Ok, so we’ve established what the Great Work “is” within the neo-platonic context in the previous installment of the NP Basics series. This post is about how it all unfolds in the life of your average Magician practicing the Great Work using the NeoPlatonic system.
1.5.1 – The Holy Guardian Angel, Your Emissary from God
Ok, so there’s a boat-load of talk about the HGA, what it is, and what it does on various message boards and web pages across the Internet. There’s lots of talk in modern published magical books, too. Most of what you read is speculation, because people with opinions and writing talents haven’t attained K&CHGA (Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian angel), but they don’t bother to let that stop them from saying their piece.
Now, the phrase itself comes from the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. It was popularized by Crowley, predominantly, in the modern Western Mystery Tradition. The author of the Sacred Magic wrote the book to his second son because he could not pass on the mysteries of the Qabalah to him. The QBL had to go to the first-born son. He wanted his second son to have a mystical heritage as well, so he gave him the mysteries of the Sacred Magic. He states that the Sacred Magic can be derived from the QBL, but the QBL cannot be derived from the Sacred Magic.
In the NP magical system, we’ve seen that the basic premise is that of emanation. God unfolded itself throughout existence in hierarchical stages, each getting closer to the realm of Matter. The QBL is another manifestation of this type of philosophy. I’ve argued that the NP emanationist philosophy is the source of the QBL, that the Jews adopted the concepts and dressed them up in their own cultural symbols. There’s evidence that can be found to support this view, or the view that the NP system was derived from the QBL, or that they developed from at the same time concurrently, in the same environment, drawing from the same sources. While various interpretations of the evidence can support different views, I personally believe the NP system is the source of the QBL, or at least the primary influence. There’s just an awful lot of “coincidental” domination of the Jews by Greek influence at every major growth-point of the QBL.
So that’s how the HGA, a symbol from a Qabalist, ties into the NP system I’m presenting. I’ve staid away from the QBL in this series of posts so far, but practically speaking, the HGA is the best-known representative from God in the modern Western Mystery Traditions. There’s an Agathadaimon in more traditional Hellenistic writings that may correspond to the HGA, but I worked with my HGA before even knowing about the Agathadaimon, so anything I would say about that entity would be tainted speculation. I’ve got to stick with what I know.
The first thing you should do as a practicing magician using the NP system is make contact with your HGA. This entity is assigned to you at birth, and is responsible for all the spiritual initiations, authority, and Gnosis you achieve in life. It is your personal emissary from the Good, the One, the Source, God itself. Through K&CHGA, you get the attunement of your sphere to the point where you can work with the spirits from your position of authority as a representative of God in the material realm. It’s “like” a new age spirit guide, in some ways, but the new age spirit guide model doesn’t present the meat of the entity’s interaction with you the way the HGA model does. Spirit guides in the New Age take on forms of animals and such, indicating they are “lower” in the neo-platonic hierarchical system than the angels. However, that being said, my HGA revealed it had taken on the form of a spirit guide earlier in my magickal practices to get me to the point where I could attain K&CHGA.
To attain K&CHGA, I used the ritual Liber Samekh as presented in Lon Milo DuQuette’s The Magick of Aleister Crowley. Some people say it isn’t the same thing at all, but they’re honestly mistaken. The evidence to prove this is found in the Abramelin rite itself. You have to perform Samekh successfully to find the proof, but it’s there.
After making contact with the HGA, your sphere is changed. You go through a Solar “initiation,” to put it in Golden Dawn terminology. The result is the beginning of the experiential knowledge of your Race and Value as expressed by Plotinus. From this knowledge-based-on-experience, the authority to “command” the spirits is attained.
1.5.2 – Working with the Spirits
After attaining K&CHGA, the magician is ready (and strongly urged by the HGA) to begin working with the spirits. Spirit conjuration is the primary methodology of any magician’s performance of the Great Work. I believe that every magickal act, whether ritual or contemplative, involves interacting with spirits in some way or another.
I started with the ten Archangels of the Sephiroth, because I was coming out of a primarily-QBListic background. After Working with the spirits for a little while, I realized that the Archangels of the seven classical planets were sufficient for my initial stages of the Work. Through them, I learned an incredible amount of knowledge. Their influence on my sphere changed the way I am able to see the world. Nothing spectacular (no auras, second-sight, remote viewing, psychic flashes per se), but totally and completely life-changing. The procedures for working with the spirits of the planets can be found in the Modern Angelic Grimore I wrote. It’s remarkably easy.
In addition to the spirits of the planets, the spirits of the elements are also worked with in performing the Great Work. These spirits rule over the physical manifestations of the rays of the higher spheres. A fire elemental might be put in charge of manifesting a Jupiter ray into someone’s life, resulting in an unexpected and tumultuous promotion at work. For mundane operations, I’m learning these are the best spirits to work with in the overall hierarchy of spirits.
The spirits of various grimoires are also worked with in the Great Work. The spirits of the Goetia in the Lemegetton, for example, can be considered to be “earth-bound” spirits, that is, residing closer to the material realms than to the heavenly realms. These entities have been documented and worked with by many magicians, and the methods of contacting them are recorded and pretty clear. Their attributes are documented, and once contacted, their abilities and limitations can be discovered simply by asking the spirit itself.
1.5.3 – The Goal of the Great Work in the NP System
You’ve no doubt noticed that the Work consists of both the spirits of the higher realms and the spirits of the lower realms. If the Great Work were all about transcending the material realm, there would be no reason to work with the lower spirits. The fact is, however, that we aren’t born in the flesh to transcend it. We are here to learn our role, and then to exercise our authority to meet our obligations.
Humanity is the nexus point between the material realm and the spiritual realm. We are the stewards of the manifest realms. In the NP system, we stand at the gateway between the realms, seeking union with the divine in order to fulfill our assigned tasks while we appear to be separated from God, and directing the forces that manifest as reality according to the Will of God. We learn this Will by going up through the hierarchies and learning our place in existence, and then we implement the plans through the direction of the spirits. The higher up you go, the more responsibility you get, and the more Work in the physical realm you’ll have to accomplish.
The Goal of the great Work is not to leave the flesh and material realms behind. We do that when we die anyway. The Goal is to find your place in the scheme of things, your reason for being, and in finding that, you gain the ability and authority to accomplish it. The accomplishment of the purpose is the practical manifestation of the Great Work.