By Christine Payne-Towler
ArkLetter 97, April 10, 2013
Welcome to spring and all of its charms, dear readers! As promised, this month we will continue our meditations on the Monas Hieroglyphica and then follow up with the nuptial dance of NewMoon and the Lovers, Mars and Venus, all in Aries.
In February, we mentioned a little incident in occult history that deserves extra attention. It has to do with the slight amendment that Boehme made in the way we use the ancient Ladder of Lights, due to the implications of the Copernican Revolution. In that article also we looked into the Hieroglyphic Monad by John Dee and found him quoting Boehme's early remarks on the subject. We also noted that our Ladder of Lights is employed by Dee on his famous Egg. Intriguingly, Dee offered the Ladder in the adjusted form that Boehme ultimately adopted. I left you with these ideas to contemplate:
"It has gradually penetrated my materialistic Taurus-Moon skull that the planetary values being referred to by Dee and Boehme are not "things in space" but are instead arcs of time and motion associated with the Ladder of Lights and the Doctrine of Essential Dignities. This means, when Boehme or Dee say "Saturn", they are making a shorthand reference to the two Zodiacal signs Saturn rules, as well as the two great lines of force that wrap around the Zodiac to the Lights via the Saturn-ruled signs, first from Aquarius to Cancer, and then from Leo to Capricorn.
"Similarly, when Dee points to either Jupiter or Mercury, he's referring to the entire Mutable Square, with all the interpenetrating dimensions of intelligence and communication that result from Jupiter and Mercury being the planets that complete and extinguish the four seasons, dissolving the past in preparation for the incoming future.
"As well, the Mars/Venus pair demonstrates the very seminal transitional times available between Aries/Taurus and Libra/Scorpio, covering the spring and fall periods ruled by this primordial pair. These pregnant moments are best dedicated to the formation of the new Holy Word, analogous to Boehme's lovingly tended goal of the Tincture, which converts Daat to Sophia's residence and home of the new Sacred Marriage."
For the sticklers among us, I have explicated the history of these Planet/Sign assumptions in my article called The Tarot of the Spheres and Muses, from ArkLetter 30 of September 2007. This was a regular mental shorthand that astrologers and magicians employed to encompass a Planet’s entire realm of influence, so it's worth investing a little time and thought into comprehending this approach. <<http://www.tarotarkletters.com/2007/09/tarot-spheres-m.html>>
Picking up from here I now want to draw out some further implications of these ideas.
- Divine Driver and Source; the Sun
- Creative Causality; Mars/Venus
- Astral Transmission; Jupiter/Mercury
- Material Results; Saturn/Moon
Here we see the preceding discussion distilled into a set of gnomic formulas, it can be seen that these three sets of planetary pairs condition the condensation of the solar efflux. Boehme introduces the process this way:
Creation takes form through a descent of Divine Will into matter. The Planets of the Solar System receive the solar radiance and use it to power their activities. As they rotate and interact, their energies are steadily rendered down into forms that we sub-Lunar humans can metabolize. The first three stages in Boehme’s chart represent the eternal and ceaseless Descent of the Light. These stages are characterized in human experience by increasing levels of pressure and demand placed upon matter and form (proxies for the ego). The demand is that matter should become self-conscious, in the sense that it comes to play host to the Spirit, thereby becoming "enlightened." Boehme correlates these pressurized and insistent energies to the action of the Father Jehovah of the Old Testament.
By the time those three stages are completed (enacted by the centripetal motion of the planetary pairs circling in towards the heart), the pressure brought to bear on unconscious matter is so devastating that the "heart of Creation" cracks open with a bolt of lightning, and suddenly a world of new realizations dawns. Boehme attributes this energy to the birth of the Christ into matter, establishing a Divine outpost in the material world and awakening matter to its divine destiny as the vehicle for Spirit. This transformation of the heart, from selfishly inward-looking to selflessly outward-looking, reverses all the polarities that were holding the world in its "fallen" condition, and opens up a whole new arena of human aspiration.
The final entries, steps 5, 6 and 7 in Boehme’s chart, are characterized by the three planetary pairs switching their polarities. The planets that were active in the pairs in steps 1, 2, and 3 are now passive. The previously retreating planets are now leading. These are the three healing responses offered by Sophia, which have the power to compliment and calm the pain, fury, pressure, and despair that were present before the great breakthrough made by Christ. These energies have the power to rescue the world from its un-awakened, unhealed situation imposed by the theological fall from grace.
The switch is accomplished via Sophia’s continuous love, compassion, surrender, acceptance, nonviolence, and empathy. Sophia teaches us to leave the fight-or-flight world of the clashing opposites, and enter the bond-and-respond world of the Middle Pillar. In the theophany of the Tincture, all the pairs come together around the Lights and Sophia, in order to stabilize the “new heaven and new earth” that has been promised to us through the Paraclete.
This is the exact point where the change in Boehme's outlook becomes an important theological and yogic revelation. It is essential that we understand his vision in its essence, so we don't distort our thinking about Boehme’s astrological alchemy. Hence I'd like to spend a minute explicating the two different ways that Boehme presented the interactions of the Planets within the body of the Initiate. I’d suggest that the reader "try these ideas on" for yourself and experience their consequences in your own energy-body.
In every case, we are discussing the spiral of energies being described on the Magus card from El Gran Tarot Esoterico. This is the prototype of both the modalities that Boehme used to explain the internal alchemical yoga of angelization. Jules Evola gives it to us thusly (p. 180 of Evola’s The Hermetic Tradition from Inner Traditions Press, 1971.)
Boehme's Initial Modality
In Boehme's original presentation of his Key, which is the version preserved in William Law's Collected Works and cited by Dee, we see Boehme making a recital of what I would call the "natural unfolding" of the Properties, Forms or Spirits within the generic human. This would be the manner in which these energies would become conscious to a person who is not yet informed about the angelic yoga. This is the automatic, autonomic process that will inevitably happen to a person due to the simple rotation of the Planets around the Sun.
When looking at this graph, remember that the leading planet in the pair is the dominant one. Knowing this, the graph gives the dominant planets in this numbered order: Saturn, Mercury, Mars, Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Moon. The shift will happen between stage 2 and stage 6, both applying to the Jupiter/mercury pair.
Translating these planetary pairs into arcs of motion, the top row of this little graph spirals from Aquarius to Cancer, followed by an arc from Virgo to Sagittarius, completed by an arc from Aries to Taurus. Boehme designates these first three as the Father Principles, which bring friction, stress, longing, desire, anguish and the sensation of lack into consciousness.
Once that triple-coil has been traversed, at the fourth stage the Sun/Heart must suffer and struggle with its false understanding until it bursts open from it's pain and admits the Light. This is the "aha" moment the mystic feels when their erroneous ego-centered worldview is crushed under the weight of its own hubris. Boehme’s genius presented the human heart as the central pivot and birthplace of redemption, not just for the individual, but also for the creation as a whole, for all of matter right down to the atoms.
By following the involutionary spiral in this way, one is rapidly tossed hither and yon by every planetary transit, especially those of the fast-moving mood-swing planets, Moon, Mercury and Venus. There is very little time to recover between one arc and the next. It only takes the Sun a year and four months to make this whole circuit, and in the case of the inner planets, the time cycles are considerably shorter. As these three stages wrap around the heart, they bring about such an insufferable pressure that the Lightning Bolt is evoked to break the tension and liberate the Mother forces.
Finally, the completing three stages show the Motherly response within the planetary pairs as they produce the healing balm of love and mildness, compassion and understanding.
Now the same spiral starts up again, but this time unwinding centrifugally, exploding outward in the opposite direction, pressing the soul through the three arcs that stretch from Libra to Scorpio, then Pisces to Gemini, and finally Leo to Capricorn. Again we see the process going very fast, virtually "unzipping" the person from the wrath and fulmination of the Father forces, replacing those sentiments with love, healing, pleasure and communion. Of course, this bliss doesn't last long, because soon the energy starts its involutionary spiral again, in an unending yo-yo pattern. I call this "being scrubbed up and down the washboard of the Ladder of Lights".
Those who can endure this process without falling into unconsciousness can acquire wisdom by following this method. However, the uncontrolled intensity of this constant push from the planets can easily create a life of running from pillar to post, putting out fires and recovering from vast mood-swings, rather than allowing for a dignified perambulation of the archetypal territory in a more considered manner.
Boehme's Mature Modality
In his second decade of writing, after leaving behind his religion-imposed moratorium, Boehme succeeded in integrating his Copernican mysticism more completely. He had also either discovered or derived a more finessed version of the Angelic Yoga. I'm assuming this probably happened in association with Johann Georg Gichtel, another Protestant mystic who also theorized and practiced with this alchemical model of angelization. (Both J. G. Gichtel and Boehme’s assistant D. A. Freher each created a series of engravings that Marixtu Guler was referring to with her unique Magus in the El Gran Tarot Esoterico.) The nuance of change that emerges from Boehme's later works gives us an alternate way of using these involutionary and evolutionary spirals, in a much more intentional and deliberate manner.
This more efficacious process requires a little familiarity with an ephemeris, in order that one can preview what's coming in the future weeks and months. Taking the time to pre-cognate the future paths of the Planets allows the practitioner to prepare for the energetically "loaded" moments of the year. The point is to capture some of that free-floating energy to devote to one’s own astro-alchemical agenda. This process goes more slowly than the "natural method" described above, but by this approach the practitioner can deliberately steer into and out of these coils of energy in a way that allows for more self-awareness and less wasted energy.
Following this method, the three Planetary Pairs are now understood the way we see them on Dee's egg, addressed in descending order from the outermost visible Planet -- Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon. Any time one sees this order with the Sun in the middle and the Moon at the bottom, whether it appears in a pre-Copernican or post-Copernican context, one can be sure that this refers to the Ladder of Lights. When used this way, with Jupiter dominant in the second step and Mercury dominant in the sixth step, the Involutonary spiral comprises all three of the descending paths on the Mother Pillar (collectively called The Wet Way of Engagement), and the Evolutionary Spiral comprises all three of the ascending paths on the Father Pillar (collectively called The Dry Way of Detachment).
How is that practiced, one wonders? This method is followed by resting and meditating between loops on the coil, rather than rushing headlong from one experience to the next as if on a roller coaster.
Literally, the progression is as follows. On the involutionary arc, one starts as usual with Saturn in Aquarius (the beginning point for the Great Work), then describing the usual arc down to Cancer. Then, before jumping into the next rotation, one rests and digests that experience until the spiral swings around to Pisces, (which means waiting 2/3rds of a year as the Sun travels). At this point the second arc commences and carries the energies down to Gemini. Again one waits and meditates; solidifying one’s gains while more time goes by. Finally the spiral comes around again to the arc between Aries and Taurus. After this, the entire Mother Pillar is traversed and all the issues of "descent" and "dissolution" have been addressed in a deliberate and disciplined manner.
Of course what follows is still the Lightning-bolt that rips open the heart, and after that the re-assembly process. This would be accomplished by traversing all of the paths of the Father Pillar one by one, first along the arc between Libra and Scorpio, then along the arc of Virgo to Sagittarius, finally along the arc of Leo to Capricorn. In between times, when one is waiting out the fallow times between rotations, the soul is enjoined to study and witness and investigate one's experience. The goal in this mature modality is not inclined to hurry, but to actually awaken to the Light in a sober and permanent way.
It's important to remember that different people will connect their goals and ideals to different Planetary Governors, and each Planet has its own time-cycle by which it rotates around the Sun. Goals that are tied to the Moon, Mercury or Venus will move along quite a bit faster than goals that are tied to Mars, Jupiter or Saturn. The Sun, symbol of the Divine Light and Christ-consciousness, is the body by which natural calendars measure the year. By becoming aware which planets govern your goals and possibilities, and how that chosen Planet expresses in your chart, the self-aware practitioner can learn to "hitch a ride on its coattails", powering their plans with the astrological energies raining down upon him or her from the heavens. This is the manner by which the magician harnesses invisible energies to produce visible, tangible, fungible results in life.
Placing the Monas into the Zodiac
While we are looking at Boehme's versions of the Monas, let's notice the particular form of it that Boehme proffers. Think of this sigil as an elaborate Mercury symbol. Whenever we see it in Boehme's works, the head is pointing to the left and the foot is pointing to the right. How shall we understand this symbol in practice?
A full examination of Boehme's canon of graphics shows that he invariably portrayed the Zodiac in Arabic style, which means the Zodiac unfolds clockwise instead of counterclockwise, as Western esotericists are used to seeing it. (There are other peculiarities of Arabic charting, but for now this is all we need to notice.) It will be necessary to take this habit of his into consideration before we can "see" with Boehme's eyes.
I get the feeling that Boehme expected a practitioner to impose the Monas upon the Zodiac somehow. The fact that the Monas has a head and a tail, and therefore is not symmetrical, means that it operates like the Magician's wand, with an emitting end and a receiving end. If one wants the results that can emerge at the top, one has to supply the proper stimuli at the bottom. This is one of the natural consequences of the "as above, so below" worldview. Like a magnet, the two ends of the Monas glyph create a completed circuit that animates a field and organizes certain kinds of events to happen within it.
Given the explicit descriptions that Dee gave for the glyphic sub-sections of his Monas, it would seen natural to lay the foot of the Monas, with its central axis as a pointer, on the sign line between Aries and Taurus. This would automatically connect the two points of the Lunar Crescent at the top of the Monas to Libra and Scorpio. In other words, we should drop this Monas directly into the Ladder of Lights rectangle that joins the Mars/Venus signs. This way the base of the Monas is energized during the first two signs of Spring, and the head of the sigil is delivers its results during the first two signs of Fall.
The glyph in this position implies that a practitioner would start a Mars/Venus operation in the season of Spring, knowing that the operation won't be mature and completed until the energies have come around to their fall expression in Libra and Scorpio. The Aries/Taurus arc is, after all, aligned with the wrathful and incomplete Father forces. The alchemical "medicine" is not complete until the loving, compassionate energies of Sophia have been allowed to soothe and compliment the wrathful descending energies. Hence, to enact this ritual in any format that might be imaginable, one has to begin one's preparation and activities half-a-zodiac prior to the time and context when you want the ritual to ripen and be fulfilled.
And remember, one can also flip the Monas, grounding the central axis in the line between Libra and Scorpio, and pointing the crescent into Aries and Taurus. This would put the origination impulse on the Father Pillar side, with the expectation of a later manifestation on the Mother Pillar side. Everything depends upon the purpose for which these links were being activated in the first place. The intention of the practitioner provides the motive power of any magical working.
Boehme as an Eros Magician
This presentation of the Monas offers one reason why I judge Jacob Boehme’s teaching to be a type of Eros Magic. There is a unique suggestion being made when Boehme the mystic presents the Monas on a horizontal axis, compared to the situation of Dee the Intelligencer presenting the Monas vertically.
When laid into the rectangle of the Mars/Venus pair (at the Spring and Fall equinoxes), Boehme's Monas would be a key or talisman indicating the activity of Sophia, the Holy Word. It is She who manifests the Divine Will directly, androgynously by parthenogenesis, from her reconstructed throne at Daat.
Alternately, with the Monad laid into the rectangle of the Saturn/Moon pair, one would be working with Saturnine- and Lunar-based powers, which tend to be of a dynastic, financial and/or political type. This form of power is generally granted through inherited Tradition, and it often confers with it ownership of the land and the primary businesses of the realm. (I’m only sketching lightly here, out of fear of creating a cliché instead of imparting information. All of these ideas need to be fleshed out in a practitioner’s literal experience!)
This type of thinking can also be applied to the Mutable Square too, although it takes just a little more thought to visualize. The rule would remain the same -- the foot of the glyph would be placed where the energy comes "from", causing the crowning horns of the glyph to connect with the opposite side of the Zodiac. Those horns point out the area of life where the energy will be expected to appear and show its results, it is the final goal of the overall working. These types of operations can be launched from a planet to its mate upon the "treads" of the Ladder of Lights (the ascending horizontal bars). Alternately, they can be launched from one of the vertical side-rails that join the complimentary Planetary Pairs top-to-bottom, to be aimed at the reciprocal pair on the opposite side of the Zodiac.
I interpret the Monas, however applied, as a deliberate esoteric intervention, a true "key", designed to attach the goal of the practitioner to the mating dance of heaven and earth. However it is placed within the master diagram, the Monas would focalize a magical operation enacted within and between a given planetary pair, which are consciously brought together at pregnant times to fulfill their divine purpose in mediating the enlightenment of the creation.
A New Slide Show at the ArkLetters FaceBook page!
Last weekend I recorded a discussion with student Angel Lozada. We were looking over the chapters of my original book, The Underground Stream, and he asked me to make some remarks about how the Kabbala Tree relates to Tarot. You might enjoy listening to that after reading this article. As you look at the slides, try to close your eyes and envision these things happening in your energy-body. One of the most interesting and dynamic things we can learn from this precious ancient teaching is that our energy-bodies are constantly active, metabolizing incoming energies and generating outgoing energies. This model of the human aura has become very well articulated and refined from all the generations of mystics and yogis who have worked with it. Therefore even a little study in this direction can be very rewarding.
copyright christine payne-towler 2005-2013, all rights reserved
TAROT ARKLETTERS are published by:
Christine Payne-Towler and Noreah Press
Anyone objecting to the use of their image in this free publication can have it removed immediately - Ed.