Sunday, June 12, 2011

Preparing for Death

Conjureman Ali made an interesting comment on the Looking Forward post the other day:

As to the purspose of doing all "this," Draja Mickaharic once indicated that magic's aim was to prepare one for death. Unlike other people magicians are startled by waking up and realizing they've passed on. They are the ones that are able to function in death, continuing their purpose and helping man, with the most skilled and powerful becoming guides for other magicians. The ATRs hold to this view as well.

That's exactly right, exactly the point of Hermetic Magic as I understand it. It's a Secret Chief factory. It's my intention to go directly into that phase of being after this. Can't say I'll make it, but that's the goal. The process fascinates me.

For example, take the first step of the Hermetic transformation through death in the Divine Pymander:

Man-Shepherd said: When the material body is to be dissolved, first thou surrenderest the body by itself unto the work of change, and thus the form thou hadst doth vanish, and thou surrenderest thy way of life, void of its energy, unto the Daimon. The body's senses next pass back into their sources, becoming separate, and resurrect as energies; and passion and desire withdraw unto that nature which is void of reason.

That's from the translation by G. R. S. Mead. Check it out in John Everand's translation on the site:

First of all, in the resolution of the material body, the Body itself is given up to alteration, and the form which it had becometh invisible; and the idle manners are permitted, and left to the Demon, and the senses of the body return into their Fountains, being parts, and again made up into Operations.

So the first thing it says is, "When you die..." right?

No, not at all. First it says when the material body is to be dissolved/resolved, you give it up. It's not a passive process. It's an active decision made by the magician. When it's time. The magician knows when it's time, apparently. It becomes obvious. I don't know if that means they sense death is coming, or simply that they have accomplished everything they need to take the next step, including meeting all obligations and responsibilities here in this material realm as it relates to their current incarnation. I don't see how it could be time to move on until all that stuff was taken care of. In Saturn, as you manifest, you acquire a debt to Fate, a list of things you've got to do before you can pass through this Gate again for a final time. When that debt is paid, you're free to go.

And there's the whole cycle of the Hermetic Alchemical Cycle that has to be gone through in its black, white, green, red, and projection phases. You'll have to finish all that first too.

But when you're ready and the time to dissolve/resolve the material body has come, you consciously turn the material body over to the process of transformation. It is transformed. It dissolves. It's a process that happens to it, and it seems like the process is just waiting to happen at that point. It's been waiting offstage for a while, or it's been knocking on the door waiting for you to give it the body so it can start its job. I think it'll be something like just saying, "Ok, I'm done, you can have it now" to the entity that transforms the body.

This entity is the "Daimon." Agrippa talks about the Daimon as being one of the Three-Fold Keepers of a Man. He gives a description of the three fold keeper, and then gives instructions in a later chapter for getting its name from your natal chart. The Genius spirit. Your Daimon.

And then the form it had vanishes, and the senses of the body are transformed into their essences. Can you imagine what that would look like? At first thought I picture Yoda or Ben Kenobi getting struck down and coming back from the Force as blue ghost versions of themselves.

I never would have considered this to be a literal transformation if it weren't for the Rainbow Body phenomenon in the tradition of Dzogchen. The best description of it I've seen is in Heartdrops of Dharmakaya. There are documented cases of a transformation after death that look like what Pymander says happens to those who are about to become Powers among the Powers. Could be a coincidence. I'd love to go out in a shower of colorful sparks as my body dwindles away.

See what I mean? Fascinating stuff.


  1. Definitely a very interesting post; in the Rosicrucian Order, in our understanding that we are incarnate in our temporary body of flesh, we perform "exercises" about death.


  2. I always find it interesting that at there core a lot of traditions seem to have similar concepts.

    For example, when you say that death becomes a conscious act, like handing the body over when you are done. This is exactly what Sufi mystics allude to . According to them, Prophets and Sages don't simply die. Instead the Angel of Death, Azrael, specifically ask their permission if they are ready--something most humans don't get a say in.

    Fascinating stuff, RO.

  3. I like this post. Theosophy also believe something along these lines but phrases it in terms of withdrawing from successive vibratory bodies. According to that model, the initiate can decide how long to remain in each body before withdrawing to the next higher vibration.

  4. Here is some audio by a Catholic Priest who went to research the rainbow body phenomenon:

    It's awesome. As a Christian and as a Hermeticist I thought you'd be interested ;) Happy listening!

  5. Jow, you posted that on your log before, right? I downloaded it and listen to it here at work often.

  6. Awesome link, Jow, thanks for posting :-)

  7. These practices are being taught more or less openly nowadays, you do not have to be anyone special. I received the teachings, and you can too. Actually doing them well enough to dissolve or even shrink your physical form is not easily done when you spend your life blogging, writing, teaching, and such, but it is able to be done with less than many people thing.

    After receiving the pointing out instructions it took 1 week to realize Rigpa. It took a few months of reguilar Threkchod to see the way that matter breaks up into the Thigles. It took an amazingly short amount of time top get some benefit from Thogyal with sunlight. If I ever do the Dark retreat, that is only 49 days...

  8. You are 100% correct about this. It is at the moment of physical dissolution (what is commonly referred to as "death" ) that the Great Work is accomplished, according to the Occidental Alchemical Tradition. How wonderful that you found a reference to this in the Pymander!

    In Licht, Leben und Liebe,


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.