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Exercise Seven: The Temple of Themis

April 10, 2021
by Tony Willis    

My previous article ended by considering the alterations to character and temperament that need to be made before any would-be magus can take their first meaningful (that is to say, transformative) initiation. It is a little-recognized fact that the occult student must do considerable work upon themselves before the initiatory seed can be planted in their soul. The ground must be prepared (to continue the agricultural metaphor) before the seed is planted in it. If a seed is planted in soil lacking the proper nutrients, that seed will not flourish; it will either not take root or it will appear above ground early in the season as a green shoot and rapidly spend its vital powers, withering and dying within a matter of days. Likewise, the student who has not prepared the ground cannot successfully receive the seed of initiation.

This preparation may seem at times like hard work; but as any farmer or horticulturalist will tell you, gardening is hard work. As the student struggles with their interior reformation, they would well to remember the dictum that “what is done for one, is done for all.” For every successful experiment the occult student carries out within their own psyche feeds into the psyche of the race, the student’s personal unconscious affecting the collective unconscious, to use Dr Jung’s terminology. This is an important magickal point and finds its corollary in the words of Butler Shaffer:

"You and I can bring civilization back into order neither by seizing political power, nor by attacking it, but by moving away from it, by diverting our focus from marbled temples and legislative halls to the conduct of our daily lives. . . .

“This is the only way in which any meaningful social change can ever take place; it will either arise within each individual, or it will not occur at all. Those who insist upon change coming from above, as something to be imposed upon mankind by institutional authorities, have given up on people. They have lost their confidence in the life processes that exhibit themselves only within individuals.

“It is now time to give people a chance to bring order to the world by bringing themselves to order."

Butler Shaffer, The Wizards of Ozymandias

As we bring ourselves to order, we bolster the possibility that others will bring themselves to order too, along with the possibility that one day the majority of human beings will bring themselves to order.

The following meditation (or ‘in vision’ exploration of your psyche) will take you to the temple of Themis, the Greek goddess of Justice. Her name comes from a root meaning ‘to put or place’, suggesting she is the personification of the Force that sets things in order. Whenever we attempt be bring order to our psyches, it is wise to preface our efforts by forming some sort of contact with Themis as the personification of inner balance and Justice in the wider world.

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Begin by mentally clearing the space around you. Next sit, close your eyes, and allow your inner eye to embrace darkness for a moment or two. The blank blackness gradually resolves into a thick, dark mist, and then the mist turns gray, becoming ever paler and wispier. When the mist clears you are seated on your raft made of tree trunks tied together with thin sturdy vines. The raft is bobbing gently in the middle of a lake and you are looking out over vast parkland. All around you are great swathes of short grass fringed with coppices of linden (basswood) or beech trees.

The water of the lake is in motion causing your raft to circle around and this motion enables you to view the park from almost every angle. As you revolve, you notice that in one direction, not far from the edge of the lake, there stands a small stone building surmounted by a dome. The building looks old, its stones grimy with the dust and detritus of many years. At its front, facing you, is a portico with tall, tapered pillars flanking an entrance the size of a normal door. The pillars too are of stone made grubby be the ravages of time; they are wider at the base than at the top. The pillars capitals are ionic scrolls. (If you don’t know what these are, look them up before setting out on this astral journey.) While you have been gazing at the building, the waters of the lake have driven your raft to the waters’ edge. As the raft sways there, stalled, you stand and step from the raft onto grass.

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With six or seven paces, you approach the building. Coming close, you can see that the entrance-way is open, the interior all in shadow. From within comes a pleasant scent; the aroma of sweet mint, the spearmint plant maybe, accompanied now and then by a hint of violet. The interior lights up giving you a view of a clean, clear space with a paved floor, a statue on a pedestal dead ahead of you. Entering, you observe that, while the room you find yourself in is rectangular, the longest sides of the rectangle stretching out in front of you, the central space is marked out by a circle of pillars that passes behind the statue. Light from above falls on the statue, which clearly depicts a female figure. You go forward and stand before the statue, looking up. It is carved from pure white marble and seems to glow from within. The woman stands, her chin up, her curly hair pulled back, caught above the nape of her neck, and from there falling free down onto her back. She wears a simple sleeveless robe over a singlet that reaches to her wrists and buttons up to the throat. In her left hand she holds a pair of scales and in her right a sword, point up. Her face is calm and beautiful, bearing a determined and businesslike expression. Her feet are not visible. The plinth on which she stands has carved upon it this sentence: ‘There is no Religion higher than Truth’.

Without warning, Themis swings the tip of her sword swiftly downwards marking out a long, smooth arc in space, and brings the sword’s sharp point to rest a few centimeters from your heart. As the sword tip comes to rest aimed at your breast, the scales in the goddess’s other hand tip to one side as if an invisible something occupied one pan of the balance, weighing it down. The goddess speaks: “Welcome, servant of the One. You have made progress in your quest for knowledge and that is commendable. Yet no knowledge can match self-knowledge. Therefore, in your present unpurified state, you can proceed no further with your quest. I charge you to examine your heart and to do your best to eliminate error from your nature. All humans are flawed, so do not deceive yourself that you are without bad habits of thought that hold you back. Promise that you will look deep within yourself, identify your most obvious faults, and do all you can to diminish or control them. But first, wash your hands, then place them on my altar and make your promise.”

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You notice for the first time a pillar three feet tall over to your right on which stands a bowl of water. Go to it and immerse your hands in the water. When you remove them, a light green towel sweeps down from above and you dry your hands on it. The towel whisks away. Themis points with her sword to your left and you see there a similar pillar to the one bearing the bowl of water, but this second pillar has nothing on it; its top is merely a flat square. It is the altar of Themis. Approach it and place both your hands upon it palm down. Make your promise and stand back, turning to face the statue of the goddess. Her sword now is held high, its tip pointing heavenward.

Bow deeply to the Lady Themis. Back out of the temple making sure you do not turn away from the goddess until you are in the portico, standing in full daylight. The door, black with a brass doorknob at its center, closes. Now turn toward the lake. Your raft is bobbing on the water awaiting your return. Retrace your steps to the lake’s edge and board the raft. Seat yourself, ankles together, hands flat on your thighs.

The water draws your raft toward the center of the lake, rotating it slowly as it does so. You are afforded a panoramic view of the park, getting to see it from every angle. Eventually you find yourself directly in front of the temple of Themis again but this time with an expanse of water ahead of you, then grass, then the little, domed temple itself. You become aware of the reflection of the temple in the waters of the lake, upside down and shimmering slightly as the surface of the lake is disturbed by a gentle breeze. You can see the green of the grass, the white shape of the temple, a darker green of the trees behind the temple, and the blue of the sky reflected in the water, hazy and distorted, and yet it is as if this inverted scene possessed a reality all its own. Before you can consider further, the breeze that ruffled the surface of the lake gains strength and drives a fine white-grey mist across the park. The mist grows thicker and darker as it envelops you until you are in utter darkness. After a moment you realize that the chair on which you are sitting is no longer swaying with the motion of the waters of the lake. You are not any more on the chair fixed to the raft. You are seated on your own chair in a room in your own home. Opening your physical eyes, you see that this is indeed true. Stand up and stamp on the floor as this action will commence the earthing process. To complete that process, have a warm drink or eat something before making a note of all that you experienced on your journey to the temple of the goddess of Justice.

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If you have made the promise requested of you at the altar of Themis (and you don’t have to make this promise, but if you have made it you must keep it), make time over the next seven days to contemplate your failings. Are you at times short tempered? Do you envy the lives that others have? Are you sometimes selfish or self-centered? As Themis reminded you in the meditation, all humans are flawed. Identify at least three flaws in your own temperament. Next, determine to work on those flaws so as either to diminish them or to bring them under better control. If you do not carry out this part of the Work, or if you have not made the promise at the altar to the goddess of inner balance, then you should not continue with the exercises I am giving out. Should you ignore my advice and carry on with the exercises without having properly prepared the ground, beware that you do not draw down upon yourself the wrath of Themis, goddess of justice, for the higher forces know all, see all, and reward us all according to our deserts.

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From → occult tarot

One Comment
  1. Thank you. I like this visualisation a lot. An opportunity to reboot.

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