The Grade System of Hermetic Initiation: Part One

Welcome back readers. It has been a while. A lot has happened to me since the last post on Between the Pillars.

First off, I just want to say that the prices of the magickal services have gone up. However, given that my prices are still very low compared to many others, I don’t think it should bother anyone.

Today, I want to write about something we haven’t touched upon yet: the 10 fold grade system of the Hermetic tradition. It is not the only grade system in the occult, nor is it only used in the Hermetic tradition. It has predecessors, as well as successors.

But that doesn’t matter. It’s a system that works, and quite well at that.

I have always insisted that Magick comprises the traditions from every corner of the world, and from every time period. To study only one system is like having only a few of the pieces of a puzzle, and trying to form a whole picture. In the 21st century, why handicap ourselves like that? So, my focus will not just be on Hermeticism or Western Ceremonial magick, but on mysticism and magick in general. But first, some background.

The Spiritual Ascent

What is the Tree of Life? Well, I have a whole book on that, but in summary:

The Tree of Life is a diagram whose modern form originated in the mystical western tradition called Kabbalah. It is based on the visions of ancient Hebrew seers, as they were led to the Throne of God by the Archangel Metatron. It describes the process of creation, wherein the the Divine Monad manifests itself through Ten distinct ’emanations’, called the Sephiroth. It has it’s origins in the ancient cultures of North Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe, and is similar to the Nordic Yggdrasil or the Hindu Sri-Yantra.

The first emanation is called the Crown (Kether), and the energy from it passes through another eight Sephiroth, until it finally settles down in the Kingdom (Malkuth), which is identified with the material world. It shows the process by which the Universe, and the Individual, and all other things are created and brought into the world. In simple words: it is an archetype.

The fundamental idea in Western magick is that a person seeking enlightenment, or spiritual ascension, or magical power, would ‘climb’ back up the Tree of Life, passing through all the Sephiroth, which are imagined as Gates, ruled by various astrological forces. The person would begin the journey in Malkuth, which is the world of waking consciousness, and slowly make their way to Kether, which is the Source. The Tree of Life is imagined as a ladder.

The most important milestone in this process is called Cross the Abyss, where the aspirant crosses the gap between the lower 7 Sephiroth, and the 3 Higher ones. This gap is called the Abyss (Tehom), and the illusionary Sephiroth there is called Knowledge (Da’at).

This journey, which is imagined as a straight and narrow path, is called Quetesh in Hebrew. It is imagined as the Bow, which shoots an arrow right down the Middle of the Tree of Life.

Another system of ascension is found in the Eastern world, with the system of Chakras and the Kundalini. The Chakras are Seven centres of power which lie along the spinal column of the Individual, and also along the Axis Mundi of the whole Cosmos. The first Chakra is called the Crown (Sahasrara: Thousand Petals), and the last one is called the Root chakra (Muladhara: Essence of the Root).

The Central Pillar is called the Lingam (the Spine/Phallus), and it is masculine and fixed. This masculine force is also at times called Purusha (the Man) or Yogi (Monk). The force which moves upward is called Shakti (Power), and it is feminine and moving. It is also called Devi (the Lady).

The idea is that the Chakras represent stages of consciousness, with Highest Chakra represents the Divine principle, while the lowest Chakra represents the waking reality. The spiritual aspirant moves their Consciousness up through their spinal column, through each Chakra, until it reaches the top.

That’s the gist of it. The journey of the aspirant is called the Sadhana in Sanskrit, and it is imagined as the straight and unwavering path traced by an arrow let loose from a bow. Those who have completed the Journey are called Siddhas, or the ‘righteous ones’

An important milestone on this journey is when the Consciousness reaches the Throat Chakra, at which point the Personal Shakti, called the Kundalini, rises from the base of the Spine and makes it’s way to the Top, which is at the nape of the neck. At this point, the individual begins to enter into a state of Spiritual Bliss called Sammadhi. This experience is identical to the Crossing of the Abyss of Kabbalah. A person begins to be freed form the world of Illusion (Maya) and can be called ‘enlightened’. Of course, the Kundalini shall rise further until it reaches the Crown, and can be projected even higher.

Combining the Chakras with the Tree of Life

It should be clear now that the Tree of Life and Chakra system are really talking about the same thing. The Western system, however, is more concerned with theory, and with mapping out the journey, and using it to understand the Universe. This is because Western magicians, due to heavy persecution in the middle ages, relied heavily on scripture and magickal texts to transmit their work. They had to disguise the Work as religious doctrine, and had to explain everything in great detail so that anyone reading it could follow the instructions and have all the requisite knowledge.

The Eastern system is much more practical. This is because such knowledge the source of power for the political and religious institutions in the East. There was never any real persecution, but it was closely guarded knowledge, passed down directly from master to student. It was rarely put into writing, nor was there much need to go into detail, because the Master (Guru) would be there with the student to guide them. In fact, merely being in the presence of a Master can cause the Kundalini to awaken. I can attest to this first hand. Thus, it was much more important to talk about the changes happening inside the body, and how to control the power, than try to create precise theories.

So in the West they ended up with a very well established theory, and in the East they developed a very effective practice. Both paths work, and it is worthwhile to combine them. As you know, the 10 Sephiroth of the Tree of Life are divided in such a way that they form Seven ‘layers’. These are identical to the Chakra centres. This means that many of the Chakras correspond to two sephiroth, not just one.

The following is the correct way to interpolate the Ten Sephiroth with the Seven Chakras:

1. Kether (Crown) – Sahasrara (Crown Chakra)
2. Chokmah (Wisdom) and Binah (Understanding) – Ajna (Third Eye Chakra)
3. Da’at (Knowledge) – Visuddha (Throat Chakra)
4. Chesed (Mercy) and Geburah (Power) – Anahata (Heart Chakra)
5. Tifaret (Harmony) – Manipura (Solar Plexus Chakra)
6. Netzach (Victory) and Hod (Glory) – Svadhisthana (Sacral Chakra)
7. Yesod (Foundation) – Muladhara (Root Chakra)

Malkuth (Kingdom) is not part of the seven places, fallen as it is from the place of Da’at. Thus, it can be identified with the dormant ‘Shakti’ of Goddess Power which rests at the base of the spine. Thus, malkuth is rightly called ‘Malkah’, or bride, just as Shakti is the bride of Purusha, or ‘The Man’.

The Ten Fold Grade System

Now we get to the actual Grade system of the Hermetic tradition.

There are ten grades, all arranged along the Tree of Life, along with two intermediary grades. It shows the entire process of spiritual evolution. Understand that, the path is the same, only with different ways of representing it. This is the Hermetic way of seeing it, but in essence this journey is found in all cultures of the world, in different ways.

As you move from one grade to another, so does your consciousness. This does have a biological component, and if you quiet your mind and focus on your bodily sensations, you can actually feel how far up the spinal chord the energy has risen.

The Grade system can be divided into three. The first four grades consist of the ‘outer’ order, and the work of the Outer Order involves working upon the lower self: purifying and mastering oneself and one’s own Being. Each of the four grades corresponds to four components of the lower self, and also to the four elements.

Zelator – Earth – Physical Body – Sensations and Habits
Theoricus – Air – Conscious Mind – Thoughts and Perception
Practicus – Water – Subconscious Mind – Emotions and Intellect
Philosophus – Fire – Will – Intuition and Willpower

The next three grades constitute the Inner Order. Those of these grades are considered ‘Adepts’, while those of the Outer Order are usually called ‘Initiates’. Of course, the word ‘Initiate’ can also just apply to everyone who has been initiated into the order, meaning anyone beyond the grade of Neophyte.

In the Inner Order, everyone is technically on equal standing. An Adept is someone who has learned to commune with their Higher Self, and thus cannot really be ‘told’ what to do. In reality, it is the Inner Order where ‘magick’ begins in any real sense. The Outer Order involves mostly study and spiritual practice, and its rituals and practices are designed to purify the student.

Only in the Inner Order does the Adept begin training to do actual magick. The work of the Adept, having communed with their Higher Self, is now to overcome the Shadow. In other words: illuminate the inner darkness.

The three grades here represent the sacred Masculine, Feminine and the Androgyne.

Adeptus Minor – Androgyne – Life
Adeptus Major – Feminine – Death
Adeptus Exemptus – Masculine – Rebirth

In theory, Adeptus Exemptus is the Highest grade that can be given to a person. The grades beyond the Abyss are called the Secret Order. ‘Secret’ because these grades cannot be conferred, only attained by oneself.

This is because only a student, themselves, can Cross the Abyss when the time is right. No amount of rituals, ceremonies or meditations can make it happen, nor can a Master else cause you to Cross the Abyss and enter Sammadhi. it is a lone Journey.

The three highest grades that make up this stage represent stages of liberation.

Magister Templi – Mother – Power
Magus – Father – Purity
Ipsissimus – Spirit – Love

Whenever talk of the grade system comes up, I see one very common question from beginners: is it possible to rise through the grades without having done any magickal or spiritual practice?

The reason is that people just starting magickal study or practice want to start at the grade of Adeptus Minor! No one wants to be a mere Neophyte, and spend years working towards Adepthood. And so, many newcomers are absolutely desperate to be told that they’re already an Adept, or that the grade can be attained without spiritual practice.

But can it? Well, yes. In fact, it is pretty much expected that if you’re drawn to magick in this lifetime, then your Soul has already done much of the Outer Work in previous incarnations. So then, why this whole routine of going through the outer grades?

Because, in truth, all people at all times, are at the Highest Grade. Everyone in the world is Enlightened…they just don’t know it yet.

This is why this Work is sometimes called ‘Self Realisation’ rather than Attainment. One is not attaining anything, but only remembering.

When one is young, there is at least some point where one is fully in touch with the Higher Self. But life happens, and we begin to deviate from the Great Work. The mind, body and spirit begin to be clouded or fall into decay.

And so, even if a person thinks they are an Adept, or are naturally gifted in magick, or very well read, it never hurts to start at the beginning. The Lower Self needs to be prepared and purified to commune with the Higher Self. This is why the lower grades are needed.

To attempt the work of Magick without first balancing and discipling oneself will be extremely detrimental, and this effect is often seen in religious fanatics or crazed cult leaders: people who have expereinced the energies invoked in the Inner Order, but are not balanced or mature enough to utilise these corectly.

Thus, shun not the Outer Order. It is the most exciting stage of this journey.

The Outer Order

We shall Discuss the probationary grade of Neophyte and the four outer grades of Zelator, Theoricus, Practicus and Philosophus.


The grade of neophyte is not a real grade. It is a probationary grade that typically lasts 6 months or so. Traditionally, it was designed to see if the student was fit to join an esoteric order, and to build up a basic foundation of both theory and practice. With self initiation, this grade is mainly for you to test, for yourself, if you can handle the path of magick.

The rituals of this grade consist of basic banishing and grounding rituals, along with an introduction to basic magickal theory and spiritual practices like meditation. It exposes a person to energies which will start to dramatically change their life and perspective, and it is expected that a lot of people will quit after this grade. And that is precisely the point.

Once the first grade has started, it is not possible to go back. The spiritual transformation shall then go through various stages, and the only respite is in the fifth grade of Adeptus Minor. In other words, Magickal initiation is not just something done overnight. It is a whole hearted commitment which will last years. The exact same commitment is asked for by Eastern practices like Yoga and the Tantra, contrary to the usual notion that Eastern paths are simpler or easier.

And the neophyte grade is like a free trial of what’s to come.

There is nothing wrong with not being ready. While the grade formally lasts 6-7 months, a person may practice the Neophyte material for years. Most magicians do just that, with daily banishing rituals, meditations and purification rites. Some people will spend their whole life simply purifying themselves and meditating, and getting comfortable with this knowledge.

There’s no rush whatsoever. Many who do take that first step onto the grade of Zelator have been prepared over lifetimes, and will be prepared still for lifetimes more.

Some authors make it seem like the neophyte grade is some test or gauntlet designed to separate the ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’.

But the fact is that each and every person in the world is worthy. It is only a matter of patience and practice. When one is ready, one will move on.

This grade typically consists of an initial exposure to magickal energy, and one might find that any serious imbalances in one’s life will disappear. In general, good health, vitality and a renewed sense of vigor should be expected by the end.


The grade of Zelator, as the name suggests, is a time of Zeal and devotion. It is associated with the element of Earth, with the material body and the world of the senses.

The work of this grade represents perhaps the most important and long lasting stage of spiritual ascension: of mastering the body, and the world of waking consciousness. The rituals of this grade will often bring about shift in perspective and consciousness. The student may find themselves changing their lifestyle, cultivating better lifestyle habits pertaining to food, routine and physical fitness.

A great enthusiasm towards the diligent study and practice of magick may also come about. A person may begin to overcome social anxiety, develop greater work ethic, and see overall success in their studies and/or career. For those who are already well established in life, it can also lead to a lot of money and wealth coming in.

A lot of these things may seem very mundane to some readers. You may wonder what eating properly, sleeping on time and cleaning one’s room have to do with spiritual evolution. And my answer, dear readers, is that it has everything to do with it.

Only very late in my magickal practice did I realise the importance of physical fitness, displine, and cleanliness. Religions of the world have always emphasized these traits, and not without good reason. The spiritual energies that a magician invokes are very, very real. In the Inner Order grades, these energies have a very tangible manifestation, which can very quickly overwhelm and weak mind and body.

Without going too much into details: there have been many times where I was thankful for my physical strength and tolerance, and they were all that kept me from loosing consciousness or being unable to tolerate the very high vibration energies invoked during magick.

Cleanliness and ritual purity are also important, as they allow for an even flow of spiritual energies throughout one’s life. Such a system is found in China in the form of Feng Shui, where the arrangement of the house and placement of objects within it is said to affect how spiritual energies flow through it.

In a more mundane sense, one should also consider that the body is the Temple. The inner world is reflected in the outer world, and a strong body, clean and orderly surroundings and healthy lifestyle will also be reflected in the internal changes taking place.

It is often said that magicians focus too much on the inner world and neglect the outer, not realising that the two are one and the same. Inner transformation goes hand in hand with outer transformation. And finally, there is also the simple fact that magick should not be something that requires the sacrifice of ‘real’ life. It is not escapism.

After all, magick requires commitment, of time, energy and resources. Before such a commitment can be made, it is a good idea to put your life in order. It would be very difficult to go very far with magick if you’re are held back by, say, the lack of money, poor health or a loneliness.

Now, I should make it clear that this is an ongoing process. I’m not suggesting that a person’s material life must be perfect before starting magick. Rather, both go hand in hand. And the grade of Zelator is the time where you shake yourself out of the stupor that many people fall into. It is the simple acknowledgement that you will not use magick or spirituality to escape from the responsibilities of the ‘real’ world.

First we master the outer and material world, before we go to the spiritual planes. Contrary to common belief, magick does not involve shunning or rejecting the material world, which is after all a reflection of the higher worlds.

In this grade, the consciousness tends to be fixed in the outer body and outer world. The inner Shakti has not begun her ascent up the spine.


The grade of Theoricus is similar to Zelator, and revolves around magick Theory. It is associated with the Conscious Mind, with thoughts, and with perception. It is ruled by the element of Air.

Once the Zelator has put his daily affairs in order, they can start studying magickal theory. Just as the previous grade was about strengthening the body, this grade is about sharpening the mind. The rituals and practices of this grade bring about a strong intellectual tendency, and also a desire to learn about and understand the world around oneself. In pursuit of this, one may learn not just about magick, but about various other fields such as history, politics, science, artistry, linguistics etc.

In fact, knowing about the world and having many skills can be very helpful for a magician. Many magicians are known to be well read and proficient in various skills. But ultimately, the aim is not to learn a lot, but rather sharpen the mind. Unlike school, the student of magick is not learning a bunch of rote information, but rather engaging with the world and its people, history and cultures. The aim is not to learn some information, but learn how to think. For example, the study of politics and history is not about coming to believe in some ideology or memorizing a list of battles, but to familiarize the mind with the nuances and complexities of the society. The aim of learning a new language may not necessarily be to become a fluent speaker, but to see how different languages shape the mind different, and to expand one’s horizons.

A strong mind complements a strong body. This grade helps the student break free of dogmatic beliefs, to question the way things are, and to learn to reject beliefs and values that they have inherited.

For while the wisdom of the ages can have great value, it can also be a poison which blinds us from reality. It is good to expose oneself to new ways of thinking, and to start formulating one’s own beliefs and philosophy. It protects us from becoming reliant on someone else’s version of the truth, and especially from political, religious and cultural lies.

This is also the grade where one begins to experience the energies of planets along with the elements. The grade of Theoricus is ruled by the Moon, as it corresponds to the Lunar sphere on the Tree of Life. Additionally the energies of Saturn are also expereinced, because that is the complementary sphere. This kind of a complementary relationship exists for all grades.

The Moon, or Luna, affects the emotions and sense perception. Saturn affects the rational mind. Thus, this grade has a tendency to exaggerate those aspects. In fact, it is important not to get too caught up in trying to understand everything rationally or categorise everything perfectly.

The consciousness now resides in the Root chakra, which corresponds to the Lunar Sphere at the base of the spine. The consciousness, thus, is still fixed on the outer world, but on the more abstract, mental aspects rather than purely physical.


By now you should have picked up a trend with the names. The grade of Practicus focuses, at last, on Practice. It is associated with the element of Water, with the Subconscious mind, and thus with, morals, values, emotions and desires. Whereas the grade of Theoricus focused more on the outward Conscious Mind, Practicus focuses on the deeper, subconscious mind. In this grade, the emotions are allowed to come forth from their usual suppressed state in most people.

One also begins to recognise the traits of the opposite gender within oneself. In fact, it is common for magicians in this grade to display such traits. Men may find themselves becoming more ‘feminine’ while women may become more ‘masculine’. This is because a magician must not have any complexes or reservations, such as imagining oneself as ‘manly’ or ‘womanly’. What exactly this means depends from person to person. The Anima/ Animus, which lies hidden in the subconscious, begins to show itself.

The first two grades, in my opinion, are almost intoxicating. While they are slow, they are also relatively easy. The rituals performed in these grades bring about a great transformation in the personal world, which is what most people are focused on. But Practicus is the first test of these apparent abilities. That is to say, the student may now be called upon to put his knowledge and strength into practice, and also the first time one faces real obstacles from the outer world, not just the abstract ones of the inner world.

To me, the grade of Practicus is a test, and I will not speak much about the trials of this grade because I don’t want to turn people away from magick. This is the grade where you must try to accomplish your goals and desires, and it should be evident that some of these will not come easily.

Most people have a vague idea of what they want in life. But rarely do people have the courage to pursue them. And this is because dreams and desires are often grand and untenable, and it is not easy to know how exactly they should be attained. So, people are content to simply do what they’re told, and wait until some imagined event will bring them these things. Think, for example, of people’s dream of winning the lottery, of finding the perfect job, of suddenly becoming famous etc.

Ultimately, most people just want to be happy and live in peace. All these grand desires are a means to that. The irony, of course, is that any person at any time can be content with their lot and find peace and happiness. In fact, it is the urgent pursuit of happiness that stops people from being happy.

So, people instead hold out hope for extraordinary fortune, living in the future rather than the present. Yet others give up hope entirely and become bitter, living in the glorious past when they still had their dreams, and once again ignoring the present.

But the magician who has crossed Theoricus may find that they suddenly have the courage to live in the present, and pursue exactly what they want. As I said, the changes of these grades are very powerful, and it becomes clear that nothing is actually beyond a person’s grasp.

But, the grade of Practicus is the grade of challenges and trials. These challenges and trials are important to purify and strengthen the individual. This is the a very important grade of spiritual ascension, where a person, for the first time, leaves their comfort zone completely in pursuit of their dreams. One should not underestimate a person who has set their life in order and learned about the world. The Practicus is already very far ahead of most people because of this.

For better or for worse, it is when a person stops living in their head, and starts living in reality. And some may find that reality, without comforting dogmas and illusions, appears unfair and unjust. Of course, even that is an illusion.

In this grade, the influence of Mercury, the ruler of the grade, is felt, as is the influence of the complimentary Jupiter. It is Mercury who is the initiator into magick and the mysteries, and the first step of that initiation is purification through pain. Mercury is also force that carries one’s ambitions aloft on his wings.

Jupiter is the teacher and mentor, and he helps the student retain hope and faith. It may be common for students to develop a ‘larger than life’ persona due to the influence of this planet, which may also mark them out as a target of scorn or resentment by those whose consciousness has not begun to develop.

Ultimately, both planets are associated with learning, and this is the grade of learning certain hard lessons and shattering illusions. Everything, good or bad, must be accepted as it is. Metaphorically, we may say that the waters of the subconscious begin to flood the conscious mind, dissolving boundaries and washing one clean.


Yes, this grade is now associated with Philosophy, with the Will and the Intuition. It corresponds to the element of Fire.

In my book, The Tree of Life: A Beginner’s Guide, I discuss the role of philosophy and it’s link to creativity at length, but here I will mention the importance of developing a personal philosophy.

Once the trials of the Practicus grade are overcome, the great realisation comes that many of one’s beliefs about the world are faulty, and often taken from somewhere else. For many magicians, it is the stage of awakening from the Ego, and realising that the contents of one’s mind are often not aligned with reality.

It is common for people to believe that the world is a certain way. People go their entire lives believing in absurd or false things, just because they sound rational or logical. Rarely, if ever, do people ever question or challenge their beliefs. And even when beliefs are questioned, they are often replaced with other, equally absurd beliefs.

it is only by repeatedly putting one’s beliefs into practice, as is done by the Practicus, that one realises what is real and what is imagined. It is almost like subjecting your beliefs to scientific scrutiny.

Every person has a inner value system, but people don’t normally try to live up to their own values. For example, a person who firmly believes that people should live freely in a primal state of existence, but works a standard corporate job in a big city. Such a person has never actually tried to live up to their own ideals, which is precisely why these ‘ideals’ exist. Trying to live up to such ideals may show they are at odds with the reality of the world and one’s present capabilities.

Some people, who’s ambitions are grounded, may actually end up getting exactly what they wanted, only to realise that it didn’t satisfy them. For example, someone who desperately wants to get into some prestigious college, only to find that they have no interest in their studies and aren’t suited to the competition. It would seem the person was more interested in imagining the scenario, but does not enjoy being in it.

Now that the Philosophus has tried to put their world view into practice, it is important to take a step back and consider one’s life and aspirations. There is no longer anyone to blame, no longer anything holding one back. Becoming freed from dogma and delusion, it is time to start developing a personal philosophy to live by, rather than live by the philosophies of others. It is time to no longer define oneself as belonging to some religion, creed or ideology, or subscribing to some belief system, or clinging to arbitrary labels or vague ambitions. A person must draw now upon their inner resources, and let their intuition guide them towards their purpose in life.

What makes you happy? What do you want from life? How would you like to spend each day of your life? Are you really an introvert/extrovert? Do you really want a lot of money? Can you really be self employed, or do you really believe in some chosen faith?

Discipline plays a role because, when your entire worldview is questioned, it may very well burn away. After all, this is the grade of Fire. And in times like this, it is of utmost importance to maintain some semblance of routine and structure, so you don’t slip into apathetic nihilism or become depressed. And even if you do, you still have to keep moving forward. Everything learned in the last three grades must keep you sane and alert.

The three great virtues of a magician are: Humility, Persistence and Determination. And the Philosophus must keep living their ordinary life, even as the world within is radically transformed. At the very least, all the basic day to day tasks needed for survival must be performed. You will find that the discipline and strength developed through this is invaluable. Very great is the one who can be comfortable with discomfort. Most people withdraw or flee at the hint of the slightest discomfort, but the magician must learn to endure and power through something as difficult as spiritual purification.

This grade is ruled by Venus, the great Goddess, and her counterpart Mars. Venus is the Goddess of Life and Fertility, but before one can feel her love, one must face her dark aspect: that of a life and universe that is seemingly unfair and unjust. Through patience and grace, the student will stand before the darkness and see it transformed into light, just as the cold harshness of winter leads to the fertility and joy of spring.

Mars, of course, is the one providing strength and courage throughout this grade, even as it awakens an inner fire within oneself. Not the explosive flame of ambition or zeal, but the steady flame of perseverance and discipline. Nothing happens overnight, and anything worth attaining takes honest work.

In the grades of Practicus and Philosophus, the consciousness resides in the Sacral Chakra, located around the abdomen. Sexual activity may be become much more increased or decreased than usual. These grades of purging see the consciousness around the digestive and excretory system.

A Short Allegory

The first two grades are those of preparation, and the second two are those of purification. It is actually an alchemical process. It is important, at this point, for me to describe the alchemical process, which is meant to reflect this process of Initiation.

Alchemy is the spiritual science of taking the fabled First Matter (Prima Materia), and subjecting it to a process of purification and exaltation, resulting in the legendary Philosopher’s Stone (Lapis Philosphorum). The Stone, also called the Red Stone, is said to be able to transform base metals into gold, as well as confer eternal life. I’m sure many readers already know the tale. At the very least, you’ve watched this referenced in the first Harry Potter film.

Here, the student themselves is the Prima Materia being perfected.

In alchemical texts, it is said that the Prima Materia must be first separated into it’s three components: Mercury, Sulfur and Salt. Each is then purified and recombined. These should be understood as alchemical principles, and not to be confused with the mundane elements of the same name. Meaning, here Mercury does not refer to quick silver, nor does Salt refer to sodium chloride.

In the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the metaphor is dropped and these three principles are actually referenced directly as as the three Gunas (traits), present in all things. These are Satvva (positive), Rajas (neutral) and Tamas (negative). But here I will describe the process most commonly found in European texts, as these are the most methodical.

First, one must gather the Prima Materia and ferment it for a long period of time, allowing it to mature and and ‘ripen’ in the heat of the sun. This is the grade of Zelator, where the student prepares themselves for initiation by setting their life in order, and ‘ripening’ the physical body through a healthy lifestyle, and mastering the outward senses. Much like fermentation, this grade is simply a matter of time and patience.

Now, the Prima Materia is heated over a gentle fire for a long time, which causes the alchemical Mercury to distill over. This Mercury may be further distilled and purified. This refers to the grade of Theoricus, where the rational Mind (often symbolised by Mercury) is isolated, and then sharpened through study and intellectual engagement.

Next, the flask is heated over a more intense fire, which gets hotter and hotter, until the alchemical Sulfur distills over. This process is volatile and difficult, and what is left behind is the alchemical Salt, which is black and ashy. This refers to the intense grade of Practicus, where the student is tried and tested, and their stubborn illusions are ripped from them. The emotions, volatile and dangerous, separate out and show themselves, like the Sulfur. It is worth noting that the Eastern counterpart, which is rajas, literally means ‘passions’. The student may be left feeling tired, empty or hollow, like the black Salt left behind. This salt in it’s black state is seen as ‘dead’, and called as the dead head (caput mortem)

Now, the black Salt is heated over a gradually increasing fire, until is begins to incinerate, turning from black to gray and finally to white. To witness this mythical process is itself a spiritual experience, and it refers to the grade of Philosophus, where the Fire or Will slowly increases in intensity, purging the tired initiate, and purifying them, bringing forth a sort of ‘rebirth’ or ‘reawakening’, like the black salt turning to a pristine white.

Now, the Mercury Sulfur and Salt have been separated and purified. They are slowly recombined in a hermetically sealed flask (yes, the word ‘hermetically sealed’ comes from Hermeticism).


The grade of Portal is another probationary grade, and refers to the time between the Outer and Inner order. It is symbolic of the alchemical process where the three principles are hermetically sealed and recombined.

Here the Divine alchemist, which is the Higher Self of the Initiate, the Spirit, recombines the separated parts of the Prima Materia, which is the Lower Self of Initiate.

The grade of Portal is a period of 9 months where the initiate must withdraw from the outer world as much as possible, and spend time in contemplation and prayer. This is the transition from an Initiate to an Adept.

The primary work in this stage is to think over the journey so far, and prepare for communion with the Higher Self, which is also called the Holy Guardian Angel. This communion can be thought of as the religious experience, which Christians call Grace.

In the East, this same process is replicated when Yogis go into what is called ‘Tapasya’, which is a prolonged period of silent meditation. Hindus and Buddhists call the communion of the religious experience as ‘Darshan’, literally meaning ‘to see’. The Higher Self is called ‘Atman’, or Spirit, while the lower self is called ‘Jiva’, or ‘living being’.

The motif of this grade can be thought of as a wandering, or a self imposed exile, and such a thing is found in various mythologies. During this period, a dramatic shift in consciousness takes place as many redundant aspects of oneself are burned away.

In this stage, the ‘Body of Light’ is firmly established within oneself, and the Sphere of Sensation, often called the Aura, expands from an thin shell just over the skin, to a spherical ball of magnetic energy: a cosmic Egg. The hermetically sealed flask used by alchemists in this stage was often made in the form of a glass Egg, to represent this very Cosmic Egg. The alchemists knew that, as they were making the Red Stone, their own being was being transformed.

We are bringing about the same transformation not through chemical processes, but through rituals, meditation, chanting, study and practical action.

By and large, this stage is one of patience and faith. It is a time of preparation and rebirth, before one ventures out again as an Adept.

I will end this post here, and continue talking about the grades in Part Two. If you wish to learn more about magick, consider checking out my books. Subscribe to me on Patreon to learn about using magick to improve daily life, to gain spiritual insight through tarot, to invoke the great Angels who rule the heavens or conjure the mighty daemons who rule the material universe.

Peace and farewell.

~White Raven

What “Enlightenment” means within The Occult

Greetings. I’m back.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Raven, you said you’d write more regularly. It’s been nine months

Well, I don’t have much to say. I have no excuses. Without going into too many details, my country was undergoing…economic turmoil. I was not in the best state of mind to write about spiritual matters, and sometimes it’s better to stay silent than say thing you don’t mean because of anger or frustration. I get a lot of emails from people who put a great deal of faith in what I say, and I don’t plan to give anyone bad or misleading information. By the way, I read all your messages and emails, although I cannot reply to all, and I’m thankful to everyone who writes in.

But anyway, here we are again.

Western, Eastern and Modern Ideas of Enlightenment

When I say the word “Enlightenment”, there’s one of three ideas that comes to your mind. First, the most common concept of ‘Nirvana’ that comes primarily from Buddhism, though it has merged to some degree with Hindu and Sikh asceticism. You may think of the myraid of ‘gurus’ parading around with long beards, decked out in orange or white clothing, and teaching really generic “spirituality” to the masses. Many of these dudes either run shady cults or international bodies that primarily attempt to hold political power (especially in the East). I’m not saying there’s nothing to be gained from them, but it’s simple spiritual practices that is packaged for mass consumption, without deviating too much from the standard norms for thinking.

There are of course, authentic mystics that are said to be enlightened, but they don’t normally have a public presence. Real ascetics, like the ones who live in Varanasi, are following a specific spiritual traditions, much like the rest of us. Many of them are also just weed smoking hippies.

Secondly, you may think of the Western televangelists. Generally, they are part of megachurches and to them “enlightenment” means some kind of experience with God, Christ, or an advanced knowledge of the Scripture. Unlike the ‘gurus’, these preachers make no attempt to sell “spirituality”. To them, ‘spirituality’ and ‘enlightenment’ fall entirely within the dogma of their specific sect. Here, we see “enlightenment” presented as a by-product of institutional power. This has lately been extended to Islamic clerics and certain Rabbis as well.

The Pope and Dalai Llama fall into this category. While I have nothing against them, you must realise that they are basically political leaders of different religions, and are said to be “enlightened” because of this authority, not because of anything they’ve done outside of the religion. According to them, to know scripture is to know God. This applies to Buddhism as much as it does to the Abrahamic religions. I would not call these people spiritual or ‘enlightened’, though maybe people find a sense of comfort in listening to them.

Finally, you may think of the word “enlightenment” in the context of the historical era we call the “Enlightenment”, which followed close at the heels of the French revolution, and was the result of the printing press and democratic attitudes spreading across Western Europe, North America and Japan. The spread of the scientific method, coupled with the liberalization of culture, the introduction of the Parliaments, the Age of Exploration and finally, the Industrial revolution and the subsequent end of Feudalism and Religious authority thrust us into what we now call “modernity”.

On one hand, this “Enlightenment” refers to “classical liberal” values, such as Secularism, Democracy, Equality, Liberty etc. Today we take these for granted, but just 150 years ago people would have told you that only “Enlightened” parts of the world followed this.

On the other hand, people who use this term today refer to scientific, materialistic determinism, often coupled with atheism or at least a rejection of traditional religion, with the statement that “subjective” cultural values like beauty, morality, virtue etc. do not really exist. Ironically, while it has improved our quality of life substantially, it has also made people nihilistic, and given rise to the belief that there is no purpose to life, good or justice in the world and a reason for living. After all, if everything is a man made creation that can be deconstructed, what is the point of anything at all? In the past few years there has been a resurgence of traditional dogma.

I’m not going to give an opinion on how “Enlightened” our current time is, because throughout all of history people have always considered their time to be “enlightened” and the past to be “dark”. 500 years from now, we’ll be the ones with crazy dogmas and “unenlightened” beliefs. And, if you’re even reading this blog, I think it’s safe to assume that you aren’t satisfied with being told you’re an insignificant speck of dust on a ball of rust, spiraling around a failing nuclear reactor that’s hurtling through a pointless abyss.

The Dual “Enlightenment”

Within the Occult, the term “enlightenment” often applies to two things.

First, the act of “being Initiated” is and has always been considered important in the Occult. In fact, various occult schools use the terms “Initiated” and “Uninitiated” to distinguish between magickains and non magickians. Some groups like the O9A took it rather far with the term “kindred” and “mundane”, even encouraging violence, deception and manipulation against the “mundane”. But, although I don’t condone treating anyone as lesser, I can see where the anger and frustration stems from.

Over the years, you’ve heard various terms like the “masses”, “NPCs”, “normies” or just “average people” thrown around, and not just by Occultists. This highlights an important point that this type of Enlightenment isn’t just about belonging to a specific magickal tradition or even being an occultist. But who exactly uses these terms? The Elite? Intellectuals? ‘Smart’ people? These are equally vague terms.

You might say perhaps this difference doesn’t even exist, but it does. And trust me, this isn’t an elitist statement, because I despise elitism.

In my opinion, the first thing that can be attained is “Initiation” or “Adepthood”, and is said to be accompanied by the religious experience. Organised religions try to replicate this through various initiation rituals that members are meant to go through either at birth, or adolescence, or whenever they join. Unfortunately, this means anyone who has undergone a certain ritual or been given a position by a tradition, claims superiority due to being an “Adept”.

Next, comes the state of Niravana or Salvation. In Hermetic Kabbalah, this is reached after an experience called ‘Crossing the Abyss’. People who reach this are often called by various names within religions, like Boddhissatvas, Rishis, Ascended Masters, Saints etc. Such people are often regarded with a near God like status. Many, many pretenders claim to be divine as well.

“Anyone who must say ‘I am King!’ is no true King”
~Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones

The True Meaning of Initiation

From the point of view of any specific tradition, being Initiated, in my opinion, means that you can now teach that system without guidance.

So when a specific School of Magick insists on going through the process of Initiation, they say it primarily to help you understand and internalize the teachings of that system. You may already be an Adept, but you still need to learn the system.

For example, if reached Adepthood through pagan Witchcraft, you may be great magickian. But if you were to decide to learn ceremonial Magick, you can’t just start from it’s Adept rituals. After all, you need to understand the theory and symbols, and work with them so they actually mean something to you. In the most mundane sense, that it why Initiations exist.

People think becoming an Adept involves having special powers, being more knowledgeable than others, having had some kind of psychic vision, or even a Kundalini awakening. ALL of these may accompany Adepthood, but they aren’t what define it. After all, some people are simply psychically gifted since birth. Some people have early Kundalini awakenings. Some people simply are smarter or more creative than others.

Adepthood comes with independent and original thinking.

I know, sounds cliched, but hear me out. The fundamental difference that people see between Initiated and Uninitiated people is the lack of independent thinking. No one is born with this. In fact, each and every one of us is born into a culture and society that restrains and controls our thoughts and beliefs. Even if you ‘rebel’, as many do, you’re usually just abiding by an alternative and often ‘counter’ culture, which itself is most likely the norm for another culture.

Yes, it’s possible that certain social norms, belief systems and systems work better than others on a cultural level. But there is debate over this and people often become foot soldiers in this culture war, slowly giving over their agency either to their own culture or the new one they’ve adopted. It’s also possible that certain modes of thinking are better for an individual than others. For a highly artistic person, altruistic and liberal beliefs probably help him. For a soldier in the military, traditional notions of hierarchy and duty may be better. My point, it doesn’t matter what is better or worse, but your ability to think for yourself and decide this.

What are the ‘masses’. Put simply, people who do not think for themselves. This is most of the human population. Practically everyone sticks with inherited beliefs and social norms. People have a morality and values that are circumstantial, hence one moment you have people talking about unity and empathy, and the next they’re viciously attacking those who don’t think or look like them. I’ve personally seen people’s beliefs change based on what they saw on the News (but this post isn’t about that)

People repeat the ideas of others without ever challenging them. You may think you don’t, but at some point in your life you definitely have. It’s human nature to be tribal.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers”
~George Carlin
(Funnily, I’m sure people who opposed him thought the exact same thing)

Dr. Jordan Peterson once remarked that most people, were they living in Germany in 1933, would most likely be Nazis. Although many think they would fight against their own society and save the Jews, this is highly unlikely, even in brave and moral people. Like I said, this isn’t about having superior or inferior qualities, but the agency of thought.

Even when a truly transgressive movement emerges, over time it too develops a “group think” that it’s new members simply abide by. Think about Christianity. Think about Communism or Democracy. Each of these were highly radical for their time. Even the very philosophy of Individualism comes with a baggage.

I would like to go in details, but perhaps in a future post. This isn’t the place.

Thinking independently is not something that one is born with or gets by virtue of intellect, knowledge or maturity. It is something you strive for, and in my opinion this is the true meaning of spiritual growth. Everyone, as far as I’m concerned, is moving towards this over the course of their existence. Through the practice spirituality, you slowly begin to care less about what other people think or say, and become more content with yourself. This becomes most evident when you realise that you don’t care about debating with or correcting others, unless it has some real implication. Generally, all that will be achieved is sour the relationship or push the person further into their dogma.

aren’t we all

Ever heard of the axiom “Speech if silver, Silence is Gold” ? The reason magickians don’t go red in the face trying to explain to the others what magick is or convince them that it works, is because they don’t feel the need to tell everyone. Put simply, it doesn’t really matter. This is not apathy, but acceptance of the way things are. It would be far better to improve the world through action, than by arguing with others and endlessly worrying about what the world thinks.

Interestingly, this ties into the values of the Enlightenment era. The scientific method states that nothing should simply be accepted, unless it has been tested and proven effective. Classical liberalism encourages us to live and let live. If you look at history, you’ll see these values didn’t come about in the Enlightenment for the first time, and have existed and evolved since the birth of Civilisation, and often spoken within spiritual and Occult traditions.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden dawn used to insist that the Adept must have three key qualities. Not intellect, nor magick powers. Simply: Persistence, Determination and Humility.

People who are intelligent, or gifted, or rich, or well educated can fail. These things aid people in succeeding, but they do not guarantee success and fulfillment in life. Nor is it that the poor, illiterate, or those who have gone through a lot of hardship always succeed. The only quality common across those who are Adept is their persistence, determination and humility.

When you look at truly great people, you always see that they had a goal that they pursued no matter what, and a strong moral code they lived by. The pursuit of this goal led to failure after failure. But it doesn’t matter how many times they failed, but rather that they continued until success was found.

When you practice magick, you may find that you very quickly start transforming yourself and gaining an edge over others. But we have to constantly remember that we are not superior, or ‘higher’ than others. You have to treat even “lowly” people with respect.

I’m not making a case for pacifism, meekness or servility. Certainly, if someone crosses you, you have to deal with them firmly. Never turn yourself into an unwitting martyr. It’s okay to want things, it’s okay to have desires and ambition, and it’s okay to be aggressive. The Gods favor these qualities. But petty elitism, entitlement, and cruelty toward those who are weak are signs of an inflated Ego. That usually leads to the fall of the Magickian.

The Meaning of Godhood

We have established that the Initiation or Adepthood means the ability to think independently. The key qualities that are sought for in an Adept are humility, persistence and determination.

Most Occult traditions bring about this process through a system of “grades”. Usually, each grade involves rituals, meditations, learning, real world tasks and self analysis. These days, most people self initiate, especially in Western traditions. In Eastern traditions it is still more common to find a teacher.

Every system is different, and it’s not necessary that every person who has achieved a ‘rank’ is actually Enlightened or Spiritual, nor that Initiation can only be attained through this method. The aim is to bring about self transformation.

Every great magickian has only one trait in common, that they truly think for themselves, and would not compromise their principles and values due to social pressure.

The second “enlightenment”, was summed up simply by the Oracle of Delphi:

Know Thyself

Buddhism is the only religion that is the most blunt about how Buddhahood is achieved. It is done through the acquisition of Self Knowledge.

Each person has their own path to this, because each person is unique. The Western traditions call a person’s life path as his “True Will”, and the performance of your True Will is doing the “Great Work”. Hinduism calls it “Dharma” or Duty (in the Bhagavat Gita sense, not Hindu orthodox sense)

These are all simply fancy ways of saying “know thyself”. A person who understands himself, also learns to see himself in others. Each of us will have some degree of insight, and we do various things to increase this. I mean, it is often said that everyone is just looking for love and happiness. Perhaps a better way to put it, would be that everyone is looking for fulfillment.

They want to know what their life means, what they enjoy, whom they are meant to be with, what their profession is supposed to be. “God’s plan” as the Christians put it.

Obscurantism in the Occult has made it seem like ‘Enlightenment’ is some distant, magical privilege afforded only to holy men living in the mountains, or monks living in isolation with nothing but a devotion to God. This is why people allow so called “Enlightened” men and women to take control of their lives, and dictate social norms. This is why people would rather rely completely upon ‘divinely’ inspired scriptures of various political ideologies that promise Utopia, instead of their own intuition and wisdom. Simply put, people do no know themselves, and you cannot trust what you do not know. And so, people seek Divinity in everything but themselves.

Unlike Initiation, there is no specific structure to ‘attain’ Enlightenment’ The simplest way to put it would be to discoverer and follow your unique path. I do not know if everyone’s purpose is Divinely ordained, although I believe this. Even if it isn’t, self knowledge leads the the perception that one is doing what one was meant for, and this brings fulfillment.

As far as I am concerned, Enlightenment means coming to terms with the suffering of life, and then finding something that makes it all worthwhile. If, when my time comes to die, I am not filled with regrets and feel I lived as I was meant to, I think that’s Enlightenment. Sometimes, this means standing against the status quo, and challenging it.

Generally, the Golden Dawn and other such groups stated that integrating the Jungian Shadow and developing a strong moral code, and finally being able to rely completely on your own wisdom, to the point where you do not even need the the symbols of various Occult traditions, is how Enlightenment is achieved. But the point is, it’ll be different for each person, and only each person can know what it means.

It has been described by Western occultists as “the moment where the Individual realises that the entire Universe is speaking to him personally”. The Zen Buddhists speak of ‘spontaneous enlightenment’. In other words, not an elaborate process, but a sudden realisation of Self. Becoming who you are.

For someone, it might mean creating a great scientific invention and for another it may just mean running a bakery in their village. Some enlightened people may develop spiritual powers or take part in the destiny of nations, while others may find fulfillment in gardening or a simple service job. People are different, but, in my opinion, it comes down to Independent Thinking, which then leads to Self Knowledge.

If you can think for yourself, you can act for yourself and do what’s right for you. Over time, you can understand what it is you should do with your life. You can figure this out at 18, or you can figure it out at 50, and then spend the rest of your life pursuing it. This is my interpretation of Dharma.

How to Get On Your Path

First off, I think one should become depolarised. I’ve linked a great video on this topic by Frater Xavier, who explains depolarisation better than I ever could. You don’t have to do “magick” for it, but rituals and meditation certainly helps. Namely, a daily performance of the Middle Pillar Ritual.
A big part of this, as Frater will explain, is learning not to react.

Secondly, learn to be self reliant. During this lockdown, I made an interesting observation. A huge number of people, of all ages, do not know how to perform simple tasks: like cooking, cleaning, and saving money. I suppose I should thank my mother for teaching me everything under the sun. When the lockdown started, and we ran out of Gin, I started brewing alchohol at home using baker’s yeast, burnt bread and a pressure cooker (a Russian drink called Kvass). On the other hand, there were people who are so reliant on immigrant maids cleaning and cooking for them, they can’t even figure out how to make rice.

I’m not trying to pass judgements, but this lockdown brought one thing to everyone’s attention: we simply aren’t self reliant enough: as nations, as communities and as people. We’ve come to rely completely on this interconnected social web that without it, everything starts collapsing. Countries are starting to be forced to open up, even though the virus is still around, because of the very nature of our economy.

I’m not going to say what’s right or wrong, instead I’ll tell you this: this isn’t the first or last time something like this has or will happened. The enormous comfort, peace and prosperity that the world has enjoyed since 1950 is extremely unusual in terms of human history. And let me remind you that everytime things go wrong, people first come after those like us. People like us who are somewhat unusual, do not conform to social norms, have unorthodox beliefs and practices etc. Yeah, we are in an “enlightened time”, but then again, there ARE still countries where ‘witch hunts’ happen. History shows us that things can change radically in just over a decade.

As magickians, we need to learn to rely on ourselves. Learn all basic skills that are needed to live independently. I’m not saying to be detached from society (although some may prefer that), but learn to take care of yourself, so that you aren’t dependent on others. Self reliance is the first Step to Self Knowledge.

Finally, learn. You are part of a vast and complex social network that you were born into. It is not important that you go out and start challenging it, but at least start learning about it. Learn about your religion, your country’s real history, about the political parties you support, what you believe and why. Learn these things without passing judgement, and expose yourself to opposing ideas without engaging it debate or mental justification/retorts. Open your mind, and then open your heart. This is what it means to think for yourself.

And there we go, Enlightenment. It means different things for different people, but the most important thing to remember that it was always supposed to be something the Individual himself can attain, not something rewarded to a few special people.

Until next time.
~White Raven.


The Tree of Life in Assiah: My Journey

Written: November 17th, 2017 | Edited: 20th March 2019

I just realised I have not written anything on here in about 4 months. Well, you know what Magick is like. Every now and then you’re thrown into a state of chaos and forced to figure things out in order to move ahead, both in life and along the path of mysticism. 

Anyway, let’s get to today’s topic: My 10 week long journey, traversing up the Kabbalistic Tree of Life in the Plane of Assiah.


What is Assiah?

There are four planes of existence, and most systems of magick acknowledge this. There’s many variations, and lots of different perspectives of course, but in Ceremonial Magick we classify them according to the four elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire.

Each element corresponds to one of the four Planes of Existence: Assiah (Physical plane), Yetzirah (Astral plane), Briah (Archetypal, or Etheric plane), and Atziluth (Creative plane).


This is a very complicated topic, and an entire book could be written about it (check out Israel Regardie’s The Tree of Life), so don’t get upset if I simplify things quite a bit for the sake of convenience.

Assiah is the name of the first world, and corresponds to the element of Earth. It is the plane of material reality and matter. Put simply, this world in which your body exists, that you currently inhabit and are full conscious of.

The screen on which you read this, and the material it is made of, is part of Assiah. Not just matter, but your family bonds, personal relationships, your career, wealth and psychical well being, are also part of Assiah. From the fundamental particle, to everything you can physically perceive in the Universe, as well as any bonds or attachments you form to material reality, are part of Assiah.

And when it comes to the Magician, the part of him that anchors him to Assiah, is his physical body, and extends to his personal, subjective reality, aka his ‘Kingdom”, or Malkuth, the 10th Sephiroth.

0b0140062dbdc3b790ae4cc8b79c6307This diagram is mixture between Hebrew and Japanese (Shinto/Buddhist) cosmology I found. They are very similar.

Now, each of the four planes corresponds to one of our four bodies, or vehicles. No doubt you’ve heard of people learning to use their astral body, which new agers dub as “light body”, and sometimes even using their etheric body. It’s interesting how many beginner spiritualists enthusiastically dive into these higher worlds, without focusing on the first, most crucial one: the physical one.

Malkuth corresponds to the GD Grade of Zelator, and it is during the first phase of this grade that one builds his body in Assiah. It is essential that one master his body, and gain a certain degree of mastery before going much further. Even if you don’t follow the GD system,  it’s never too late to revisit something simpler. I like to think that it doesn’t matter when we do stuff, as long as we do them.

In this post, I want to talk about each sphere. The exercise basically involves entering each Assiatic House, of which there are 10, each corresponding to a Sephiroth in the Tree of Life. You meditate on each house for a week. During this process, your earthly qualities are brought out, and you’re forced to face them, as they reintegrate into your body, now awakened. Sometimes it’s pleasant, sometimes not. But it’s all worth it at the end.

Olam Yesodoth |Earth | The Elements


Olam Yesodoth is Hebrew for “Sphere of the Elements”, and corresponds to Malkuth in Assiah. This was the very first week and I did not know what to expect. The way I see it, Olam Yesodoth corresponds to the Physical Body and the base physical feelings and desires. It is also as low as a man can go on the Trees. We magicians are used to dwelling somewhere in Yetzirah and Briah, so falling to Assiah can be rough. You must make your way to Yetzirah once again, and re-live all of the material stages of development, which as you may know is the “lower” or “baser” nature of man. 

Perhaps it has to do with learning empathy as well. Suffer like those on the lower rungs, those still in Assiah, and perhaps you will see what motivates and drives them, and why you cannot understand them. But, it is also a realisation and acceptance of your own lower nature, and how you’re also human at the core.

After all, each human being in reality spans from Malkuth in Assiah to Kether in Atziluth. He is just not fully aware of this yet.

During this first week, I just lost all will to do anything. I was exhausted, tired and bored. Everyday, i’d come home and just sort of lie on the floor, until I could eat and sleep. I watched some videos, but mostly I just wanted to sleep. It was as if the very vitality was sucked from me. This is how I used to be before I got into spirituality, and I had forgotten how being tired all the time even felt. I’d gotten out of the habit of sleeping during the day, so I never actually did so this time. This week was lazy and uneventful. I shudder to think that many people do live like this on a daily basis. (But the age of Aquarius is starting to I am certain it shall end. It already is starting to appear visibly in society)

Levanah | The Moon


Levanah is the Hebrew name for the Moon, and corresponds to Yesod in Assiah, which corresponds to the genitals and one’s libido. So, what do you think happened?

Let’s just I had a heightened libido during this week, and I took care of it however I could. It was like being a hormonal teenager, or a pervert. Another week of nothing, just realising how perverted one’s mind can be, and how easy and tempting it is to give in to complete lust.

I imagine this is the path that leads to hedonism. Usually, somewhere along that line, people get “saved” by religion or spirituality. I’m one of those people who got into magick early, so I have little experience with such feelings, except as a younger teen, and that’s my only reference point.

Kokab | Mercury

Now, things started to get kind of interesting.

Kokab is the Hebrew name of Mercury, corresponding to Hod in Assiah. This, I feel, must correspond to the digestive system and food habits. During this week, I suddenly had stomach problems, like acidity and aching. See, when I was younger, I used to have this problem perpetually. Then, it sort of improved as I got older and stronger, but now it was suddenly back, and I was forced to take a long hard look at my diet.

Ever since I became a magician, I decided to eat healthy, but I never REALLY did. I quit meat, and cut down on junk food, but I still sort of cheated and ate some shit. During this week, it ALL went. Anything and everything: cafeteria snacks, soft drinks, sugar, chips (or crisps), most biscuits, juices, and processed food. I began to prefer Sattvic food (look it up), and boy, was it great. I didn’t quit delicious food, I just quit the stuff that’s bad but pumped full of enough chemicals to make you think it’s “delicious”, when it’s really just addictive.


My health, body and energy levels improved dramatically, and I ended up saving a lot of money too. It’s strange when you realise how much we actually need to eat, and how much we actually eat. Two balanced meals a day is actually enough, along with fruits and nuts at certain times. Everything else, I see as an occasional luxury. Although, I still drink coffee, the holy nectar : )

Black of course. And home brewed, like it should be. None of that instant 280 g of sugar per cup bullshit (we got Starbucks in India. Not the biggest fan). I’m not saying be a vegan, but all religions and spiritual practices recommend a certain kind of diet, from the ancient Egyptian priests to New Age gurus, from the frugal yogi to the rich Mason. They aren’t just all saying mumbo jumbo meant to keep you from happiness, trust me. Eat clean, pure and high vibration foods as much as possible. It’s worth it. After some time, you won’t even miss that can of coke you drink daily.

Nogah | Venus


Nogah is the Hebrew name of Venus, corresponding to Netszach in Assiah. I can’t actually tell which part it corresponds to, and my best guess is going to be the stomach.

You ever skip a meal or two? Or just go hungry for a day? You start to feel sort of sad, or depressed, or have pessimistic thoughts, and you’re not sure why. Nothing severe, just sort of a negative feeling, that disappears immediately after you eat a nice meal.

Well, it’s because your brain runs on Glucose, and without that, your moods get erratic. Furthermore, low blood sugar is known to cause depression. Well, for that reason or some other, this week I got depressed. Severely.

Like REALLY depressed. People keep pointing out that simply being sad is very different from real depression. Well, what I felt was more like real depression. I wasn’t sad, really, nor was there any particularly negative thoughts. I just couldn’t find the motivation to do…anything at all.

I simply could not get myself out of bed in the mornings. I didn’t feel like playing games, or reading, or even watching a movie. It took everything I had just to do my daily ritual. I couldn’t enjoy anything. At times, I even felt energetic, and motivated, but couldn’t channel it into anything, or be happy doing anything. In fact, not just happiness, I couldn’t even feel angry, or sad, or emotional. It was just dark, and empty. Made me understand what it would be like to have no purpose in life, and no reason to live. It was desolate.

I also had a SEVERE crisis of faith. In magick, in the Divine, in the Self. I didn’t want to continue. Just give up, and become a nihilistic atheist. What if all this was a sham? What if all my prior success was just one big coincidence? What if nothing had meaning after all? What if I was just going mad?

Update (2019): This crisis of faith was basically me passing through Paroketh (The Veil) in Assiah. This lies above Hod/Netszach, and below Tiphareth.

But this was promptly restored. I ended up reading a Hindu blog about the lack of faith. Hinduism approaches the idea of faithlessness very differently than, say, Christianity, so I ended up feeling reassured after that. It doesn’t condemn you for not having faith, but assures you that you need to stay true to yourself, but also tells you rather sternly that no one will save you but you, so get your shit together and figure it out. At the very least, it says that whatever you’re feeling is true and real, that you’re not just “wrong” for these feelings. It says if you’ve ended up an atheist, then it’s better to be one than force faith. At the same time, if you choose to be faithful, then you have to find that yourself. Anything else would be empty.

Go find your salvation, or accept your life. Whatever gives you satisfaction. Don’t worry about what any scripture says, since ultimately your life is yours. Just as Arjuna had to go face a war, and do his duty as a warrior. Krishna was with him throughout, but never raised his weapons, though he was the Lord of the Universe.
No one saved Arjuna. No divine miracles were performed, none of his sins were pardoned. There were no Gods on his side, and no angels singing in the sky. The future for him, looked bleak and bloody. But still he fought, and won.

All he was given was a sermon, and a vision. And the he rode out to meet his fate.


Shamash | The Sun

Finally, in the 6th week, I left the lower spheres behind and entered Shamash, the Sun, corresponding to Tiphareth in Assiah.

The Sun corresponds to your Heart, and what is in it. This is where the Self is.

This was a great week. It’s difficult to put into words, but this week I was at my creative best, and I put in a lot of work. The desire to succeed and produce something good, to improve my skills and let the Higher Genius flow through, became very strong. And so, I ignored everything else, and I put in the work. This week jump-started the main goal of the Zelator grade: that of mastering the element of Earth. Now that the lower nature had been overcome, every week from then on brought more positives than negatives. This was when I felt better again. Christ has been resurrected.


Maadim | Mars


This was an intense phase. Maadim, as you can guess, is Mars, corresponding to Geburah in Assiah. The energies of this week were so strong, that their influence remained with me long after the week was up, and even after the entire exercise was up. Eventually, they faded, but they left a permanent impact upon my beliefs and opinions, which I don’t think will ever go.

Maadim is fiery and intense, and thus, deeply connected to your religious, political and social beliefs and opinions. Even though we magicians should be depolarised, we’ll always have some subjectivity, and certain leanings. Maadim polarised me to a immense degree, but due to this, it changed my thinking. Or rather, helped me think for myself rather than simply be led on by whatever was told to me by any side.

I wouldn’t say it put anything new into my mind, but brought out and laid bare what was already there. In a way, it forces you off the fence, and makes you take a stance in life, and after the week was over, I was much more certain of where I wanted to be in life, and even after I centered and grounded myself later, these things became a part of me, because they resonate with me deeply, though I never realised this before.

I wouldn’t say I, or anyone else is forced to submit due to social norms. Rather, we’ve accepted certain norms from birth, and never truly questioned them, or how we feel and think. Imagine North Korea: most of the world’s actually just a milder version of it. We were taught certain things were good and accepted, and we shunned everything else so strongly we never gave them a chance. For me, entering the occult was part of stepping out of the firelight.


A majority of the people are stuck in such a state of indecisiveness and neutrality, making it easy to sway them to either side, with enough incentive.

I remember, one night I didn’t even sleep, because I was too agitated at my own thoughts, and how far they could go. At the same time, I also recognized an intense hate, and maniacal rage. I understood, for the first time, how The Nazis must have thought and felt as they unloaded their rage onto those whom they deemed to e responsible for their suffering. Though I understood this, I couldn’t help but be swayed by it, and it would be long before I would calm down.

Nonetheless, it is important to understand this inner monster that is Mars. Only by understanding it, can you control it and use this energy to constructive ends. Interestingly, this is not only how the tyrants felt, but also the heroes. Both Hitler and Churchill. Same energy, just depends on where you direct it.

Anyway, i’m much more sure of myself now, and much more confident.

Update (2019): Ultimately, these feelings would stay with me for the next year and a half, and then it would take another 6 months before I could call them “resolved”. I thought everything could be fixed by having a logically coherent political ideology. But humans aren’t “logical”. We’re too complex, reality is too fucking complex.

India was having quite the political crises at the time, and I was too willing to take sides.

I never did anything physically, but mentally I went DEEP. But eventually I went so deep, that an abyss opened up in my belief systems. Suddenly everything collapsed, and I realised the futility of it all. This was partly shown to me by higher forces. They showed me the sheer intricacy of this system and society we have built over 2.3 million years, and our place in the cosmos.

Maybe it was just be transitioning from the idealism of my teen years to the realism and practicality that marks adulthood. But at least I gained the ability to think for myself. I was freed from the fear of social conformity.

Tzedek | Jupiter


Tzedek is the name of Jupiter, and corresponds to Chesed in Assiah. Now, bear in mind that the energies of Mars were still very active and strong.

Tzedek rules our ability to be reasonable and think clearly. Just as Maadim is the Right Shoulder, the force and power behind our dominant hand, Tzedek is the Left Shoulder, the hand of mercy and receiving. I calmed down somewhat. I believe all that really happened is that I was able to see the OTHER side of every argument. I didn’t agree with it, but I could somewhat relate to and appreciate other opinions. At the very least I felt a bit more merciful. During this period I just stopped and began to reflect, looking upon the long, long road ahead of me. The Golden Dawn self initiation is no joke after all. It’s not quick or easy.

I also became confident and my opinions became set in stone, after being tossed up and rapidly changed in the chaos of Maadim, they were cemented by Tzedek. At the same time, I was made to come face to face with my out of control tendencies I started to not enjoy any sort of mindless indulgence anymore.

The paths from Tiphareth to Geburah, and then to Chesed also represent overcoming the Shadow. This was all aspects of my Shadow I’d discovered. You could say this was a period when I became less hedonistic and much more disciplines, and almost monastic.


Shabbathai | Saturn

Shabbathai is Saturn! It corresponds to Binah in Assiah. This corresponds to the Right hemisphere of the brain. It rules intuition, subjectivity and creativeness. The sacred feminine, the subconscious, and Chaos.

With this, I crossed the Abyss (not the big one, but just the “Abyss” in the context of this 10 week exercise. A part of me crossed a part of the Abyss, you could say) and enter the Supernal Triad in Assiah.

This was a strange week. I felt the prevalence of of two emotions: agitation and lethargy. I’d get easily riled up and angry over stuff, especially the news. The Maadim energies were coming back.

For some idiotic reason, I also got the idea of pulling all nighters to work, as Saturn also rules over hard work and rigour. However, every time I tried, I’d always end up falling asleep anyway and waking up tired and annoyed. It’s not like I haven’t stayed up before, but during this time I just couldn’t.

I worked hard though, on all my work, and it felt good. The rigour and pain taught me much, and to accomplish things after giving it your best just feels so much more rewarding, and your work naturally gets better. However, it also brought with it just a tinge of sadness and loneliness…


If I was to use one word for this week, it would be “internal turmoil”, but it was all for the better. By the end of it, I’d made a habit of avoiding any and all agitating and polarising stuff. I had developed a dedication to more important things in life, and all other things just became less important, especially things that simply to satisfy the Ego. My opinions did not change though, but the obsession was over.

Mazloth | Neptune | The Zodiac


Now we enter the great Sphere of Chokmah, to which Mazloth corresponds. This sphere rules over the Zodiac, as well as the planet Neptune. It is the Left hemisphere of the brain, and thus, it is divine logic, higher intellectual thought, the conscious, and Order. The sacred masculine.

This was a good week. I became wiser, and calmer. The Maadim energy finally began to subside and balance out. I began to prefer positivity, and things with higher value.

I felt much, much less drawn to negative, weird, and sensational things. Despite having previously thought I knew the “truth” in Maadim, I now realised that I could take nothing for granted. The rabbit hole goes very, very deep. I mean, I began to read some of the actual history and literature about my own country, and it’s leaders, including Gandhi.

Man! Imagine finding out that you’ve been blatantly lied to, through every imaginable medium, from school textbooks to movies, about every aspect of your culture and society. It’s not a pleasant thought. And this brought with it, a new sense of nationalism. The kind that everyone swears they do not have, or shun, until they actually start looking at stuff objectively. It brought to light both good things and bad things.

Not the lowly, shitty “nationalism” that involves claiming the achievements of your ancestors and finding scapegoats that you can blame. Not the kind that make you insist that anyone who doesn’t see things your way is “anti national”. No, more of an understand of where you’ve come from, and how many sacrifices have been my by your ancestors. I began to think about what it all meant, to belong to a place, to call it your home, and also what responsibility that might bring. What are we meant to do, by “belonging” to a nation. What does it mean to love one’s “Motherland”, or to hate it’s “enemies”?

But. as Buddha said “All is Illusion”.

My country is just one example. I began to develop a habit of looking “deeper” into things, to understand and perceive reality with an objective mind, and learn to follow my gut and intuition.

I had new ideals to strive for. Real ideals.


Rashith ha Gilgalim | Uranus | The Pole Star


You’d think the Crown, the sphere of Kether, would be some kind of amazing, revolutionary phase. Rashith ha Gilgalim corresponds to this highest sphere. It means “The Great Swirlings”, refering to the Pole Star, and the stars that circle around it, as well as Uranus, the Father of Thought.

It rules the Pituitary gland (master gland). Unlike what I imagined, this week was fairly mundane. I had a bitcoin mining craze for a day or two, until realising my GPU wasn’t really fit for it. I went and bought some new clothes.

By the end of the week, I had normalised again. All the energies the past 10 weeks had brought settled down and began integrated. I became whole again.

It felt like I was no longer swayed and controlled by the forces, but instead that all these new forces and energies I had discovered and been exposed to had become tools in my arsenal, reserved for when needed.

As I returned to being a mundane fellow, I knew I had changed internally, and irreversibly. I had become a wholly new person, one who had awakened every earthly force that existed withing him.

Thus, I ended my journey up the Tree of Assiah, and prepared for the rest of the grade of Zelator. There was still a long road ahead.

I follow the self initiation methods given in the book Kabbalah, Magick and the Great Work of Self transformation, by Lyam Thomas Christopher. It’s probably the most popular around right now for those who want to self initiate using the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn tradition. Highly recommended if you’re serious about magick and spirituality.

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading that, and would like to read more of my work. In that case, why not follow my blog?

Trust me, it’s great! And sometimes, it even makes sense! Other than that, do check out some other stuff I’ve written.

If you have hate for me or want to get into a long, pointless, time consuming debate about philosophy, leave a comment!

Well, that’s all for now. Do check out some of my other writings, you’ll probably find something useful. You can also follow me on Instagram @WhiteRavenMagus

Until Next time.
~White Raven