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Tarot Correspondence, Hermetic Art, and Mystic Aims

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.tarot,alt.divination,alt.pagan.magick,alt.magick,alt.consciousness.mysticism
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Tarot Correspondence, Hermetic Art, and Mystic Aims
Date: Sun, 04 Jan 2004 07:23:48 GMT

50031214 vii om

# I was aware of `THE SEPHER YETZIRAH PATTERN' but have never made 
# sense of it beyond drawing loops around planets and their signs.    

what sense are you trying to make of it?

from what I can tell, Hebrew letters are categorizable into 3 piles.
Elemental and Zodiacal attributions are also categorizable into 3.
the SY has 3 Elements, 7 Planets, and 12 Zodiacal signs attributed
to the '3 Mother Letters', '7 Double Letters', and the 12 Singles.
study some books on Kabbalah or general Hebrew language for more,
as I can't say I understand it more thoroughly than this barring
tidbits and snippets which are unrelated to particular and biased
arcane doctines, my attentions usually lying elsewhere.

# I run into problems with the colours of the key scale when I do this, 
# (in my book Mercury is a very bright cyan colour*), and I also run 
# into problems with the non-placement of earth in the planetary 
# sequence.  

Earth being absent always struck me as a major oversight also, 
unless we're thinking astrologically, at which point it is
traditional to omit Earth because it is the Center from which
the astronomical (/astrological) configuration is being seen.
if one is looking outward to see something, the inward element,
however important it may be to us, is not relevant.

# Some astrologists these days don't even bother with the 
# tradition wheel around the planet which seems like an 
# anachronism.  Why bother?  ...

it used to be done with squares. :>

# To me - that's what the Hermetic Art is about.  Working 
# out - `how is this new thing relevant to these old symbols we know 
# of'?  And `since the one is the one - where does this new thing fit 
# in'?

your description sounds to me like a re-invention of the Wheel,
and I don't mean that as any sort of criticism. typically the 
Student accepts the structure of times' past unless she is a 
Herald of a New Aeon, at which times all the rites are Black 
and must be cast aside until seen as valuable.

the Hermetic Art is a vague phrase. it may relate to magic, 
or alchemy, or merely to graphics, symbols and writings. as a
reference to magic, Hermetic Art is a focussed application of
magic toward specific mystical ends, usually transcendental
and associated with Neoplatonic, or at least emanationist,
cosmologies. there is a distinct focus on communications with
gods or spirits, and those in particular who are *responsible
or in some way integral to the origination of language, 
communication, and magic* (e.g. Hermes, Mercury, Thoth, 
and Hermes Trismegistus (about whom see below).

as a reference to alchemy, the Hermetic Art appears to me a
speculative and internal discipline applying formulae toward
restitution or transmutation of base materials to exhaltation,
their essential character being mystically transformative.

the graphics, symbols and writings of Hermetism, its art,
are surrounded with faulty indicators and false temporal 
datings. here's something I was reading about that recently
which addresses all of these aspects:

	_1.1 Hermes Trismegistus_

	Hellenistic culture conflated the Egyptian god Thoth
	and the Greek god Hermes. Both were gods of invention,
	logic, language, arbitration and, to some extent,
	magic and the afterlife. Thoth-Hermes received the
	title 'trismegistus' (three times great) from the
	Egyptian practice of addressing the gods as 'great',
	'twice great' and 'thrice great'. In Latin literature,
	the Roman Mercury often replaced Hermes. We accordingly
	read of Mercurius Termaximus. His composite identity
	prompted various reputations. He could be a god, but
	was more often a god's mortal descendant, living in
	some primordial era.

	Hermes's doctrine was not truly primeval. It arose
	under the Ptolemies, probably around 100 B.C., but
	preserved older traditions. It combined Egyptian
	magic and Middle Platonism, which had already
	borrowed from Stoicism and Neopythagoreanism. The
	first Hermetists were Egyptians, presumably of Greek
	descent. When recording their philosophy, they used
	Greek, well suited to their platonising. However,
	they were silent about Plato. All credit devolves
	on Hermes Trismegistus and the Egyptians.

	_1.2 Hellenistic astrology_

	...

	Astrology contributes to the Hermetic principle of
	correspondences. ...the zodiac and human anatomy 
	were thought to correspond. The Hermetist drew
	parallels between two levels of organic unity, as
	he perceived them: the macrocosm (the total
	universe) and the microcosm (the individual human).
	This parallel could be elaborated into correspondences
	between specific conditions in the great cosmos and
	specific parts of the body or speicfic states of mind.
	The magician's thinking here largely depends on
	metaphors, analogies, unconscious associations and
	conventional myths. In Roman mythology, Mars is the
	personificiation of war; and his planet is red,
	suggesting his fiery temperament and the fire and
	blood of the battlefield. The metallic correspondence
	for Mars is iron, which is useful for making weapons
	and which can turn red with heat and with rust. The
	magician supposed that rituals involving 'martial'
	materials could induce bloodshed among his enemies.
	Each of the other planets likewise had its own
	correspondences and magical effects -- saturnine,
	jovial, venereal mercurial -- according to the
	presiding deity.

	...

	...some astrologers regarded the stars as 
	intelligences that could be placated and persuaded.
	Hermetism, drawing on mystical Platonism, is strongly 
	disposed toward theories of a multitude of spiritual
	beings intermediate between man and God....

	...

	_1.3 The *Corpus Hermeticum*_

	The Hermetic *Corpus* consists of more than a dozen
	theosophical treatises, written by anonymous authors
	whose doctrine is not entirely uniform. Egyptian
	religion has been assimilated to Greek philosophy,
	and the texts may well borrow some ideas from the
	Jews and Persians. The anthology represents an
	extensive literature which is largely lost. The
	extant texts date from the Roman Empire.

	The first treatise in the collection presumably
	is meant to be a report by Hermes Trismegistus after
	his encounter with God's Mind, called Poimandres.
	Most editors, until recently, have given the title
	*Poimandres* (*Poemander, Pimander, Pymander*) not
	to the initial treatise alone, but to the entire
	collection. The enigmatic 'Poimandres' may derive
	from a Greek word meaning 'Shepherd' or a Coptic
	word meaning 'Thought of Re' or 'Mind of Re' (Re or
	Ra being the ancient Egyptian god of the sun).
	Thoth himself was hailed as 'representative of Re',
	'son of Re', 'second Re', etc.  Quite possibly,
	therefore, Poimandres and Hermes are each manifest-
	ations of Thoth who have inadvertantly been brought
	together in a mystical reverie. This certainly occurs 
	in those Hermetic dialogues that cause Hermes to
	address his son Tat (Thoth in yet another guise)....

	[elaborating the content of said documents:]
	We humans are unique creatures, for we descend not
	from animals or elements, but from the ideal Man,
	God's own son. Those who are cognisant of their
	divine origins will shun bodily and material
	pleasures in preference for the worship of God. They
	will be informed directly by the Divine Mind.
	Hedonists will only receive the Avenging Demon. At
	death, the physical body returns to the elements of
	matter. The soul ascends through the orbits of the
	planets, and each of them absorbs a specific sin
	or vice. Completely purified, the soul's mind 
	returns to its source.

	Besides this creation myth, the *Corpus Hermeticum*
	preserves a variety of subjects fundamental to
	Hermetism: Nature is virtually a living organism
	with all parts interdependent; the universe owes
	its unity to the Mind of God; He created the
	material world in imitation of an ideal world in
	His intellect; His spirit pervades the material
	realm; His will is exercised through a hierarchy
	of beings, ranging from angels down through humans
	to spirits within minerals. The human mind descends
	from the Divine Mind and can return to it, not only
	after death, but during devotional exercises.

	The *Corpus Hermeticum*, presumably in the form now
	known, was first cited by the Byzantine Platonist
	Michael Psellus (fl. 1060). It was edited not by
	magicians but, probably, by Christian monks or
	philosophers with no interest in magic. They valued
	the *Corpus* because of its allusions to a 'son of
	God', taken to mean Christ. Inasmuch as the *Hermetica*
	were supposed to be far older than the Gospels, some
	Christians, such as Lactantius, revered Hermes
	Trismegistus as a prophet, a pagan who nonetheless
	foresaw the Christian Saviour. Others, such as
	St. Augustine, rejected Hermetic theosophy as a
	demonic cult.

	_1.4 Philosophical *Hermetica* in the West_

	The *Poimandres* was widely translated and studied.
	It was first rendered in Italian by Tommaso Benci
	(Florence, 1548), in French by Gabriel du Preau
	(Paris, 1650), in German by a certain Alethophilus
	(Hamburg, 1706). Here we still find the occultist's
	faith in a historical Hermes. This defies the
	landmark study by Casaubon, the eminent classicist.

	Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), despite his popularity
	in France, moved to England, where he enjoyed
	Anglican patronage. King James I enlisted Casaubon's
	aid in criticising Cardinal Cesare Baronius's
	*Annales ecclesiastici* (*Ecclesiastical Annals*,
	Rome, 1588-1607). Casaubon tried to correct the
	*Corpus Hermeticum*. He used Renaissance methods
	of textual criticism to prove that the Hermetic
	books did not date from before Plato, but only
	after 100 A.D.  Casaubon supposed that the 
	Poimandres cycle was the invention of an early
	Christian or 'semi-Christian'. Casaubon's
	arguments were published in 1614, shortly after his 
	death. Although scholars today no longer concede
	any Christian influence on the *Corpus Hermeticum*,
	they still concurr with Casaubon's dating of it.
	Hermetists never revised or abaondoned the myth of
	Hermes Trismegistus; they recoiled from the facts
	and, in general, drove ever more swiftly toward
	irrationalism.

	_1.5 Egyptian alchemy_

	...

	...the materialistic interpretation of the art
	[of alchemy] is surely too limited. Alchemy is
	the 'Hermetic Art', and an understanding of
	Hermetic theosophy will greatly clarify the
	alchemist's use of symbolism, his mystical aims
	and the sources of his imagery. Mystical symbolism,
	rather than being a code, is a means of expressing
	intuitions that probably exceed the capacity of
	discursive prose. The traditional secrecy was said
	to be necessary because true revelations could be
	entrusted only to initiates, selected for their
	sound minds and characters.

	For the Hermetist, the whole of nature was an array
	of signs by which God revealed His will. Chemical
	reactions offered a specific focus for meditation.
	In effect, alchemists used the general concept of
	occult correspondences and thereby interpreted the
	operation of matter as reflecting psychological,
	spiritual and divine processes. Several levels could
	be linked through symbols, which typically convey
	layered meanings. Furthermore, Hermetists believed
	implicitly in the unity of the cosmos. If, as they
	declared, 'All is One', a single pattern or image 
	can be the paradigm for apparently different things.
	Gold, for instance, is the ultimate in refinement 
	for metals, and its lustre corresponded to the light
	of reason, the rays of the Sun, the Mind of God.

	The unity of the cosmos was regarded as an *organic*
	unity. It was informed and animated by the Creator's
	Spirit. Chemicals seemed to share in the stages of
	life: birth, maturity, copulation, testing, death,
	resurrection, immortality. They were subject to
	environmental changes, astrological influences, 
	possibly even the power of prayer. They were spirits
	conjoined to bodies. A spirit in its earthly
	existence -- whether as a metal or a mortal -- was
	thought to be hampered, unable to function as
	intended by the Creator. The alchemist hoped to 
	identify spiritual essences and to liberate them;
	hence his obsession with purification, both of his
	materials and of himself. He was God's agent, working
	in a physical world that was alien to spirits.

	Hermetic alchemists yearned to perceive and reveal
	the divine realm. They probably adapted the imagery
	used by other mystics and by the Egyptian priesthood.
	Hermetic theosophy consists of Egyptian theology cast
	in the mould of Greek philosophy. The same is true of
	Hermetic alchemy. It assimilated the mystic theme of
	the martyred god who returned to life. Thus, in the
	laboratory, matter suffered disintegration and
	rejoiced in transfiguration. Western alchemy also
	borrowed Neopythagorean number symbolism: the stages
	of transformation were numbered at three (black,
	white, red), the elements at four (earth, water, air,
	fire), the substances at seven (lead, tin, iron,
	copper, mercury, silver, gold). Alternatively, we
	read of three or four basic substances, four or seven
	stages....


	_1.6 Alchemy and the *Emerald Tablet*, from East to West_

	...

	In the late Renaissance, intellectuals tended to abandon
	the antique idea that inorganic matter could be the
	residence of spirits. Alchemists more frequently referred
	to the old idea of astral influences: rays from planets
	were supposed to nourish particular ores in the earth.
	The alchemist, using planetary correspondences, tried to
	accelerate the maturation of metals in the laboratory....
	----------------------------------------------
	"A Wicked Pack of Cards: the Origins of the 
	 Occult Tarot", Decker/Depaulis/Dummett, 
	 St. Martin's Press, 1996; pp. 2-11.
	============================================== 	

mentioned within it are 'the Hermetic Art' (alchemy here) and
some of the practical applications of correspondences (as means
of re-unifying the cosmos for magical and/or mystical aims).
these may be some of the applications that the kinds of 
symbolic constructions we're touching on might be used to
achieve. focus *away* from these methods enables magicians 
to place emphasis on the tools and their aims rather than on 
any specific methods which could come under heavy scrutiny.
this omits a complete set of technological devices from view.

# I also see no need for these cyphers any longer.

you would if you came by your information from an occult order
and laid any amount of value on your word, deed, and trust.

# In this day and age we should not follow a [code] of 
# secrecy if we are not to be persecuted for it....

fear-based concealment is only one motivation, as was touched
on above by D/D/D. another is power-containment. this is 
another explanation provided by witches and sorcerers for 
the occultation of their activities and formulae. the usual
allegory given is of an infant playing with a loaded handgun.
others include the potential commodification or retained
purity of the doctrines and technology being concealed.

# ...how these numbers justify themselves as fitting to the 
# concepts of the cards - the plan[e]ts and zodiac (new and 
# old school astrology) - and also to physics and chemistry....  

the *concepts* of the cards? surely with some of the 
*numerology* of the cards the ancient Planets ('Chaldean')
of astrology fit pretty well (ok, it's a little awkward):

     7 x 11 = 77; (+1 Fool) = Card Number (78; trad Tarot)
     2 x 11 = 22 (21+Fool) = Trump Number (trad Tarot)

this ties in with what some occultists find a compelling
'occult' or 'magical' number (11). my impression is that
the happy coincidences are more valuably weeded out and
some actual resolution betwixt real bodies and theories
ought be discovered. for this reason I find immense value
in identifying the 'Planets' as rather *10* in number and
their *square* a more fitting 'Tarot' (pentadinally-based):

     10 x 10 = 100; (+1 Blank) = Card Number (101; Plebeian)
      5 x  5 = 25;  (+1 Blank) = Trump Number (26; Plebeian)

each has their resonances, benefits and detriments.

# I wonder if we could be guilty of constructing concepts 
# without end application - complex - maybe even beautiful 
# in thier complexity - but without real substance that will 
# aid us in Majick or Thelema.

some naturally-arising items eventually serve valuable aims.
the notion of rational planning and design has value within
wholly-conceived purpose and motivations. intuitive drives,
however, may over-run and, eventually, surpass and supercede
that which derives from a blocky rationalist approach. 

I'd compare these two with the different approaches taken by
players of the game of modern Chess. masters may begin with
a rationalist attempt to apprehend every significant pattern
in play, but eventually they appear to develop what appears
to the observer as a transrational approach to play, becoming
vaguely aware of their recognizing important patterns now
submerged to their unconscious and relegated to rote response,
their conscious mind almost 'along for the ride'.

note that typically the first of these with which people
become acquainted is the rationalist or hard-core, line-by-
line memorization of forms imperative to the traditional
endeavour being learned. compare the martial artist whose
initial reluctance to learning basic maneuvers soon gives
way as she sees the advantage when the basics are combined
in larger routines, then set into the backdrop like so many
subroutines to be called up without rational interference.

ceremonial magicians whose interests extend also into the
practice of martial arts report the similarity of this
beginning and transrational actuation of basic forms, at
times even comparing what they eventually themselves
practice as a kind of neo-shamanic, or free-form type of
ceremonialism (cf. Jan Fries or other modern eclectics
who sometimes make traditional inroads as in Chaos Magick).

my reason for mentioning this is that my *own* experience
has directly included such reinvention and without my overt
knowledge of toward what I would eventually apply it. only
in the last year or so do I begin to understand how it is
that what I'm doing is contributing towards an overarching
Work, Operation -- one which I did not previously perceive.

correspondence-lattices are applied toward magical aims.
explanations about how these are used sometimes vary, but
one common notion is the immersion of the magician in the
energy or symbolism of any particular energy, spirit, 
intelligence, or whatever one would like to call it, that
governs the quality or trait which one is trying to master,
or at least to use. these are unified in a directed
communication and contact, the encounter usually recorded
by the magician for later study and personal reflection.

inasmuch as the structures we're looking at appear to
derive from orders practicing group ceremonial rites
intending specific initiatic changes in participants,
the question of application becomes a serious one. without
some body of initiates to congregate and actualize the
various Hermetic intelligences with whom one is supposed
to be interacting, is it possible to this as a solitary?

getting back to your post....

you mention "Majick or Thelema" with regard to construction
without apparent end application. barring peculiar meaning
of the first term, I've already covered that. the imperative
aspect of these correspondences would be their resonance
with the actual or real world, of whatever that consists, 
and whether the conceptual or attributional lattice has some
practical application to that which one seeks to influence.

with regard to Thelema, such correspondences might be used
for the liberation or empowerment of personal will, of its
intended coincidence with some universal correlate, and the
integrity with personal aspects (e.g. mind, body, spirit),
enabling movement in the proper direction of success.

whether planning and rational analysis with respect to 
some overarching plan is necessary is a difficult issue to 
tackle, not only because many magicians haven't studied the 
fundamentals sufficiently to apprehend the language (this 
can be a very difficult task given the paucity of mastery
combined with the sporadic and unreliable skill at writing),
but also because religious and magical traditions tend to
ossify their knowledge into dogmatic adherence as methods
of passing on knowledge and instruction. as we've seen in
the history of Hermetism (above), this can have results
that corrupt rational truths (falsifying history and
remaining wedded to romantic and unsubstantiated claims).

whether history as such, science as such, or rationalism
are imperative to successful mystical results are related
to your overall inquiry in this post. do the contents of
knowledge-sets determine, by virtue of their resonance 
with the real, the power of the magician? or is familiarity
and comprehensability sufficient to form a 'magical link'
between microcosm and macrocosm and allow those disciplined
of will and symbolic-manipulation, the magically-skilled 
wizards, to achieve whatever it is that is desired? 

to quote you:
# I wonder:)  But I will persevere.

:>
nagasiva

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