Author Topic: Concerning the Magic Circle and Perception  (Read 1787 times)

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December 04, 2010, 12:06:48 PM
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Wren

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This is a work in progress for The Cabal Journal. I'm posting this in the hopes of raising interest in the project, getting feed-back, and maybe getting some editing. I forgot to include the overlaying of astral circles into physical anchors and the practical experiments. To be remedied soon. (You'll just have to get your hands on the Journal to read the final draft.)

Concerning the Magic Circle


Including Theoretical and Practical Considerations


Firstly, let me say that Form and Essence have a dichotomous relationship which arises naturally out of the imperfect nature of Perception. I will not belabor the point, but would like to point out the various levels on which this imperfection plays out. Firstly, there is the limitation of focus, in which one may not observe detailed information about any particular object while remaining generally focused on ones field of perception, the opposite, in which one is intently focused on the details of any one focal object (whether that be a physical object, or a mental concept like scanning a literary piece for "theme"), is also limiting in that one is liable to completely overlook the very existence of non-focal and non-focal-related objects. To compensate for this, we practice focal meditation. Secondly, there is the suggestibility of the observer. We, as humans, are variously susceptible to the phrasing of instructions and general cultural assumptions in deciding which perceived events are to be remembered, how they are to be conceptually interpreted, and how they may be altered in order to preserve certain cherished assumptions. To combat this tendency, we practice object language exercises, and so begin to develop object perception in the stead of subject perception. Thirdly is the experiential nature of human understanding. We understand complex ideas by using internal metaphor to simplify complex models into simpler simulations based on previously observed phenomena. This means that one must possess certain experiences before certain complex phenomena can be modeled. For this, we embrace life and experience as a means of emancipation from our naturally limited state. Fourthly, one must consider perspective. We observe our surroundings as being a three dimensional area running along a time axis. This prevents one from accurately perceiving the past and the future. In a less occult sense, we are bound by our scale as well. We see neither the dance of quarks nor supernova unaided. Hidden within the above is the key to the twin powers of Capricorn, the Blasting and Generative Eyes, though, perhaps I have stumbled a ways away from my point. Because there are limitations to perception, there are two types of physical Form, the Perceived and the Actual. We can only perceive Perceived Form, and have only the satisfaction of similarity between perceptions to indicate that there is an Actual Form. As Below, So Above. In the fay world of spirit, the above is more plainly observed in the play between Essence (Actual Form) and Shape (Perceived Form). A spirit of Fire may appear quite different for seers of different backgrounds and so different integrated symbol sets. This, one would think, could prove quite daunting to the progress of metaphysical study, however, this self same mutability allows us an opportunity to "cross-culturally" examine salient features and in so doing come closer to grasping the Essence hidden in Shape. Moving past the boring introductory material, let's get to the Magic Circle.

The Magic Circle is a Salient Feature in many cultures. It is often one of the most important symbolic features of the culture's magical geography, challenged only by the Phallic Rod or Tree. Often enough, the two features become entwined as an expression of sexual mystery, though only one configuration will be entered into here. The Circle is, at its core, an object of geometry, so let us look first to that shade of mystery. The Circle is the set of all possible points equidistant from a central point bounded within a single plane. From this we can see that the relationship, here represented by the radius, between any peripheral point and the central point is the same, even while the relationship between peripheral points is quite variable, represented by arc-segments. We also see that the fundamental division of the Circle is into the periphery, center, and the expression of the relationship between the two, the radius. This triple concept of radiality, centrality, and peripherality is re-iterated by the Circle unbound by the plane of representation, the Sphere. The Sphere, unbound along the fourth axis, becomes a potent symbol, expressing the dual confinement and rulership of the central point, which is itself a potent analogue for examining the relationship between the atom of consciousness and the body, the Mystery of Place, the interplay of multiple forces on a single focus, the bound set of paths along which an object can progress, the expression of the internal will upon the world through intermediary means, the interplay between the subconscious ad conscious minds, and countless others. The Circle, on the other hand, when projected along the time axis becomes something quite other. It becomes a hole, and so resonates with the concept of the Gate. The Gate, of course, implies restricted passage (for what purpose does a Gate that cannot be closed serve?) and so further ties in the concept of limitation. Here we see that the circle contains a measure of contradiction, for not only does the circle imply its counterpart, the point, it also contains within it the mystery of both the Gate and the Key, as well as the King and the Kingdom. This can be summed up by relating the Circle (more specifically the expressed circle) to both the concept of wholeness/solidity/confinement and to opening/door. To be crude but effective, we see that the Circle is related to the Womb, the Hymen, and the Vagina. The threefold division of the Circle can be seen as relating to the wheel, and with it the notion of motion and cycles, as well as tangentially touching upon fate through the symbolism of the spinning wheel. The extension of the theme of the sphere of sensation is also often encountered, being the idea that the world, or a world, should be represented by a circle. Here we are able to find physical analogues as well, for are not planets and stars usually more or less spherical?

Let's see how the geometric functions in application, shall we? What is the Circle used for in magic? Namely, the circle is used as a tool of protection, binding, and as an entrance into spiritual planes. The classic magic circle is employed by the conjuror to protect himself from the dread spirits he awakens. Here we see that either the conjuror, or his (God's) representation, the altar is placed in the central place of power, while various arcane words, glyphs, and figures serve to define the nature of the periphery by existing in the radial space. The periphery itself is seen to be the actual boundary, even though the circle is closed "by the grace of god," which reinforces our hypothesis of a threefold division of the parts of the circle. The threefold scheme is also emphasized in Hexsigns. We can see a similar application of the periphery in the belief that the sigils of demonic spirits were to be encircled inside the grimoire to keep them from causing trouble to the owner outside of formal ritual. This method of employment takes on a more obviously constrictive form, but is still recognizable as relying upon the same theory as the construction of the conjuror's magical circle of protection. The Circle, as an analog for a vessel, is also occasionally used in the preparation of various enchantments and spells as a means of causing unification of disparate elements. There is also the Wiccan practice of "cutting" or casting a circle to consider. In this act, the circle partakes of both its symbolism as a container and as a Gate, bridging the spiritual and mundane worlds by creating a space "betwixt and between" them. The Circle is both a space protected from the outside world, and a door into the realm of the gods. When the ceremony is completed and the chant "may the Circle be open but unbroken" spoken, the protective space becomes fully the Gate, releasing the sacred atmosphere into the physical world to do good. The Portal Sign of the Golden Dawn bears similar symbolic elements, for the magus symbolically pushes through the veil and enters into the macrocosmic world, the world (hypothetically) unbound by the problems of perception. Mandala practice is also an example of purely Gate symbolism employed by using the circle. Mandalas are often circular, and certain of such are used as blueprints for constructing mental worlds which are entered into through the pictorial representation. The central spoke position is, once again, one of major importance. Radial symmetry is also common. An entire world of spirits is contained by the circle. When the meditative practice is finished, once again we see the dispersion of excess "divine" energy through the scattering of the circle components.

The elements from which a magic circle is generally constructed are also revealing in the pursuit of Essence. Cascarilla, or powdered eggshell, contains the idea of the Sphere; Bone, which is related to solidity, form itself, and limitation through its Saturnine association; containment; gestation; and all of that jazz that has already been covered. Chalk is similar due once again to the Saturnine association and the "bone-like" nature of the old shellfish. Flour is a bit different. Flour, or ground grain partakes of an earthy-solar sacrificial cyclical nature, since it follows the Rising, Triumphant, Setting, and Slain pattern of seasonal change governed by the relationship between the Earth and the Sun. The grain that is processed into flour is also often golden, the color of the sun, and sustaining. Because of these ideas, flour can be conceived of as having multiple separate ritual functions, as a sacrifice to the dwellers in the darkness, as a ward against them because of its Solar nature, and as a means of entering into the perceived cyclical nature of Nature and the Heavens. Fire is very similar, but partakes of an elemental instead of a planetary correspondence. Vines twined 'round into a circle contain both the idea of vital force and saturnine constriction. Stone echoes the idea contained by the Sphere in it's rounded shape and hardness. Standing stones also serve to tie into the seasonal current because of the precise alignment of monuments as calenders in times long past. The cut or drawn circle emphasizes the Gate aspect of the Circle by drawing the focus to the division of the worlds, symbolized in the severing of the Earth. Ink is used to define shape and give purpose to the white space of paper, and thread is spun upon the spinning wheel of Fate. Symbolically potent materials can be the magician's best friend, and the Circle an invaluable tool.

Any input, flaming, idle chatter that might improve the final draft will be appreciated.  :)
« Last Edit: December 14, 2010, 06:34:19 PM by Wren »

December 04, 2010, 09:11:54 PM
Reply #1

Iatros

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Excellent work, very well-written. No flaming from me. Input, let's see...

You refer to the various parallels that can be drawn between the circle / sphere and the feminine sexual energies, but if I'm not mistaken you omit the ovum. It's a small detail, but I do believe that it ties in nicely with what else you've written, what with the egg being both a means of containment and a sort of portal for life itself.

In your opinion, can you viably connect the light-directing properties of circular lenses / irises / the actual biological eye (I have a thing for eyes) to the magical circle?

Next, near the end of your writing, you allude several times to cycles, but don't  explicitly discuss the circle in relation to cycles, infinity, the O(siris risen) in IAO, the Ouroboros, the processing of distillation, etcetera. Fleshing out your allusions would be good; right now, only the implications are present.

Next, just plain question: in expressing the circle fourth dimensionally, why do you yield a hole instead of a hypersphere? I've never thought of it that way before, so I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on the idea, even if it doesn't make its way into your final draft.

Thumbs up, my friend. I will re-read this a few more times and see if I get anything else after a good night's sleep.
"And in this lies my honour and my reward, - / That whenever I come to the fountain to drink I find the living water itself thirsty; / And it drinks me while I drink it." - Almustafa

December 04, 2010, 09:59:16 PM
Reply #2

Wren

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Thanks for the input. It looks like it's going to get even longer mwahaha. If I omitted the ovum, it was because I thought that I had gone into that by talking about the Sphere as an egg. I think that that part will fit better into the applications paragraph I have forgotten to write. I really appreciate you pointing out my forgetfulness on all counts.

As for the eye, all I can say is that it is a very complex symbol, and one I plan to work with more in the future. I say you certainly can connect the eye to the circle, but I think that instead we should connect the circle to the eye. To me, the magic gaze maps to the parts of the circle. The awareness/focus of awareness is the point, the filter is the radius, and the outside world is the circumference. This is a backwards from the analogies that arise from awareness of how light is perceived inside the eye, and all that jazz, but, if we do astrology based on the seven classical "planets," I see no reason not to simplify the mechanism of vision. If you were going to use a more scientific system of analogy, you would have to essentialy model the actual biology. The pupil circle become a circle as gate, the iris becomes a radial feature that governs the nature of the circumference that is the lense, while the center is itself a circle, being the retina, whose secret center is the optic nerve which is but a radial aspect of the great circle of visual perception, whose circumference is the eyeball, and whose center is the visual part of the brain, which is just the outside of the onion of consciousness. It gets very confusing very quickly, you know?

As for the circle being a hole in four-d, I was speaking of time as a single dimension. It's 3D that moves. The circle can be represented best as a sphere in that type of coordinate plane, with the hole, and finally the disk falling further from the idea. It is really mainly just a conceit to allow me to separate the Gate-type symbolic nature from the Limitation-type symbolic nature inside the larger body of the circle as a symbol. I'm totally cool with hypersphere as the expression of the circle in 5D, but since I don't see that way, I'm not familiar with the form. If you've got something to add on that front, by all means chunck it in. It is an article for your pet magazine after all.