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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Unpublished AO and Golden Dawn Alchemical diagrams

I was reviewing some of the unpublished AO documents I have  to see if there were any noticeable differences from either the later Stella Matutina versions.  These two diagrams come from the early AO and the Nisi collection, which formed the basis of my Mathers' Last Secret and King Over the Water  book.  Since it was different from the Stella Matutina versions printed by Pat Zalewski in his Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentary Book, I thought that readers of my blog might appreciate it.  The diagrams are simpler than the Whare Ra versions which now appear to be a later development.
These two diagrams were shown to the candidate during the 2=9 ritual and they provide a somewhat strange attribution of the metals to the Tree of Life.   In Whare Ra students were given a copy of Westcott's translation of Aesch Mezareph which was supposed to explain it. It does not very well.
The two diagrams actually show two stages of the great work, but it is not explained how this is useful.  The Nisi document header seems to suggest that Mathers was trying to show how the different metals could be placed on the tree to show different things. However it doesn't really do that either.
Quoting his teacher, Jack  Taylor, Zalewski said that Mrs Felkin refused to remove the diagrams from the ritual.  He suggests that it might be only there to encourage students to study Aesch Mezareph.  But in my opinion the diagrams presentation might be magical.  They are placed in the South West and shown to the candidate by the Hierus before the Hegemon shows the candidate the geometric shapes diagram.
One of the things that I have noticed is that the candidate's sphere of sensation changes when exposed to these two diagrams.
One of the reasons why Felkin did not want the diagrams changed or removed is that they were forcing the sphere of sensation into an alchemical process.  In otherwords the diagrams were not meant to be understood intellectually, but their symbolism accepted.  The fact that the are shown the diagram by the Mars  and fire orientated Hierus would be significant to that process.
Regardie never saw this diagram during his initiation.  When he was initiated into the Bristol temple it was one of many which had been removed and set aside for "later study."  Thus he would have missed out on any magical exposure to these tablets.  As an alchemist he would have looked at them later and wonder what the hell they meant really.  


  1. Where is Venus in the second image?

  2. These layouts were taught to people in the original order. It seems the SM later simplified things by putting the metal and planet in the Sephirah we traditionally associate with it. This makes for a much more coherent system, but it also loses some of the alchemical teachings.

    Both of these images show relationships, which are key to alchemy. Notice the Gold and Silver on opposing sides, for example. There are some interesting mysteries in this.


    The second image normally has the symbols of Venus and Mercury joined together for Brass, with one inversed on the opposing side.

    However, Venus is also the entire Tree.


  3. Dear Nick
    In my copy of the A.O. 2=9, gifted me by T.F.some years ago, which is entirely hand-typed and all diagrams hand-drawn - your 2nd diagram is hand-written, "1", and the other "2". On the diagram in question Hod and Netzach are split between Mercury and Venus, but attached to each other, forming a single symbol. However very fascinating they are like a figure "8" on its side, or Laminscape, with Hod having the Venus (upside down) on the bottom and Netzach Venus (right side up)is on the top of the symbol. As this is a black and white copy, I cannot tell the colors but the Sephiroth are "cut" horizontally, darker shades of each for Venus, above for Hod and lower half for Netzach. Across the 27th Path is labeled, "Hermaphrodioical Brass" (as best I can make out the handwriting).

  4. What date was your 2=9 this one was 1905. The use of Hermaphrodioical Brass appears on the later SM one but not in my earlier one. There were no colours in my one and it was pretty rudimentary

  5. Regrettably there is no date; the cover has a winged sun disk between two pillars, one with a 2, the other 9. Above it says, A.O. My handwritten Gardner 2=9 dates August 1894, but does not have the diagrams at all.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Bah! Blogspot devoured my comment.

    But I proposed that the purpose of the diagrams may have been to spur the candidate to question authority, as these attributions are plainly wrong.

  8. What I have done for these two GD/SM diagrams is give a tree with the standard associations of the metals along with sulphur salt and mercury plus one other tree. Scholems' book "Alchemy and the Kabbalah" make it plain that any metalic associations to the sephiroth came from outside of the kabbalah. The text Purifying fire mixes metal within a perceived internal function in a frame that is not destined to handle it. This text tried to mix form and function together as a single unit and lost its way.The text is at complete loggerheads with what we are taught re alchemical associations and their planetary analogies and it is why I changed the diagram associations in this 2=9 ritual.