Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chaplet of St. Michael: Christian Merkavah

I love my friends. Their belief systems and interests run the gamut of what you may find in the occult. I've got obscure branches of Buddhism, initiates of the Golden Dawn, initiates of the OTO, Neo-Pagan Wiccan High Priests, Tantrickas, Voudou priests, Root Doctors, and a whole slew of folks who implement the practices of Agrippa and other traditional magical systems.

The other day, one of my friends sent me a link to the Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel. I'm an advocate for going through the Spheres and Working with the Spirits of each sphere to gain initiation into the powers of said sphere. The Boss of the Realm gives you access to and insight into using the powers represented by each sphere. This helps you in your daily life, because it changes you and makes you more powerful, more able to influence the way your life manifests directly, consciously. Understanding how things manifest, you're able to see what stage of manifestation each situation is in, and you can forecast what might come based on your understanding of where in the process of manifestation different parts of your life are in.

In addition, initiation into the spheres grants you additional authority, for lack of a better word, in dealing with the spirits of that sphere. Lunar rituals I do after being initiated into the Sphere of the Moon by Gabriel will be more effective because of the knowledge and experience received. That doesn't mean that prior to initiation the rites would fail, it just means I'll be better able to direct the spirits of the Moon when I do Work with them.

The Chaplet of St. Michael is a very Catholic prayer that takes the person through the spheres of the Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. In the prayer you intercede with Michael the Archangel to have him run interference between you and the choirs. When I see things like this, I understand why Otter always said everyone's HGA is Michael.

Those familiar with the ranks of the Choirs of Angels by Dionysius the Areopagite  will see that each of the spheres of Agrippa's Scale of the Number Ten are represented, with Man, the "angelic choir" of the Earth represented by being the recipient of the effects of the prayer. The following table may help provide insight:


Sphere
Choir
What the Choir does for Man
Sphere of the Prime Mover
Seraphim
grant us grace to leave the ways of wickedness and run in the paths of Christian perfection
Sphere of the Zodiac or Fixed stars
Cherubim
make us worthy to burn with the fire of perfect charity
Saturn
Thrones
infuse into our hearts a true and sincere spirit of humility
Jupiter
Dominions
grace to govern our senses and subdue our unruly passions
Mars
Powers
protect our souls against the snares and temptations of the devil
The Sun
Virtues
preserve us from evil, an suffer us not to fall into temptation
Venus
Principalities
fill our souls with a true spirit of obedience
Mercury
Archangels
Give us perseverance in faith and in good works, in order that we gain the glory of Paradise
Moon
Angels
grant us to be protected by them in this mortal life and conducted hereafter to eternal glory

"Grant us the grace to leave the ways of wickedness and run in the paths of Christian perfection." How many perfect Christians do you know? Christian perfection is considered positional in Christian theology. We don't think we are perfect in our daily actions, we recognize that we make mistakes, we aren't perfect in everything we do. At the same time, we recognize that we are perfect by God's grace. He forgives the failures and the mistakes because he loves us. The Monad-First-Father sees us in our imperfect state, but accepts us anyway. Grace is a gift given in spite of the imperfections. It comes from God seeing past the temporary imperfections caused by living within the boundaries of space-time in the material realm to the perfect Ideal person that is made in his own image.

Notice that the grace requested from the Sphere of the Prime Mover is the grace to leave the paths of wickedness and run in paths of Christian Perfection. In some doctrines of Christian theology, this points to the concept of "progressive sanctification." We aren't perfect, but we're being made more perfect over time. The paths of wickedness are marked by the sinful acts delineated in the ten commandments. From a magical point of view, "sin" can be considered those things we do that keep us from our true power and authority. We don't want to stop sinning just so God will love us, because that's not how his love works. He loves us anyway. That's grace. We want to stop sinning because sin has as much power to create as any other act. A choice made that falls in the category of "sin" will result in your universe manifesting things that are not going to get you closer to God. The closer to God you get, the more authority, empowerment, and magical talent you get.

At the same time, it's grace that empowers you to turn away from sin. Grace is the fuel that powers the engine for more Grace.

It comes from the sphere of the Prime Mover. I think it's interesting that it's not associated with Jupiter. Most Judeo-Christian systems basically put God the Father in Jupiter. He is Jove-Jehovah, Lord of Grace and Mercy for most Christians. But the grace spoken of here isn't from Jupiter. It's from the pre-manifest sphere. Before it can even be expressed by the Word, the grace to overcome wickedness and walk in perfection exists. Acknowledging this and seeking the manifestation of this truth in our lives leads to more authority and more responsibility. With more responsibility comes more pay; the rewards of doing the right thing are lavish.

I think it's interesting that the Cherubim are called before the Seraphim in this ritual. Either the Catholics have a different cosmology than Agrippa, or they approach the Sphere of the Prime Mover after going through the Sphere of the Zodiac, or Fixed Stars. I don't know which, but I'm thinking you can't really approach the Prime Mover until you've been to the Sphere of the Fixed Stars, maybe.

From the choirs of the spirits of the sphere of the Zodiac, they seek to be made "worthy" to burn with the fire of perfect charity. Charity in Christian theology can best be understood by thinking of Compassion in Buddhism, I think. It doesn't simply mean giving to the poor. Originally, it meant "love." The sphere of the Zodiac is "above" the spheres of the planets. It is the source-realm, where the thoughts from the Mind of God are expressed in Words by the Logos.

In this sphere, the rite seeks the aid of the spirits in being made worthy. When I see worth mentioned in spiritual activities, I'm reminded of the Race and Value spoken of by Plotinus in the Enneads. Understanding our divine Race and our eternal Value gives an understanding of our Worth. In this rite, we are calling on the spirits of the Cherubim to make us holy enough to manifest compassion, or charity. We need an initiation into this sphere to understand that all things are connected, equally valued manifestations of the Mind of God. When we can appreciate the value of ourselves and others, and the things in our world, we will have compassion. When we see that evil is as much a part of the plan as good, and that it all works together, we can truly begin to love our enemies.

The Cherubs guarded over the Ark of the Covenant, the physical manifestation of the agreement between God and Man under the dispensation of the Law. This ritual implies that to truly fulfil the Law (which Jesus said required only honoring God and loving your neighbor as yourself) you must first be changed so that you can understand compassion.

From the Thrones of Saturn, the prayer seeks humility. Saturn is the sphere of boundaries, of limitation, and the demarcation of the beginning of a thing and the end of a thing. By accepting the limits as they are, as manifestations of God's Will in the Universe at large, by being humble, we are able to say, "This is where the thing stands as it is now." By removing the desires we have to change a thing, we can understand where it is and why it is where it is.

For example, I'm currently unemployed, and I need more money coming in than I have in order to sustain my lifestyle. I've already had to make cutbacks in my expenditures to manage to survive. Wanting a solution, I've been focusing on getting more income. I've been focusing on what I think will solve the problem.

Humility is not setting aside what I want, necessarily. It manifests in seeing things as they really are. Understanding that this phase of my life involves insecurity allows me to approach things differently. Accepting that I'm unemployed is necessary for me to be able to take appropriate action. Knowing this phase of my life has a beginning means that it also has an ending, and being humble enough to step back and see the facts, instead of arrogantly pursuing solutions allows me the insight to take appropriate action rather than reacting out of fear and anxiety. Pride and arrogance can become confidence and ability in the heart of a humble person.

From the Dominions, we seek the grace to govern our senses and subdue our passions. Jupiter here is representing the authoritative structures of our reality. Jupiter governs corporate management, and state governments. It is also the ability to rule over ourselves.

Modern self-help authors have tapped into the understanding that we program ourselves through our senses. The programmer's axiom "Garbage in, garbage out" is applied to out minds. Books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad (which I finally read, and recommend), or The Secret teach people to monitor what goes into the brain and what comes out of it. We're taught that by controlling what comes through our senses, we gain control over what manifests in our lives. Affirmations of positive things result in positive manifestations. Studying ways to make money brings about ways to make money. The power to manage what we experience in order to accomplish what we desire comes from the spirits of Jupiter, the Dominions.

And speaking of desires, the other side of what we're seeking in this prayer is the power to subdue our passions. As Buddhism teaches, desire is the root of sorrow. Many times we get caught up in the passions for our desires to the point where we lose sight of charity and humility. Last week I did magic to make other applicants for a job I wanted botch their interviews. While it was a good strategic approach, I still didn't get the job because I didn't control the passion for the job enough to see that it wasn't the right job for me. Instead of seeking the Saturnine understanding of the job in humility, I leaped into trying to dominate the situation in ignorance and pride. Rather than hire me when everyone botched their interviews, they brought in someone else that wasn't in the lineup when I did the ritual.

If I had the grace to subdue the passion I had for getting that job, I would have been able to understand indications from the interview that revealed this wasn't the right job for me. In retrospect, after finding out I didn't get the position, I can see how they needed someone with different skill sets, and that I would have been out of my element. Their deadline made it impossible for them to accommodate ramping up my skill sets to their need.

Passions of the flesh and lower parts of the spirit, like the Nephesh, are traps for those who are not seeking God. Thinking more money would fix all our problems, allowing fear to chain us to careers that ensure continued wage slavery, these kinds of mistakes in our understanding result in passions for things that will not bring what we really want, which is usually peace of mind. A sports story the other day on the radio talked about how a champion of football once said, "If you're not enough of a man without winning the superbowl, what makes you think you'll be enough of a man if you do win?" Thinking like this separates our desired outcome from the (usually) wrong association with whatever passion we have. Wanting to win to be a winner is more honest than wanting to win to be a better man. If you're a better man, you will win. Be the better man first, and the inevitable results will follow. The trap of passion is confusing the result with the true goal.

Man, this post is getting much longer than anticipated. I could keep analyzing the Chaplet for you from a Christian Neo-Platonic point of view, but I'm sure you can figure out the rest. Mars protects against the devil, or "evil daimon," the Sun preserves us and keeps our thoughts golden, Venus fills us with obedience (the true spirit of obedience, like following true will for thelemites), Mercury gives endurance in our good works so we get the prize for selling the most candy (sorta),  and the Angels of the Moon aid the HGA in transforming our flesh into the Rainbow Body.

Ok, it doesn't SAY that, but it's what it means.

Anyway, this prayer outlines the types of things we're supposed to be doing in our Magical Work. It outlines the daily goals. The link Jason sent has it in Latin too, how cool is that?