Tag Archives: Magick

Ouroboros

The ancient symbol of a snake eating it’s tail touches every culture on our planet. Here’s a fun (but incomplete) journey into the history of this magical symbol by Ellie Crystal:

“The Ouroboros is believed to have been inspired by the Milky Way.

Ancient texts refer to a serpent of light residing in the heavens

which, according to Ancient Alien Theory, was a spaceship or stargate.

Mythology: The Milky Way galaxy keeps a time cycle that ends in catastrophic change when the serpent eats its tail (at the end of the tale of this reality.) Suntelia Aion is the sun rising out of the mouth of the ouroboros, which allegedly occurs December 21, 2012 – representing the evolution of consciousness in the alchemy of time.



The Ouroboros and the Tree of Life


Origins of the Ouroboros

Egypt


Papyrus of Dama Heroub Egypt, 21st Dynasty

The serpent or dragon eating its own tail has survived from antiquity and can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, circa 1600 B.C.E. It is contained in the Egyptian Book of the Netherworld. The Ouroboros was popular after the Amarna period.

In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the self-begetting sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning, and the deceased wishes to turn into the shape of the snake Sato (“son of the earth”), the embodiment of Atum.

The famous Ouroboros drawing from the early alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra dating to 2nd century Alexandria encloses the words hen to pan, “one is the all”. Its black and white halves represent the Gnostic duality of existence. As such, the Ouroboros could be interpreted as the Western equivalent of the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol. The Chrysopoeia Ouroboros of Cleopatra is one of the oldest images of the Ouroboros to be linked with the legendary opus of the Alchemists, the Philosopher’s Stone.


Greece

Plato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe – an immortal, mythologically constructed beast. The living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him.

Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle.

All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet. In Gnosticism, this serpent symbolized eternity and the soul of the world.


Middle East

Because the Albigenses came from Armenia, where Zoroastrianism and Mithra worship were common, it may be that the symbol entered their iconography via the Zoroastrian Faravahar symbol, which in some versions clearly features an ouroboros at the waist instead of a vague disc-shape.

In Mithran mystery cults the figure of Mithra being reborn (one of the things he is famous for) is sometimes seen wrapped with an ouroboros, indicating his eternal and cyclic nature, and even references which do not mention the ouroboros refer to this circular shape as symbolizing the immortality of the soul or the cyclic nature of Karma, suggesting that the circle retains its meaning even when the details of the image are obscured.


The Double Triangle of Solomon


India

Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe Kundalini energy. According to the 2nd century Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, “The divine power, Kundalini, shines like the stem of a young lotus; like a snake, coiled round upon herself she holds her tail in her mouth and lies resting half asleep as the base of the body” (1.82). Another interpretation is that Kundalini equates to the entwined serpents of the Caduceus, the entwined serpents representing commerce in the west or, esoterically, human DNA.

The Kirtimukha myth of Hindu tradition has been compared by some authors to Ouroboros.

Ouroboros… the dragon circling the tortoise which supports the four elephants that carry the world.


China

Chinese Ouroboros from Chou dynasty, 1200 BC.

The universe was early divided into Earth below and Heaven above. These, two as one, gave the idea of opposites but forming a unity. Each opposite was assumed to be powerful and so was their final unity. For creation of the universe they projected reproduction to conceive creation. Now reproduction results in the union of two opposites as male and female.

Correspondingly, the Chinese believed Light and Darkness, as the ideal opposites, when united, yielded creative energy. The two opposites were further conceived as matter and energy which became dual-natured but as one. The two opposites were yin-yang and their unity was called Chhi. Yin-Yang was treated separately in Chinese cosmology which consisted of five cosmic elements.

Since Chinese alchemy did reach Alexandria probably the symbol Yin-Yang, as dual-natured, responsible for creation, was transformed into a symbol called Ouroboros. It is a snake and as such as symbol of soul. Its head and anterior portion is red, being the color of blood as soul; its tail and posterior half is dark, representing body.

Ouroboros here is depicted white and black, as soul and body, the two as “one which is all.” It is cosmic soul, the source of all creation. Ouroboros is normally depicted with its anterior half as black but it should be the reverse as shown here. With the name Chemeia taken to Kim-Iya, the last word would take Ouroboros to Yin-Yang.


Mesoamerica

The serpent god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes portrayed biting his tail on Aztec and Toltec ruins. A looping Quetzalcoatl is carved into the base of the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, at Xochicalco, Mexico, 700-900 AD.

Seven-segmented Aztec Ouroboros


Norse

In Norse mythology, it appears as the serpent Jormungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, who grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, such as Ragnarssona patter, the Geatish king Herraud gives a small lindworm as a gift to his daughter Pora Town-Hart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl’s bower and bites itself in the tail. The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Pora. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kraka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye. This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.


Rome

Earthly Ouroboros from Alciato‘s Emblems

Oceanic Ouroboros from Alciato’s Emblems

Janus 1608


Freemasonry

The ouroboros is displayed on numerous Masonic seals,
frontispieces and other imagery, especially during the 17th century.

 

 

 


Theosophical Society

The Ouroboros is featured in the seal of the Theosophical Society
along with other traditional symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tarot and Watermarks

The Ouroboros symbol appears in both 14th- and 15th-century Albigensian-printing watermarks and is also worked into the pip cards of many early (14th-15th century) playing cards and tarot cards. Watermarks similar to those used by the Albigensians appear in early printed playing cards, suggesting that the Albigenses might have had contact with the early authors of tarot decks.

A commonly used early symbol – an ace of cups circled by an ouroboros – frequently appears among Albigensian watermarks. It is conceivable that this is the source of some of the urban legends associating this symbol with secret societies, because the Albigenses were closely associated with the humanist movement and the inquisition it sparked.


Alchemy

Alchemically, the ouroboros is also used as a purifying glyph. Ouroboros was and is the name for the Great World Serpent, encircling the Earth.

The word Ouroboros is really a term that describes a similar symbol which has been cross-pollinated from many different cultures. Its symbolic connotation from this owes to the returning cyclical nature of the seasons; the oscillations of the night sky; self-fecundation; disintegration and re-integration; truth and cognition complete; the Androgyny; the primeval waters; the potential before the spark of creation; the undifferentiated; the Totality; primordial unity; self-sufficiency, and the idea of the beginning and the end as being a continuous unending principle.

Ouroboros represents the conflict of life as well in that life comes out of life and death. ‘My end is my beginning.’ In a sense life feeds off itself, thus there are good and bad connotations which can be drawn. It is a single image with the entire actions of a life cycle – it begets, weds, impregnates, and slays itself, but in a cyclical sense, rather than linear.

Thus, it fashions our lives to a totality more towards what it may really be – a series of movements which repeat. “As Above, So Below” – we are born from nature, and we mirror it, because it is what man wholly is a part of. It is this symbolic rendition of the eternal principles that are presented in the Emerald Tablets of Thoth.

The Ouroboros connects the Above and Below

Connection between Man and God


Carl Jung

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. It makes its way into our conscious mind time and time again in varying forms as the basic mandala of alchemy. Jung defined the relationship of the ouroboros to alchemy:

    • ‘The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. In the age-old image of the ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself.’

The ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which […] unquestionably stems from man’s unconscious’. (Collected Works, Vol. 14 para.513)


Other References

The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego “dawn state”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.

The 19th century German chemist named Kekule dreamed of a snake with its tail in its mouth one day after dosing off. He had been researching the molecular structure of benzene, and was at a stop point in his work until after waking up he interpreted the dream to mean that the structure was a closed carbon ring. This was the breakthrough he needed.

Organic chemist August Kekule claimed that a ring in the shape of Ouroboros that he saw in a dream inspired him in his discovery of the structure of the benzene ring.

… It seems that the Ouroboros is a powerful archetypal symbol, a part of our Spiritus Mundi, the collective unconscious which thrives within each soul.”


Crop Circles

Source: http://www.crystalinks.com/ouroboros.html

Arbatel: Of the Magic of the Ancients

Arbatel-ancient-frimoire-occult

“The Arbatel de magia veterum (Arbatel: Of the Magic of the Ancients) is a Renaissance-period grimoire – a textbook of magic – and one of the most influential works of its kind. Unlike some other occult manuscripts that contain dark magic and malicious spells, the Arbatel contains spiritual advice and guidance on how to live an honest and honorable life.”

Author: Jovanna Goette

“The Arbatel is claimed to have been written in 1575 AD. This date is supported through textual references dating from 1536 through 1583. It is believed that the final editor of the Arbatel was Swiss physician Theodor Zwinger, and that it was published by Italian printer Pietro Perna. The author remains unknown, although it has been speculated that a man named Jacques Gohory may be the author. Like Zwinger and Perna, Gohory was a Paracelsian (a group who believed in and followed the medical theories and therapies of Paracelsus).

The focus of the Arbatel is on nature, and the natural relationships between humanity and a celestial hierarchy. It centers on the positive relationships between the celestial world and humans, and the interactions between the two. British poet and scholarly mystic Arthur Edward Waite (A.E. Waite) noted that the Arbatel is clearly Christian in nature. He wrote that it does not contain any form of black magic, and that it is not connected to the Greater or Lesser Keys of Solomon, which were focused on demonology.

The most frequently cited book in the Arbatel is the Bible. In the manner it is written, it appears that the author of the Arbatel must have had many portions of the Bible memorized, and that this highly influenced his writings.
The Arbatel was an extremely influential work for its time. It is said that one cannot understand the meaning of the Arbatel without also understanding the philosophy of Paracelsus. It viewed theosophy in an occult sense, and was perhaps the first written work to do so. Prior to the Arbatel, theosophy was generally used as a synonym for theology. It was the first writing to make the important distinction between human knowledge and divine knowledge.
Not all views of the Arbatel are positive, however. Dutch physician, occultist and demonologist Johann Weyer condemned the Arbatel as being “full of magical impiety” in his book, De praestigiis daemonum. In 1617, two professors at the University of Marburg in Germany intended to use the Arbatel as a textbook for students. Actions were taken against those professors by the University, and the book led to a student’s expulsion. Further, in 1623, an individual accused of being a witch, Jean Michel Menuisier, claimed to have used incantations from the Arbatel.
The first edition was most likely published in Basel. Some claim there had been earlier editions, although there has been no evidence to substantiate this. Since 1575, there have been several reprints. In 1655, Robert Turner translated the Arbatel to English, and printed it in his “Fourth” book of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s “Three Books of Occult Philosophy.” In 1686, Andreas Luppius wrote a German translation of the Arbatel, and in 1855, Scheible completed another German translation, correcting Luppius’ errors. In 1945, Marc Haven created a French translation of the manuscript. Finally, in 1969, it was translated again into English in the British Library’s Sloane Manuscripts. This English translation resulted in many errors and missing sections, and included a “Seal of Secrets” not included in any other version.
Through its original edition and later translations, the Arbatel remains a fascinating look into ancient spiritual advice, and the different philosophies and views of the world from the 16th Century.”

Who really was Aleister Crowley?

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Since 2012 I’ve been immersed in studies of Jewish mysticism and ceremonial magick. I absolutely love it. It’s a fascinating, endless stream of information and mastery. Maybe it’s because I’m a Scorpio and I just gravitate towards mysteries in general; it’s certainly a natural progression from being a white witch for 30 years… plus I love Led Zeppelin.

Anyway, because of my interests, many of my friends ask me lately – “who was Aleister Crowley?”

That’s a question that brings a multifaceted answer. There’s a lot of rumors and wild information out there that come from anxious minds with unsubstantiated stories.  What I’ve personally found is that studying Magick isn’t evil, and neither was this guy (although William Butler Yeats did think he was nuts).

For the curious that want a straightforward, mostly neutral description of him, this article published yesterday is informative, and I want to share it:

“On this day in 1904: the ‘wickedest man in Britain’ completes his manuscript for a new religion”

by Dominic Selwood

“Edward Alexander Crowley was born on 12 October 1875 to a well-off family of Plymouth Brethren in Leamington Spa. He was a willful child, and his mother nicknamed him Therion, the Great Beast 666, from the Book of Revelation.

After school, Crowley went to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read natural sciences. He devoted little time on his studies, and excelled instead at chess and mountaineering. At 22, he decided all was worthless except magic and the occult. He changed his name to the Celtic-sounding Aleister, and spent his spare time writing poetry.

He left Cambridge with no degree and moved to London, where he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There he met and fell out with the poet W B Yeats, who memorably described Crowley as “an unspeakably mad person”.

Armed with rituals from the Golden Dawn, Crowley moved to Boleskine House on Loch Ness, where he tried to work a summoning ritual for his guardian angel. His work was interrupted, and after a stint mountaineering and meditating in Mexico, he came to believe he was the reincarnation of the Elizabethan alchemist Edward Kelley, who had acted as a medium in the “spiritual conversations” of the polymath Dr John Dee.

In 1903, Crowley married Rose Edith Skerrett, and while on holiday with her in Cairo, started receiving dictation from a spirit named Aiwass. He wrote for an hour a day on 8, 9, and 10 April 1904, completing the manuscript’s three chapters in as many days.

The result was The Book of the Law, or Liber AL vel Legis, and it announced the end of the Christian era, and the start of the Æon of Horus. It is the central text in the practice of Thelema, whose guiding tenet is, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. Although Crowley was the first to formulate Thelema into a set of beliefs, the idea originated in Rabelais’ 1534 book, Gargantua, in which the eponymous monster built the anti-church Abbey of Thélème.

 

Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley

Over the coming decades, Crowley developed his experience of magic, the occult, drugs, and sexual liberation, earning a reputation as “the wickedest man in Britain”. He wrote poetry, articles, and books prolifically, but spent all his inheritance and earnings on his experimental lifestyle. He died, penniless, in Hastings on 1 December 1947.

Crowley’s memory was resurrected in the 1960s, when he became a cult counterculture figure, featuring as one of the faces on the album cover for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In 1970, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist, Jimmy Page, purchased Boleskine House, which he owned until 1992.

Aside from his considerable literary output, Crowley’s most enduring legacies are the principles and rituals of Thelema – which are practised by various occult groups – and the mystical Crowley-Harris tarot deck, which he designed, and had painted by his friend and disciple Lady Frieda Harris, wife of the Liberal MP for Bethnal Green.”

Original article can be found here

What do you think?