Magical Preliminaries - The Psybermancer

Basic Sigil Magic - Phillip Cooper 2001

Magical Preliminaries
The Psybermancer

This chapter deals with the temple, the Magick Circle, and the Four Gateways of Power. A true Magick Circle is a symbol. Unless it exists in the imagination, it is of no use. Note that the temple and other pieces of magical equipment are only used to enhance the magical operation by giving the mind something to concentrate on. These things appeal to the intellect and to the emotions, helping the mind to focus on the task in hand. By all means, have a temple, robe, and equipment. They can only help. But remember that, without the right attitude of mind, none of these will serve any useful purpose, other than costing you time and money. Eventually, you can dispense with all of these if you wish.

The Temple and Magical Equipment

It is important to view the temple and equipment in the light of common sense. If you are fortunate enough to have a spare room that you can use as a permanent temple, well and good. This room ought to be designated as a temple and used for

nothing else. Clear everything out and try to keep it as a special place. Do not fill it full of furniture and odds and ends. Take into your temple only the things you feel belong there. Start from nothing and build up gradually, avoiding clutter. Clean and decorate if you wish. I also suggest that you cover any windows to keep out prying eyes. The more light you exclude, the more effective the magical lighting you are going to use later on will be.1 Put a strong lock on the door to keep out intruders.

- The first rule of magick is to "Keep Silent." Keep your magick to yourself and those of a similar persuasion whom you can trust. If you have a cellar or an attic, so much the better. A permanent place can be a real advantage at first. If you don't have a spare room, be creative. A little improvisation may solve the problem. Sometimes it is necessary to accept second best, waiting patiently for the ideal to arrive. Although you may already have a mental picture of a temple with lots of space, it is far better to start small than not to start at all. After all, you can use this small start as a spur to better things, working magick to obtain a better temple.

If, after exhausting all the possibilities, there is nowhere to be found for a permanent temple, think in terms of a temporary one. You really need some place that you can go to work magick, even if you have to share with a friend or use the garden shed. A temporary temple is the answer to a lot of problems, so look around for some convenient place to work, even if this means moving a bit of furniture. Do not forget to clear away all the magical equipment when you have finished. Do not leave it lying around for all and sundry to stare at. There are still enough sadly misguided people around who will stop at nothing to prevent you from practicing the magical arts.

Having looked at the temple you may wish to acquire some additional equipment. This will repay you many times over. There is no need to spend a fortune on equipment, however. Let common sense be your guide.

The Altar

An altar is simply a convenient work surface. It can be made of anything you like and it can be any shape or size. Traditionalists may opt for the double-cube shape, as this contains much in the way of symbolism. When you have decided what to use, you must then convert it into an acceptable altar. It is a good idea to use an altar cloth in the correct color. Color should be worked into the ritual as much as possible. Candles, altar cloths, and robes made in inexpensive materials are all useful. Rather than have a wardrobe full of robes in various colors, make or purchase one robe in a neutral color and have different colored sashes or cords for each rite. Robes are useful, as they help the vital transition from real to magical time. There is no reason why you cannot work skyclad.2

Additional Equipment

When you have acquired a useful work surface, think about additional equipment. Be guided by this thought: All magical equipment must be symbolic and the symbolism must be understood. This simply means that each piece of equipment must represent an idea. It is a mistake to presume that magical equipment is effective by itself. It is not! The magick lies within you, in your mind. Anything that enhances this symbolic power is bound to be worthy of consideration. Therefore, choose your equipment carefully, so that it helps you to concentrate on the task in hand.

Take candles as an example. Naturally, you are going to need some form of lighting as an alternative to electric light. From this point of view alone, candles are a valuable ritual aid. Resist the temptation to pile these up on the altar. Think carefully first. How best will these serve your needs? How can you use them to maximum advantage?

I suggest that you start with a single candle placed in the center of your altar. Let this symbolize the inner power of your subconscious mind, rather than using it simply as a source of light. Already there is a difference, because you have changed your attitude toward the light. The relationship between you and the candle has changed subtly—your association with it has altered. No longer is it a plain candle. It is a symbolic light. On the surface, nothing has changed. There is, however, a change within your mind and, as you now know, magick is the science of using your mind. If this were an ordinary candle, you would simply light it without a second thought. With a symbolic candle, the approach is bound to be different, owing to a change in your attitude. In this example, the candle represents your inner power, so deal with it in this context. When you light it, your inner power is on, and you are in contact with it. When extinguished, everything returns to normal. By building up associations in this way, an ordinary candle becomes magical in the truest sense of word.

If you wish to add more candles, do so. Always remember that they must symbolize something, whether this be inner power or external energy. Color can be used to good effect if you bear in mind that it is not the color itself that causes power to flow, but the associations made in your mind. A good example of this is the use of green in money rituals.3

Sun/Moon Centering, the Cosmic Sphere, and the Four Gateways of Power

Not many people are aware of the fact that a magical ritual is simply a means of focusing the mind along a specific channel. The purpose of a ritual is simply to bring together all those things that are likely to aid this focus, so that your subconscious mind may be influenced according to your needs. As such, there is nothing wrong with ritual, provided that it does not descend to the worship of various entities. The components of a ritual are:

  • 1. The all-important intention of the rite.
  • 2. Pre-ritual relaxation (use the Sun/Moon centering if you so desire). Do not think about therite. This should be done before you start. When ready, move to the center of the temple and become quiet, thinking only that "something" is about to happen.
  • 3. Performance of the ritual.
  • 4. The high-point of the ritual—performing the main magical work.
  • 5. Returning to everyday matters.

If you are using a ritual to influence your subconscious mind, you must do it in an effective way. As part of this process, gradually build up in your mind symbolism that your subconscious understands. Put simply, it is of no use to say to your subconscious mind: "Now look here, I want you to give me some power to bring about—whatever." The basic idea may be correct, but the approach is unworkable because your subconscious does not understand words, whether English, Greek, Hebrew, Enochian, or Latin. No, you have to find a better way. You must look at what you are trying to achieve.

The following exercises are important from two points of view. First, they will help you relax and push away distracting thoughts. Second, they are potent symbols that your subconscious mind fully understands. They are divided into three stages for convenience.

Stage One: Sun/Moon Centering

This is suitable for removing feelings of "impurity" (especially prior to a ritual). Stand at attention and take a few minutes to quiet your mind. Visualize either a brilliant, pearly Moon-sphere, or an incandescent solar disc glowing or shining above your head. As you breathe in, begin to draw the

Figure 1. Sun/Moon centering.

Sun/Moon down. It will pass slowly, very slowly, through your body with each inhalation, filling you with a pure, clean radiance. When it has passed completely through your body and into the floor, reverse the process and raise the light disc up again through your body, this time with each exhalation (this is optional), until it shines once more above your head. You may pay particular attention to any part of your body that needs this healing or cleansing (see figure 1 above).

Stage Two: The Cosmic Sphere-How to

Open and Close a Ritual

Your subconscious mind is capable of anything. All that you have to do is communicate in a rational manner to get it to do anything. First, however, you must inform it that you are about to issue an instruction. This is important, because you have to get around the natural safety mechanism that prevents normal, everyday thoughts from influencing the subconscious mind. In short, you need a magical on/off switch. This is accomplished by using an opening and closing formula.

There are many of these and, although the basic procedure and structure is essentially the same, you should construct your own so that it becomes personal. Your opening formula needs to be symbolic, because your subconscious mind deals with symbols.

By far the best symbol is that of the Encircled Cross. This is the master symbol from which all others are derived. Most of you will be familiar with the Magick Circle. This is a parody of the Encircled Cross symbol (see figure 2, page 30). The true Magick Circle exists in your mind. It is not flat; it is three-dimensional. This is where most mistakes are made. The Encircled Cross, when viewed from above a Magick Circle, is in reality, a sphere—a cosmic sphere in which you work. To construct this in your mind is quite easy, but it does require some practice. The results, however, are well worth the effort.

Start by imagining a point of light within yourself at about heart level This symbolizes your inner subconscious power. Then form your arms into the cross. Imagine that a beam of light travels from your center, vertically upward, terminating above your head as a symbol of a crown. A similar beam of light now travels vertically downward, terminating below your feet as a symbol of a cubic black stone. The vertical axis is complete. Keeping the idea of beams of light traveling from your center, imagine that one now travels out in front of you, terminating in the symbol of a Sword. This direction is known as magical east. Move your attention to your right and see another beam radiate outward to become a symbol of a Wand or spear at magical south. Behind you now radiates a beam that terminates as the symbol of the Cup or chalice at magical west. Finally, an arm travels out to your left, terminating as the symbol of the shield at magical north.

Figure 2. The Encircled Cross.

The six arms of the Encircled Cross are now complete. All that remains is to add the circles to complete the Cosmic Sphere. Starting at the crown above your head, imagine a circle of light traveling to the right, through the cube at your feet, then to the left and back to the crown. A second beam starts at the front, magical east, and moves in a clockwise direction through south, west, north and back to east again. The final circle starts at the top anil travels through front, base, rear, and back to the top. You now have a Cosmic Sphere containing a center, six arms radiating out toward the appropriate symbols, and three rings connecting these arms (see figure 3, page 31).

This formula may easily be ritualized by using gestures and words, provided that you use your imagination while doing this. It is the imagination that influences the subconscious, not words. Naturally, you may think up your own, but here is a suggestion.

It is useful to understand the symbolism of different parts of the Cosmic Sphere. The crown symbolizes power, and it is from here that power emanates into the four magical directions. Power flows out from the crown, through the arms of the sphere, to perform the task you have instructed it to do.

Figure 3. The Cosmic Sphere.

The arms of the sphere represent the four magical elements in their respective colors: the element Air and the color yellow; the element Fire and the color red; the element Water and the color blue; and the element Earth and the color green. It is through these elements that the power of the crown flows into the world to create change.

Power that has been sent forth always returns. The power that you send out from the crown through the elements returns to the cubic black stone at the feet. Here, the power comes to rest and germinates. Here, the intention of the mind and the power bring your magical work to fruition.

There are many ramifications in the relationship of the parts of the Cosmic Sphere. This brief discussion is by no means exhaustive, but it does provide a basic framework for the beginning practitioner. The power of the crown is upward,

creation through the four elements is outward, and all comes to rest and fruition in the cubic black stone.

The Cosmic Sphere

Opening Formula

Center yourself using the Sun/Moon centering ritual and then perform the following formula, saying:

"From the infinite power of my inner silent center do I construct my inner cosmos."

[Visualize the central point.]

"I am connected to the potential of the All-Father principle."

[Visualize the crown.]

"I am equally connected to the principle of the Earth-Mother."

[Visualize the cube.]

"Around me are the four symbols of dynamic power. Before me lies the symbol of perfect intelligence and awareness."

[Visualize the Sword.]

"To my right lies the symbol of perfect creativity."

[Visualize the Wand.]

"Behind me lies the symbol of eternal outpouring goodness."

[Visualize the Cup.]

"To my left lies the symbol of my being."

[Visualize the shield.]

"One is the totality of existence."

[Visualize the first ring.]

"Two is the reality of potential."

[Visualize the second ring.]

"Three is the number of power."

[Visualize the third ring.]

"From center to circumference, all is connected according to cosmic law. Be this Cosmic Sphere declared open."

Magical work may now begin. When you are finished, you must close down this Cosmic Sphere before returning to normal time and space. This is done by simply reversing the procedure. A suggestion for suitable wording follows.

Closing Formula


"Let there be peace to the highest."

[See the crown disappear.]

"Let there be peace to the lowest."

[See the cube disappear.]

"Let there be peace to the east."

[See the Sword disappear.]

"Let there be peace to the south."

[See the Wand disappear.]

"Let there be peace to the west."

[See the Cup disappear.]

"Let there be peace to the north."

[See the shield disappear.]

"Let there be peace all around."

[See the rings disappear.]

"Let there be peace within."

[See the light at the center disappear.]

"I now declare this ritual complete and this Cosmic Sphere returned to normality."

With practice, the process of erecting the Cosmic Sphere will become second nature. As it does, the time spent on this may be reduced. The whole point of magick is to be quick, effective, and simple. Long rituals are necessary in the early stages simply to educate your mind. With the passing of time and a subsequent increase in confidence, techniques should be speeded up, in the same way that a would-be pianist, having mastered the scales, then starts to play fluently.

Each of the four elements has a corresponding magical weapon—Air/Sword, Fire/Wand, Water/Cup, and Earth/ Magical Shield. There is no need to actually possess the magical weapon. It is your inner understanding of the weapons that matters, your inner imaginative linkage. The aim of the true magician is to link, within the self, the greater and lesser natures. To do this many have used symbolic weapons to bridge the gap between physicality and mentality. The four principal weapons are symbolic of the elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.

The Sword (Air): The Sword represents the creative will and the intelligence. It represents the ability to conceive an idea and bring it to reality in action.

The Wand (Fire): Its image is the same as that of Fire. It disperses material things into gases and residues. The Wand or spear generally inspires respect and implies authority and desire.

The Cup (Water): The magical cup presents the essence of life, the overflowing of divine love. The Cup or chalice refreshes, rejuvenates, revitalizes. It is the divine mother, the grand lady of nature. The Cup is supplication, humility, and emotions.

The Magical Shield (Earth): The Magical Shield represents inert matter, the material world, with all its hardships and struggles. It is the darkest state of being. Its use is to represent ethereal qualities upon the material plane. It is analogous to salt, which preserves flesh and thus material existence. The finished object.

Thus, in short:

With the Sword createth thee.

With the Wand destroyeth thee. With the Cup nourisheth thee. With the Shield preserveth thee.

Stage Three: The Four Gateways of Power

Become calm, then perform the Sun/Moon centering and open the Cosmic Sphere as described. Now imagine that, at each of the four points, there is a doorway that can be opened or closed at will. Through these symbolic doorways flows life energy that can be directed to obtain the results you desire. Treat this exercise seriously and spend some time using your imagination to see these doorways opening and closing at your command. It is often a good idea to use simple phrases as key words, or "sacred words," as they are sometimes called. As a suggestion try: "Let the portals be opened." To close, use: "Let the portals be closed." Naturally, you may use whatever wording you desire. There is no need to use my words. At conclusion of this exercise, close the Cosmic Sphere as before.

The exercise just given should not be rushed or treated as pointless. Remember that you are dealing with your mind, and that your mind is a tool. With practice, your subconscious will obey your visualization and realize that you are taking control of this power. As with any skill involving the use of tools, patience and practice is needed to obtain the best results.

The final stage of this exercise should also be practiced carefully. It is here that you will conjure with this magical ritual framework. Relax, clear your mind using the Sun/Moon centering, then open the Cosmic Sphere. Either out loud or silently in your mind, use the conjurations, bringing in the extra dimension of the symbolic doorways as follows:

Center yourself and say:

"In the first instance, there is life energy, constantly outpouring, without beginning or end. It is abundant and is designed to be used creatively."

[Imagine that the eastern doorway now opens, allowing yellow energy to pour through. Use a command phrase if desired. Remember that the eastern doorway is in front of you.] Say:

"In the second instance, there is my subconscious mind, which acts as a mediator for life energy. It is my servant and seeks only to assist and to answer questions truthfully. It knows no limits other than those I choose to define. It can and does affect circumstances, events, and physical matter in accordance with the instructions I give it. It will, therefore, never fail me."

[Imagine that the southern doorway opens, allowing red energy to pour through.] Say:

"In the third instance, there is my will to determine what the future should or should not be and the absolute truth offree choice. Therefore, I am bound by no beliefs other than those I choose to adopt." [Imagine that the western doorway now opens, allowing blue energy to pour through.] Say:

In the fourth instance, there is physical matter, which is enlivened and given form by life energies. By free choice and with the aid of my subconscious mind, matter must respond to my will."

[Imagine that the northern doorway now opens, allowing green energy to pour through.]

With practice, this exercise provides a perfect framework for performing rituals and casting sigil spells for whatever workings you may choose. The amount of time spent is entirely up to you. There are no hard and fast rules, so let your own feelings and inclinations be your guide. The only rule of thumb is not to rush through these exercises. Magical success is governed by the simple measure, input = output. In short, you only get out in direct proportion to what you put in. This has nothing to do with money, but it has everything to do with personal involvement and the small sacrifice of time and effort needed to gain results.

It is important to remember that you need to be able to carry magical awareness around with you. It is not sufficient

to be a Saturday-night magician. Avoid the absurdity—and I have seen this happen—of people who, suddenly faced with a problem, think that because they have not got their robes, incense, temple, or even lodge members, they just cannot function. I have seen entire lodges grind to a halt because someone did not turn up. This hardly makes things practical.

The dynamic, fourfold pattern of power can be carried around in your imagination anywhere. Furthermore, it can be used, because all you have to do is erect the Cosmic Sphere in your mind, as described. Then, by opening the four gateways of power in your imagination and thinking creatively, all manner of everyday things start to get done. Work with it, get to know it, and make it very familiar to yourself. It will repay you many times over.

If words are used, they work because you put feelings, belief, and imagination into them. For instance, if you are facing a particular quarter and simply say, "I declare this quarter open," it is one thing to say or vibrate those words and not think about them, but it is another to see vividly in your imagination that that doorway opens up releasing colored energy. By using feeling and imagination with your words you can work absolute wonders. The words, whatever they are, then become vehicles that express emotion and imagination. There is a world of difference.

I recommend performing the Sun/Moon-disc centering, the Cosmic Sphere, and Four Gateways of Power exercises on a regular basis, even if you are not performing any specific magical operation. This keeps things ticking over, so to speak, and serves for magical protection, creating a physical and spiritual equilibrium for security and assertiveness. The precept "invoke often" reveals its importance here.

You may wonder how it is possible to see the Cosmic Sphere in your mind's eye, while imagining it and also imagining the four gateways. In other words, how do you imagine two things at once. It is all a question of memory. Let me explain.

To imagine several different things all at the same time would, of course, be difficult, if not impossible. Fortunately, you do not need to do this. As you build up the Cosmic Sphere, you establish each part of it in your memory, moving on through each successive stage and concentrating only on whatever is necessary. For instance, you start with the central light, imagining that this exists. Then, your attention moves on to the next stage of imagining the first of the six arms. There is no need to keep the image of the central light constantly in your imagination, because it is presumed to exist and, in fact, does exist in your memory. You use this and similar procedures in everyday life. For example, suppose you were standing in a room facing a window. You see the window quite clearly. If you turn round to face the opposite wall, you of course, see the wall instead. You still know, however, that the window exists because you have just seen it. In fact, you can recall this in your imagination, because the image is stored in your memory. In a similar fashion, having become familiar with the room, you "know" what the room looks like in totality without actually seeing it physically.

It is exactly the same with the Cosmic Sphere and inner "seeing." In other words, use your imagination to build up an imaginary sphere in your memory. All through the building-up procedure, you establish each stage before moving on to the next. Therefore, at the high-point of the ritual, you are free to concentrate fully on the work at hand, knowing that the Cosmic Sphere exists in your memory, because you have put it there.

At the end of the ritual, you must inform your subconscious that the sphere and gateways are no longer established, hence the need for a closing procedure. Never forget that, although the Cosmic Sphere and the gateways are imaginary and it would be easy to dismiss the entire concept as worthless, this is not the case. Any deliberate erection of a symbolic pattern will have an effect on your subconscious, because you are using what is, in effect, a powerful language that the subconscious understands. It is, therefore, necessary to treat these symbols with respect and practice using them often. You should also bear in mind that symbols are not holy or sacred, so to worship them is sheer folly. Likewise, they are not meant to be worn as ornaments or lucky charms. People who do so show a marked lack of understanding as to the real nature of symbols.

1 Subdued lighting from candles, oil lamps, or a rotary dimmer switch available from electrical appliance shops and stores.

2 "Skyclad" is a Wicca term for working naked. You can, of course, wear whatever you feel to be specifically relevant, as long as it allows for physical freedom and is suitable.

3 The colors of magick are fully discussed in Part II of this book, The Psybernomicon.