The arrangement of the temple of the ceremonial magician is entirely conceptual. All of the furnishings and the orientation of the magick circle that is constructed in the temple all derive their symbolic meanings from the particular system of magick that is being practiced. For most ceremonial magicians who use an Oriental Temple (that is, one that faces East), the symbolism of the positions, or stations, in their temple arrangement will be tied to the correlation with the rise and fall of the Light that they have. The Golden Dawn Hall of the Neophytes developed these principles to a high degree of complexity that makes it possible to symbolically express almost any intention by a movement or a gesture within its space.
The Symbolism of the Oriental Temple
The arrangement of the temple in the Golden Dawn was based on the pattern commonly used by Freemasonry which informed a significant part of that Hermetic order’s teachings. The geometric arrangement of the furnishings and the officers is used to great effect in the ceremonies of initiation that they used and their symbolic meanings were drawn from the conceptual placement of the Hall of the Neophytes on the Tree of Life.
According to the “Z” Documents that are issued to Zelator Adeptus Minors of that magickal order, the Hall of the Neophytes, or the Elemental temple that is used by most Hermetic magicians, is positioned at the very topmost point of the Sphere of the Elements that make up the Sephirah Malkuth and the material world of Assiah. The temple faces East and looks “up” the Tree of Life, facing the Yod י and He ה of Tetragrammaton. These correspond to the Pillar of Mercy and the Pillar of Severity that have their bases in Netzach and Hod while the Middle Pillar ends at the Double Cubic Altar where the focus of the temple manifests the Light of the Supernals in the World of Assiah.
In this way the southern half of the temple is the side which indicates the Light while the northern side corresponds to the darkness with the center of the temple being the point of balance that reconciles their effects. Similarly, the East is the place of the rise of the Light in the temple with the West being the place where it declines while the central point, the Double Cubic Altar, is the place where they find their perfect balance and are reconciled. In this way the cardinal directions can be assigned Elemental correspondences that give movement within the temple space a symbolic reference.
This symbolism is the key to the understanding and effective operation of the Neophyte Formula that is the Golden Dawn’s greatest legacy to modern occultism. During the Neophyte initiation ceremony the candidate is led first to the Gate of the West, overseen by the Lord of the Darkness where he confronts his unillumined depths before being led to the Gate of the East where he meets with the Lord of the Light initiates the movement of the Light into that internal darkness before being placed in the point of perfect balance in the temple to be exposed to a ray of the Light that is the motive force of the temple and its workings.
Conceptualizing the Temple
In the operation of the Hall of the Neophytes the position of the initiating officers is filled by the officers and a full compliment in the temple consists of eleven people all acting in concert to visualize the necessary god forms and to make the symbolic statements and gestures that form the working mechanisms of magick. For the solo magician this same arrangement has to be constructed by themselves alone and so it necessitates that the opening of the temple in an operation for a solitary magician must first establish the symbolic references that will be used in the temple to articulate the intention of the magicks that are performed in it.
The essential workings of the Pentagram and Hexagram rituals are designed to do exactly that, establishing the orientation of the temple in relation to the Elements and by this to the temple’s placement on the Tree of Life. In most cases, the magician won’t have the luxury of having the Pillars of Hermes and Solomon physically present in their working space and may even be improvising the altar and other furnishings that are used. This approximation of the Oriental Temple works because the space is conceptually aligned with the Tree of Life in such a way as to naturally imply that they are present. In reality, those physical representations are merely symbols that are useful to remind the magicians that are working in the temple that the Pillars of Mercy and Severity are present in its arrangement.
As this is the case, a good argument can be made for dispensing with the physical representations of these principles in the temple, except where they have a practical application, and using the method of conceptualization entirely. In its purest form this is done by constructing a temple on the astral plane where magickal operations are performed in the body of Light. In practice this is too difficult for most magicians, especially novices, to achieve with any great effect. It is a mechanism that can be strengthened though, and the concept of invoking the astral forms of the stations in the temple is one that has been used by many magicians to create dynamic and effective magickal ceremonies.
Let the Silence Speech Beget
This method has been used to its greatest effect in the A.’.A.’. Neophyte Ceremony of Self Initiation called the Pyramidos Ritual. This ceremony was composed by Aleister Crowley sometime around 1910 and underwent constant revision and refinement until his death nearly four decades later. He based it on the Formula of Light from the Golden Dawn Z Documents and it is an interpretation of the 0=0 Neophyte Ceremony that he tailored for a solo performer. That said, the Pyramidos doesn’t resemble the 0=0 Neophyte Ceremony in any except the most cursory way and represents the evolution of the concept of Hermetic initiation.
The opening of the Pyramidos Ritual establishes the concepts of Light and Darkness in the temple space and then reconciles them to establish the influence of the Supernal Triad of the Tree of Life (Kether, Chokmah and Binah) in the temple. To do this, the magician first stands at the south west of the magick circle that he is making and invokes Demeter, the embodiment of the Light. Following this he moves to the north west point of the magick circle and invokes Hades as the embodiment of the Darkness.
These two polar forces in the temple are reconciled when he moves to the East and invokes Hermes and the method is defined by the conjuration, “Let the Silence Speech beget”. In this way, without specifically calling upon the force that is evoked by the reconciliation of the Light and the Darkness, the magician next speaks with the voice of Hermes saying, “The Speech against the Sons of Night” and continuing with the general exordium that establishes the foundations of the temple that will be used to perform the ritual of self initiation before the Holy Guardian Angel of the magician. As the magician speaks with the voice of Hermes, his spiritual guide on the Path of Initiation, he banishes the darkness and manifests the Light in the temple that he will use to build the pyramid that gives the ceremony its occult name.
Building the Pyramid
To do this he builds on the triangular base that he has established and Crowley’s solution to this makes the Pyramidos Ritual one of the finest works of magick ever composed. After circumambulating in a spiral dance that establishes the circumference of the magick circle as the symbol of the Path of Initiation that he is about to take his first step along, the magician steps to the center of the temple where the influence of the three invoked forces is reconciled and balanced. In this place he speaks with the voice of Hermes, his guide, and unites the Light and the Darkness in the mystic marriage of Demeter and Hades:
Hail Asi! Hail, Thou Wanded Wheel!
Alpha and Delta kissed and came
For Five that feed the Flame.
This first invoked union establishes Hermes as the product of the union of the originally invoked forces. These three manifest influences are then combined to produce a fourth principle that is entirely spiritual and which represents the magician’s Holy Guardian Angel in its most essential form as the Archangel of Kether, Metatron who represents the magician in the face of the Unity of the Godhead that would otherwise destroy and assimilate his individual self awareness.
Hail Hoor-Apep! Thou Sword of Steel!
Alpha and Delta and Epsilon
Met in the Shadow of the Pylon
And in Iota did proclaim
That tenfold core and crown of flame
Hail Hoor-Apep! Unspoken Name!- Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos, Aleister Crowley
This representative of the magician’s higher self is given the persona of Iacchus, the Greek god that corresponds to Kether in the Hermetic Qabalah (see- Liber 777) and he appears as the nature confluence of the three divine personas that have been established at the points of the triangle in the temple. This new influence appears as if “uninvoked” and forms the topmost point of a pyramid (more correctly a tetrahedron) that represents the unity of the trinity of the Supernal Sephiroth.
Uniting the Powers of the Sphinx
This representative of the Unity of Kether is now fully manifested in the extension of the ten Sephiroth that form the bridge between the magician in Malkuth and the pure Divine force in Kether. In this way the entire structure of the temple of the Pyramidos is established without making any direct reference to them by name and the movements that the magician makes during the rest of the ceremony all have easy to reference symbolism to drive their interpretation and intention.
On the basis of the established symbolism of the division of the temple into Darkness and Light, the same process is used again to establish the places of the Elements within the pyramid that has been built. This is done by approaching each of the Elemental Gates, or Pylons, and invoking the spiritual persona that it represents and then reconciling them in the fifth, central point that establishes the square based pyramid with the four Powers of the Sphinx, to Will, to Know, to Dare and to Keep Silence each being attributed to one of the corners of the base and the fifth power, to Go, manifesting uninvoked as the top point of the pyramid. This fifth power is the divine essence within the magician that is directly represented by his own Holy Guardian Angel (the microcosmic image of Metatron) and so the effect of the whole ceremony is to initiate the magician’s progress towards the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel.
Uninvoking by Banishing
Another way that this method can be employed is by banishing every other influence until only the one that is being invoked remains. Obviously this isn’t suitable for every kind of spiritual force but for those subtle qaballistic influences that are defined more by what they are not rather than what they are this can be the most effective way to connect with them. This is especially so for concepts like the Ain Soph Aur that have no positive or manifest form to make a positive invocation to. Crowley used the uninvoked principle again to do this in the ceremony that is described in Liber 831. In this ceremony the magician first establishes the symbolism of his temple by opening it as in the Pyramidos Ritual to manifest the ten Sephiroth in his magick circle. This takes the form of a Tau Cross that is composed of ten squares, one for each Sephirah, that is drawn on the floor of the temple.
After banishing the Elements, Planets and Signs by the use of the Pentagrams and Hexagrams the magician stands upon the squares of the Tau Cross that represent the individual Sephirotic influences and, one at a time, beginning at the bottom of the previously invoked (or, more correctly, uninvoked) Tree of Life and incrementally working his way to the top of the Tree he banishes their influences until only the Limitless Light of the Negative Existence remains.
Let him advance to the square of Malkuth in the Tau, and perform a ritual of banishing Malkuth. But here let him not leave the square to circumambulate the circle, but use the formula and God-form of Harpocrates. Let him advance in turn to the squares Jesod, Hod, Netzach, Tiphereth, Geburah, Chesed, and banish each by appropriate rituals. And let him know that such rituals include the pronunciation of the appropriate names of God backwards, and also a curse against the Sephira in respect of all that which it is, for that it is that which distinguishes it and separates it from Kether. Advancing to the squares of Binah and Chokmah in turn, let him banish these also. And for that by now an awe and trembling shall have taken hold upon him, let him banish these by a supreme ritual of inestimable puissance. And let him beware exceedingly lest his will falter, or his courage fail. Finally, let him, advancing to the square of Kether, banish that also by what means he may. At the end whereof let him set his foot upon the light, extinguishing it;1 and, as he falleth, let him fall within the circle.- Liber Yod sub figura DCCCXXXI, Aleister Crowley
Apart from the obvious advantage of being able to be performed by a magician working alone this method has a number of things to commend it over other, more traditional forms of magick. In the instance of being used as an initiation ceremony it is superior to a ritual that is performed by others for the magician because, with practice, it will call his truest initiator, his Holy Guardian Angel, to oversee his progress. At the very best, a human initiator may have the skill to represent this higher spiritual identity of the candidate on his behalf but this is never certain. With practice even the most inexperienced novice at magick will be able to use the uninvoked method to make the connection with his Holy Guardian Angel that is the hallmark of all true initiations.