A Magician’s Zodiac

© 2017 R. Eugene Laughlin * All Rights Reserved

… And so, the Great Council met once again to set about the task of initiating a new Aeon, by establishing the fundamental operating parameters of its setting. As is always so, the basic qualities of warmth, moisture, and perpetual motion were given as the essential qualities of Life. And from there, the first question to be decided was that of the Aeon’s basic structure. The Square was advanced and favored for a time, for the stability of a quartile nature. The Triangle and triune nature had proponents, as did the dyadic nature. But after lengthy deliberation, the Circle was chosen as the fundamental Nature of the Aeon, for its continuity, and its capacity for perpetual cycling. It was further decided that nested patterns, cycles within cycles, would allow for sufficient complexity and promote diversity, which is always valued among the Council members. Proponents of the Square were appeased by the imposition of a quartile division of all cycles, and those favoring the Triangle were satisfied with a triune pattern of coming and going, in the form of Ascension à Peak à Declination. Thus, the basic framework and fundamental operations of the new Aeon was given shape.

The two outer rings of this glyph reflect the nested nature of the inner and outer cyclic patterns. Each Quartile houses a nested Triune nature: a larger trio of Modes, and an inner trio of Decans, each reflecting the perpetual rise, peak, and fall of its host.  

Once the Great Council had constructed the Fundamental framework for the Aeon, the work of establishing the qualitative natures of things was taken up.

The Cycling Patterns of Light and Dark     

The members of The Great Council who had argued for a dyadic nature were appeased by the determination that the predominant quality of the lesser and greater cycles would be alternating patterns of Light and its reciprocal, Darkness, which would also express Triune natures. The primary Agent of Light (the Sun) was therefore provided for, to be experienced in presence and absence by degrees, in keeping with the Perpetual Motion principle.  

The Agent would therefore appear, dawn breaking the Darkness, rise to a peak, then diminish and submerge at sunset, surrendering dominion to the gathering Dark, which in kind would gain in strength, to peak and subsequently decline in turn, toward the next Sunrise.

 

Thus, the inner ring of the glyph defines the dominant quality of the Aeon: the cycle of days and nights. The procession of Sunrise, Midday, Sunset, and Midnight mark the corners of its Quartile nature.

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The outer circle reflects the Annual cycle of relative Lightness and Darkness, defined by the processional length of days and nights. As it was implemented, time spent in daylight would increase from the Equinox corresponding to Sunrise, increasing to its peak at the Solstice corresponding with Noon. Time spent in daylight would then decrease from the Solstice corresponding with Noon, decreasing to the Equinox corresponding with Sunset. From there the time spent in darkness would increase to its peak at the Solstice corresponding with Midnight, and the time in darkness would decrease from that Solstice to the next Equinox corresponding with Sunrise.  

The Equinoxes mark the onsets of the Lighter Times and the Darker times, while the Solstices mark the Peaks of Light and Dark, respectively.

The essential qualities of warmth and moisture were then bound to the cycles of lightness and darkness, such that light would be confounded with heat; the lighter times would generally be the warmer times. Relative moisture would be reactive to the peak moments and the equipotent moments, such that the Sunrise and Sunset would initiate the periods of high moisture, and Noon and Midnight would initiate the periods of low moisture.

And so, the essential qualities of the Quadrants were established, and eventually evolved [in the human mind] into the concepts of the Four Canonical Elements associated with the processing of Days and Seasons. The Morning/Spring are generally assigned the qualities of warmth and moisture, known now as Elemental Air. The Afternoon/Summer are generally assigned the qualities of warmth and dryness, as Elemental Fire. The Evening/Autumn are generally assigned the qualities of coolness and moisture, as Elemental Water. And finally, Night/Winter are generally assigned the qualities of coolness and dryness, as Elemental Earth.

The qualities of each Quadrant are expressed through the Triune Modes: Ascension, Peak, and Declination. For example, Morning is associated with Elemental Air and is therefore generally warm and moist. However, the Ascending Mode of Morning begins at Dawn and is colder and dryer than it will become as the morning develops. Morning at its peak is moister and warmer than it was on its ascent, but Morning’s declination is marked by diminishing moisture and increasing heat. The Modal natures are therefore complex and dynamically responsive to their positions in the overall cycle. Together, Elemental and Modal combinations provide for deeply rich and diverse expression within the Aeon, which is in fact an infinite range of expression owing to the principle of perpetual motion. That is, for every possible manifestation within the Aeon, there is a moment on one of the cycles that defines it.

 

The Central Glyph

Given four Elemental Quadrants and three Modes to each Quadrant, the canonical Signs of the Classical Zodiac result as unique combinations of Elemental and Modal attributes on the Annual Cycle. Commencing with the Spring Equinox, the first Sign of the Zodiac is Aries, which can be described as Spring in Ascension. Likewise, Taurus can be described as Spring at its Peak, and Gemini as Spring in Declination. And so on through the cycle may each Sign be defined.  

At first glance, anyone familiar with Zodiacal symbology will assume that the Central Glyph presents the order of the Signs backwards about the Wheel. However, consider that the Classical application of the Zodiac that linked the concepts of the Signs to constellations in the night sky, assumes ourselves to be looking at a fixed point on the Wheel, which ever turns in a clockwise direction. In fact, the Classical interpretation of the Zodiac is that it is a great cosmic clock with one fixed hand, pointing to the Sign in effect as the wheel turns. The practical implication is that we are inevitably subject to the forces arrayed about us, dominated by the force at hand in any given moment. To depict the Great Clock notion, the Signs must indeed be written about a Wheel in counter-clockwise order, so that each Sign ticks past us in their correct order as the Wheel turns.

The symbolic implications of the classical presentation of the Zodiac is that we enter at a fixed point and are thereafter bound by fate to respond to the relentless turning of the Wheel. That notion is well-reflected in common applications of the Zodiac for many Medieval and modern magicians, who use a stellar-based Zodiac approach to elect auspicious times to perform magical workings. While the practice of Zodiacal election does imply an intention to take on an active role in the creative process in the universe, by taking advantage of the dominating forces of the time, there are in fact many other ways for modern magicians to think about things.

While the above Glyph can be interpreted to depict temporal relationships, it needn't be interpreted as a clock. Rather, it can represent the Great Council’s blueprint for our Aeon, expressing at a glance the key relationships and dynamic forces that define how and why things come into being as they do, and how things naturally change with time. It may also afford insights into how things change in response to the introduction of complementary or opposing forces, which the magician may take in hand at will. The 21st Century magician may therefore stand outside of place of time, free to enter at any point, move forward (clockwise by tradition), backward, or between any points at will, depending on the desired effects. We can use the blueprint to decipher the underlying nature of a given circumstance, not as a function of time on a literal clock, but as a function of the operating principles of the Aeon, and from those insights, intervene as magicians are wont to do.  

 

Next article: An Empirical Approach to Mystical and Magical Devlepment

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