XXXIV: Unicorns

Stag and Unicorn

XXXIV REEM

Servitors: Elmis (Helmis).

Dehn’s notes state that the Word REEM denotes ‘“Unicorns” and also beasts of the beeve kind, Buffaloes, etc.’, though the technical translation of the Hebrew ראם (rem) is ‘oryx,’ being a type of antelope, as well as ‘buffalo.’  ELZE in the second row resembles the Hebrew אלץ (eltz), ‘to force,’ ‘compel’ or ‘restrain,’ while its reversal EZLE, may derive from אצילי (etzili), meaning ‘noble.’ EILE in the third row resembles the Hebrew איל (eil), meaning ‘deer,’ ‘stag’ or ‘hart,’ concurs with the line of symbolism featuring horned beasts of both a natural and mystical nature evident in the Square’s primary word.

There is no Central Cross in this Square, though with the only spirit whose name approximately fits into it being Elmis (LBA) or Helmis (LBW), it is he who influences this Square. This name likely comes from the Ancient Greek ‘ελμις, meaning ‘worm.’

The Vision

A great white unicorn rushed from the East, bounding speedily over plains of grass to enter the forest from the previous vision. I was still merged in essence with the flame at the top of the great white column, which I now realised to be symbolic of the white horn of the Unicorn, for this was its dwelling and place of power. It rushed back there on becoming aware of the mingling of the Sun and Moon which was occurring there. Rushing in from the West came a Stag, great in stature, but lesser than the Unicorn. On their arrival, the flame I burned in was extinguished and I fell to the ground from the top of the tower, landing on my back. As the world faded to a narrowing tunnel of darkness, I saw the eaves of the trees and a pale white sky above me, and as I died I saw the Unicorn and the Stag looming over me, each one of them licking my face with their rough tongues.

Then I became detached from the world and hovered up over it until I rested in a great black void. I watched on as the Stag and Unicorn reared up at each other and locked horns. Although the Stag’s antlers were greater, it began to diminish in its size as the Unicorn grew larger, until, defeated, the stag departed the grove and headed back into the West.

Then I saw that the darkness before me had become a great sea that I was hovering over in the form of a crow. I swooped down and saw myself in a previous incarnation rowing a small boat over the water, but passed myself by without any communication. Then I landed at the Western shore of the ocean and was greeted by the Unicorn on its sands. Her colour was now entirely silver and she told me that she was my sister, the Moon, and we had culminated our journey together in the western lands but must now venture under the waters and cross the ocean again. I saw that this journey between the East and West was an endless cycle and asked her if it would ever cease. She answered that its end would only come when Nothing Else Is. Then I climbed up onto her back and rode beneath the sea as an embodiment of the Sun, our light mingling into one. Beneath the waters we saw great venomous fish about us, then came up on the opposite shore far to the East. There, she told me we must depart again, for she must go ahead of me, but soon we would come together again for a short time.

Then, suddenly, I was back at the top of the tower of the white horn and watched the Unicorn and Stag meet in the grove at its base once again. I fell from its top, as I did before, but landed on the back of the Stag this time, who bore me away into the woods. Riding it, I was made incarnate again, and became a great hunter, and all of the dark spirits that haunted the woods retreated from the sound of the great horn that I blew. The stag was violent, strong and wild in nature, and was silent and uncommunicative. When he set me down at the edge of the forest, the vision ended.

Notes

The theme of the North and South and Sun and Moon mingling as opposites in the last vision was continued here with my coming together with a female unicorn which represented the Moon while I shone with a Solar light. The passage across the Sea, which had been attempted and failed in previous visions, was now completed following the process of death, with the Unicorn acting as the means of resurrection, as it does in legend. The passage from the shores of the underworld to those of the physical world after a brief sojourn there represented the cycle of reincarnation as well as that of the solar and lunar revolutions and cycles. The mingling together of male and female or Sun and Moon was relevant to the timing of the scrying as the Square was constructed with the Moon at 6º Libra and performed with the Moon at 23º Libra, 7º away from the Sun, with the New Moon having occurred this day at 04:46 London time at 15º 48’ Libra. On this occasion, the Square was constructed during the planetary day and hour of the Moon after performing the Ritual of the Hexagram invoking Luna.

On being reincarnated back into a physical form, the ‘death cycle’ of the visions appeared to come to an end, with the stag representing the incarnated soul, as it does in alchemy, whereas the Unicorn represented pure spirit. The Earthy, masculine nature of the Stag seemed to concur with this, with my reborn self taking on qualities of renewed power and vigour in the material world, with my form being feeling somewhat akin to that of Cernunnos or Herne on my return, which also paralleled the mythos of the Wild Hunt that has been apparent in visions such as that of A Hunting Party and Paddocks and Fields.

IX. A Grape or Grape Plant

Red Dragon

IX GRAPE

Servitors: Helel, Moreh, Myrmo, Mara, Helmis, Liriol, Asmiel, Lomiol, Losimon, Sarasim, Iuar, Laralos, Aherom, Ramoras, Aril, Amillis

The words at the top and right-hand side of the square relate to the Hebrew עללה (olelah), ‘gleaning,’ meaning ‘to gather after harvest,’ as in ‘the gleaning of the grapes’ in Isaiah 24:13— ‘the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.’ The reversing of this word in the bottom and left-hand edges resembles the name of the spirit Helel which refers to a ‘cavity’ or ‘hollow’ but also implicates the Hebrew הלל (halel), a ‘song of praise.’ ERISOL may refer to the Greek ἐριστικός – ‘eager for strife,’ after the goddess Eris, while the words LOSOME and LASOME may derive from the Hebrew לשים (loshim) meaning ‘to put,’ ‘deposit,’ ‘lay down,’ or ‘brand,’ and points towards the presence of the spirit Losimon, which comes from the word לסימן (losimon), ‘sign,’ mark.’

The Vision

The first thing I saw was a grape in very close proximity, which I entered through the skin of to reside inside of, becoming one with the seed that lay inside of it. As a disembodied spirit, I perceived its germ to be no different than that of the embryo of any human or mammal, though I had no volition over my choice of host. Whilst inside of it I was conscious that I was imprisoned in it until it either decayed into the earth or was devoured by some creature. Before long a creature did come, and it was a phoenix, though it was in the form it takes as a mortal bird before resurrection, with red, blue and yellow feathers, a scruffy appearance and eyes that looked like something you would associate with a negative psychedelic experience. The phoenix ate the grape I lay dormant within, but soon I was passed out in its droppings and merged with the soil. I grew into shoots and then a whole vine and then an entire network of vines that spread over the earth until, eventually, I found a large tree to wind the outer tendrils of my vast body around. As I became settled into my new dwelling, I saw the same reddish-brown dragon that I had seen in the vision of A Big Lake, come down to nestle in the upper boughs of the tree. The tree could support any life, I realised as the dragon landed, for its boughs did not bend or shake an inch despite the dragon’s huge weight. On noticing me, it seemed disgruntled that I had invaded its home.

‘I don’t know if I preferred this tree before you came to it or whether I prefer it now,’ it said. ‘I may have to kill you in order to find out.’ I told him destruction would be welcome as I wasn’t enjoying such an existence, then he said it didn’t matter if he let me live or not, as I would die soon anyway, whether it be from a fire, an ash, a flood or by the hunger of some other great beast.

‘Worse still,’ he said ‘man may come and harvest you for his own gain.’ As it spoke, I became aware of the lake I had first seen this dragon flying over through the eaves of the great tree far off away in the distance. It wound its tail down around the trunk to merge with the uppermost part of my vine.

I asked the dragon its name and it replied that it was Tharson, though there was a sense that it may have been saying Tharuson, and that the name had a hermetic origin. I asked if it knew my name in this plant form, and it replied Bonab though he told me my true name was closer to Jerusay. He spoke again of how that existence as we knew it in bodily form was short and inconsequential and that life would end soon. He pointed to the sun after saying this, and I saw that it was pale and obscured by dark, rushing clouds.

‘Its light is running out,’ he said.

Following these words, I saw a man with a monk’s habit and tonsure approaching from a distance. A streak of lightning descended from the dark clouds and struck him dead and I witnessed his soul departing from his body. As this happened, the phoenix who had devoured me earlier appeared close to his body and I thought it was going to feed on the carcass. Instead, it laid a black egg on top of the body, which then sank in through his cassock and flesh and revived his corpse to life, though on rising he was dark-eyed and zombie-like as his soul had already fled.

‘We must be careful what we allow to enter us,’ the dragon said as the monk walked by.

Then, as the monk faded from view, I noticed the crocodile I had seen while experimenting with the square that makes visions appear in crystal and glass. It came close to the tree and snapped off the part of my body with where my thoughts seemed to be coming from and took my consciousness to the lake I had once sailed a small boat over. It swam out to the centre and dived down to the floor where a sealed treasure chest lay. As it opened I saw that the chest was full of gold, then the crocodile put me inside of it and closed the lid. It was glorious inside, like bathing in pure sunlight and, aside from the knowledge that large fish were swimming in the dark waters above me, I felt at peace. I knew, however, that this state was only a temporary one and that I would soon be released into the world in bodily form again.

The grape I saw was green, the type used to make the white wine the dragon spoke of in the earlier vision of the lake, while the crocodile was the same as the one who previously acted as an underworld guide. Here his role was to guide me to the parts of the underworld that the sun passes through in the twelve hours of the Duat as recounted in the Book of Gates, where it passes when it is in its northern position in its diurnal cycle. As my sense in the vision suggested, this is only a temporary phenomenon as the sun rises in the East after dawn, though the imagery of the sun in the underworld has symbolic resonance with the Elemental King Egin/Ariton—who I believed to the spirit which the dragon served in the vision of A Big Lake—who rules that direction. With the sun dying in the sky yet preserved in a pure state in the treasure chest, I believe the crocodile’s role was that of a guide or helper in this vision, which is concordant with the protective role the god Sobek played to the afflicted dead of the underworld. The act of being put away or deposited for safe keeping in such a chest may be the influence of the spirit Losimon, whose name—as revealed above— means ‘to put’ or ‘deposit.’

The phoenix has obvious connotations with the cycle of death and rebirth, though its appearance in the vision as the physical medium of that process is unusual. Its later role as the layer of a black egg into a corpse represents something I can’t quite explain, though the dragon’s warning appeared to relate to the dangers of unwanted entities entering one’s sensorium.

The closest term I could find to the name Tharson or Tharuson, was the Greek Θαρρος (tharros), meaning ‘courage,’ ‘mettle,’ ‘heart,’ ‘elation.’ However, a more significant, if less accurate rendering, is the word κάνθαρος (kantharos) which relates either to a boat or a drinking vessel, probably named as such due to its shape representing that of an inverted beetle. This would be very significant in relation to its other appearance if this is the case, especially considering that the beetle Khephra represented the sun’s passage through the Duat in the religion of the Egyptians. Of additional significance is the name of a worm which bears this name, the cantharis, which is known for the damage it causes to vines and roses. That ‘worm’ is a word commonly used to refer to a dragon and the fact that I appeared as a large vine in this vision may reveal more of uncanny accuracy I have come to experience while experimenting with these squares.

The name Bonab I was given by the Dragon was particularly unsettling to discover the meaning of, as it translates directly from the Ancient Hebrew word for ‘grape,’ בענב (bonab). This name may have been the one that the spirit with the leopard’s head may have been calling me by in the vision of the big lake when it called me ‘Bob.’

Jerusay was a little more difficult to find cognates for, with the closest match being the Hebrew word ירושה (jeruseh) meaning ‘inheritance,’ ‘legacy,’ or ‘heritage.’

Of the names that appear in this square, Aherom is a reversal of the name of Moreh, and is possibly derived from the Hebrew אחר – Akhar – ‘to remain behind,’ ‘tarry,’ ‘to come from behind,’ ‘hind part,’ ‘another,’ ‘strange.’ Another possible etymology for this name lies in it being another expression of the word רעם (ra’am) – ‘thunder,’ as seen in the names of spirits such as Ramoras and Romages.

Curiously, considering the possible meanings behind the name Tharuson cited above, the name of the spirit Helmis comes from the Ancient Greek ‘ελμις, meaning ‘worm.’

Visions in Glass, Mirrors and Crystals

sobek-01

The following is a diary account relating to the first square of Book IV Chapter IV of the Book of Abramelin, in which the Scarecrow in the vision of A Lake first appears.

 

Gilionim

The aim of scrying will be to receive visions relating to the realms beyond. Gilion is Hebrew for ‘tablets,’ but in the context of Isaiah 3:23, is ‘tablets of polished metal,’ and therefore akin to ‘mirrors’ with most mirrors in the ancient period being made of polished stone or metal rather than glass.

I began by calling to the Four Kings to ask for their assistance in sending the spirits, then sat facing South, as is correct for the time of day I worked at and held the square in my hand beneath the scrying glass. As often occurs, I saw darkness and water, this time it fell into a gutter at the side of the road before following it down a storm drain. Below the grounds, surrounded by brickwork, a crocodile greeted me. I followed it, commenting internally upon my actions as I did so, until we came to the end of the sewer, where there lay a night-time oasis at each side with a huge river, maybe the Nile, before me.

Behind me, I saw the city I had left, looking dark, jagged and nightmarish, and set up somewhat higher than the shoreline I stood upon, with the conduit I had exited set into the banks of the earth. I followed the crocodile to the beach-like shore riverside and saw a boat. I expected to see a ferryman there, but there was only a grinning scarecrow with crosses over its eyes, I dug into my pockets for coins to place in its dead eyes as payment for the boat, then sailed into the river. As I bobbed over the water, I understood the river to represent the current of the universe flowing around the soul following death. Beneath its surface, venomous serpents with rotten human faces sailed, but they were deterred from harming me by the crocodile.

On the far shore I had a sense of a black, invisible sun and I saw a vague flash of a raven or crow flying towards me. I conversed with the crocodile for a while, coming to the understanding that the upstream direction represented time flowing from the past to the present and the downstream represented the flow from present to future. Some dead may choose to attain rebirth upstream, in the past, but this was difficult due to the strength of the current, and usually meant you couldn’t go too far back unless you were particular good at fighting the current. Others, following the easier flow opted for rebirth in the future, in the chronological time following their death.

On the opposite bank, now getting closer, I noticed some battered old cars parked up, and realised that the crocodile was leading me back to an incarnated state on the other side of the river. I told him I didn’t want to be incarnated again, but he responded by telling me that I didn’t know what was on the other side. I was then aware that some souls had no boat and sank into the river, where they stayed in a dead state, like the serpents I had seen earlier, with no chance of escape. Some however, like the raven I saw, had the ability to fly over the river and had the freedom to go wherever they wanted to. This, the crocodile informed me, was the aim: to become like a bird after death as this was the key to freedom from the ebbs of the river.

We eventually arrived on the opposite shore, and the thing he had to show me was the nature of my next incarnation. Having earned better karmic circumstances and my next life would be blessed and golden in the material sense, which the glow of the rising sun seemed to confirm. I told the crocodile I still had no desire for rebirth and that it was the freedom of the bird that I sought. I then felt that my experience was over and looked for physical objects in the scrying glass before my face. In it I saw the face of a sleeping dog.

My Grave

 

Theodor_Kittelsen_-_Fattigmannen,_1894-95_(The_Pauper)
The Pauper – Theodor Kittelson

No, dear God, do not let me be deceased
under blankets and sheets
and at my bedside all that crying.
Let me be struck down one day unexpected
and fall in the forest someplace neglected,
where no one can find me while I lay dying.

As a son of the forest who knows it well,
it will not deny my humble request to dwell
at long last upon some mossy mound.
There will I give back to all its animals thus,
my great corpse without speeches or fuss,
and by the crows, the rats and flies so found.

Yes, I will host a grand meal when I am deceased
for those beaks and claws and teeth a feast,
for one and all a generous serving.
And from above a squirrel will look on askance
watching with eyes alert from his branch,
almost human eyes, so unnerving.

An ample portion for each to feed,
enough to satisfy an army in need
and at the table they pick me apart.
An eagle to strip my bones bare,
staying until no more is there,
and then with talons drawn in depart.

And into late evening and all night long
the glorious sounds of a corpse in song
as lovely as when bells are rung.
Then in tribute to me a final word,
from the owl herself it is heard,
hooted as a simple oath is sung.

When the little left of me the earth receives
and at dawn is hidden under a grave of leaves,
the end of this joyous night will be near.
My friends! I have fed you all! Goodbye!
— But all these leaves about me, why?
It must be the wind that swept them here.

– Knut Hamsun

(Translated by Moraline Free)

Pesta5web
The Plague on the Stairs

IV. A Beautiful Garden

IV SELAC

Servitors: Liriol, Mara, Sarasim, Aril, Amillis

The name forming the central cross of the square, LIRIL, relates to the name of the servitor Liriol and the Greek word λειριο, meaning ‘lily.’ The word around the outside of the square, SELAC, has its origins in the Hebrew שלח (shelakh), meaning ‘shoot,’ ‘branch,’ ‘sprout,’ ‘slough’ and ‘to send away.’

The Vision

I stood in the grounds of a park, with a great manor house visible in the distance. A large lawn lay before me which was surrounded by trees, but few flowers. Then I spotted a river off to one side of the lawn and approached it. In the middle of the river was a small island, upon which a beautiful garden grew. I decided to wade across the narrow river to visit the island, tearing a branch from a nearby tree to use as a staff to help me get across. As soon as I entered the waters, they grew turbulent, forcing me to swim over to the island even though they had seemed narrow and mild when I first encountered them.

On arriving on the garden island, I was only able to explore it for only a brief moments before I suddenly found myself far away from it, with no river or garden in sight and nothing but loose stones beneath my feet. Realising I had been transported far beyond the opposite bank of the river, I made my way back towards it on foot with the impression that I was heading south. When I came to the river again, the waters again seemed very narrow and shallow, but as soon as I entered them I realised they were horrendously deep and after only a few steps found I had to swim to the island. On arriving there this time, I found only a small, plain grove present there, then planted my staff into the ground in order to not be expelled from the island again. Two forks appeared at its end as I stabbed it into the soil, wedging it into the earth as I prepared for a struggle to remain on the island.

I sensed a shift in the world as the staff entered the earth and sent deep roots into the ground below and transformed into a great tree with a wide, thick canopy. I sought refuge under its boughs as I perceived that there were many malignant entities forming a circle around me. Night came in an instance as I sheltered beneath the eaves, with a gibbous moon peeking through the branches above. I cast a protective circle to keep the malign presences away and noticed how the waters of the river either side of the island grew turbulent again. It then dawned on me that I needed to keep myself in a still, silent state in order to make my environment serene. On doing this, the river grew gentle and the island began to bloom with flowers. All seemed calm now, with no other presences there but my own.

Then I noticed a woman appear, great in beauty and wearing a red robe. She peeled the robe from her body and revealed that she was not human at all, but a great snake. She slithered towards me and wrapped her body around my wrists, binding them tight. She spoke to me, though none of the words she spoke were familiar, being in a tongue so unusual that I was not able to even approximate their sounds, which were guttural and spoken with a harsh and loud voice. She seemed more human again as she spoke but had the presence of a vampire or of the spurned Lilith seeking to torment Adam in the days before Eve came to Eden. The garden we were in was no paradise however, but a silent, lonely place standing as a precarious bastion against the world’s perils. I focussed my mind on becoming more still and calm again and the garden flourished with florae as the balance resumed. Then I dropped into a deeper state of meditation, finding new passivity in the silence in which I heard a voice saying ‘the sacrifice has been commenced. Proceed and you will not know death.’ On those words, which did not seem obviously related to the vision, I meditated in silence for a few minutes before completing the session.

It was obvious throughout that the island garden, with its tree and snake, had taken on some of the qualities of Eden. There was no perfect state to fall from though, with its various fluxes and turmoils being connected to my own ability to still my mind and be receptive. When these peaceful states came, the garden appeared as a beautiful, serene place, but before long the peace was shattered by the coming of the serpent. Yet with its departure, I was left with the knowledge that the garden represented the illusory and impermanent nature of the sensory world, which is but a small, shifting island in the violent torrents of Being. This understanding, rather than any kind of ‘temptation,’ was the gift she gave. Although her words could not be made out, she brought a wisdom that was raw, direct Gnosis, rather than that of the intellectual faculties, which cannot adequately perceive the nature of reality of which the serpent spoke.

Throughout the vision, I could hear a female neighbour humming a strange, sombre tune, which fitted the slightly sorrowful feel of the vision rather well and didn’t distract me in the ways that noise disturbances often do. The end of her song coincided with the end of the session rather well too, accompanying the ‘active,’ visual parts but ending not long after the more meditative, ‘passive’ parts began.

After writing up the account of what I saw, I set about working out the names of the servitors present in the square, which it is always best to do after the event to prevent knowledge of the names’ meanings influencing the contents of the vision. This also allows one to determine how much objective, or at least synchronistic, reality there may be in the visions shown. Such was certainly the case in this vision, with the name of the spirit Sarasim coming from the Hebrew שרשים, which is the plural of שרש (sharash) meaning ‘a deep root,’ ‘origin,’ ‘source,’ or ‘basis.’ This was relevant due to the ‘deep roots’ the staff I held bore into the earth, with the branch that I crafted it from being directly related to the meaning of the word SELAC described above.

The name Mara also has some significance with its meaning coming from the Hebrew מערה (ma’arah) – ‘cave,’ ‘cavern,’ ‘grotto,’ ‘den’ and מער (ma’ar), meaning ‘naked,’ ‘nudity,’ ‘bare place,’ which represents the ‘grotto’ or ‘den’ of the tree I sought refuge under, the bareness of the island as I arrived there and the disrobing of the serpent woman to reveal her true form. Interestingly, Mara is also that of the death goddess who tried to tempt the Buddha with visions of beautiful women, who also represents the illusory state of the world, and therefore forms a connection to the symbolism revealed by the island that appeared in the vision. With there being no basis whatsoever for any linguisitic connection between the Sanskrit Mara and the Hebrew ma’arah, the symbolic similarity present in this particular vision cannot be entirely discounted. Also symbolically relevant was the fact that this vision’s ‘enlightenment’ took place beneath the eaves of a tree, which reflects not only the location where mankind tasted enlightenment in Genesis, but also that of Gautama’s achievement beneath the eaves of the Boddhi tree.

Liriol’s translation to ‘lily’ that I purported above did not seem very significant here, but the appearance of a spirit akin to Lilith may have been evident due to the phonological similarities between these words, with the repetition of the letters L and I in the Square indicating the Hebrew ליל, denoting the ‘night’ from which Lilith takes her name, which roughly means ‘night monster.’ That her appearance came after day turned to night beneath the canopy of the tree appears to confirm this connection.

Of the other spirits that appear in this Square, the name of Aril may be connected to the Hebrew ערל (a’aril), ‘uncircumcised,’ which reflect the spirits being seen as ‘pagan’ and therefore inimical to God in the Jewish context of the Abramelin. Amillis, meanwhile, resembles עָמֵל (a’amil), ‘worker,’ ‘labourer,’ ‘exertion,’ ‘toil,’ and is possibly named as such due to the servant spirits’ functional aspects as the ‘slaves’ of the Four Kings.