Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cosmological Review

The cosmology I use is based on the system used by the Hermetic magicians of the first through third centuries AD as recorded in the Corpus Hermeticum, specifically the Divine Pymander. In this system, the Earth is the manifest physical realm and is at the center of a series of concentric spheres. Within the physical sphere are the four spheres of the elements. Closest to the Earth is the sphere of Earth, followed by Water, Air, and then Fire. These four elemental spheres combine to form the Sphere of Sensation, the physical realm.

Surrounding the Sphere of Sensation are the Celestial Spheres. They consist of the Seven Planetary Spheres, also referred to as Heavens, the Sphere of the Fixed Stars, and the Sphere of the Prime Mover. Agrippa and the Hermetic authors of the Corpus Hermeticum began numbering the spheres at the Sphere of the Moon:
  • 1st Sphere - The Moon
  • 2nd Sphere - Mercury
  • 3rd Sphere - Venus
  • 4th Sphere - The Sun
  • 5th Sphere - Mars
  • 6th Sphere - Jupiter
  • 7th Sphere - Saturn
  • 8th Sphere - Zodiac, Fixed Stars (includes the Mansions of the Moon)
  • 9th Sphere - Sphere of the Prime Mover
Note that this system counts "up" from the Earth rather than "Down" from the Prime Mover. Students of Modern Magick are familiar with the Golden Dawn's kabbalistic Tree of Life, and tend to count "Down" from Keter, which corresponds to the 9th Sphere of Hermetic cosmology.

I think the difference is that in Hermetics, you start from where you're at consciously, the physical realm that gets most of our attention, along with all the drama and thrills we go through on a regular basis. As you progress through the spheres, performing the Great Work, you "de-energize" the things in your sensate sphere that keep you from reclaiming your full potential, your rightful heritage as a member of a divine family sourced in the Prime Mover.


  1. You pulled your Goetic Grimoire off the market? Wow! That printout I have up on the shelf is a rare book now. How cool is that? :>)

  2. See now I need to go research some more, because for some reason I always thought the Mansions of the Moon were considered in the sphere of the Moon...

    Aside from that I prefer this cosmology myself and have always had somewhat of an aversion to the qabalah (no idea why to be honest).

  3. Though the cosmological format is more coherent in the Hermetic model undoubtedly, it has been useful in my Work and your instruction to me to consider the paths between the sephiroth to help understand and guide the initiatic process. By referring to the paths, we've been able to more objectively discuss "wrong turns" or to pinpoint what my next move should be. Not to mention, I am quite fond of the myriad correspondences attributed to the spheres and the paths that connect them. It can be quite telling to do a thorough examination of the Tree and its attributes. (No argument here, just my two cents)

  4. I agree the qabalah is useful, practical, and can be extremely enlightening. It's just not my thing for some reason. I didn't mean to sound like I was discounting its value in any way.

  5. QL, no worries from me, I didn't think you were dissing KBL. I grew averse to it after studying its history. I'm more annoyed at the ignorance of modern adherents to the GD "qabala" of its arbitrary, fictional, and purely theoretical nature.

    I think you're supposed to start with the Sefer Yetzirah, study the Zohar AND the various authentic Hebrew masters, and THEN start putting together a living Tree that changes with your understanding and attainment through Merkavah.

    The rote memorization of Spheres, Paths, Veils, Lightning Flash and Path of the Serpent on the Kircher Tree of Life, and the subsequent smooshing of all experiences into that one rigid structural interpretation that inevitably occurs limits the magician's growth and betrays the core mutability of the system. Gematria demonstrates the flexibility that should be inherent in the approach to KBL, and it just isn't there in most modern magi.

    The KBL, in my opinion, is a kissing-cousin to the Hermetic emanationist approach I follow, and could be a useful tool for those with the aptitude for it. But like you, it's just not my calling.

  6. As far as my thoughts on it were concerned, I recall a conversation where you and I put some of the Work I was doing and the trouble I was facing within the framework of the Tree only to kind of give a more or less concrete example of "What path was I traveling that got me here? Let's try to get you from point A to point B treading *this* path, not that"

    At the end, it's subjective, but it was a good way to rationalize to my finite mind that perhaps I needed a different approach or a better sense of... eh, direction? Outside of this, I've come to find the Qabalah a tad sketchy -- what with no solid historical foundation, too much hype and legendary fantasies, and a questionable method of the spread of that body of mysticism.

    I've definitely come to appreciate the Hermetic model over the Tree -- without a doubt. I can actually sense the current moving in and out of me in a way that that applying the Qabalah never did for me.

    Not to mention... I've taken a step WAAAY back from my interest in the Golden Dawn. I've come to believe that, for me, it's nothing but a distraction and a habitual routine of practices that are questionably effective at best, and a dated and useless path to follow at worst.

    Anyway, blah blah blah. Good topic, for sure.


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.