Translated by Smaragd, Polyhymnia & Silvaeon
Last month I wrote about some of the basis regarding the work of Graal. Some of the readers have interpreted the Trials of the Neophyte article, published at the same time, to have been specifically connected to the work of Graal. As I presented in the writing, the mentioned three kinds of challenges will come to face all neophytes, who will be tested regardless of their path. Similarly, as The Trials of the Neophyte hopefully also helped those interested in the work of Graal, I hope this text focusing on a work of Graal could also inspire and give something to think about for others interested in esotericism and occultism.
In this writing, I attempt to cast light on the symbolism of the path of grades in the Graal lodge and thereby the basis of its practices. However, it is my experience that the surface level of things – the horizontal axis – in an occult sense, can be fully revealed only to a subject who is ready to tread into its depth dimension – the vertical axis. Thus the symbolic aperçu presented here is only an indication of the work, not a presentation that could fully expound its essence. The secret does not get lost, the esoteric is not explained away. This is one of the matters distinguishing practical esotericism from the academical method of distancing rational study.
Thus the symbolism handled here can become alive only for the one who treads the path in question. By this, I do not mean it would be possible only to a member of Graal lodge. The work of the Star of Azazel has always tried to be constructed in a way that is more open than it is enclosing. If some of the readers receive meaningful guidelines and inspiration for their soul and their own practical work from the Graal symbolism, but for one reason or another will not take part of the lodge as a member, he can and is allowed to utilize its metaphoric journey in a way seen fit for his own path.
Symbolism of the Graal Path
The structures of The Star of Azazel are based on a symbolic structure, which I call the permutation of The Hieroglyphic Key. The primary form of the Hieroglyphic Key is a familiar figure to many members and friends of the fraternity, of two equilateral triangles, superimposed, which are bound together by an equilateral cross in the center. This model presents the 3+1+3 or 3+4+3, 1 that is the seven, or ten, cosmic 2 principles.
The Primary Form of the Key
In the primary form of The Hieroglyphic Key the higher triangle points upwards and the lower points downwards. In this form, the ideal directs the striving, and through the flaming cross 3 in the middle, a brother or a sister strives to apply the found ideal to life. We are talking about a sort of pulley, a lever, or we could even say a sword in a fight against the attraction of one’s lower self. The symbol is named a Key because it gives a formula and a practical way of solution to the problems in life. To put it simply, each of the lower principles are to be harmonized to take their instructions (inspiration and the realization of it) from the corresponding higher principle:
a) Activity will be brought to enact the dynamism of Will, i.e. a human detaches from sloth.
b) Feelings are brought to enact the compassion of Love, i.e. a human detaches from petty grudges and selfishness.
c) The lower intellect networking into forms is brought to enact the precept of honesty under Truthfulness, which sees its significance in serving instead of categorizing.
This is the first form of The Hieroglyphic Key. Although it is one of the most well known symbols of the brotherhood, after the decagram of ours (two pentagrams intertwined), it is not the most essential for the work of Graal. For the symbol of Graal is ––
The Chalice of Mount Argarizim
The first permutation of The Hieroglyphic Key; the first form to which the structure is folded to as the Work progresses. The name is ”The Chalice of Mount Argarizim”, for in it the symbols of the two-fold mountain and the chalice come together. The symbol has been introduced in Argarizim books, for example in the newer Finnish edition 4 of the second part, it can be seen pressed on the cover as well as on the first page.
In The Chalice of Mount Argarizim, the vertexes of the triangles of The Hieroglyphic Key are turned towards each other, that is to say, Will and Body, âtma and linga, spirit and matter, inner soul and outer personality, have been set to meet. This does not mean a man or a woman would be a ready-made adept, but one is ready to try, having been able to set the outer and inner being to correspond to each other. This is a great, essential difference between someone who truly treads the Spiritual Path and the profane. The difference is not in the worldview we subscribe to, what we say we believe in, or whether we are to direct our will through magical acts to some sort of achievements in our earthly life: 5 the difference is in the strive to set the inner and outer, in the described way, as concentric.
Similarly, the quad between the triangles has gotten walls around it and turned from a cross to a square; a true cube. With the rounding auras of the triangles, the nascent (permutated) figure is reminiscent of a chalice, and from the upper triangle can be drawn out a blaze of straight rays. 6
The temple mountain of The Star of Azazel is Argarizim, in other words, the mythical version of the Samarian Mount Gerizim, which is a mountain of Mercy. This is the primary meaning of the lower triangle in the figure, now pointing upwards. It is also the mountain of the Sermon on the Mount (mountain of teaching), and the mountain of Purgatory – the purification of the soul. 7 The higher, that is the downward triangle, on the other hand, is the infundibulum of hell presented by The Divine Comedy. These two meet each other in the form which was the cross on the mountain top 8, but now has been formed as the Temple of the Cube that is ”the new Jerusalem”, which is a holy city in the form of a cube. Looking from the other direction, the exact same place is at the bottom of the infundibulum of hell, Lucifer at the point of turning. The Temple of Graal is the spot between the two triangles, where these two are one: The jewel from the forehead of Lucifer is the chalice of Graal, and the grand master of the cubic temple is the severed head of him who ”shall not die”.
These symbols have been presented here openly, but a student can not understand them if he has not prepared himself. The preparatory journey is, even at its best, a journey taking years. A neophyte may develop intellectual knowledge about the meanings of the emblems, but this alone will help him only little: the initiatory journey up to the temple must be passed in the soul. Ethically, psychically, and magically.
Settling of Practice at the Mountain
On this journey, the Graal student begins at the foot of the mountain. The more he already knows the way, the better. In the lodge, he must nevertheless display his knowledge by passing through many crossroads and to be able to report to his guide the way he has used the keys, presented by the Star of Azazel, in the practices. The ethical level is not a trinket among other occult baubles, but the most essential plane when observing the whole composition and impact of the strive. 9
The practices in Graal are ways to develop out qualities beneficial in magical working, as I presented in the first ’A New Path’ -article: by different yoga methods from imagination exercises and ritual magic, to art and prayer work, they strive to help the student to seek and develop his power. In his ascent, he will come to face many forks of the path where there are two ways to proceed according to two different practices. Each practice requires one or several seasons, and the student can spend more intensive or a longer period according to his own situation. These seasons will thus become both symbolic, as well as concrete, signs of the periods; the growth rings in the neophyte’s practice of the soul.
The practices can be beneficial ipso facto and hopefully delightful for the student; they are part of the system, which exercises some kind of energetical muscles, and which are thus neutral in themselves. Within the lodges and aspects, some of these practices have already been in use by the members of the Star of Azazel, usually freely or with slight guidance. In the work of Graal, the practices are linked to the foundational idea of the Star of Azazel, which is the threefold base of practice presented in the constitution (striving towards oneness, that is the upward work under the banner of truth and love).
This threefold virtue ethic, known as the threefold key 10, is the key to the first grade. In the second degree a more formal ”fivefold key” is used, and in the third degree, ”a turned key”, which is twofold.
The fivefold key is formed in the following way from the principle correspondences 11 left to the table:
a – Self-reflection
b – Patience
c – Courage
d – Creativity
e – Self discipline
The student need not become a hero on each of these forms, but as is always the case with initiations, he must achieve a certain minimal level of requirement, and to balance the mediocre development in others by reaching exceptionally high development in others. 12
Succeeding in these two grades, after going through the branching path of practices to the mountain in the 1st grade, and to the temple in the 2nd grade, to move upwards, the student has to find a way out of the temple: the 3rd grade represents the last process. For this, he needs ”a turned (that is dual) key”, which is the last key of the virtues:
a – The counter virtues of virtues
b – Overcoming the emphases in virtues
The third, grade of the turned triangle is thus emphasisedly tantric. After learning the practical worth of virtues, the student must show that he is not to stay in the imprisonment of the virtues. A student who succeeds on paper, can be in reality a prisoner of neurosis and performance, who serves some kind of paper characters or traumatic structures instead, or beside, true spiritual powers. By learning that no virtue should be formed as a defensive bulwark against higher development and the actual helping of others – by any means necessary – nor any virtue should be emphasized at the expense of others in a situation where another virtue would be more beneficial considering the whole, the student moves through the ”funnel” and has thus passed everything the three blue grades has to give. Ideally, from an archetypal perspective, he has now gone through three initiations.
Besides the straight path up to the mountain, there is another, a secret path, that goes under the mountain. This path is fitting only for few aspirants. That path has a different kind of teacher-student relationship, and the performing of practices is changed. But this is a matter that can not be discussed further at this point.
The Blue Grades
The presented passage through the mountain, the cubic city that is the temple, and the funnel – which is sort of a Satanic amphitheatre in the grand play of humanity – is at the same time ”a turning of the chalice” as the student places his focus on each of the components of the symbolic chalice, one after the other. Thus by preparing his own Graal, he at the same time gains his rights to its content, and the jewel containing the essence of the blood of the saviour passes the powers to his use.
In traditionally formed esotericism, these three grades have been known as the blue grades and as Johannite grades. The latter name comes from the grand master of the Graal temple, who is the grand master of Templars, the eternally living head of the dual Baptist. 13 This ”opposite master” has newer stopped its work, and ”He shall not die” 14 until the second master returns and straightens his ecclesia from its bruised state. Only after the original Stone, petrus, has been turned and straightened, these two pools will meet in a truly holy figure of a cross: Christ and Antichrist, the initiator of the winter solstice – Jesus, and the initiator of the summer solstice – John.
The student initiated into Graal can choose either one of these figures at the commencement of his work. Our work starts at the winter solstice of the year 2020, reinforced by a great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn. A student who can not make it to this particular opening can take it as a start of his preliminary practice and begin next time on the midsummer of 2021. Henceforth new students are initiated to the first grade on each winter and summer solstice when there are accepted candidates to join the work.
Those who have followed the work of The Star of Azazel know that an important part of its dharma is the assimilation of Indian occultism – especially the holistic shaivatantra – to Western occultism. In this symbolism, the chalice of the blue grades is comparative to Shiva Nilakantha, the story of ”Shiva with a blue neck”, where this great god of the mages drank the poison ocean, which was to destroy the whole world. In order to stop Shiva from dying, his consort, the great Shakti, closed his throat with her hand so that the poisonous liquid didn’t make it to the body of its drinker, but stayed in the area which we know as the chakra of intellect, communication and magical work, vishuddha, in the area of the throat and the neck. Because of the poison’s effect, Shiva got the name Nilakantha, ”Blue Neck”. It is good for the student to remember this didactic story in the work of Graal, as it is the idea of ”the cup of retribution” of the Old Testament, and the idea of ”the cup of salvation” of the New Testament. These three acts of drinking are one: not the action, but the student himself defines whether the drink is to be for the Life or for the Death of him, a blessing or a curse. The guides do their best to help, but they are not able to do more than a human is able to do for the good of another.
How do the practices affect the practical life of the students i.e. the aspirants? Is the practice about studying the presented symbolism? No; the practices are, as said, rudimentary practices of magic that help with living in the doctrine. The keys received and accepted must be made as part of oneself. A real inner practice follows a wholesome striving and will be part of the life, dream, and thinking of the progressing student. He must get inside the Work by becoming one with the Work in an alive manner. It is the sacred journey of life, a pilgrimage to the Mountain: the journey is an astral journey, an initiation journey. In this work, the Chalice becomes a true vivification. In part of the practices, the student will come to observe his journey as a symbolic journey of the soul; in others, his participation is more distanced. A member of Graal has always some freedom of choice, as well as requirement, to be capable of compromises towards structure: this is an unavoidable price for being helped in the Trial by Air. 15
The practices will come to seemingly make use of the kind of alternative tools and techniques like contemplation practises (training the imagination with colours, shapes and further on by visualization journeys), rosary work, creating tarot (physically or by painting mental images), and ritual magic. On this journey, prepared for aiding in the trial of air, ”alternative” always means either-or structures, and the student must be capable of compromises where he practices his self-control and patience. Maybe he already possesses these abilities? Excellent! In that case, his passing will be exemplary. But it is likely that to be able to truly benefit from his soul’s journey to the mountain of Graal, the student has to take his time and to see the journey itself as the destination. With the profane quality of mind which tries to achieve something small and benefits seeking the stroking of the ego, the student will only waste his work. Occultism is altogether about something else entirely.
Eternally living master, may you bless our work.
- Depending on the way of reading, a cross may refer to either one or four elements, when there is either essential oneness or a substantial quad between the two triads. An obvious presentation in esotericism of this principle symbol is the so-called quintessence (”the fifth element”), which constitutes four finely structured aethers. The ”oneness in the quad” is the magical correspondence, for example, to the ”oneness in a trinity” known from Christianity. Blavatsky suggested that in actual occultism these will adopt reversed forms in relation to the esoteric: true spirit is a quad and the real matter is a trinity. Whatever perspective we are to take to the matter at hand, it is essential to understand The Hieroglyphic Key formed from a mirrored triad united with the quad which appears as the oneness in ”the rose cross” (a cross with even-sized arms, on the center of which a ten petaled flower formed of the double-pentagram with its jewel center point: mani-padme). ↩
- By ”cosmic” I mean the manifestation to apply for micro- as well as macrocosmic reality: in other words, the structure can and should be applied equally to a human as well as to the outside world. ↩
- The cross is made ablaze by its dynamism. An inert, static cross does not give birth to fire. This is one of the major differences between Christianity of the Church and esoteric Rosicrucianism: the first mentioned places their hope on a dead, pre-absorbed cross, which is not dealt by oneself. From the viewpoint of occultism, this is a fatal mistake. ↩
- Viides Askel 2015. Sadly this important emblem is missing from the English edition of Argarizim. It is given on page 83 of Unseen Fire I. ↩
- A profane practitioner can use magic with success, but also negatively: without purifying oneself, he binds his soul by taking a loan from nature. From this point of view, it is good the present world is sceptical towards magic; if people could know what base achievements they could reach by practicing solely their mechanical will and by turning towards completely neutral spirits, like artisans to their tools of the trade, the world would be even more dismal than it is now. Lacking spiritual purification, a human being should not resort to practice magic, and the work of spiritual purification is not dealt with within a week, a month or a year – nor any other span of time, if it is not delved into with great solemnity. Magic is not the kind of flying carpet of wonders on to which we can, with the same effort, wipe the dirt from our feet and, carried by it, fly to whatever achievements. If such an endeavours are attempted, the human being is creating for himself very difficult conditions for later times. ↩
- On the seal of the brotherhood, the decagram of Azazel, rays of light rise up from the forehead of the outer pentagram, every other being straight while the rest are oblique. This is a form, where energy moves aligned with the world. Bare, straight-rayed light is too concentrated to be presented on every phase: too great of sacredness becomes the power of annihilation and disintegration if controlled compromises and adjustments aligning with the persona are not made. The first wholly straight lined light comes visible only in this third figure of the brotherhood, which is the first permutation of the Key. (1 = the seal of the brotherhood, 2 = the Hieroglyphic Key, 3 = the Chalice of the Mountain ↩
- Those who have read the tome ’Argarizim’, know its thematic connection to ’The Divine Comedy’ by Dante. The second part of ’Argarizim’ (’The Fall of Lucifer’, Ixaxaar 2016) has its chapters named to follow Dante’s journey from the gate of hell all the way to Lucifer lying in the core of Earth; and its first part (Commentary to the Sermon on the Mount, self-published 2006) connects to these two mountains: The Sermon on the Mount and the Mountain of Purgatory of the second part of The Divine Comedy. ↩
- I.e. at Calvary. ↩
- The masters who guide and inspire the work, cannot be primarily interested in the individual development of individuals, which halted as such is a kind of dead-end to the flow of energy. These secret leaders – whose help we are completely dependent on – are at the end only interested in how the individual is able to use the empowerment given to him, those ”talents” of the soul, for the good of all. A student who will not start working independently towards the common good, but remains only inside his own magical hobbies, is a detriment rather than a benefit, a burden rather than a carrier. ↩
- A kind of simplification or ethical way of turning the Hieroglyphic Key; synonymous with it in a certain sense. ↩
- After the most important, that is the ethical correspondences of the first triad, have been taken into account in the previous grade. See the principle correspondences below:
PRINCIPLE SANSKRIT TERM ELEMENT CELESTIAL POWER MANTRIC LETTER VIRTUE OR DUTY Will Âtma Earth (higher) Jupiter A* Upward striving Love Buddhi Water (higher) Mercury U* Empathic love Intellect Manas Air (higher) Venus M Truthfulness Vital force Prâna Fire (lower) Sun MANI Patience Soul Jiva Fire (higher) Sun PADME Creativity Body's model Linga sharîra Earth (lower) Moon H Self-discipline Emotions Kâma rûpa Water (lower) Mars U Courage Reason Kâma manas Air (lower) Saturn M Self-reflection
* During the time of life âtma-buddhi-manas unites into a monadic unit, and AU is pronounced ~Ô. ↩
- See Fosforos, footnote 244. ↩
- The John of esoteric symbolism is always dual, with two poles, and a figure connecting the two poles. First recurring as the two Johns of the gospel, the old and the young (iuventus) ↩
- John 21:20-24. ↩
- See the first part of this series of articles. ↩