The Serpent Dove

I recently discovered a post from an old blog of mine that I completely forgot I wrote. On re-reading it, I remembered that it was the seed that would gradually evolve into my forthcoming book Stellas Daemonum. The post itself came 10 days after a group Lunar Ritual that led to a sharp shift in my focus towards the huge influence that astrology had on Western Magic.

The aim of Stellas Daemonum is to reveal the line of evolution from the celestial magic apparent in the cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, which, via the Gnostics, the Neoplatonists, the Byzantines and the Arabs, went on to influence much of what we recognise in Grimoires such as the Key of Solomon. Following those introductory chapters, the bulk of the material found in the book is dedicated to presenting a much-elaborated list of entries for ninety-three of the spirits found in texts such as the Testament of Solomon, the Lemegeton, the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, the Book of the Offices of Spirits, the Livre des Esperitz and several more. Then, by explaining the magical, linguistic, physical and cultural origins of the names and forms of each of the spirits found in this grimoiric volume in detail, running conclusions are drawn regarding the infernal, elemental, lunar, planetary and stellar principles that each of them resonate with.

An initial link to the book, which is due for release via Red Wheel/Weiser in 2020, can be found here.

In the meantime, although the tone and content of Stellas Daemonum are completely different in nature to it, here’s the old post that started the whole project rolling.

“And I Solomon, having heard this, glorified God. And though I marvelled at the apology of the demons, I did not credit it until it came true. And I did not believe their words; but when they were realized, then I understood, and at my death I wrote this Testament to the children of Israel, and gave it to them, so that they might know the powers of the demons and their shapes, and the names of their angels, by which these angels are frustrated. And I glorified the Lord God of Israel, and commanded the spirits to be bound with bonds indissoluble.”

– Testament of Solomon, 66.

My recent learning processes have led me to the conclusion that the origin of all religion, magical and spiritual phenomenon, like everything else that exists, is stellar in nature, and the ideas I’ve expressed about the Zodiac being a manifestation of ‘God,’ alludes to that stellar totality. The trillions of stars that surround us are a reflection of the vast plurality of divine forces that their existence symbolises. And just as we can call that collective of galaxies, constellations, stars, planets, moons and asteroids ‘the Cosmos,’ so may we also call it ‘God.’ If we dislike that term through reasons of conditioning, however, we can call it ‘the Divine,’ ‘the All,’ or ‘the Universe’ instead. It really doesn’t make a difference.

As per the maxim of Hermes, what goes on out there in the universe also goes on in here, inside of us, and vice-versa. This maxim is also the basis of astrology in which the movement of celestial bodies is reflected in the world around us as well as within our own psyches. The division between the ‘higher’ (or divine influence) and the ‘lower’ (that which is observably manifest), however, is ultimately an illusion, though due to our inherent ignorance, we maintain this separation until we experience Gnosis. A convenient but temporary bridge that can connect these illusory states into something resembling unity lies in what we name the sub-lunar aspects of the internal and external manifestation of the Divine which is both unseen and physically manifest at the same time.

This borderlands between the realms of the sub-lunar is named as ‘Qesheth,’ meaning ‘bow,’ in the Qaballah. This signifies the paths of Qoph, Shin and Tau that connect Malkuth to the Sephirah of Yesod, Hod and Netzach, which represent the Unconscious, the Lower Intellect and the Aesthetic senses. Elsewhere, another such bridge is called Bïfrost, the Rainbow Bridge that connects Midgard, the realm of men, with Asgard, the realm of the gods. In Persian lore a bridge with the exact same function was the Chinvat Bridge, which was guarded by two canine sentinels which not only act as the gatekeepers to the celestial realms beyond the bridge, but also to the chthonic chasms below it. Working with such liminal spaces, therefore, grants access to both the celestial and chthonic realms, as is seen in the myth of Odin hanging himself from the heights of the World Tree before descending to its lowest roots to sacrifice a portion of himself to the Waters of the Well of Wyrd. This sacrifice is reflected across the human cultural spectrum in the myth of the Descent into the Underworld, the reward of returning alive from brings the gift of divine insight.

By working with the denizens between the material and invisible realms, one realises the nature of the vertical pillar that begins in the depths of the underworld and rises like a serpent to the celestial crown of the heavens, as symbolised by the fixed star Polaris at its apex, around which the Great Dragon, flying free, sets its guard. In such paradigms, the angels that Solomon set over the demons he conjured reflect our own innate, if obfuscated, sense of unified consciousness. As stated above though, the division between the concepts of ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ expressed here is ultimately an illusion. By ‘reconnecting’ the ‘angels’ and ‘demons,’ one does nothing but realise their true, unified nature.

A Gnostic cognate in which a similar concept of wholeness is found in the name of Abrasax. This name represents a complete and undivided circle and signifies time, the cosmos and the Self in a single, unified form. By understanding the essential oneness of these allegedly ‘high’ and ‘low’ aspects of extraneous entities into a single Unity (and, by extension, the ‘celestial’ and ‘chthonic’ aspects of our own natures), one comes to realise what the core of the Great Work is all about.

Yoga and the Great Work

Bhairava Bharavi

Since incorporating regular yogic practices into my routine, I’ve come to learn a lot more of the depth and value of Vedic religion. What I came to realise with great joy is that it is vastly similar in its goals to Gnosticism. In both expressions of spirituality, the purest part of the Self, the Atman, is the permanent, unsullied and unchangeable essence at the core of our being that is in complete harmony with the Divine. Understanding this, the aspirant proceeds to commit themselves to direct knowledge of that innate divinity through works of union such as devotional practices, ritual, meditation, selflessness and intellectual contemplation. With repetition and consistency, such practices lead to a gradual revelation of this internal divinity which reflects that of the outer or cosmic divinity with perfection. In Vedic practices this is termed Samadhi, while in Western Esotericism it is termed many things, but the word Gnosis is the most pervasive and universally understood.

But, being incarnated into matter, our awareness of this divine core becomes lost and forgotten in a mire of bewilderment. In the West, most of us are raised by parents who toe the line of societal expectations regarding work, wealth, leisure, advancement and respectability. Likewise, our media and educational systems advance similar ideas, which, in themselves, are not evil or unreasonable. Yet, when we are conditioned into believing such materialism is the sole purpose of our short lives, we become diverted from the experience of Gnosis by our attachments to our material and emotional desires and fears and seek solace in our what is momentarily distractive or pleasurable.

By understanding that we are all—without exception—innately divine at our core no matter our station of birth, race, gender, sexuality, religion, intellect or physical capacity, the first stage of Gnosis is attained. Once this is realised, the hollowness of a purely materialistic existence begins to make sense and we come to understand why no matter how much money we make, how many lovers we take, how much property we own or how many children we have, there is always a deep sense within us that there is something missing. That ‘something’ is our awareness of what we really are.

With the understanding that the pleasures of the world will never truly satisfy us, we may, through the practice of the works of union described above, come closer to understanding our true identities, or ‘True Wills’ as they are called in Thelema. This process of understanding is universal throughout the religious and esoteric systems of humanity, being called Self-Remembering in the Gurdjieffan system, Individuation in Jungian psychology and both Yoga (pertaining to ‘Union’) and Moksha (pertaining to liberation) in the Vedic religions to name just a few.

What stands in the way of Union, and must therefore be constantly worked through, is the pull of the ego and its attachments. To these our souls are incorrigibly bound by thick chains of ignorance. These binds must be realised and hacked through with persistence, which means that the dark forces of ignorance and delusion generated by the ego and its attachments must be constantly destroyed by the fires of illumination that deities such as Shiva and Parvati—especially in their wrathful aspects like Mahakala, Kali, Bhairava and Bhairavi—can assist us with most auspiciously.

Furthermore, in accordance with the words of the Gnostic Mass—“there is no part of me that is not of the gods”—and the understanding that man and God are One, the deities we may invoke to do this reside within us, physically in our nervous systems and energetically in our subtle bodies in the form of the Kundalini serpent. To activate this serpent and to receive the knowledge it conveys, is the very essence of both the Yogas of the East and the Summum Bonum or Great Work of the West.

Whatever language we use and however we choose to practice the realisation of such things is unique to every individual and has many differing cultural expressions. But the ultimate purpose, no matter how we understand it, is identical and is innately programmed into the heart of every human being who walks the Earth. This being so, realisation of our innate divinity is something we all owe ourselves to aspire towards if we are ever to become what we are truly meant to become.