In my search for fire, I found it on the puszta of the Carpathian basin. For a boy from Appalachia, the Great Hungarian Plain is a very strange environment. And although I’ve lived in Hungary for 17 years now, I only came to know this unique windswept corner of the earth about two years ago.
A nutshell geography lesson: The area north and west of Budapest (i.e. the Buda side of the Danube) is hilly. South and east of the Danube (the Pest side) is flat. This polarity is one of the keys to what makes Budapest a dynamic city. It affects everything: the weather (it’s cooler on the Buda side, and it often snows there in the winter when it’s still just raining in Pest), social strata (Buda is the classy, expensive half of the city), zoning (Buda is more residential, Pest is more commercial), and so on.
If you drive out of Budapest in a southeasterly direction, you end up on a wide plane of alternating farmland and low, thin forests. My family has become friends with a family that lives on an isolated tract of this land, about eighty kilometers southeast of Budapest.
The first time we went to spend a weekend there, I was fascinated by the terrain. The soil consists of very fine sand. And, as in the desert, sand gets into everything. People must spend a fortune on machine oil around there. Dirt roads are sand. Taking a short walk along the road covers your shoes in fine grit. The flora that survives in this climate is tough, low-growing weeds that tend to be kind of scratchy and thorny. Almost all of the trees are stunted skinny acacias. There’s an odd beauty to the way the scrubby vegetation manages to hold onto the surface of this aenemic earth, and even manages to bloom in the spring.
And on clear summer days, the sun bears down mercilessly on this terrain. When the sun is high in the sky, it’s best to retreat to the cool shadows of an ancient farm house with thick mud walls.
This region is where the word gulash comes from. Hungarian cattle herders (called gulyás in Hungarian) grazed wandering herds on these plains.
What do I mean when I say I am looking for fire?
The way I understand my magical development is that my current task is to learn the nature of the four elements, and to balance them within myself. That’s one of the things I’m using the LBRP for. I’m also doing research and reading in various sources about them, and I am doing “path working” and dreamwork to this end (more about both of those in future postings). And as a physical, objective-world manifestation of my coming to grips with the elements, I am slowly gathering the four elemental weapons: the cup, the wand, the dagger and the pantacle.
In my youth I had a leather bag that had all of my magickal tools in it. Among other things it contained: a three-legged incense burner for placing charcoal disks on; bags of various incense powders; a bottle of annointing oil my mentor had made for me; and a chain made of 333 steel wire links that my mentor had made for me as a “portable” circle, with its own leather pouch decorated with an embossed leather talisman, also made by my mentor. As far as the elemetal weapons were concerned, I only had two: a chalice-shaped pottery cup, and a simple but beautiful black hilted knife in a sheath. No wand. No pantacle. That bag disappeared from my life through, well, let’s call them karmic circumstances. In a way a test. In another way a cleansing. No matter. I haven’t seen those things for nearly two decades, and have no idea where they ended up.
How a cup came back into my tool box is interesting.
In AMORC, one is taught to prepare for all inner work by washing one’s hands while clearing the mind of all mundane concerns through an act of will, and then drinking a glass of cold water, as a sign of inner cleansing. A senior member told me that it becomes a more powerful gesture if one always uses the same glass or cup for this purpose. That made lots of sense to me, so I went to the Christmas market on Vörösmarty Square, found a potter whose wares I liked, and chose a cup that appealed to me as a ritual water vessel. Voila! I had a cup again. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not big on consecrating, but I’m very big on dedicating. That cup has been used for nothing but ritual purposes ever since I bought it. And it has lived in the cabinet with my sanctum mirror. My children know that cup. When I do Rosicrucian healing for them, the last step is to give them a cup of water to drink that I’ve magnetized with my hands. Because it’s the only time they ever see that cup, and they know I get it out of the sanctum cabinet, it has a deep effect on them (not to mention that it smells of rose otto oil, like everything else in the sanctum cabinet).
The dagger, as I mentioned in my last posting, was a fairly recent addition to my toolbox. A small windfall coincided with the the desire to add that energy to my LBRP. I acted on the impulse.
So, oddly, once again I easily acquired the same two weapons out of the four. But, when I think of it, this manifestation speaks volumes about me. I am undoubtedly more manifest on the air and water “channels” than I am on the fire and earth side. I grew up in a very intellectual (airy) family. My father was a professor, and everybody in my family has at least one college degree. One wall of every room in the house I grew up in was a book shelf. And I was a very emotional, expressive (water) boy. I did lots of amateur acting and sang in choirs, and performed in musical theater.
What I lacked was will (fire) to persevere in tough situations and see projects through to the end. I was more likely to sneak around behind people’s backs to get my way than to confront them. And I didn’t quite have my feet on the ground (earth). It took a long time for me to understand the importance of earning money and having the physical means to get things done.
Now slowly, over time, I have developed more fire and earth through life experiences (aikido training provided some of both), but I can still perceive that I am imbalanced that way. My fire isn’t always under control. I can get angry and bully people to get my way. And my earthy side can get weighed down and lethargic.
These are the reasons, among others, for my quest to add a wand and a pantacle to my arsenal.
Trying to find definitive instructions on how to make a wand confused me more than it helped me. Regardie’s Complete Golden Dawn would have you make either the elaborte Lotus Wand (which is for specific purposes) or an elemental fire wand, which it describes like this:
The Staff of the Wand should be of wood, rounded and smooth, and perforated from end to end, and within it should be placed a steel rod, just so long as to project an inch beyond each end of the wood rod.
It is often convenient to form the Wand from cane which has a natural hollow through it. If of cane there should be three natural lengths according to the knots, so that these knots may be placed similarly to the manner in which they are placed in the figure which is such as a turner would produce. Eighteen inches is an extreme length. The magnet should be a strong one.
One end of the Wooden Rod should be cone-shaped. The North end of the magnet,(known by its repelling the so-called North Pole of a compass needle) should be placed at the end of the Wand which is plain.
The whole is coloured flame scarlet, and divided into 3 parts by Yellow bands. The Cone shaped end has also painted upon its red surface three wavy flame-shaped YODS as ornaments; they are painted in bright yellow as in illustration. The Divine and Angelic names of the Element Fire, should be there written in green paint along the Shaft and on the Cone. Their sigils should be added with the Motto of the Adeptus. The green should be bright Emerald. The wand must then be consecrated.
The Wand is to be used in all workings of the Nature of Fire and under the Presidency of YOD and of the Wand of the Tarots. Sigils are not given. The Adeptus must work them out for himself.
And that doesn’t even include the very elaborate consecration ritual prescribed for the wand.
I compare that to some of the grimoires, and to the wands they designate for the specific purposes they have in mind, and there’s almost no comparison. There’s no agreement on what it should be made of, on the design of the wand, nor on how it should be “ornamented”, for lack of a better word. Joseph Peterson, owner of the online esoteric archive The Twilit Grotto, was good enough to put together this detailed study of the world’s wand lore, which pretty much leaves the reader with the same impression: there are more ways to make a wand and more things to make them out of than… er… you can shake a stick at.
Since I’ve decided I’m only going to consult Golden Dawn material as a reference, but not strictly follow the system (the reasons for which are a hole ‘nuther posting in itself), I’d come to the conclusion that the most important attribute of a wand is that one feel comfortable with it; that one is confident it can conduct and represent their fire energy.
I want to steer a middle path between Frater RO’s nonchalance regarding the source of one’s ritual tools and, say, Joseph Lisiewski’s rigid insistence on following all grimoire prescriptions to the letter. I obviously didn’t learn blacksmithing to get my dagger (as cool as that would be!), but if I can think of a way to make my own ritual tools, then I will. The personal touch adds special vibes to anything you do.