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Principle 9, Exercise 8

June 21, 2021

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.

From → occult tarot

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