Magick: High and Low

January 20th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

A recurring theme has recently (re-)surfaced in various magical books, blogs, and podcasts regarding the divisions of “high” and “low” magick. Largely these discussions have posited that such categories are arbitrary distinctions of no real merit, rooted in cultural or class conflicts and discrimination. The definitions of these categories vary substantially, but as a recent topic many seem to have settled on the notion that high magick primarily refers to matters celestial, angelic, or generally benevolent in intent while low magick has been defined as that which deals with the chthonic, necromantic, goetic, or otherwise malevolent.

However, Denning and Phillips define high and low magick a bit differently in the introductory paragraphs to The Magical Philosophy. They note that “the distinction of the two is made according to the level of powers involved in the operation. It is not a question of the objective.”  The criteria, then, are which of the Qabalistic Four Worlds does the magician involve in his working? In this definition, magick is only high magick if it involves all Four Worlds in order to manfiest the magician’s Will. For example, a rite of goetic evocation is high magick if it calls upon Divine (Atziluth) and Archangelic (Briah) protection and summon forth an Astral (Yetzirah) spirit and bring some thing to manifestation (Assiah); and indeed, most traditions of grimoiric magick follow such a basic template.

Admittedly, matters get complicated and blurred once we move outside of a Qabalistic/Hermetic context. While we can play at comparative religion and tabulate correspondences, who is to say if the demigod invoked by a Hellenic pagan is Atziluthic or Briatic? Indeed – Denning and Phillips observe that,

In the Jewish system, in contrast to Pagan systems, a clear distinction has been made between the Atziluthic and the Briatic levels. … In the Pagan systems, no distinction is made between the Briatic form and the archetypal force which informs it.                                          – The Sword & the Serpent, Ch. V

Some insight can be gained if we look to the magician himself. We may argue that here is where the nature of one’s magick is determined – not from the level of the spirits or entities one may invoke or evoke in a working, but from the involvement of the “Qabalistic Parts of the Soul” within the magician. These parts of the soul correspond to the Ogdoadic structure of the House of Sacrifice, though in any given individual the ability to perceive these principles and the relationships between them may vary widely. These principles are given as:


The House of Sacrifice

The Pillars of the House

I. Pneuma, “Breath” – the Ruach – the rational mind
II. Sarx, “Body” – the Nephesh – the emotional-instinctual nature

The Triune Superstructure

III. Dike, “Justice” – the Neshamah – the formative feminine principle or Anima
IV. Eleos, “Mercy” – the Chiah – the vital masculine principle or Animus
V. Kudos, “Glory” – the Yechidah – the Divine Spark at the core of all things


The correspondence of these principles of the House to the Four Worlds follow the traditional Qabalistic associations: the Nephesh to Yetzirah, the Ruach to Briah, and the whole of the Superstructure to Atziluth. The entire physical form of the house may be seen as related to the “G’uph”, or physical body, in which all of these things are manifest and which corresponds to the World of Assiah.

Thus, if our magick only consists of “creative visualization” it partakes only of the Nephesh and Ruach, the astral and mental worlds within us. The same may be said of “wishful thinking” or much of the “Law of Attraction” type of material that has recently become popular again. Likewise, if we simply attempt magick through purely physical means (speaking aloud a spell or intention, burning an image, etc.) it too only involves the physical plane of Assiah. This is low magick – but that does not mean that it is ineffective.

Rather, for the individual who is pursuing the great quest of initiation – who is pursuing the attainment of Self-Knowledge and Divine Gnosis – high magick is ever the tool par excellance. In this individual, the constant aspiration toward the as-yet-unknown Inner Teacher will provide that missing Atziluthic influence, to a degree dependent on their personal progress in the Mysteries. In due time, this aspirant will come to the Knowledge and Conversation of that Briatic Intelligence termed the Holy Guardian Angel. This conduit will provide, through an ever deepening process, access to the Intuitive Mind through which he may begin to perceive the spiritual forces of the reality which underlies all existence.

For such an individual, then, who is guided by his Inner Voice, we may not be far off in declaring that every magical act is one of High Magick.

Now Available: The Lunar Formula of IAO

December 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Lunar Formula of IAO by Derik Richards, published by Hadean Press as part of their Guides to the Underworld collection, is now available. The Lunar Formula is a dense 12 page chapbook, and can be purchased for £3.00 plus postage (via PayPal) on Hadean Press’ website.

The mysterious name “IAO” has for centuries been a ubiquitous feature of magical traditions. Many modern systems ascribe this name to Tiphareth and the solar mysteries. However, in the Ogdoadic Tradition of High Magick this name is employed as the divine name of the Moon-sphere, Yesod. The Lunar Formula of IAO discusses the practical magical application of this elusive formula, presenting never-before published keys thereto. While this guide conducts its survey within the milieu of the Ogdoadic Tradition, and provides a brief introduction to the Ogdoadic mysteries as a whole, it will also prove valuable to initiates and students of other traditions of the Magical Art who may find herein a resonance with their own Work.

The Lunar Formula of IAO

November 18th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The House of Adocentyn is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of The Lunar Formula of IAO by Derik Richards, one of the “Guides to the Underworld” series of chapbooks from Hadean Press which treat of various recondite magical topics and practices. This work is a brief but dense monograph on the usage of the Divine Name “IAO” inspired by the Ogdoadic Tradition of magick, but will also be useful to practitioners of other systems looking to expand their understanding of this formula and experiment with never-before-published keys to this Name.

In the Ogdoadic Tradition, “IAO” is the divine name associated with the sephirah of Yesod – in stark contrast to it’s often solar application in Thelema and other magical systems. This paper discusses the origins and  context of its use as a Lunar formula primarily descended from the Gnostic myths of Sophia-Achamoth, and provides a month-long ritual working to not only explore the full depth of this formula’s inner dynamics but which also can be easily incorporated into other workings of Art Magick (particularly those intended to produce material results). This practical insight is complemented by analysis and interpretation of IAO by means of its constituent Greek vowels, their planetary associations, the gematric/isopsephic relationship to the mysteries of the Bow of Qesheth, and a certain Enochian formula of IAO that relates to the realms supernal.

The Lunar Formula of IAO is slated to be published by the end of November 2011, and will be available to purchase online from Hadean Press’ website for £3.00 plus postage. International payments are accepted via PayPal.

The Ogdoadic Journal: Call for Submissions

November 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Dear Companions and Friends,

The Ogdoadic JournalThe theme of the next two issues of The Ogdoadic Journal will be “Praxis of the Ogdoadic Tradition.” As such, these will be presentations of practical ritual magic and ceremonial theory evolving from the Hermetic Regenerative Tradition. The foundations of this tradition are the writings and work of Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips, acclaimed authors and past Grand Masters of the Aurum Solis. The Ordo Astrum Sophiae (OAS) is a chartered and contacted order, established in succession from the pre-2002 Aurum Solis. OAS continues to maintain strict adherence to the traditional Aurum Solis system.

Due to the vast scope of this subject, these forthcoming Journals will treat separately of the Outer and Inner Mysteries. The next issue will commence with the Outer (or Lesser) Mysteries, which can be defined as the Work of the Outer Order and of the Temenos, in which the rites of the First and Second Halls are conducted. The subsequent issue of the Journal will focus on the Inner (or Greater) Mysteries: the rites of Telesterion and the Third Hall workings pertinent to Adepti of the Ogdoadic Tradition.

As a point of clarification, these next Journals will not directly discuss the initiatory rituals of the Order. Rather, the mysteries under consideration comprise those rites, formulae, and symbols – either foundational or advanced – which should play a prominent role in the personal magical program of the Ogdoadic student. Naturally, the issue discussing the work of the Inner Order will be more general in scope than the first issue; in some ways this will be a continuation of issue number 3’s focus on the Holy Guardian Angel, with an emphasis on magical workings relevant to the Adept.

Possible topics include:

  • Foundational Ogdoadic practices: The Calyx, The Setting of the Wards of Power, Clavis Rei Primae, The Tower of Light, etc.
  • The Temenos, its implements, furnishings, and regalia: Bomos, Sword, Banner, Tessera, etc.
  • Ritual formulae of the House of Sacrifice: evocation, talismanic consecration, etc.
  • Grimoires and spirit-work within the Ogdoadic Tradition
  • The Constellation of the Worshipped: assumption of godforms, devotional methods, etc.
  • The Great Work and the initiation cycle
  • Magical tides, times, and electional astrology
  • For the Journal 6 (the Inner Mysteries): the Spear and the Grail, Rising on the Planes, etc.

Obviously this is only a sampling of possibilities. The editorial team gladly welcomes items outside of these suggestions, so long as they are germane to the theme of Ogdoadic Praxis. In addition to English articles with proper citations, submissions may also comprise artwork, poetry, or relevant book reviews.

The deadline for submissions for Journal no. 5 is Imbolc (February 1st) 2012. Submissions should be sent to and


In the Light of the Glorious Star,


The Editors,
The Ogdoadic Journal of the Western Mysteries
Ordo Astrum Sophiae


The Clavis Mystica

September 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

En Giro Torte Sol Ciclos Et Rotor Igne – The Spiritual Sun has turned the Ages in a Circle and is their Mover with Fire – Such are the Words, such is the Greeting!

With these words do I greet you, dear reader, and inaugurate the first blog post here at the House of Adocentyn. What do these mysterious words mean? Where do they come from? How are they used in the Regenerative Mysteries of the Ogdoadic Tradition?

These eight words – EN GIRO TORTE SOL CICLOS ET ROTOR IGNE – are referred to in the Ogdoadic system of High Magick as the “Clavis Mystica.” Taken all together, they are a palindrome – reading the same forwards as they do backwards. The words are not easy to translate, being a mixture of medieval Greek and Latin, but we will return to that topic presently. The translation employed in our magical rituals is that which we have given: “The Spiritual Sun has turned the Ages in a Circle and is their Mover with Fire.” These words form the sacred heart of our mysteries and serve as a most perfect invocation of those Inner Plane powers – “the High Guardians, Hidden Adepti, Dwellers in Eternity” – who are the living and divine spirits which inspire the Ogdoadic Tradition.

The city of Florence, Italy in the 15th Century was home to some of the greatest minds of the Renaissance. Chief among these was Marsilio Ficino who history records as the leader of the Platonic Academy, a subset of of which the Ogdoadic Tradition holds practiced the arts of Orphic theurgy. A little less than 200 years prior, another group of philosophers in Florence – to whom we also trace our lineage – was inducting a young poet into their society of mystical love: Dante Alighieri. It should come as no surprise then, that these antecedents of the Astrum Sophia would have been quite familiar with this palindrome. They would have known these words from the beautiful marble inlay on the floor of the Baptistery of San Giovanni, where they encircle an image of the Sun. You can trace the footsteps of these and many other past initiates and still view this sight today inside the eight-sided Baptistery of Florence which is situated in the Piazza del Duomo.

The Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence, Italy


The Clavis Mystica on the floor of the Baptistery. Image from


A rendering of the inlay from the Institute and Museum of the History of Science:

This section of floor has long since been moved from its original location, but when Dante and Ficino were gazing on it they would have seen that it was constructed as a “gnomon”: every year at exactly midday on the Summer Solstice the rays of the sun would shine through a specially constructed oculus in the ceiling of the Baptistery and illuminate this inlay. Note that the Summer Solstice approximates the date of the Feast Day of Saint John, after whom the Baptistery is named and who figures prominently (at least in the recorded accusations and confessions) in the tradition of the Knights Templar, who we also hold to be antecedents of our regenerative mysteries. Legend holds that the whole work of art was designed and executed by the 11th century astronomer and poet, Strozzo Strozzi whose tomb was discovered beneath the floor over 400 years later.

Let us return to the question of translation. Over the ages, a few similar translations have been proposed: “Phoebus drives on oblique, his fiery car” (Starke 1828); “Behold, I the sun turn the orbits obliquely, and am turned by fire.” (Giusti 2000); “Behold, I the Sun turn and rotate the seasons with unequal amount of daylight” (MacCracken 2001); “With my fire I, the sun, make the circles move around and I move around too” (Florence Art Guide). It can be seen in each translation, as John Graham of the OAS House of Thoth has noted in his article on Florence, that this could easily be interpreted as a bold statement of the heretical idea of heliocentrism proclaimed openly in the heart of the most famous Baptistery almost half a millennium before Copernicus and Bruno came under fire for similar ideas. The translation employed in the Ogdoadic Tradition (“The Spiritual Sun has Turned the Ages in a Circle and is their Mover with Fire”) can be understood by interpreting CICLOS as derived from κύκλος (the transliteration of upsilons into iotas was common following the Greek vowel shift) in its attested usage as “the cycles of time”, “seasons,” Aeons, etc. Further, the addition of the adjective “spiritual” in our usage serves to distinguish that here we are discussing no mere astronomical observation, but a fundamental dynamic engendered by the Sun-behind-the-Sun (as in the Isha Upanishad, from which the Astrum Sophia’s solar adoration is derived).

But what does it mean to “turn the ages in a circle?” For an explanation of this we can turn to the Corpus Hermeticum, a body of work first translated into Latin by the aforementioned Florentine, Marsilio Ficino. The following quote, from book 11 verse 15 of the Corpus Hermeticum (transl. by Salaman & van Oyen) is brilliantly lucid in this regard (and indeed, it has been included for use in the ritual given at the end of this post):

Eternity is the image of God; the cosmos, of eternity; the sun, of the cosmos; and man, of the sun. People call transformation death, because the body is dissolved, but in fact life withdraws into the unmanifest.  I shall tell you, as you are listening with such reverence, my beloved Hermes, that all these things that have been thus dissolved and indeed the cosmos, are transformed. Each day a part of the cosmos withdraws into the unmanifest, but the cosmos is never dissolved. This is what happens to the cosmos, these are its cycles and its mysteries. The cycles are a continual rotation and the mystery is the renewal.

The daily withdrawal of the cosmos is the principal concept here, symbolized to the ancients by the setting of the Sun – the well-known journey of Ra and other solar gods through the underworld. This is of course followed by the dawn: this is the Regeneration, the rebirth of the Adept after the sojourn of the darkness – the manifestation of the Octave. Thus is this palindrome (whose very orthographic structure symbolizes the cycles of “continual rotation” and renewal) truly a fitting Key of the Ogdoadic Mysteries.

It is helpful to understand how the Clavis Mystica is used in the context of Ogdoadic ritual work. As mentioned, the palindrome is seen by itself as an invocation of the Inner Plane contacts of the Ogdoadic Tradition; but it also forms a part of a specific invocation of these Hidden Adepti as part of a longer invocation known as the “Ogdoadic Catena” (or “Ogdoadic Chain”). Similarly, the Clavis Mystica features prominently in the Order’s Consecration of the Mystical Tessera, which can be found in Mysteria Magica by Denning and Phillips. The Tessera is a special tile of wood which holds a central place upon our bomos (“altar”) and which signifies the Bond of Holy Light in which all initiates of the Ogdoadic Mysteries share. Likewise, the Formula of the Grail (ibid.) culminates in the utterance of this sacred phrase, acknowledging the central importance of the Grail to the Regeneration of the Adept in the Rite of Elevation (also known as the Rite of Palingenesis: the initiation ritual of the Third Hall of the OAS, conferring the grade of Adeptus Minor). Accordingly, the Clavis Mystica and the Ogdoadic Catena invoke a very distinct and very lofty level of forces into a working; the Clavis is thus not present, for instance, in works of evocation, consecration of lesser implements, or the foundational rites of Warding and the Calyx.

The following exercise is simple in its construction but profound in its depth (indeed, a more elaborate formulation of similar structures forms a vital Inner Order working within the OAS). It is a method for direct exploration of the Clavis Mystica through ritual work and can also serve as a nice introduction to the Ogdoadic current for anyone desiring to tune in to the energies of the Tradition. As it is written, it assumes some familiarity with the Ogdoadic material but this is not essential for anyone wishing to experiment. To briefly cover some of the points which may be obscure: the magical ring is the key implement for the Ogdoadic magician and when wearing it he or she fully assumes their Magical Personality, which is a constructed persona adopted strictly for the duration of the rite and then removed; and the lamp may be an actual oil lamp or a simple candle upon the bomos/altar.

A Meditation on the Clavis Mystica

Begin the rhythmic breath. Assume the Wand posture. Don your Ring and, simultaneously, your Magical Personality.

Perform the Setting of the Wards of Power, or another preparatory rite.

Take a lit taper candle, and light the Lamp upon the Bomos by tracing the letter Psi (Ψ) thusly: first, in silence, trace the “cup”; then, while exhaling “HA” trace the descending vertical and simultaneously light the wick of the Lamp. Reflect upon the symbolism of the Lamp: situated within the center of your circle, it is Tiphareth, the Sun sphere and the Heart of the Worlds. Its source of power is the Ruach Elohim – the Divine Spirit – of which it is the manifestation.

Now carry the taper to the eastern limit of your circle, raise it aloft, and vibrate EN.

Carry the taper back to the eastern side of the Bomos and touch its flame to the flame of the lamp. Continuing clockwise, carry the taper to the southeast of the circle, raise it on high and vibrate GIRO.

Return to the southeast of the Bomos and again join the flames. Repeat this through all the quarters and cross quarters:

South: TORTE

Southwest: SOL


Northwest: ET

North: ROTOR

Northeast: IGNE

Upon returning to the northeast of the Bomos and touching the flame of the taper to the flame of the lamp, move once again to the East side of the Bomos, face east, and raise the taper in salute, vibrating the complete Clavis Mystica: EN GIRO TORTE SOL CICLOS ET ROTOR IGNE. (Note: the magician may also at this point desire to trace the lines of the interlaced octagram in a vertical plane in conjunction with the palindrome, as described in The Consecration of the Mystical Tessera in Mysteria Magica by Denning and Phillips.)

Turning clockwise, proceed to the west of the Bomos, facing east. Extinguish the candle and replace it on the Bomos.

Read aloud the full Ogdoadic Catena, holding within your heart your true aspiration to invoke thereby the Living Powers of the Ogdoadic Tradition, that you may be filled with divine inspiration and abundance of light and life.

Be seated and assume the God-form posture. Read aloud, slowly and with attention given to the meaning of the text, one or all of the following passages from the Corpus Hermeticum (translations given are from Salaman, et al. in The Way of Hermes):

Nous, the Creator, together with the Word, encompassing the spheres and spinning them round with a rushing motion, caused those things he had made to revolve and he allowed them to revolve from no fixed beginning to an end without limit, for it begins where it ends.

O that you could grow wings and fly up into the air, and that, poised between earth and heaven, you might see the firmness of earth, the liquidity of the sea, the course of the rivers and the free flow of the air, the piercing fire, the revolution of the stars, the swiftness of the heavenly movement encircling all these things. What most blessed vision, O son, to behold all that in one moment; the unmoving being moved, the unmanifest being made manifest through what it creates! This is the very order of the universe and this is the beauty of the order.

Eternity is the image of God; the cosmos, of eternity; the sun, of the cosmos; and man, of the sun. People call transformation death, because the body is dissolved, but in fact life withdraws into the unmanifest.  I shall tell you, as you are listening with such reverence, my beloved Hermes, that all these things that have been thus dissolved and indeed the cosmos, are transformed. Each day a part of the cosmos withdraws into the unmanifest, but the cosmos is never dissolved. This is what happens to the cosmos, these are its cycles and its mysteries. The cycles are a continual rotation and the mystery is the renewal.

Now, affirm your Magical Personality, and direct your attention to the Rhythmic Breath. Meditate on that which you have done, and said, and felt. After a sufficient amount of time, conclude the working with the standard closing battery of 3-5-3 (either upon a bell, or simply as knocks upon the Bomos). Record your thoughts and impressions in your magical journal.