This is a page from a notebook I started when I was 18 years old (click on it to see bigger image). I had pages of this sort of thing in any number of notebooks and on numerous loose leaves: symbols arranged in every imaginable pattern, some copied from books, some my own speculative designs. These are the tracks left by the exploring mind tinkering away and trying to solve the puzzle of the universe. And once I’d learned Hebrew, the tarot and kabbalistic numbers, I sometimes spent hours filling sheets with all manner of designs and calculations. And it’s obviously not just me who does this.
In my work of collecting my elemental weapons, the last to materialize for me was the pantacle. This weapon, corresponding with the element earth, is said to be the sum of the magician’s understanding of the universe. It is the truth, as he sees it. It imposes order and stability on his world.
At first I thought I would make a pantacle like the one specified by the Golden Dawn teachings (like the one pictured at right). It’s made of a wooden disk, with the hexagram carved into it, and the four colored fields painted on. But then I realized I don’t really have the tools to make this, and besides that, it doesn’t appeal to me.
This led me to ask myself: what is my understanding of the universe? What do I consider to be the “truth”. I began scribbling different patterns and symbols on pieces or paper and stuffing them in my pockets. I’d pull them out several times a day and contemplate them, and then scribbled a revised symbol.
At first I was working with adaptations of the Sigilum Dei Aemeth (pictured at left), a symbol of God’s truth which has appeared in various versions in various books of magic since the middle ages. But I realized, after a while, that this doesn’t really express my understanding of the universe at this point in my life.
I continued making little drawings, and revising them. Since I’d been working with the elements and the LBRP lately, with it’s formula “about me flames the pentagram, and in the column stands the six-rayed star”, I decided to make a design that integrates the pentagram and the hexagram. I wanted the elements in it and the seven planets. And here’s the result.
It’s easy to see that this is really a modified Hermetic Rose, with the elements in the middle, surrounded by the planets, with the zodiac on the outer ring. I plotted the design in pencil on high-quality water-color paper, then drew the lines with permanent marker, painted the colors with water colors and drew the planet symbols with permanent marker. The section in the center under the sun symbol, and the zodiacal symbols were done with metalic gold and silver pens, respectively. I glued the water-color paper to heavy poster board with wood glue, and then glued another layer of poster board to the back of that. I placed the whole thing between layers of paper towels and newspapers on my desk, and then stacked about a half a meter of my largest books on top of it. I left it like this until it dried. This felt very appropriate for an object which would be an earth symbol. The glue and all that pressure were creating something dense and compressed.
Once the glue had dried, I carefully cut the disk out of the card board. The three glued layers made it surprisingly hard. It has become a solid cohesive object. At this point I spray laquered it to protect the water color, and almost ruined several days of work. If I were a real artist, I’d know my materials better. I didn’t realize that the solvent in the laquer would dissolve the permanent marker. (Though, come to think of it, permanent markers are called “alcohol pens” in Hungarian. Duh!) It wasn’t really a problem, except for the mercury symbol, which just melted right away. The more materialistic explanation is the the orange paint was chemically different than the others, and it catylized the marker running. I just find it poetic that of all the symbols on the disk, it was mercury that went all squirrelly on me.I had to get out the paint and the marker to touch it up. You can tell if you look at the picture carefully.
So now, for the first time in my life, I have a full set of elemental weapons. I don’t claim to fully understand the nature of the elements now, nor do I claim to have mastered their use. But I am a definite step closer than I used to be.