Today’s Tarot Card for February 11th – The Magician

The Magician

Tuesday, Feb 11th, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditionally, the Magus is one who can demonstrate hands-on magic — as in healing, transformative rituals, alchemical transmutations, charging of talismans and the like. A modern Magus is any person who completes the circuit between heaven and Earth, one who seeks to bring forth the divine ‘gold’ within her or himself.

At the birth of Tarot, even a gifted healer who was not an ordained clergyman was considered to be in league with the Devil! For obvious reasons, the line between fooling the eye with sleight of hand, and charging the world with magical will was not clearly differentiated in the early Tarot cards.

Waite’s image of the Magus as the solitary ritualist communing with the spirits of the elements — with its formal arrangement of symbols and postures — is a token of the freedom we have in modern times to declare our spiritual politics without fear of reprisal. The older cards were never so explicit about what the Magus was doing. It’s best to keep your imagination open with this card. Visualize yourself manifesting something unique, guided by evolutionary forces that emerge spontaneously from within your soul.

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A Call from the Ancestors

A Call from the Ancestors

Author:   Rev.Roman Delgado   

As I sit before my altar, I’ve had a memory, a vague knowing of something past calling me to return to myself. As if the echoes of those gone before call me into a path walked by many in Aeons past. A feeling as if what I have lost to the sands of time and waves of progress and technology as only been forgotten and craves to return.

So many have felt this call before me. I have seen it on the news, then Internet, books. Everywhere people today seem to want to return to the ways that have been lost to time. Revival and reconstructionist religious movements are being seen from the black fertile lands of Egyptian religion and the fields of Greece to the Ancient Aztec world.

The path of the ancient ones calls, yet so much of it is forgotten. Through the Aeons past in which change and progress have changed the landscape of Gaia, those gone before us seem to have been swallowed by sands of time. No longer do we seem to want to cross the river Styx; few are those that delve into the path of transformation and cross the bridge to the land of the dead and return like the true initiates of the mysteries of the ancients transformed and renewed.

Today’s society has rejected death. On a pragmatic level it makes sense. Life is meant to be lived not mourned. Life is lived for its own merit not for the sake of its end. However, in the process of forgetting the importance of death, we have forgotten the reality of transformation. Death and life is not only a never-ending spiral in the great wheel of rebirth.

Death is all around in times when only life can be seen. Death is the forbearer of rebirth and, as each thing grows anew, it is a sign of transformation. It is a sign that something else has come to an end in order to bring forth the light of a new era. In paganism this becomes obvious through myth and celebration of the changes in the cycles of life and nature. We celebrate change, yet only delve into what brings change when we actually face it.

As I sit before my altar every day, I hear a call so many ignore unless they wheel of the year tells them it’s time to hear it. A call to change and transform, to die and be reborn. In my path as a pagan, I come from an indigenous background, I have traveled in body, mind and spirit cross cultures to better understand my own past, to understand the Alchemies of the soul.

Along that path I have understood that ritual is transformational. Every time I am in the presence of the divine I am changed and healed. Yet when I traveled outside of my roots into the modern world so many ignore the call of death in their ritual. The call to let go and surrender to the divine, to commune with the God and Goddess, is a pivotal role: the Alchemy of the soul.

In Mexico, I learned about this alchemy as the rites of Coatlicue an ancestral deity ruling over life and death. Her rites were those of shamanic initiation, the dismemberment of the initiate and his reconstruction as a being that holds the wisdom of the ancestors.

Once that pivotal moment is passed I learned the Alchemy of Tezcatlipoca. His rites are of initiation into the darkest parts of one’s own soul. His mysteries are for the ones destined to tame their own fire and harness it into the power to weave destiny. It is the magic of the Ancestors.

Now in a later stage of my development I learn the Alchemy of duality. My Ancestors called this the teachings of Quetzalcoatl and Xochiquetzal. The ancient Egyptians called it the Alchemies of Isis and Osiris and the Alchemies of Horus. Their teaching is the teaching of embracing change, the inner change that fortifies the soul and life-force in order to withstand the change that is the ultimate test of the Alchemist: the culmination of the alchemical process, the attainment of eternal life. A mystery that can only be lived, a choice moment to be in this world or in spirit. That too is the magic of the Ancestors.

Throughout the world, religion is centered on eternal life. Some along the never-ending cycle of re-incarnation. Some in the rebirth after death into an eternal moment of bliss and rest. Yet there are some that only embrace this moment and this life; it is in this moment and life that some religions find death and rebirth.

In the rebirth of Paganism in the western world, so many have ceased to hear the call of the Ancestors. The teachings of the departed are more or less confined to grieving the dead and honoring their memory when the natural world turns to darkness. I must tell you, there is far more to it than that.

The Alchemies of which I speak are the teachings of those who have lived them and mastered them. Blood bonds or not, we are all descendants of our spiritual lines. The Alchemies of the soul are the legacy of the ancient priests and priestesses of the Gods.

The role of the Alchemies is to prepare the Initiate for eternal joy and mastery, be it in the afterlife among the dearly departed or in the ever-present moment that is this world.

The call to the Alchemical mysteries of the ancients lies through the land of the ancestors. It is a call to acknowledge the need for death in life. Not giving up the joys of the world, but to give up what keeps us apart from divinity. It said among initiates of mysteries schools that the true magician must jump the great chasm to achieve the great work. One of the dual secret meanings of this phrase is that the chasm is both internal (states of mind) and spiritual: the chasm between one’s self and divinity itself. As voodoo practitioners say to westerners under a different context: “ You people go to church and pray to God; we go to church and become God”. You see the inner mysteries path of the ancients is simple. It is found in words of Doreen Valiente’s poem, “The Charge of the Goddess”:

“…If what thou seek that does not find within, thou shall never find without. For I am that which has been with thee from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire…”

The path to desire lies through the path of death and rebirth. Through letting go and being transformed, it is a path of internal sacrifice, letting go of what separates us from the Gods, our Ancestors and all creation, sacred from the times of the ancients to this day. As it is said in the Charge of the God:

“Let my name be within the body that sings, for all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals…”

Let us not forget the call the Gods made to the Ancestors long ago. A call passed on to us. A call to death and rebirth, life and afterlife. A call that shall echo in the minds and souls of the initiates through all eternity…

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Wiccan Prayer of Alchemy

Witchy Comments & Graphics

Wiccan Prayer of Alchemy

The stillness touches deep inside

in silent darkness Mother sighs.

I reach within with breath and light

and conjure Spirit, warm and bright.

The primal matter, the fire of mind

vibrational waves to particles kind.

I am the flask, the Witch who brings

the change desired, that curious

ring

of power and magick that others don’t see

and yet I know it lies in me.

From black to red, then white to gold

as above and as below

one to two and turn to three,

the fourth is One.

So shall it be!

Life As The Witch – Kitchen Alchemy

Kitchen Alchemy

 

Kitchen alchemy is really a very simple form of magickal work: it doesn’t require circle casting or the invocation of elements, and you don’t even need to use a spell for most basic everyday dishes. (You may want to use one of the truly important occasions, like having your boss to dinner or the first meal you cook for a new lover, but that’s up to you.)

Like all magick, kitchen alchemy is primarily a matter of intent, focus, and will. You start by choosing your intention–increasing prosperity, for instance, or creating an atmosphere of love and peace in your home. Then, as you are cooking, you add the magickal ingredients you have chosen to use while focusing on your intention and directing your will into the dish. As with other magickal workings, the more intent, focus, and will you bring to your food preparation, the more effective your kitchen alchemy will be.

Almost everything in your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets has some magickal association. Here are a few of the most common and easiest to integrate into everyday meals. These associations are based primarily on “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen”– if you only get one resource. I highly recommend this one. But different sources gives various other associations; always follow your own internal wisdom when it come to witchcraft.

Apple:  love, health, peace

Basil:  love, protection, prosperity

Beans:  prosperity, sexuality

Black pepper:  protection, purification

Cayenne pepper:  energy, creativity

Chocolate:  love, prosperity

Cinnamon:  love, psychic awareness, prosperity

Coffee:  conscious mind, physical energy

Dill:  conscious mind, prosperity, weight loss, love

Garlic:  protection, health

Ginger:  love, prosperity

Lemon:  love, happiness, purification

Milk:  love, spirituality

Olives:  health, peace, sexuality, spirituality

Parsley:  prosperity, protection, sexuality

Peppermint:  healing, purification, sexuality

Pomegranate:  creativity, fertility, prosperity

Potato:  protection

Rosemary:  conscious mind, healing, love, protection

Sage: health, protection

Salt:  grounding, protection

Spinach:  prosperity

Sugar/honey/maple syrup:  love, prosperity

Thyme:  love, psychic ability, purification

Tomato: health, love, prosperity, protection

Vanilla: love, sexuality

Reference:

Simple Kitchen Alchemy
By Deborah Blake
Llewellyn’s 2012 The Magical Companion

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Your Tarot Card for December 5th is The World

The World

Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012

What has traditionally been known as the World card points to the presiding intelligence, called “Sophia,” or Wisdom, which upholds life on this and all worlds. A more precise title for this card might be “the Soul of the World,” also applicable as a symbol of personal empowerment and freedom. In most Tarot decks it is a female figure that has become our standard World image. She originates in Hebrew, Gnostic and Alchemical lore, and stands between heaven and earth as the Cosmic Mother of Souls, the Wife of God and our protector from the karmic forces we have set loose upon the Earth in our immaturity and ignorance.

Where the Empress energy secures and fertilizes our terrestrial lives, the goddess of The World invites us into cosmic citizenship — once we come to realize our soul’s potential for it. Just as the Chariot stands for success in achieving a separate Self, and Temperance represents achievement of mental and moral health, the World card announces the awakening of the soul’s Immortal Being, accomplished without the necessity of dying.

This card, like the Sun, is reputed to have no negative meaning no matter where or how it appears. If the Hermetic axiom is “Know Thyself”, this image represents what becomes known when the true nature of Self is followed to creative freedom and its ultimate realization.

Today’s Tarot Card for November 15 is The World

The World

What has traditionally been known as the World card points to the presiding intelligence, called “Sophia,” or Wisdom, which upholds life on this and all worlds. A more precise title for this card might be “the Soul of the World,” also applicable as a symbol of personal empowerment and freedom. In most Tarot decks it is a female figure that has become our standard World image. She originates in Hebrew, Gnostic and Alchemical lore, and stands between heaven and earth as the Cosmic Mother of Souls, the Wife of God and our protector from the karmic forces we have set loose upon the Earth in our immaturity and ignorance.

Where the Empress energy secures and fertilizes our terrestrial lives, the goddess of The World invites us into cosmic citizenship — once we come to realize our soul’s potential for it. Just as the Chariot stands for success in achieving a separate Self, and Temperance represents achievement of mental and moral health, the World card announces the awakening of the soul’s Immortal Being, accomplished without the necessity of dying.

This card, like the Sun, is reputed to have no negative meaning no matter where or how it appears. If the Hermetic axiom is “Know Thyself”, this image represents what becomes known when the true nature of Self is followed to creative freedom and its ultimate realization.

The Wicca Book of Days for July 9th – Watery Associations

The Wicca Book of Days for July 9th

Watery Associations

 

The element that is linked with this zodiacal day of Cancer is water, to which astrological tradition ascribes many associations. According to the theory of the four “humors” that were once said to circulate the human body, for instance, water’s equivalent was the cold, moist phlegmatic humor, an excess of which could make a person unresponsive, unemotional, and placid. The alchemical (as well as magickal) symbol for water is the downward-pointing triangle, which symbolizes a vessel, such as a chalice, or womb ( and note that water is deemed to be feminine in the laws of alchemy).

 

Toast Dionysus!

Many Wiccans celebrate the birth of the Greco-Roman God of the vine Dionysus (or the Roman Bacchus) on July 9. And how better to honor this “twice-born” deity than to pour yourself a glass of blood-red grape juice or wine, raise it to grateful salute, and savor it!

The Wicca Book of Days for April 12th – The Fiery Principle

The Wicca Book of Days for April 12th

The Fiery Principle

The element that is associated with April 12, an Arien day, is Fire, whose influence was once believed to extend to alchemy and human behavior, as well as to astrology. In alchemical symbolism, the volatile and masculine principle of Fire was represented by an upward-pointing triangle (for flames leap upward) and was equated with hot and dry qualities. Similarly, according to the doctrine of the four “humors” that were thought to circulate the human body in ancient times, Fire was linked with the choleric humor, or yellow bile, which was said to produce a hot temper.

Fanning the Flames

If you are consumed by burning desire, summon up the vital energy of Mars and the no-holds-barred passion of Fire, by lighting a red candle and swiftly passing your finger back and forth through the flames as you focus your will on visualizing the fulfillment of our craving.

Dragons In Alchemy

Dragons In Alchemy

In alchemy, the dragon was considered to be matter, metal and the physical body. Often mentioned in conjunction with the dragon was the dragon’s sister: spirit, metallic mercury, and the soul. Ancient alchemy used the picture of a dragon or winged serpent as one of its many secret symbols. A common symbol of spiritual alchemical work was the dragon or serpent holding its tail in its mouth, an unending circle of eternity. Near this circled dragon was written the Greek motto “en to pan,” or “all is one.” The fabled Philosopher’s Stone of alchemy was also considered the One Which Is All. This Stone was closely connected in ancient writings with the Great Work of alchemy; the Great work simply means humankind becoming God, or merging with the Supreme Creative Forces within, thus completing the cycle of human growth by returning to the Source.

Jung wrote that the alchemists considered the winged dragon as female, the wingless dragons as male. Jung also considered water in dreams and analysis as unconscious spirit or the water dragon of Tao. This water dragon of Tao symbolized the yang embraced in the yin, or balanced growth in spirit. In Chinese Taoist symbolism, the dragon was seen as ‘the Way,” the bringer of eternal changes. Often in was depicted as guardian of the Flaming Pearl, or spiritual perfection. Joseph Campbell also speaks of the winged dragon or serpent as being the balance between Earth and Spirit. To the Chinese, the dragon was a potent symbol of luck and power. Silver dragon amulets were worn to help gain these qualities.

“Dancing with Dragons”

D. J. Conway

Lemon Magic

Lemon Magic

Author: Janice Van Cleve

Lemon magic is a form of alchemy that has been practiced around the world in many different cultures for over 2500 years and it is still very alive and effective today. The word “alchemy” itself comes from the Arabic al-kimia, which is translated as the art of transformation. The fundamental ideas of alchemy are supposed to have begun in the ancient Persian Empire sometime before 500 BCE. In the Middle Ages its more popularized pursuits were alleged to be the transformation of lead into gold, the creation of the elixir of life, and the search for something called the philosopher’s stone. It was not until the Seventeenth Century that alchemy was itself transformed into modern chemistry.

Today in America, lemon magic is usually thought of as “turning lemons into lemonade.” There are various modern applications of this magic worked by different methods for different ends. One of the most common is “spin”. Spin is the reinterpretation of one set of words or events from a negative connotation to a connotation that is positive or at least neutral. It sometimes manifests itself as damage control. The alchemists who practice this art are called spin-doctors and they are found mainly in the arenas of government and politics, but they also proliferate as corporate lawyers and lobbyists.

Another application of lemon magic is in the business world. There it is found in mergers and acquisitions. The objective here is to identify struggling companies whose stock price is less than the value of their assets. When a target is found, corporate lawyers swoop in and devour the victim, absorbing it into their own company. Thus a liability for one set of investors is transformed into an asset for another set. A by-product of this process is usually downsizing and more people out of work.

These examples and many more demonstrate tangents of lemon magic where the effect is upon things and people outside of the magic worker. The magic worker remains unchanged in the process. However, the ancient art of alchemy went much deeper than this. It envisioned transformation of the alchemist herself with the ultimate goal of perfecting the state of humanity. Certain schools have argued that the transmutation of lead into gold is really an allegory for transmuting the imperfect human body into a perfect immortal body.

This, of course, ran counter to the concept held by official church doctrine that all human beings were corrupt, stained by sin, and condemned to hellfire unless they put their faith in the authority of the church and bought their indulgences. So alchemists dissembled the true intent of their work with cryptic symbology and vague rhetoric to avoid the tortures of the Inquisition.

Today we have no need to hide our alchemy, but often we don’t realize that we are using it. Turning lemons into lemonade by willfully changing our attitudes or perceptions toward the lemons is truly a transformation of magical proportions.

Starhawk – a well-known ecofeminist, author, activist, and priestess – defines magic as the art of changing consciousness at will. Aleister Crowley – poet, prophet, and magician – defined magic in much the same way. He called it the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will. These folks and others who have written about magic are not talking about parlor games like levitating tables and making coins disappear. They are talking about understanding ourselves and the world around us so well that by our wills we can make of our situation what we want it to be.

Doreen Valiente, who with Gerald Gardner was chiefly responsible for bringing Wicca and Witchcraft into the 20th Century, sums it up best: “By developing their powers, the magician or witch develop himself or herself. They aid their own evolution, their growth as a human being; and in so far as they truly do this, they aid the evolution of the human race.”

So changing lemons into lemonade is truly a magical act. By seeing and acting upon the positive opportunities that lemons present to us, we not only improve our journey through the world, but we make it a more pleasant place for everyone else. This is not about “looking on the bright side” like some Pollyanna. This is about acknowledging the whole package – bright and dark – and by will and energy making it useful.

For example, a friend recently called me about 7:00 pm. It was already dark and I was settling in for the evening. She said that her car had been towed. Did she sob about her misfortune? Did she anguish about the $200 it would cost to get it out of impound? Did she even ask me for a ride home?

No. She asked me out for a drink!

She happened to be in my neighborhood and we had not seen each other for a while. We enjoyed a lovely conversation, a couple of nice drinks, and I drove her to the impound place for her to retrieve her car. It still cost her $200 and a complete alteration of her plans and mine for the evening, but she transformed that lemon into a delightful reunion and evaporated the stress it could have generated. That’s lemon magic!

The same thing happened to me just the evening before. I was at the house of some dear friends on the other side of Puget Sound. That means I had to take a ferry to get back home. The ferry website said there would be a boat leaving at 9:45 pm but in reality the next boat was not until 11:40. By the time I got back to Seattle, it was nearly one o’clock in the morning and there were no busses. So I had to march two miles uphill through the center of town in the middle of the night to get home.

Did I get angry with the webmaster or the ferry system? Not at all.

It was an opportunity for additional exercise and to work off calories. It was a beautiful night and a chance to experience my city in its quiet stillness. Best of all, it underscored my health and stamina and confirmed that I could still depend on my old body to function. It even prepared me for two glorious hikes in the mountains later that week. Lemonade!

Some folks go to the gym to work out when Life hands them a lemon. They not only dispel the negativity via vigorous exercise, but also shed some pounds in the process. Others learn from their lemons and pass on their lessons in the form of teaching or they modify their own behaviors to avoid those lemons in the future. By all these methods, and others besides, people can transform their mis-fortunes into positive fortunes.

Now if we could only learn to transform our lemons into a deep rich Burgundy, we’d really have something!

Alchemy Prosperity Spell (Blood/Harvest Moon)

Gather together a sheet of green paper, a pen, a pinch of salt, a match, a thermometer with mercury, and a rubber band.

At midnight, draw a magick circle and call in the elemental powers. On the sheet of paper, draw an equilateral (equal-sided) triangle. Write the word Mercury above the top point of the triangle. Write the word Sulfur next to the right point of the triangle, and write the word Salt next to the left point. Put the salt, match (unlit) and thermometer on top of the triangle. Fold the paper in half, and then roll it up ( salt, match, and thermometer included) into a scroll. Secure the rolled scroll with the rubber band. Hold the scroll in your power hand and say three times:

“At this midnight, moonlight hour

By the alchemy of salt, sulfur, and mercury

Please bring me prosperity, blessed be!”

Brainstorm for at least thirty minutes as to how you can draw more prosperity into your life. Allow the magician within to come out and wave her or his wand to financial success. In your journal, write how you can blend magick with directed thought and action to manifest your goals. Remember to give yourself plenty of time than you think. Things that seem improbable or impossible just take a little bit long yet. When you are finished, bid farewell to the Elements and pull up the circle. Put the scroll on your altar for a moon cycle to draw prosperity to you.

Dragons In Alchemy

Dragons In Alchemy

 

In alchemy, the dragon was considered to be matter, metal and the physical body. Often mentioned in conjunction with the dragon was the dragon’s sister: spirit, metallic mercury, and the soul. Ancient alchemy used the picture of a dragon or winged serpent as one of its many secret symbols. A common symbol of spiritual alchemical work was the dragon or serpent holding its tail in its mouth, an unending circle of eternity. Near this circled dragon was written the Greek motto “en to pan,” or “all is one.” The fabled Philosopher’s Stone of alchemy was also considered the One Which Is All. This Stone was closely connected in ancient writings with the Great Work of alchemy; the Great work simply means humankind becoming God, or merging with the Supreme Creative Forces within, thus completing the cycle of human growth by returning to the Source.

Jung wrote that the alchemists considered the winged dragon as female, the wingless dragons as male. Jung also considered water in dreams and analysis as unconscious spirit or the water dragon of Tao. This water dragon of Tao symbolized the yang embraced in the yin, or balanced growth in spirit. In Chinese Taoist symbolism, the dragon was seen as ‘the Way,” the bringer of eternal changes. Often in was depicted as guardian of the Flaming Pearl, or spiritual perfection. Joseph Campbell also speaks of the winged dragon or serpent as being the balance between Earth and Spirit. To the Chinese, the dragon was a potent symbol of luck and power. Silver dragon amulets were worn to help gain these qualities.

“Dancing with Dragons”

D. J. Conway

MAGICK AND WITCHCRAFT

MAGICK AND WITCHCRAFT

A number of other occult disciplines are prevalent

today besides magick. There are many cults and sects which

profess their own views, but there are really few differences

between them. One popular area in the occult today is

witchcraft. This is far removed from the cliche of devil

worship. Real witchcraft is a nature religion (pagan).

Witchcraft has much in common with magick.

Alchemy also has much in common with magick. It’s

heritage comes from the middle ages. Alchemy fathered

chemistry and the physical sciences. But the avowed purpose

of alchemy, turning lead into gold, is too limiting to be

called magick. Sometimes the goal of alchemy is interpreted

in another way, as the transformation of man into a spiritual

being.

Then there are the numerous modern day seers or

‘pychics’, as they like to be called, who operate within

their own somewhat unique systems. Although many of these

people are deluded frauds, some are very powerful occultists

indeed.

Of course, everything I have said here is a

generalization. Magick, witchcraft, alchemy, or any occult

field are complex subjects. Suffice it to say that magick

includes them all (it is eclectic). For magick is undoubtedly

a philosophy which has, as the late Aleister Crowley wrote,

“The method of science — the aim of religion.”

Great Work/ Great Rite: Common Symbolism in Alchemy and Witchcraft

Great Work/ Great Rite: Common Symbolism in Alchemy and Witchcraft

Author: Dawn Phoenix

Few would argue that modern Witchcraft has its roots in many varied historical occult philosophies. One such system, commonly overlooked, is philosophical alchemy. Much of what remains from the original practitioners of this arcane art and science has been left to us encoded in allegorical pictures and laboratory notebooks.
Many noteworthy ideas survived alchemy’s hey-day and have made their way little changed into the modern era.

There is a tendency to think of alchemy itself as an early form of chemistry, and with good reason: it did beget the chemical sciences. Because one of the fundamental tenets (from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus) was “That which is above is like unto that which is below, ” practitioners studied the material world for glimpses into the world beyond.

This is not to say that all engaged in alchemical studies were of the occult bent. However, the great gulf we have built between philosophical and scientific understanding is a relatively novel one. (See, for instance, the works of Aristotle.)

In a nutshell, the goal of the alchemist was the search for a substance called the “Philosopher’s Stone, ” which had two important properties.

First, it would convert lead, the basest metal and a relatively valueless substance, into pure gold.

Second, with it one could produce the Elixir of Life, which cured all illness and rendered the one who possessed it immortal.

This was their Magnum Opus, or Great Work.

They recognized seven metals, each one associated with one of the seven (ancient) planets. Gold was associated with the Sun, and Lead with Saturn. Here we cross into the field of astrology for interpretation. Saturn is the planet of limitations and boundaries. This ranges from the restriction necessary for social order down to our personal detrimental proclivities.

In the medicine of the day, it was seen to rule over the melancholic humour. Melancholic individuals are often introverted ponderers and perfectionists with a propensity for becoming morose and depressed. It was thought that those too overbalanced in this humour would become caught up in their fears and despondencies.

The Sun was seen as the giver of life, the vitalizing force of all creation, as it provides the heat and light we require for our survival. Note that the Sun was also called “Sol” and “Soul” or the animating principle. Most importantly, then, it represents the self.

For this reason, when someone asks for your astrological sign, they are asking about the location of the Sun at your birth. The Sun is associated with the choleric humour, and an individual blessed with it will tend toward leadership, charisma, and personal empowerment.

The alchemist’s Magnum Opus was to seek out the means by which one could transmute one’s restrictions through the necessary stages towards the end of a refined and purified self. Some sources point to a process including conjunction, or the combining of two or more parts: putrification, or a “death” of some sort; purification, or the extraction of superfluous elements; and sublimation, which is sometimes seen as another stage of purification and sometimes as the reanimation of the formerly “dead” being. (For an example, see the Rosarium Philosophorum for the picture-poem “Sol and Luna.”)

Now a side step into the world of modern Witchcraft…

For many, the craft lends itself towards workings of self-refinement, and it is likely that this is so as a result of its connections to Hermetic Philosophy. If we are to recognize Divinity within ourselves, those things, which are less worthy of us or not true to our individual essences, will make themselves apparent. Whatever reason we may have had for initially stepping into the craft, we find ourselves journeying towards a greater commitment to our true selves.

The cycle the alchemist journeys through in the process of transmutation can be compared in many ways to the seasonal cycle of the Earth represented by the Great Lady and Her consort as a story of birth, consummation, and death plays itself out, world without end.

The Lord is born at Yule with the returning light of the Sun. Sometime in the spring (traditions vary) He joins with the Lady (who is always and ever the Triple Goddess) in the Great Rite. She is the receptive principle and He the projective. In accepting His power, She gives it form in the child who now grows in Her womb.

Following the natural progression of things, when it is harvest time He is cut down and makes the journey into the underworld (symbolically, the subconscious self) and becomes the Lord of that land. (In some traditions, the Lady also descends, albeit without being touched by death, as She carries in Her womb the principle of life itself.) At Yule, the Lord is born again of the Lady.

Is it the same Lord? Most would contend yes, and this is the pattern of reincarnation.

In fact, this same pattern is repeated in many different systems. In Ceremonial Magic, it is the IAO formula. Isis, representing all life, gives way to Apophis the Destroyer; Osiris is resurrection.

In Western Kabbalism, points on the middle pillar of the Tree of Life can be seen to represent the same. The great abyss, located between Tif’eret (the heart) and Keter (the crown), is home to Da’at, which, it is often said, may only be traversed through death.

Even in Christianity, the exalted state of Heaven, where one is purified of all sin, is generally unreachable until after death of the body has occurred. Some denominations even place that transcendence at a point of bodily resurrection at the end of time, when Heaven will come down to Earth. The Christ did not become exalted until after His death and resurrection.

Still, religion is comprised of both belief and practice, and practice is where systems diverge. Where the alchemist engaged in meditative lab work, the Christian in supplication, et cetera, what is the Witch’s practice for achievement of the Great Work?

This is a difficult question to answer, as different traditions render different ideas. Some simply don’t address the issue at large, on the grounds that every individual will require a dissimilar tact, and recommend spell workings fitted to distinct issues of personal growth the practitioner comes upon. Yet other traditions have specific methodologies for pushing through specific stages.

I would like to contend that there is one ritual, nearly universal to practitioners of the craft, which at its core is designed for exactly this purpose, though rarely is it acknowledged as such. Referring to the story of the wheel, and to the steps in alchemical transmutation, a common thread does emerge. That is, the conjunction.

In both the Great Work and the Great Rite, two things are joined, resulting in the production of a third. That third is both the Child of Promise and the purified self.

For it to be birthed, a process of death and reincarnation must be undergone. That is, for the newly purified self to come forth, that which has completed its tenure must pass away. The Child is then born of the womb, or the Philosopher’s Stone of the cauldron.

This Child is the Sun King, gold from dross, and the ego stripped of its limitations. It is also the promise of everlasting life, for the wheel of rebirth will ever renew.

In order to live forever, one must embrace death. Rebirth in this fashion is the Elixir of Life.

Practically speaking, this means that the formula of the Great Rite (whether actual or symbolic) may be drawn on for rituals of personal transformation, and need not be reserved as solely a celebratory rite.