher magick concerning the same theme include this: The would-be adept must first possess the ability to transform evil into good inside themself before they can perform transformations in the world around them. That is why readers of this blog who have been traveling along the path to initiation I have set out for them to follow were asked to identify some of their faults and to work on overcoming, or at least reducing them. This is their first exercise in transforming evil into good within themselves and it is done in preparation for the more significant transformations they will be called upon to carry out should they ever attain the grade of adept. Make no mistake, becoming an adept means accepting a grave responsibility. As an adept, one’s primary goal is to live in unity with the forces of nature. To reach it, one must, to a degree, renounce the social and cultural bubbles within which most people live so as to develop into a force of nature oneself. Esoteric philosophy advocates living in unity with the forces of nature as the supreme achievement of the spiritually evolved adept.

Occult teaching goes on to state that the way of personal success and personal peace is one of the greatest ways by which to change the world. What the adept achieves within themself is universal; that is to say, it has universal consequences. How does the adept attain this condition? The answer is contained in the following quote: “The alchemical art and its allegories are the drama of our own souls – playing out the individuation process on the wheel of life.” Mention of the wheel of life returns our thoughts to Trump 10, The Wheel. The reference to alchemy brings to mind the three alchemical ‘elements’, Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury. In all tarots of any esoteric worth, three figures are pictured upon the Wheel of Fortune, each figure standing for one of the alchemical ‘elements’. They are depicted in a crude form on the Tarot de Marseille card but take on an altogether more coherent identity in the Waite-Smith representation of the Wheel of Fortune.

10t tdm     10 Wheel

In the tarot card at the head of this article three figures are attached to the circumference of the wheel. A green crocodile descends on the left, the figure of Hermanubis rises on the right, while a winged sphinx sits at the top. The first of these figures embodies the characteristics of Alchemical Salt, the second the characteristics of Alchemical Sulfur, and the third those of Alchemical Mercury.

Alchemical Salt, the Salt of the Wise, is not totally inert. From an Elemental point of view, it is composed of equal parts of Earth and Water. The Water aspect lends it movement, although such movement is inhibited by the presence of sluggish, immobile Earth in its composition. The crocodile is its symbol on account of that animal’s nature. It lies, inert as a log, in the rivers it inhabits, roused to activity only when prey swims nearby, to be snapped up with the least possible effort. In the illustration, the crocodile is colored green, mirroring the verdant Earth, a reminder of the innumerable greens of grasses, trees and bushes. The figure of Hermanubis, according to Wikipedia, is engaged in the investigation of truth; he is said to be a symbol of the Egyptian priesthood, whose main purpose in life was the examination of spiritual, psychological, and physical truths. In alchemical lore, Hermanubis is equated with the Sulfur of the Wise, the most active alchemical ‘element’; for the search for truth on the Earth plane is unending. Alchemical Sulfur is composed of Fire and Air, the two most energetic Elements.

The sphinx represents the Mercury of the Wise. It has the head of a woman, the wings of a bird, a lion’s paws, and the hindquarters of an ox; in one its forepaws it holds a sword. This combination is pre-eminently an image of the harmonious disposition of the Four Elements governed by the impulses of Æther, or Spirit. The Four Elements are denoted by the ox (Taurus, Earth), the lion (Leo, Fire), the eagle (the esoteric symbol for Scorpio, Water), and the human (who carries Aquarius’s waterpot, Air), with theAquarius mosaic sword of Justice symbolizing fair, or appropriate, division of labor directing all. The Mercury of the Wise is made up of equal parts of Air and Water, both of which Elements flow and, in nature, are constantly in motion. Air and Water is clearly the most appropriate Elemental combination one could apply to Alchemical Mercury since it is the most fluid and adaptable of the three alchemical ‘elements’. It is on account of its fluidity that, on the accompanying illustration, the Mercury of the Wise is given the designation ‘wet’.

alchemic elements

The permutations of the three Alchemical Elements with the four natural Elements create the potencies manifesting through the zodiac’s twelve signs.

All the various facets of the energy so ably delineated in the symbolism of The Wheel of Fortune card – cyclicity, the regular order of the seasons as represented by the passage of the sun through the signs of the zodiac, and the need for the adept to align themself with natural cycles and work with them and via them – none of this is newly revealed esoteric knowledge. The British occultist Madeline Montalban made an excellent summation of the matter in the late 1950s, before most of my readers were born. She began by referencing the Elements.

“The four elements that rule humanity are the same four that rule our planet, namely, earth, air, fire and water.”

After aligning these with the zodiac signs divided into four Triplicities, each corresponding to one of Elements, Ms Montalban continued: –

“We each have twelve houses in our horoscope. Some of us have planets distributed fairly evenly among all four triplicities. But most of us have an "unbalanced" horoscope, and therefore our lives are unbalanced. We suffer from a lack of one or more of the elemental "forces" which, if we had them in our very natures, would balance us, and enable us to adjust our lives.

“It therefore follows that if we could "adjust" our horoscopes we could adjust our natures, and gain control over the things that worry us, like poverty, sickness, unhappiness and frustration. Ancient Egyptian occult schools taught their students to do just that, and on the control and adjustment of the elemental forces were erected the whole arcana of their magic. Occultists must command the happenings of life, and not be subject to them. They must learn to overcome the difficulties presented to them by their natal horoscopes, for that is what man is put on earth to learn.”

The path of initiation offers the student of occultism the opportunity to adjust the horoscope they were born with. This is achieved when the student realigns their nature to such an extent that they symbolically experience a second birth. That is the goal of all occult initiations. At this second birth, a fresh horoscope can be drawn up for the student, though it will almost certainly contain the seeds of new trials and tribulations that will have to be faced before the next initiation comes their way. For, as a Taoist text of second century a.d. tells us: The path of initiation is long and confusing, but at the end of it the yang forces and the yin forces unite. This final destination is foreshadowed on The Wheel of Fortune card I have used to illustrate this article by the hexagram at the center of the wheel. A fuller explanation of that symbol will have to wait because now is the time for those readers who have been carrying out the exercises I have set them to engage with the cosmic forces lying behind the signs of the zodiac, that great wheel which, so far as humankind is concerned, turns forever around us, bounding us and at the same time describing us.

Principle 9, Exercise 8

by Tony Willis    

Exercise 8

Begin by mentally clearing the space around you. Next sit, make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Relax and allow your inner eye to embrace darkness. As you sit on, the blackness will change, a little at a time, into a thick, dark mist. The mist rolls and billows and turns from black to gray. As it does so it becomes paler and wispier. And when the mist lifts you realize that you are seated on the raft made of tree trunks held together by thin, sturdy vines. The raft is bobbing gently in the center of the lake. The satchel containing your wand and sword is at your feet.

Before you is the Temple of Themis, its exterior white but weathered and streaked with dirt. The Temple is as you remember it: set in a park fringed by a row of trees. On either side of it lay beautifully manicured lawns; a straight path runs from a small wooden jetty to its door.

Your raft floats near the center of the lake and from where you sit, you can see Themis’s Temple reflected on the lake’s surface as if in a mirror. The upside-down reflection seems cleaner than the actual Temple, while the trees around it give the appearance of bending and flowing like fronds of seaweed swayed by the motion of a restless tide. The path to the reflected Temple, too, seems to twist askew and even, in places, to break in two. In the mirrored surface of the lake, the sky above the Temple reaches almost at your feet. In that otherworldly sky you can make out the silver orb of the moon. This image is bright, and though distorted by ripples running across the surface of the lake, it nevertheless retains its solidity. The presence of the moon in the water is so strong that it is as if she were calling you to join her. Wait until you feel the call of the lunar orb, until you are aware of it as a strong, demanding pull, before you do anything else.

When you sense the cry of the moon for you to come down and visit her, get up and collect your satchel. Go to the edge of the raft, hug the satchel to your chest, and jump feet first into the water. You drop into the lake like a stone, plummeting down. Feel yourself descending, smoothly but rapidly, like being in a fast-moving elevator. All around you the water is pale greenish blue, almost transparent, but at the same time tinging everything you see. And what you see at this moment are bubbles, small, medium-sized, and large, travelling upwards, towards the lake’s surface now high above you.

Your feet touch solid ground and you begin to turn, in an effort to get a look at the underwater world you have been invited into. The picture you saw when seated on the raft has now turned right-way up. It has points in common with the Temple of Themis above but there are many more differences. The path that leads to this building twists and turns dramatically. The building itself is creamy white and there are windows in the walls either side of the door, rectangular but with an arched section above. This building is more of a palace than a temple. Behind it, dark green tendrils of seaweed dance, first this way, then that, as the rhythm of the waters direct. The path to the palace is flanked by sandy earth on which lie scattered tiny starfish and oyster shells, all closed up tight.

A fish swims up to you and halts. It positions itself vertically and you can see that it is as tall as you are. On the fish’s chest, marked in its scales, is a curious design: a square within a circle, the square being balanced on one of its corners. This fish is a messenger from the couple who live in the palace, come to bid you welcome to their domain. Down here, the pair are known by their titles, Despotes and Despoina – the Lord and the Lady. They have names, of course, and you are at liberty to guess what those names are.

The fish, having shown his insignia, swims away. The crooked pathway lays invitingly at your feet. Go along the path but do not leave it. However much the path twists and turns, do not attempt to take a shortcut to the palace door. Follow the path this way and that as shoals of little fish pass you by, silver slithers, darting, reeling, writhing, all about you one minute and the next minute fled away. A handful of carp swim near, their scales as red as blood. They glide down to the path and then rush at you, some going between your legs, others peeling off to one side or the other, one paying great attention to one of your ankles.

When you come to the door of the palace, you see that it stands ajar. A silvery light shines from within and faint, tinkling music is playing inside. Entering the building, you find yourself in a wood-paneled hall painted white with a touch of apple green to it. Slightly to your right is a set of double doors carved with charging horses in the top panels and with a row of seahorses, sedate and vigilant, with aquamarines for eyes, in the bottom panels. As you stand admiring the artwork on the doors, they silently open inwards and you pass through into the space beyond.

It is a long, high, windowless room with its shorter sides to your right and left. At one end is a flight of seven low steps of black marble. At the top of the steps is an ebony throne over which stands a canopy held up by four slim ebony poles. On the throne sits Despoina, the Lady of this place, dressed in a cream robe strewn with seed pearls and covered in a pattern resembling a fishing-net that has been embroidered upon it in black thread that glitters like polished jet. Around her neck, suspended on a silver chain, is a crescent also made of silver, burnished so as to reflect light the way a mirror does. The ornament lies on the Lady’s breast like the moon on its back, mimicking the crescent on top of the Papess’s tiara (see illustration). The Lady, serene and immobile, regards you unblinkingly, with a challenging stare, as if to say, “Approach me, mortal, if you dare.”

2 knapp hall

Go forward, set down your satchel, and kneel before her. Stretch out your arms and bow your head. Send to her this message from your heart (though you may frame it in your own words, if you wish): “I am one who seeks the servants of Truth. My quest is to know myself better and my desire is to be guided on the way by the servants of Truth. For this reason have I come to you, Lady, in your kingdom under the waters, humbly to request your assistance.”

If Despoina remains silent, you must return by the way you came. But if she asks you to raise your head then look up. You will see that her face has softened; she seems more kindly now. She will ask you what your faults are. Tell her of those defects that you contemplated over a period of seven days after your meeting with the goddess Themis, explaining what you have done to try to correct them. The Lady will then ask you to take from your satchel the wand and the sword and to bring them to her. You follow her directions and ascend the seven steps. She places her right hand on the wand and you feel a sensation like a low electrical charge running into it. After some seconds, she transfers her hand to the sword and the same thing happens. Then the Lady holds the palm of her hand in front of her, pointing it at your chest. You feel a subtle energy enter your body. While the energy is flowing, Despoina gives you a title and a name. The title is Dolphin of Light; the name is personal to you; I cannot predict what it will be.

When Despoina lowers her hand, you turn and go back down the steps. Facing you, at the farther end of the long room, you see another set of double doors. Put the sword and wand back in the satchel, and look back to the Lady. You will find that she has key Hecate2gone; her throne is empty. A sound at your rear causes you to spin around. The double doors at the far end of the room have been thrown open. Taking your satchel with you, go to the doors. The floor of the corridor outside is tiled in black. On one of the tiles lies a metal key. The end of the key, the part one would hold to turn the key once it is in a lock, is patterned. There is a circle with a square inside it and the circle itself lies cradled in the arms of a crescent moon.

Enter the corridor and try to pick up the key. You may not succeed at your first attempt. This is the key of Hecate and only those who have proved themselves worthy may lay hold of it. When you reach out to take the key, it may move, gliding across the tiles, skidding away from you. Do not take this as a rejection. Follow the key, trying to take hold of it whenever it comes to a halt. At last the key may permit you to lay hands on it. When it does, put it in your satchel and look around you.

octopus                  tricorn

The corridor has narrowed and the ceiling is lower than it was before. In front of you, squatting on the black tiled floor, is a large octopus wearing a three-cornered hat, a lugubrious expression on its face. With two of its tentacles, it is holding open a wooden door and very obviously expecting you to pass through it. Going forward you see that Eeyorethe view outside is of vast empty space stretching out in all directions, except for a strip of solid ground right outside the door which appears to form a path encircling the palace. Stepping outside, you look right and left but find that there is nothing to indicate which way it would be better to go. Turning back, you find that the octopus has changed into a donkey, still wearing the tricorn hat. It runs at you and butts you over the edge so that you fall further down to a deeper region of this underwater world.

You land on sandy earth beside a dog resembling a German shepherd but as big as an elephant. It regards you for several seconds, then turns and pads away. You follow it, noticing that the ground is sloping gently upwards. The dog leads you in the direction of the wreck of an old vessel, a wooden galleon, very dilapidated, almost a skeleton of ship. The dog sits on its haunches as if waiting for you to do something. As you stare into the bowels of the wreck, a golden glint catches your eye. Leaving your satchel with the dog for safekeeping, you go in among the wreckage and head for the place where you saw gold light flashing. A shoal of tiny sliver fish swim by. The fish dip down, showing an interest in something laying on the floor of the wrecked galleon. They soon lose interest, however, and dash away again. You go over to the object the fish were inspecting, a wooden chest bound with brass bands, a brass lock in the center of one side. If you had your key with you, you could open the lock. Lay your hand out flat and think of the key, as if summoning it to come to your aid. The key appears in your hand and you try it in the brass lock. It fits. Turn the key and the chest will open.

It is full of jewels – rubies, sapphires, emeralds, pearls and opals. The dog barks, and then there is an ominous growl; it is not the dog that is growling. You make your way back to where you left the dog to discover that he has been joined by an equally enormous wolf. The dog eyes you warily while the wolf snarls and slavers. You hold out your hands to show that you have not brought any of the jewels with you, and only hold the key of Hecate. The dog and the wolf calm down. Behind you, you hear a snap as the lid of the wooden chest falls back into place and three clicks as if someone were re-locking it. You understand, as if the dog were communicating with you telepathically, that the jewels in the chest are the property of the Lord, Despotes, and are not to be removed without his express permission. Also, that you will not receive his permission until you have met with him face to face. But today you have only encountered his Lady, the Mistress of the Palace, Despoina. With a giant forepaw, the dog nudges the satchel in your direction. You pick it up and drop the Key of Hecate into it.

When you have done so, the dog and the wolf each take a great leap and begin to swim upward. You are caught up in the turbulence of their ascent so that you, too, begin to rise. As the dog and wolf ascend, they start to shrink and go on shrinking until they are the size of a normal dog and wolf. They and you break the surface of the lake near where you raft is swaying gently, waiting for you to climb aboard it. Throw your satchel onto the raft and scramble aboard it yourself. Looking around you, you note that the dog and the wolf have vanished.

Seat yourself on the chair and take a moment to relax and mentally ready yourself to leave the Astral world. Within only a few seconds of you making yourself comfortable on the chair, a mist gathers around you. It quickly grows denser and darker and almost straight away you are aware that you are, in fact, sitting in your own home, your eyes closed, your breathing regular. Open your eyes and allow yourself, your body and your mind, to return to the state of everyday consciousness. Now stand up and walk about. Release any excess energy left in your physical and etheric vehicles by directing them into the earth. Even if you are in an apartment twenty stories high, imagine all surplus energy descending to your legs, down your calves, past your ankles, and finally flowing out through the soles of your feet. Imagine it going down, down, down into the earth, where it may act as a blessing to the world and play some small part in the healing of the planet. Last of all, stamp on the floor or clap your hands together as both these actions aid the earthing process. To complete that process, have a warm drink or eat something before making a note of whatever has impressed you most while on your visit to the domain ruled over by Despotes and Despoina.

pentagram as asterisk reduced

If you have not gained possession of Hecate’s Key you will not be in a position to open the wooden chest. Indeed, if the Key constantly eludes you, or vanishes, it would be a better course of action to return to the surface of the lake right away, without leaving the palace by the door guarded by the octopus. Retrace your steps. Proceed back down the corridor to the double doors. Re-enter the deserted audience chamber, leaving it again by passing through the second set of double doors. Go from there to the door by which you gained entry to the palace. Walk down the winding path to its end. There you will be met by the fish with the symbol of the square within a circle on its chest. Again, the fish will rear up displaying the symbol. Once it has done that you will feel yourself rising up as if you were riding in a high speed elevator. When you the break surface of lake, get yourself back on the raft. Sit on the chair and return to everyday consciousness as described above.

If the Lady has not asked you to raise your head and look at her, or if you have not been able to pick up Hecate’s key, you may go underwater on another day and try again to complete Exercise Eight. But mark this: If Despoina has not asked you to look her in the eyes, it means that you have not done enough work on uncovering and repairing your faults. As Murry Hope tells us in Practical Egyptian Magic (Aquarian Press, 1984), p. 66: –

“Magic is a journey of discovery for the brave and stable individual and, as with any dangerous journey, we do not deny that there are dangers to be encountered along the path. Discovering cosmic truths for oneself can open up a world of wonderment and no teacher has the right to deny the pupil this experience. But . . . it is not advisable to step forth onto the path of magical conquest armed only with curiosity and an outsized ego.” In other words, all human beings following this path need their fourfold natures fully verified and readily available to them in emergency because, sure as eggs are eggs, they are going to need that inner balance if they are to make any headway at all along the path of initiation.

I have adapted, a little, Ms Hope’s last sentences regarding this matter. You, Reader, are free to check out the original.

Taking hold of the Key of Hecate is another thing altogether. The “brave and stable individual” of which Ms Hope speaks is represented by the square set within a circle that forms part of the Key’s symbolism. But on the Key that figure lies in the embrace of the Moon, Mistress of Magick. Only those candidates for initiation who have fostered their Wills and their Imaginations to the same extent may grasp and retain possession of Hecate’s wonder-working Key.

The Ninth Principle – Working In Vision

Occultism’s Astral Plane, Folklore’s OtherWorld

by Tony Willis    

In both the Alice books by Lewis Carroll, the child-heroine accesses the Astral Plane. She dreams of Wonderland and later of the Looking-Glass World. In dreams we enter the Astral realm, but as a rule only that part of it known to psychology as the personal unconscious. Even that aspect of the Astral can be a scary place at times, as when a sleeper finds themself caught up in a distressing scenario and we say that they are having a nightmare. On entering Wonderland, Alice discovered that she was in a chaotic world where the rules of everyday life no longer applied. Students of occultism, going into the Astral Plane in full consciousness, endeavor to rise above the level of the personal unconscious, aspiring to reach the collective unconscious. In all its manifestations, however, the Unconscious is replete with symbols. Astral travelers who cannot decipher those symbols find this world to be as chaotic as Alice did, while those who possess the ability to extract meaning from symbols thrive upon the Astral and are able to make themselves at home there.

The Astral Plane is composed of a malleable, endlessly adaptable energy. Its primary mode of communication with human beings is visual, taking place through the mediums of color, shape and symbol. The forces inhabiting the lower astral tend to borrow images they find in the minds of the astral traveler and clothe themselves in these. If someone has a fear of felines – maybe because they are allergic to cat fur – an astral force feeling threatened by that person’s presence might well assume the form of a tiger or a lion so as to keep that individual at bay.

On the upper astral, the shapes taken by the astral forces tend, almost invariably, to be images and symbols already carrying an emotional charge. This charge will have been infused into the symbol by some particular culture or religious tradition. Astral forces may, therefore, appear to a Christian as an angelic being, to a follower of Hinduism as a deva, as a bodhisattva to a Buddhist, or as a sylph or some other elemental spirit to a Neo-Pagan. At times the astral forces assume the form of an object – a twinkling star, a tree, a spear, a wooden chest.

The symbols available to the forces on the upper astral come pre-charged with energy. Having been adopted possibly thousands of years ago by humans working in cooperation with the Higher Powers – which we may call gods, archangels or divine archetypes – this kind of symbol represents an area of agreement between human beings and the Higher Powers. A fair proportion of these symbols are religious in tone. Among these, I have already mentioned the deities of distant and current cultures. They also encompass culturally accepted images. I have in mind the pious fictions prevalent in some societies; for instance, the myths that babies are delivered by storks and Christmas presents arrive via the good offices of Santa Claus. While not literally true, these stories nevertheless resonate within the collective unconscious of a nation, which does not operate on logic but via symbolism. How these contracts between humans and divine energies came about is not a subject it is possible to go into today. I refer the curious to the works of Dion Fortune and Israel Regardie.

The upper astral is full to overflowing with the debris and detritus left there by ancient civilizations. Astral Forces will inhabit the images of ancient deities or legendary figures, as well as their attributes and totem animals whether that be the cow held sacred to Isis, the bear associated with Artemis, or King Arthur’s fabled sword, Excalibur.

This world, encompassing the Lower and the Upper Astral Planes, is constantly in motion, like a great sea ever ebbing and flowing. The images existing on those planes, too, are subject to change. They may shrink or grow larger; they may fade away as you look at them; they may shape-shift in mid-sentence. Examples of all these occurrences can be found in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. When Alice drinks from the bottle marked ‘Drink Me’, she is collapsed like a telescope. The Cheshire Cat disappears ever so slowly while talking to Alice until only its grin is left. The White Queen transforms into a sheep. Any of these things may happen while you are working in vision. It should also be bourn in mind that versions of the Jabberwock – “The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!” – and “the frumious Bandersnatch” also exist on the Astral. How should explorers of the OtherWorld prepare themselves for a trek across the lower astral and into the more rarified atmosphere of the upper astral?

See the source image

The Jabberwock

How to Travel Safely on the Astral Plane

Before going any further, you, Reader, should decide which religion you want to work with, and which deity from the pantheon of Higher Forces operating within the ethos of that religion you are going to rely on to protect you when you venture out onto the Astral. Hermes is the foremost guide through the unseen realms for followers of the Greek magickal tradition. Mercury carries out the same office for devotees of Roman esotericism, and also for those whose occult touchstone is Western astrology. The angel Raphael is the equivalent Being called upon by practitioners of angelic magick, while in terms of Egyptian mythology, Anubis is not only the protector and guide of astral travelers but is also known as the Opener of the Ways; it is by his good offices that travelers in the various sectors of the OtherWorld are directed back to the safety of physical reality when troubles arise. Followers of the Sufi path are able to call upon Khidr, the Remover of Obstacles. For those who would rather work with a female deity, several options are available. From the Egyptian pantheon one might choose Isis. In the Greek or Roman tradition, there is Hecate, as well as Athene, and, naturally, the Queen of the Underworld, known as Proserpina (to the Romans) or Persephone (to the Greeks). The deity you settle on will be the one to call upon should you ever experience difficulties while working “in vision”

Make an effort to form a rapport with your chosen god or goddess before starting Exercise Eight. This is a matter of etiquette, of good manners. Otherwise you risk giving the impression that you are only willing to acknowledge your protective deity when in need of their assistance while, at other times, paying no attention to them. No sentient being likes to be taken for granted, and it is a grave mistake for the budding occultist to offend one of the gods by disrespecting them.

Any Reader seeing further instruction on how best to choose a protective deity should read paragraphs 3 to 5 on page 96 of Practical Greek Magic by Murry Hope (Aquarian Press, 1985).

Should a problem arise while you are meditating or travelling on the astral, the first thing to do is return your body, i.e., re-establish your everyday mode of mentation. That done, proceed to draw in your aura, which will have expanded while you were in the heightened state of awareness attained while working “in vision”. Do this by imagining that you are gathering all your psychic energies within the confines of your physical body and centering them around your heart chakra. Next clear the room of discordant energies by taking up a position where you are surrounded by plenty of space, in the center of a room, for instance. Then stretch out your active arm with your forefinger pointing directly ahead of you and turn around clockwise in a full 360 degrees. As you turn, say: “In the name of [your protective deity], Guardian of all who seek the Light of knowledge, may all confusion and negativity be gone from this place.”

That done, immediately insulate yourself from outside influences by putting your physical body into an imaginary ‘bubble’. Here are the instructions of how to effect that, which I have extracted from Murry Hope’s book on Psychic Self-Defence.

Now we all know what a large plastic bag looks like, the sort we use for our laundry or dry cleaning to keep out dust or dirt. Simply imagine you are stepping into a clear blue or clear white one, pulling it over your whole body and fastening it securely over the top of your head. But your mental plastic bag will be waterproof, germproof and astral-bullet-proof, if you see what I mean; and you will be able to see through it out into the world without being aware of it being there once it is in position. With regard to fastening it on the top, here you can use a safety-first symbol according to your personal persuasion. If you are a Christian you may like to think of a gold or silver cross. A Taoist may prefer the yin-yang symbolism; a Qabalist one of the sephira, the Hermeticist a caduceus; and so on.”

In addition to these measures, there are other rules to be followed. The first consideration is a simple one: Rely on the text of the guided visualization if you are working from a book, or from an article you have found on a blog. Or rely on the spoken directions coming from the audiotape if that is the method of working you have adopted. As long as you are confident that the source of the guided visualization is to be trusted, that the teaching emanates from an author of good repute, or an authority you have come to trust by having worked under their instruction over a period of time, you are unlikely to come to harm. Beyond that, the advice is: Question everything new, wherever and however you encounter it. Question the appearance of any Being or Entity, of any door or passageway, or of any object not described in the text of the guided visualization you are working from.

Most importantly: Do not deviate from the original text. It will have been put together with great care. The relevant symbols, the waymarkers, the signposts, will all be in place. It will introduce you to guides or instructors who can help you in various ways; for the objective of a guided visualization is to have you reach a particular Astral destination while at the same time putting you in a frame of mind that will allow you to learn from the experience of being exposed to one or other of the Higher Powers that live and move and have their being on the Astral. To deviate from the instructions is to ask for trouble.

Pathworking, Creative Visualization, and the Active Imagination

These three terms are not identical (although for our present purposes we may consider them interchangeable from a practical standpoint). A Pathworking is one example of the broader category ‘creative visualization’, but not all creative visualizations are Pathworkings. Properly speaking, a Pathworking is a journey made TreeOfLifeJPGalong one or more of the Paths on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. This is a diagram lying at the heart of the esoteric system known as Qabalism. The diagram doesn’t look anything like a tree but we won’t dwell on that anomaly right now. Instead let us focus on the Tree of Life’s components. (See illustration.) These are Ten Spheres (represented on the diagram as circles) and Twenty-Two ‘Paths’ – the bands running between the Spheres.

Rather confusingly Qabalistic tradition also classes the Spheres as Paths, and so Qabalists at times speak of “the thirty-Two Paths”. Thus, for instance, the journey from the lowest sphere on the Tree of Life (representing physical reality) to the Sphere directly above it is, in Qabalistic terms, a journey from the Tenth Path to the Ninth Path by means of the Thirty-Second Path. For the sake of simplicity, in this article I will distinguish between Spheres and Paths, confining the latter word to the bands linking the various Spheres of the Tree of Life one to another. If one adheres to this nomenclature there are twenty-two Paths on the Tree of Life.

Each of these twenty-two Paths corresponds to a tarot Trump and they all have three symbols associated with them. These symbols act both as keys to the Path, giving safe entrance to and exit from it, and as waymarkers. Anybody passing along one of the Paths “in vision” who cannot locate any of the designated symbols has lost their way and would be advised to return to their starting point post haste. Once back at the beginning, that person ought to quit the Astral Plane altogether and thoroughly Earth themselves before attempting to travel that Path again. The procedure for doing this has already been described.

The key symbols associated with any given Path are: The tarot Trump by means of which entry to the Path is obtained, the letter from the Hebrew alphabet assigned by tradition to the Path, and the tarot Trump marking arrival at the traveler’s pre-determined destination and through which they are at liberty to pass into the Sphere of the Tree of Life this second Trump grants ingress to. In its most basic form, a Pathworking is nothing more than an astral journey taking the traveler from one Sphere on the Tree of Life to another.

There is also the symbolism of the start and end points of the journey to be considered. As said, these terminuses represent Spheres on the Tree of Life and they are invariably configured as Temples. There is a specific imagery connected to these Temples just as there are specific symbols associated with the twenty-two Paths. In the case of the Temples, there are many more than three symbols involved, all chosen so as to accord with the psycho-spiritual environment of the Sphere to which they have been allocated. This is a recondite subject that, regrettably, there is no time to enter into in this article. For our present needs it is only necessary that the student contemplating deeper investigation of the OtherWorld understands that every area, every domain there is out on the Astral has certain particular symbols associated with it. While ignorant of these symbols, and more importantly while lacking the knowledge of how the symbols are employed, the astral traveler is at a serious disadvantage.

Many books on occultism contain lists of relevant symbols. In Henry Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy we find, for example, under the heading ‘Of the Number Four and the Scale Thereof’, a chart depicting the symbols assigned by custom and convention to the Four Elements. Likewise, under the heading ‘Of the Number Seven and the Scale Thereof’, there is a similar chart, this time enumerating the traditional symbols allotted to the seven visible planets by the magi of Agrippa’s day. Lists of the symbols associated with the ten Spheres and twenty-two Paths of the Tree of Life can be found in Gareth Knight’s Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism. Aleister Crowley’s 777 is given over almost one hundred per cent to lists of a similar kind. David Allen Hulse’s two-part work The Key to it All (reprinted as The Eastern Mysteries and The Western Mysteries) contains scores of lists, the majority composed of symbols acting as keys to the various domains of the Astral Plane. In this day and age, these symbols are no longer secret, but how they are activated and to what purpose does remain a close occult secret. Over the decades some details concerning the way guided visualizations are correctly formulated have been released to the public by the mystery schools of the Western Esoteric Tradition. Yet very few of the methods for handling the symbols that function as keys to various locations on the Astral Plane have become common knowledge.

Why is knowledge of the symbols associated with the twenty-two Paths on the Tree of Life considered so necessary to anyone attempting a Pathworking? To understand this, imagine the diagram of the Tree of Life as a map of a jungle viewed from above. Imagine that the circles on the diagram delineate ten clearings within that jungle. In each clearing there is a stockade inside which can be found shelter, food and drink, and the means of making fire; in short, a stockade represents a place of safety to anyone attempting to traverse the jungle. Easy passage from stockade to stockade is possible by following these ready-made pathways running between them, clearly visible on the map (understanding that map to be the Tree of Life diagram). Leaving a path and striking out into the uncharted territory of the surrounding jungle is a venture fraught with peril. Wild animals live there as do stinging insects, and poisonous plants whose touch is lethal flourish in the lush deep green undergrowth. Travelers who value their lives would do well to keep to the paths. To ensure that they do not lose their way, certain markers or milestones have been set up by those who have gone before to indicate to anyone trekking through the jungle that they have not gone astray.

As I have said, the term ‘Pathworking’ describes a particular type of mental journey undertaken using imaginative qualities and known to occultists as creative visualization. However, the rules and conventions applying to Pathworkings also hold true for all other means of working with creative visualization. In any form of astral travelling, certain precisely crafted symbols are employed by occultists. As I have already explained, these symbols either give access to a designated area of the Astral Plane or they indicate where a person is within the confines of that specific area.

When I say ‘specific area’ I have in mind those locations or levels of the OtherWorld wherein, for instance, the Olympian deities of Greek myth reside, or where Tolkien’s imaginary creation Middle Earth is situated, or the Wonderland that Alice fortuitously tumbled into, as well as the Egyptian underworld so vividly described in the famous ancient text ‘The Book of the Dead’. These and other “imaginary worlds” co-exist upon the Astral Plane. All have their share of sunny uplands as well as dark, forbidding recesses. Out on the Astral one may, unless the necessary precautions are taken, run into the three-headed hound Cerberus who guards the entrance to Greek mythology’s equivalent of Hell, or one may accidently stray into Professor Tolkien’s Mirkwood, overrun with spiders and the haunt of hostile orcs, ill-disposed and armed to the teeth. (The illustration is or Crowley’s Hermit card from the Thoth deck. Cerberus can be seen in the bottom right hand corner.)

thoth hermit 09

To sum up then, the key symbols of which I have spoken were created to prevent those working “in vision” from accidentally stumbling upon such terrors in the course of their wanderings in the OtherWorld. Knowing what the appropriate symbols are, coupled with an understanding of how they operate, ensures safe entry into, and safe exit from, a given destination or level on the Astral. The correct symbols also act as landmarks that Astral wayfarers can use to judge how far they have come on their journey, how much further they have still to go, and perhaps most importantly, whether they are headed in the right direction or have by some mischance lost their way.

Thus prepared, we are ready to contemplate the work Exercise Eight will require of us.