The first post of the Practical section is mercifully brief, but I think it’s important to include the Lamp in your list of required magickal tools. Its influence and usefulness will help with the application of the subjects that follow.
The Lamp is a tool I hadn’t really used much before getting the vision of that Glyph that started this series of posts on the NP basics. Usually, I would light some appropriately-colored candles in my Work, and either let them burn out as part of the ritual, or snuff them and relight them later.
Then Modrocus posted a couple of experiments he had been doing using the Papryi Graecae Magicae (PGM) at the ritual_magic yahoo group. This was about a day or two before I had a revelation about the Glyph and the altar setup it implies. When the revelation came, the role of the Lamp became pretty clear.
In the PGM, the Lamp is used as a means to commune with the spirits. In some rituals, when the spirit is present, the magician or skryer can see their presence as a quality of the light around the Lamp that isn’t there when the spirit isn’t present. In other rituals, the Lamp is like a transmitter, with the wick being made out of a cloth with the spell written on it and then burned. I thought that was pretty cool.
Then I had the revelation of the Glyph, and it became apparent to me that the Lamp plays another role as well. In order to be effective in this role, the Lamp must be positioned outside the circle of the planetary talismen, representing the realm of infinite light that surrounds the divine darkness in which the Good dwells. This minor little detail has made a big impact in my Work. I never grasped the far-reaching effects a properly laid-out altar can have on your personal and magickal life. The altar is the representation of the macrocosm and the implements at your disposal to function within that macrocosm as a magician. Just setting up your altar properly results in a fundamental change in your life.
My “Lamp” is a tall brass candle stand, about 18 inches high. I have a tea-lite candle holder on top of this, and I can drop in a tea-lite before the ritual begins, and it has a really neat effect on the rest of the altar layout. It provides just the right ambiance for scrying in a crystal, and as I go through the various stages of the Work, I can check the Lamp to see if I’m where I need to be. If the Spirit of God is present, it shows.
In addition, I can use the Lamp as a transmitter through the use of tea-lites appropriately inscribed and anointed, following the guidelines of the PGM.
So in addition to the “standard” elemental tools a magician in the NP system has on their altar, I strongly urge you to include a Lamp. It completes your altar in a way that can’t be easily described, but is almost instantly understood when implemented.