Part 1: The Elemental Attribution of Magick Weapons
The four main implements employed by magicians are often called the Elemental Weapons because of their primary natures. These are the four familiar tools of the magician as they appear in the Tarot, The Wand, The Cup, The Dagger (Swords in the Tarot) and the Disk or Pantacle. While these weapons are all rightly associated with the elements as they are expressed in ceremonial magick they are not uniquely elemental and nearly all of the other implements used in the performance of a magickal ceremony corresponds to one of the elements also.
According to the strictest discipline of ceremonial magick everything that the magician uses to prepare for and to perform an operation of magick should be consecrated to the accomplishment of its objective. This makes them just as much a magick weapon as the more obvious implements and so objects like the Magick Book and the Pen that are used to record the ceremony are weapons of magick art. Most literature on the magick weapons focuses solely on the four central elemental weapons and often includes something about the magick sword. Occasionally they will also mention the need to keep the paraphernalia of magickal practice quarantined from normal day to day usage but this falls well short of the true importance and use of these magick tools.
The most complete work on the Magick Weapons of the Ceremonial Magician is Book 4 by Aleister Crowley which lists eighteen implements and gives detailed explanations of the uses and symbolic attributions of them. This represents only a fraction of the total number of implements used by ceremonial magicians and in his Liber 777 Crowley lists a fuller list of 50 or more magickal tools and paraphernalia. This list is an exhaustive compilation of all of the working tools used by him in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn while the collection in Book 4 represents a basic working set of weapons. Liber 777 is a book of qaballistic correspondences so the list of magick weapons included there are each ascribed to a Yetzirac attribution and from these correspondences most of the magick weapons can be shown to be an elemental symbol.
The weapons that are attributed to the Sephiroth are generally more conceptual and correspond to the Planetary
natures of the numbers so the Outer Robe, the dark, hooded robe of the Neophyte is attributed to Saturn because it symbolizes the temporal illusion of the physical body. Hidden within this is the Inner Robe which represents the eternal spiritual principal that resides within the illusory body and so it corresponds to the stars in Chokmah. Beyond this, in the heights of Kether where the magick energy is still pure and undivided the weapon is the whirling force of the Rashith ha-Gilgalim itself symbolized in the Fylfot Cross of nineteen squares, the Swastika. Because Kether means a Crown, symbolizing the magician’s dominion over all of his consciousness, this weapon is also attributed to the first Sephirah.
The weapons of Chesed all reflect the authority of the state or the church that govern the temporal life and so the Sceptre and the Crook are attributed here. The force the supports the authority of Chesed corresponds to Geburah and so all of the weapons that are attributed to this Sephirah are martial. The Sword, the Scourge, the Chains and the Spear all belong here. The central position of Tiphareth makes its weapons the central conceptual symbol of ceremonial magick, the Lamen or the Rosy Cross. This weapon symbolizes the harmony required between all of the weapons in order to perform a magickal act. Thus the Lamen is a symbol of the Path and of the method of its’ traversal at the same time. Below Tiphareth the elemental influence becomes more pronounced although still more conceptual than practical. Netzach which corresponds to both Venus and Fire has both the Girdle and the Lamp attributed to it. Hod, which corresponds to Mercury has the Names and Magick Words that are used in the ceremony. Hod is also Watery and so the Apron, as is used in Freemasonry is intended to absorb the injuries of the Great Work, corresponds elementally to this Sephirah. The Perfumes or Incenses that are to be employed in the ceremony are attributed to Yesod because of the correspondence with Air while the Lunar attribution connects this Sephirah with the Altar and the sacrifice that is made upon it.
Perhaps the best well known and yet the most conceptual weapon of ceremonial magick is not even thought of as a weapon at all, the Magick Circle and its compliment the Magick Triangle. These constructions of magick art correspond to the Sphere of the Elements in Malkuth and create the environment wherein all of the other weapons and their symbolism find their complete expression. The Magick Circle is the microcosm symbolically spread out and arranged in a working space that allows the magician to access the different components of his consciousness and to change them in accordance with his will. Just as Malkuth is the fulfillment of the upper nine Sephiroth so too is the Magick Circle the product of the influence of all of the weapons above it, including those that are attributed to the Paths of the Tree of Life that join the Sephiroth.
The Magick Circle is the central symbol of the ceremonial magician and even without the other weapons it is still possible to operate the Magick Circle while without it the effect of the other weapons is meaningless and so ineffective. The Elements as they are found represented in the symbolism of the Magick Circle have more to do with the Four Worlds than with the elements as they are found in the physical world. While these physical elements may be useful for invoking the construction of the magick circle, especially for beginners, the object of creating the Magick Circle in the first place is to transcend these physical elements and ascend through the Four Worlds to the Unity of Kether and the completion of the Great Work. This is reflected in the natures of the four primary Elemental Weapons of ceremonial magick which correspond to these archetypal elemental forms rather than to the earthly elements that are their shadows. The Magick Wand, the quintessential weapon of Fire, isn’t used for stirring up actual burning embers but for directing the essential fire of the magician’s True Will.
This deeper correspondence of the Elemental Weapons of classical Hermetic Magick allows them to bridge the abyss between the conceptual nature of magick and the practical application of performing a magickal ceremony. They also correspond to the four actions of the magician as Crowley described them in Liber I B vel Magi;
With the Wand createth He. With the Cup preserveth He. With the Dagger destroyeth He. With the Coin redeemeth He. His weapons fulfil the wheel; and on What Axle that turneth is not known unto Him.
The forces that are being manipulated by the four Elemental Weapons are those that lie at the essence of the elements themselves, that existed before there were elements and which are the ultimate expression and reflection of the four worlds in our temporal and illusory perception of creation.
The four primary Elemental Weapons are most correctly referred the Powers of the Sphinx; to Will, to Dare, to Know and to Keep Silence. These four powers represent the nature of the work that each weapon performs. The Magick Wand, being fiery, expresses the magician’s will, the Magick Cup represents the magician’s discipline by which he dares to make his assault on heaven. The Magick Dagger represents the magician’s ability to discriminate and to define and so expresses his power to know while the Disk, or Pantacle, is the physical form of the magician which he must yoke to the Great Work.
These elemental weapons that are used to conjure and direct the more physical elements are those that express a specific aspect of that elementary force such as it might be found physically in the material world. These implements fall under the general presidency of the primary Elemental Weapons but lack their universal nature while possessing very specific and worldly properties. This second tier of elemental weapons are attributed to the Paths of the Tree of Life and so are more practical than conceptual making them the ones that will be chosen for specific tasks when planning magickal operations. The primary weapons of magick are present at all ceremonies (in most instances they should all be present in the magick circle to maintain the balance proper to the operation and so as not to handicap the magician in his ability to manipulate any of his elements) but these secondary weapons are only employed when they are specifically needed and then they act as an extension of the primary elemental weapon and are generally subservient to it.
Next: Part 2: The Magick Weapons of Fire