Tools: Candles and Lanterns

May 15, 2010

Candles and Lanterns are the tools of the element of spirit, or akasha, or void (whatever you want to call it). It is that which flows through all things, that from which all things come forth, and that which is composed of all elements. It is a hermaphroditic element, being both completely male and female. Fire’s physical representation is the flame. Earth’s physical representation is the dirt in the ground. The physical representation of spirit is what we call in modern magical practice energy. Energy is invisible, but it is still sensible and quantifiable. Energy is what makes up your aura, your shield, it makes up the majority of your astral body and a good deal of your physical body. Energy manipulation is one of the basic magical abilities, and the vast majority of magic is dependent upon it.

The element of spirit is both active and passive at the same time, which also means that it is also neither active nor passive at the same time. It is a hermaphroditic element, being both masculine and feminine (and being both completely masculine and feminine). Spirit is seen as the first of the five elements, and Fire and Water spring forth from it (with Air and Earth coming forth from Fire and Water). Spirit is seen as the divine force. The element of spirit is also associated with our connection into the spiritual realm. Spirit is what connects us to what lies beyond our physicality. It also connects us to the divine source. And it connects us into every other thing in the universe.

It is actually the flame upon the candle or lantern that is representative of the element of spirit. This can get confusing because common sense would dictate that we should use a flame to represent fire, so candles and lanterns should be elemental tools of fire. However in practice a flame represents spirit.

Unfortunately energy, which is the manifestation that we attribute to spirit, is not recognized by the mundane world. Although energy can be sensed, manipulated, identified, and quantified by an experienced practitioner, the average person can only sense energy and only in a very limited way. Although energy can be quantified, it can not be quantified in an empirically quantified. There is no purely objective way to sense, identify, and categorize different energies. Because of this it is very difficult to find something which can be associated with spirit.

We use a flame because a flame seems to exist halfway between the two worlds (like energy), being as much physical as it is spiritual. A flame has no weight. When we light a torch, it doesn’t become heavier. It doesn’t have a physicality. We can pass our hand right through a flame. In this sense, a flame seems to be completely spiritual. Yet even the uninitiated with no ability to see spirits can see a flame. And if we touch a flame, it hurts. In this sense a flame is a very physical thing. This is very important to how we use flames in magic. Flames bridge the gap between physical actions and spiritual effects. Also if we burn something, it ceases to have a physically and instead ascends into a spiritual form.

Also of interest is that flames cast light. Since spirit is connected to the divine, this light is often associated with divine light and spiritual truth.

Using candles in magic

Candles are by far one of the most powerful and versatile magical tools. In fact it would be beyond the scope of a single blog post to completely explore the many uses and nuances of candle magic. Others have tried to condense the subject into large books and have still failed. If you’re looking for a book that goes over the basics of candle magic, I highly recommend The Magic Candle by Charmaine Day. If you’re already adept at candle magic, don’t expect to learn anything new from the book. It covers very basic theories and ideas that are key to understanding how to use candles in spellwork and ritual.

It’s important to remember that in ritual candles, particularly their flames, represent several things. They are a connection between the physical and the spiritual. They are a source of energy. They can also represent fire.

Another very important attribute of candles is that they burn. If you were to put something, like say energy, into a candle and then burn the candle, what was put into the candle would be released into the universe. If you were to carve a word or sigil into a candle, that word or sigil would go out into the universe once it burned.

Some Cool Things You Can Do With Candles (Far From All Inclusive)

Release a thought or idea into the universe: You can put a thought or idea into a candle. There are a couple of ways to do this. The simplest is to put energy into the candle containing the thought. Alternatively you can concentrate on the candle and try to push the thought into it. Then once the candle is lit and burns it will release the thought into the universe. So how is this useful?

As an example suppose you wanted someone you liked to ask you out. You would take a thought that would promote this, like “Rob is so hot” or “Rob would make such a great boyfriend”; or even something more direct like “I should ask Rob out” or “If I asked Rob out, I’m sure he’d say yes.” You concentrate on this thought and you concentrate on the person you want this thought to go to. Then you burn the candle and the thought will hopefully pop into their head.

Now suppose you didn’t concentrate on a person. Suppose you just put the thought “Rob would make such a great boyfriend” into the candle. Then you could take the candle to a crowded place, like a party, and light it. Now the thought might go into the heads of several different party guests.

As an offering to activate an altar: Candles are commonly used on altars. The main reason we do this is to attract the attention of whatever the altar is made to and activate the altar. For example if the altar were to a god, then we would be requesting the presence of that god and their energy in the room. Most of the time when a candle is lit on a deity’s altar the deity will show up. The candle can be put out before it finishes burning if needed, but if the candle is put out be careful to remember that the candle was used as an offering and who or what it was used as an offering too. The candle can be reused, but only as an offering to the same entity. If the candle was made as an offering to a deity I would highly recommend that it be reused until it is finished instead of throwing it away.

Summon a fire elemental into it:
A candle has a flame on top of it so we can summon a fire elemental into it. In fact this is one of the best and easiest places to evoke a fire elemental. Fire elementals are very useful and there’s quite a lot that can be done with them.

Energize a seance: Candles provide a source of energy. This energy can be taken and used by spirits to manifest in different ways and perform different tasks. We see this done a lot in seances. Dead spirits are typically very weak and the candles provide a source of energy they can drain in order to materialize into this world to various degrees.

Sense some entities: One trick to discover certain kinds of spirits is to turn off all the lights at night and light a single candle. Move from room to room carrying the candle. If you notice the flame dramatically decrease to almost nothing you have a spirit in the room.

This is an old trick, and it only works with certain kinds of spirits. Once again this goes back to the energy in the flame. The spirit is trying to eat the energy, or in some cases trying to eat the light, and this causes the flame to go down.

The energy trick: The energy trick was actually taught to me as a party trick, but it can be used in other ways. Basically you can push energy into a candle to charge it. You can also leave it on an altar to charge it. In either case, the candle will fill with specific energy. Later you can burn the candle to release the energy.

With this method a candle can be charged over a long period of time and release very large amounts of energy when it is burned. The first time I saw this done was by a fellow who charged and dressed a candle every day for three months on top of a Martian altar (the candle was also left on top of the altar wrapped in cloth when he wasn’t charging it). After the three months he took the candle to a party and lit it. The effect was cool to say the least.

Burn on top of a symbol: One trick is to burn a candle on top of a symbol, the idea being that the energy from the symbol will be released upward as the candle burns. One of my favorite things to use for this is tarot cards. You can find certain decks (including the Rider-Waite) online. You can print the card out on to paper, cut them out of the paper, then use them in this ritual. You can use any symbol you feel comfortable with though. You can even write a word or phrase on a piece of paper and burn that.

When doing a spell like this, it’s helpful to empower the piece of paper containing the symbol prior to burning the candle on top of it. Charge the symbol with the proper energy. Meditate on the symbol. Concentrate on the symbol and its meaning.

Trap a spirit into it: This is a fairly basic attack. You can push spirits into things to trap them. You can push a spirit into a candle and trap it inside. Then you can burn the candle with the intent of causing pain to the spirit as the candle burns. Once the candle finishes burning the spirit will be freed, albeit harmed (this is important for me because I consider it unethical to permanently imprison things and recommend not doing it except in extreme circumstances).

You can grab a spirit’s energy and directly push it into a candle. An easier method though is to first pull the spirit into yourself, then push it out of yourself into the candle. The disadvantage of this method is that it leaves you very vulnerable to both attack and possession. You have to be able to overpower the spirit and keep control of your person once the spirit is inside of you. Once you push the spirit into yourself, retaining complete control over the spirit is the only defense you’ll have against it.

Wax divination:
After a spell is performed you can divinate into the candle wax. Look into the wax and see if you see any shapes or forms. Often times these shapes will be related to the target of the spell, what has happened with the spell, and how successful it may or may not have been. Unfortunately wax divination isn’t always possible due to many modern candles being designed to burn evenly so they leave little to no wax when used properly.

Some Common Types of Candles


Pillar:
Pillar candles are the most common types of candles for spellwork. They’re easy to find, they come in a variety of colors, they’re tall enough to dress, and they’re usually big enough to carve words and symbols into. They also lie flat on a surface which is good if you want to burn a symbol under them.

Taper: Tapers are almost as common as pillars, but they’re a bit less useful. Tapers need special candle holders designed specifically for taper candles. Tapers can’t stand up on their own, so you can’t burn them on top of symbols. Lastly it’s difficult to carve words and symbols into tappers because of how thin they are.

Tea Lights: Tea lights have very limited use in ritual and spellwork. They’re small, they burn out quickly, and they’re in those little metal cases so you can’t carve into them.

Image: Image candles are candles in the shape of a person (either a man or woman). They are one of the more useful candles out there. If you want to cast a spell on someone or a spell that will affect someone, even yourself, image candles can help make the spell stronger. The idea being that we connect the candle to a specific person, then we either physically do to the candle, or enchant the candle, in the way we want to affect that person, then we light the candle and let it burn until it finishes.

7-Knob: Seven knob candles are candles that have seven different parts, the idea being that you light the candle at seven different times, each time burning off a different part. Knob candles are typically used for week long spells. Part of the ritual is performed every day over a seven day period and the candle is lit and one knob is burned. At the end of the seventh day the ritual is complete. Typically this extra attention will make spells much stronger and much more successful.

Black Candles: If candle color is important to you, black candles can be very hard to get. Magic stores are the only places that stock them year round, and they often charge more for their black candles, meanwhile their normal candles are already over-priced. From late August through the end of October is the only time of year that normal stores stock black candles, so it’s a good idea to stock up for the entire year during these two months. It’s also a good time to buy orange candles (which are also usually difficult to find).

Other things to get for your candles

Lighter: I recommend getting one of the long plastic lighters that are used for lighting grills. They’re cheap and easy to find and are great for lighting candles. Cigarette lighters don’t work very well because they’re made to be lit for only a short period of time and to be held upright. Many times a candle’s wick can take a while to light, and a disposable cigarette lighter will heat up pretty fast, burning your hand. Likewise a cigarette lighter is meant to be held upright. When you go to light a candle with it usually you’ll need to hold the lighter at a downward angle. This causes the flame to come up and burn your hand.

I do not recommend using matches in spellwork and ritual. The reason being, if you work with fire elementals they can hide in an unlit match and lay dormant for a very long time. You probably won’t even notice they’re hiding in there until you light the match. With a fire elemental inside the entire match can become engulfed within the flame and burn your finger almost as soon as it is lit. Then you panic and try to blow out the flame, but the flame’s too strong and blowing on it won’t put it out. But the bottom part of the match, which is on fire too, is weaker than it should be and weaker than the top part, and when you blow on it you can snap the top half of the match off from the bottom. Now you have a ball of fire hurling across the room until it hits the wall and lands behind the very heavy entertainment center. Then you have to frantically pull things off the entertainment center and move it so you can put out the fire behind it before it does too much damage. If you think this is too specific to be hypothetical, you’re right. I’m speaking from experience. Matches are a bad idea.

Candle Holder: Metal and wood candle holders are best. Which you choose is really a matter of personal taste. Metal holds energy better but wood will absorb it better. If you’d like to get a better idea of the specific properties of metal and wood I talk about them in greater detail in the articles dealing with Knives and Swords and Wands and Staves.

However glass candle holders are not the best choice. Glass is very fragile, and when you put lots of energy into it, it can vibrate a bit. When a glass candle holder is regularly used, sooner or later a spell is cast that is so powerful it breaks the candle holder.

Candle Snuffer:
Basic candle safety rules suggest using a candle snuffer. Blowing out a candle causes it to burn unevenly when it is relit.

When working magic a candle snuffer becomes even more important. Magical spells can do weird things to flames. Lots of practitioners develop the ability to manipulate fire, at least to a small degree, and make flames do things they shouldn’t. Lastly fire elementals can cause flames to get very high or move and jump in strange ways. In all of these cases it’s not the brightest idea to put your face close to the flame to blow it out. In some of the worst cases practitioners have had fire elementals force the flame into their mouth while they were trying to blow out the candle.

Of course it’s very rare that anyone suffers any kind of injury from blowing out candles. Most of the time nothing bad happens. Still candle snuffers are cheap and easy to use, and many practitioners (myself included) consider it a worthwhile fire safety practice.

Hurricane Glass: Hurricane glass is a piece of glass, usually shaped like an upside down vase, that you put a candle inside. You use hurricane glass when you want to light a candle inside of a draft, either from your air vents or a fan or an open window.

Dressing Cloth: A dressing cloth is a piece of cloth you use to dress a candle with oil. Generally you can use each corner to dress four different candles with one cloth, but the cloth needs to be washed after every use. These things end up being a pain to clean all the time. Most of the time I usually just use paper towel.

Dressing Oils: If you use unscented candles, you can buy oils to dress your candle with. Generally we use oils that are either associated with the type of spell we are casting, or we use oils that are associated with specific elements or gods. As a general rule, the associations for the various oils are the same as the associations for the various incenses. Just about any scent of oil can be found as an incense, and vice-versa.

Remember that essential oils are pure oils, and they need to be diluted before use. Also be careful because some disreputable companies sell already diluted fragrance oils with brand names that include the word essential, so make sure you read the small print on the bottle.

Herbs: You can make your own oil out of herbs. I plan to go into more detail on how to do this in a future post (it’s quite simple actually). Whenever you burn herbs, even as an oil around a candle, you need to be sure that you know everything about the herb you’re burning, what its effects on people are, and specifically what effect it may have on you or anyone else in your home. Even if a particular herb is normally safe, you can still have a potentially fatal allergic reaction to it.

Dressing a Candle

Dressing a candle is rubbing oil (or some other substance, like say blood) on the candle with a cloth. A lot of people prefer to charge a candle with energy while they are dressing it (for most people this makes charging the candle easier), but not everybody does this. You take your cloth and dab oil on to it. If you plan to use the cloth for more than one candle, then you would dab only one corner of the cloth. You either start at the top or the bottom, and you move the cloth around the candle in a spiral motion. Typically if you’re going down you go clockwise, if you’re going up you go counter-clockwise. Dressing a candle downward symbolizes putting something into the candle, like charging it with energy. Dressing a candle upward symbolizes something coming out of the candle (typically when it will be burned later in the ritual), like the energy the candle has been charged with being released into the room. You can also dress a candle downward, and then dress it upward, in order to symbolize something going into the candle and then coming out later on.

Candle Energy Manipulation Tips and Tricks

-One commonly used candle charging trick is to put your hand over a candle and push energy out of your fingertips into the top of the candle. While doing this move your hand in a clockwise motion over the candle. Moving your hand in a counter-clockwise motion meanwhile will discharge the energy.

Remember when you work with screws that have normal threads on them, screwing it clockwise will make it go into the hole, and screwing it counter-clockwise will make it come out. It’s a process that seeps into our brains (unless your the sort of person who routinely uses screws with left-handed threads) and we associate clockwise with going in and counter-clockwise with coming out. Also because they’re opposite motions, most of us will subconsciously come to the logical conclusion that they should have opposite effects and one should undo what the other one does.

-A lot of practitioners use specifically colored candles to help with energy manipulation. I’m going to go into more detail about this later with a post on the relationship between color and energy. It’s not as important to candle magic as some people make it out to be. Cheap candle dyes are a relatively recent invention, as is the popularity of color coded candle magic.

If there is any doubt about color, white candles will work with just about any spell. White is a blank color. All it will do is magnify the power of the spell and help push whatever is within it outward into the universe.

Candle Safety

Many magicians are very bad with fire safety. You should probably buy a fire extinguisher prior to doing any candle magic, because if you practice magic there’s a 95% chance you’re the kind of person who will set their home on fire once a month or more.

Sometimes because of magical practices we have to do things which go against general candle safety rules. We might have to let a candle burn for many hours, and we won’t be available to watch it for this entire period. We might have to light two candles right next to each other. We may put nails or other objects into the candles (note that I am not suggesting anyone do these things. These are all unsafe candle practices that no one should do. Do them at your own risk, you may burn down your home).

A lot of magic fires are due to a lack of common sense though. Don’t light candles near walls or curtains. Always use candle holders. Don’t light a dozen or more candles right next to each other. Don’t light candles in the middle of a breeze or draft. Keep flammable liquids (including Bacardi 151) away from candles. Don’t wear loose fitting clothing or robes to ritual, or if you do keep a good distance between yourself and all lit candles. Only use stable candle holders that won’t fall down when lightly tapped. If you’re saying ‘duh’ to all of these suggestions, congratulations, you’re in the top 20th percentile of all magical practitioners.

I’d also like to reiterate my other suggestions, which are specifically in regard to magical candles. Don’t use matches (because fire elementals can hide in them) and buy a candle snuffer.

This is far from an all inclusive candle fire safety list. I’d suggest extensive online and offline reading on the subject before working with candles. Granted most people in the world, by the time their parents let them use a match or lighter, know enough about candle fire safety to light a candle. However since you practice magic, I’m assuming (based on general trends) that you are not one of these people, and have no clue how to light a candle without setting yourself and home on fire.

Lanterns

Finally we get to lanterns, and by lanterns I mean oil based lanterns that have a flame. Electric lanterns, like electric candles, aren’t all that useful in ritual work.

Lanterns are cool magical tools, but most people don’t use them. In a lot of ways they serve the same purpose as candles. The main advantage to using a lantern is that a candle is disposable and lanterns are reusable. Every time we use a magical tool, it becomes more powerful and stronger. Candles we only get to use once. Likewise if we invest the time and energy into charging and enchanting a candle, once the spell is over with the candle is gone. But if we do this with a lantern, after the spell we still have a charged and enchanted lantern.

The main disadvantage to lanterns is that they aren’t disposable. One of the reasons why candles are so useful in ritual work is because the burn up. The candle, and anything we’ve put inside of it, goes out into the spiritual realm of the universe. If we put a thought into our lantern (using the same method we would with a candle), we now have to set our lantern on fire in order to send that thought into the universe (at which point we no longer have a lantern, and they cost more money than candles). So what a lantern can do is actually quite limited, which is why so few people use them.

Lanterns can be used as sources of energy during a ritual. The flame provides a constant source of energy. Meanwhile most lanterns are metal, and metal is very good at holding a charge. If there is glass on the lantern, that can be used to amplify the energy. As the lantern is used more it becomes more powerful, and it can send out more energy when lit. A good lantern, when lit, can fill a room with strong energy.

You could, if you wanted to, enchant the lantern so that produces a specific type of energy when lit. The lantern needs to be compatible with the type of energy you want it to produce. If you continually charged the lantern with that kind of energy again and again, eventually it should naturally produce only that kind of energy. If you’re a little more advanced with energy manipulation, while you’re charging the lantern you can go into it and change it’s bias so it only produces that specific type of energy. This is just a quicker method of doing the same thing.

Some reasons why you might want to enchant a lantern like this: You can give the lantern a generally favorable energy, like joy or love or calm, and you can light it when you have company in order to promote a better ambience and mood. If there’s a specific energy you prefer working with when you do your rituals you can set up your lantern to produce this type of energy for your rituals. You can also make the lantern more active. If the lantern had an aggressive and purifying energy, for instance, it could then be lit as an attack when cleaning a house of unwanted spirits. There’s actually quite a bit you can do with a lantern by modifying its energy.

You could also enchant the lantern with a thought or message so that every time it is lit, it blasts that thought into the minds of everyone near by. This really isn’t all that useful though, mainly because the message would be so specific that the lantern would probably be useless most of the time.


Magick 101: Element Theory

May 12, 2010

Note: I’m tired right now and I may not have expressed myself as clearly as possible, especially near the end. If I have time later this week I may revise this article to make it clearer. In the mean time though feel free to read what I have, but do so at your own risk. It is a complicated subject, so feel free to ask questions if there is something specific that I can clarify.

Because I’m currently working on individual articles dealing with the various elemental tools, I thought I’d take some time to go over element theory, in other words what are they and where do they come from. Element theory is one of the key concepts in magical understanding, especially in regard to Ceremonial Magick and its derivatives, like Paganism. There is no practical information in this article. I’m using the term element as an adjective as opposed to elemental because elemental theory could also imply theories surrounding the magical use of Elementals, which are naturally occurring entities which may also be evoked. Still the information here is very basic foundationary information, and it’s important if you want to understand spell work, ritual, or the creation of the universe.

First the basic stuff. We have five elements. Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, and a fifth element referred to as Akasha, Void, or Spirit. This article will refer to it as Spirit since this is the standard in Western Magick. Spirit would be the equivalent to what magicians commonly refer to today as energy. It is a force in the universe which cannot be seen or measured with conventional methods, but nonetheless can be manipulated and quantified.

Now it’s important to remember that when we say fire, or water, or air, or earth, or spirit, these are physical things which we symbolically associate with the actual element. The elements exist at every point in the universe. The universe is often split into several planes of existence. We have the physical plane, which is represented in the Kabalah by the bottom four Sepiroth. This is the only place in the universe (outside the Qlippoth), where fire, water, air, earth, and energy actually exist. All of these things are physical manifestations, and the first physical manifestations occur in the seventh sepiroth, Netzach. Prior to this, we have the mental planes, composed of the middle triad in the Kabalah. Here everything exists as thoughts, ideas, and intelligences, yet the mental planes are also where these things are created. Beyond the mental plane we have the first triad, and that which exists here are often called abstracts or ideals. There are no physicalities and there are no thoughts here, there isn’t even space. There are two things that need to be said to describe the first triad, there is existence there, and everything exists as acts. As it is the thoughts and ideas and eventually intelligences that make up parts of the mental planes, it is action, the doing, that makes up the first triad. It’s hard to understand because when we think of an action, we think that someone or something is doing that action, yet in the first triad there is no physicality and there is no intelligence, so there is nothing there to actually take an action. The act defines itself.

Now, getting back to the point, fire, water, air, earth, and energy cannot exist at any point beyond the physical planes, because they are physicalities. Yet the elements exist on every plane. So when we talk about, say, the element of fire, we aren’t actually speaking about actual fire. Fire is something we’ve found in the physical world which, based on its form and how it acts, we feel is a good representation of one of the five elements. There is no word in any language spoken on Earth that describes the element of fire. Even if we made up a new word, say we called it fluffenfuf, we still would not have words in the English language to adequately define the new word it. It’s a common habit in magick, and with dealing with interworld beings that may know completely foreign concepts created in languages from other worlds, that if we don’t have a word for something, we substitute a word we do have that is used to describe something like it.

So now that we’ve discussed what the elements are not, what exactly are they? A lot of people describe the elements as the basic building blocks of the universe. When we break things down, within the universe, into smaller and smaller parts, eventually we reach the smallest parts that make it up, and these ‘smallest’ parts are the five elements. They are, in a lot of ways, to magical theory what atoms are to science. But we also know, in regards to science, that if we look deeper we can break atoms down into protons, neutrons, and electrons. And likewise we can break the elements down into their basic parts. There are actually five basic building blocks that precede the five elements, and these are creation, division, singularity, duality, and triplicity. These five things are the only five things that exist prior to the existence of the elements, and so they are the only five things in all the universe not made up of the elements. In the same way that a proton is not made up of atoms, creation is not made up of the five elements.

So how did we get the elements? Everything in the universe is a direct extension of what came before it. To make a new thing we can combine two or more existing things, or we can divide an existing thing into two or more parts, or we can do a combination of dividing and combining various things. The point is, nothing is ever completely new. New things are created in the universe using the various parts that are already available. Since the divine spark the universe has become a varied and complex place, yet there is still no sixth element, and there never will be, because we cannot have a completely new thing. Everything needs a precedence.

There are two exceptions to this rule. Two things in the universe occurred without prior precedence. In many systems these two acts are considered the beginning of the universe. This is not however the true beginning of the universe. This is just the place that we are labeling the beginning because we need a place to start are exploration at in order to get anywhere, and because we can’t find the true beginning.

Anyways, two things happened without precedence, a thing created itself, then it divided into two parts. We call this thing which created itself the divine spark. It is the very first thing to appear in the universe, and it is from the divine spark (and its division) that all things spring forth. In Kabalism it is defined as Kether. Remember the divine spark occurs at Kether, Kether exists in the first triad, and all things in the first triad are actions. So what is the divine spark? It is the act of creating itself. If you think about that too hard, your brain may explode. It created itself and what it is (and what it created) is the act of creating itself :)

So the divine spark creates itself. There we have the first part, creation. After it creates itself, it is the only thing in creation. There is just one thing in all of creation, and it is different and separate from what came before, so now we also have singularity. So the divine spark exists, and anything that exists has to have a definition. It can be defined through everything else that also exists in the universe. Right now all that exists in the universe is the divine spark since it was created without precedence. We can say that the divine spark is itself (everything that exists in the universe), and it is not what isn’t the divine spark (Nothing or that which doesn’t exist).

But wait, now we have two things that exist in our universe. You have the divine spark, and you have that which is not the divine spark, the nothing. But the divine spark ‘is’ the entirety of the universe. It is the all. The existence of the divine spark doesn’t just define itself, it also defines what it is not, the nothing is nothing more than everything the divine spark isn’t. What I’m getting at is the divine spark is the all of the universe, which encompasses both what defines it in the positive (what it is) and what defines it in the negative (what it is not). This create a contradiction. The divine spark cannot logically be both what it is and what it isn’t. So what has to happen in order to solve the contradiction is the divine spark has to divide into two pieces. Going back to kabalistic representations Kether divides into two parts, Chockmah which is the purity of being when the divine spark existed alone, and Binah which is self-awareness through duality and thus represents the first corruption of purity and singularity. The actual first division itself is Thaumial, the highest sphere in the qlippoth.

Now we have the divine spark, which is the act of creating itself. It needs to be defined by what it is and what it isn’t. In order to do this, it divides. Some people may think the two aspects of the division solve the problem. Now Binah is Binah and not Chockmah, and Chockmah is Chockmah and not Binah, and Kether is Binah and Chockmah. But this isn’t the case. Chockmah and Binah existing isn’t what solves the problem. The division itself solves the problem. It is something which creation isn’t. Kether is not Thaumial. The divine spark is not the first division. In fact it is the duality that exists between Kether and Thaumial that is the precedence for the duality of Chockmah and Binah which occur after the division. The precedence for the purity of being of Chockmah is from the divine spark existing by itself, and the precedence for the self awareness via duality of Binah is from Kether existing along with Thaumial.

As a side note I’d like to say something about Binah that proves an earlier point. Binah is the definition of self by comparing yourself to what you are not. It can be seen as the first instance of knowledge – knowledge of self which is acquired through a comparison to what you are not. It is the corruption of purity, because it is based on there being something else in the universe besides oneself. Remember only acts can exist in the first triad. Binah is the act of definition. But definition implies knowledge, so now we have the existence of knowledge. Knowledge is an abstract thing. It’s not quite an idea, but its definitely not an act. It can however exist in the first triad, but only in particular parts of Binah. But knowledge presents problems. Now there’s something that must be known. So it must have a duality. There must be knowledge which is true and knowledge which is not true. Now we have truth, and truth is most definitely an idea. Not only that, you have self definition. Self definition leads directly into an idea. So do we have ideas in Binah, and thus in the first triad? No we do not. But ideas are occurring as the natural eventual conclusion to the act of Binah, so what happens to them? They begin to form the fourth Sepiroth, and thus the beginning of the third triad, the mental planes. Think of this process as a sentence. You begin speaking a sentence which forms Binah, but by the time you reach the conclusion of the sentence, you’re already forming the fourth Sepiroth, Chesed. Note that the middle triad is created as a direct result of the creation of the first triad, it is its eventual conclusion. It is also made up of the things which came into being in the first triad, going back to the earlier rule in the universe nothing (except our two exceptions) are created without precedence.

Now, going back to more relevant discussions, as we’ve said the first division occurs as a direct result of self creation. There for we could say that even the first division has precedence. It is a direct result of self creation, in the same way singularity is a direct result of self creation. Because of this it’s common say that there is one thing which started everything else, there was one event which occurred without precedence. But then why do I specifically say two events occurred without precedence? By my own logic either one event occurred without precedence, self creation, and division, singularity, duality, and triplicity followed as a byproduct, or I throw out the byproduct angle and just go with precedence, in which case five events occurred. But I’ll go back to my original statement, two things occur without precedence in the universe, creation and division.

The idea that creation came first and everything else is a byproduct of that creation is a matter of perspective. The idea that creation was first makes sense to us because we exist in the Sepiroth, which naturally flow from the act of self-creation. We have a perspective that is tainted by our location, and also by something akin to nationalism which sees are current location, the Sepiroth, as naturally superior and better than its counterpart, the Qlippoth. If we were, however, incarnated on the Qlippoth and trying to figure out these same ideas there, we would come to the conclusion that the first thing which occurred was the first division, and self creation occurred as a result of this division. The first division coming into being is what creates the act of self creation, and then it goes on from there. The thing is, it’s late right now, and thinking about this stuff from a Sepirothic perspective is making my head spin. Thinking about it from a Qlippothic perspective will no doubt cause my head to explode. In fact I can feel it about to burst right now. There are of course answers, and if you want to meditate on this and figure it out, it can be done. I’m just not figuring out how to put those answers into words right now. I will say that Qlippothic perspectives are interesting things to have if you can handle them.

Okay, so now we have four things. The divine spark (creation), the divine spark existing alone (singularity), the first division (division), and the existence of creation and division (duality). So where does triplicity come from? Well what was there prior to the divine spark? You could say nothing, but that would be wrong. In order for there to be a nothing there would have to be a something, and something is the divine spark, and that didn’t exist prior to the divine spark coming into existence. So what was there?

I don’t have that answer. I never talked with anyone or anything that claimed to have it. It’s possible some people, or some things have figured it out, but either they can’t remember it or can’t communicate it, at least in regards to our level of existence. So I don’t know what was there, but I know, through logic, something came before creation and division. This something is a third thing. We have creation, division, and what came before creation and division. A triplicity. We now have our five building blocks.

Note, we now have five things. That is everything we have. That is the most we can count to. Five. We have five elements. We don’t have six elements because we can’t count to six yet, and everything must have a precedence. Once we have five elements though we can count to ten. This is important to note because the universe didn’t pick the number of elements through some arbitrary method. It simply took the largest number it could, thus doubling what we had to work with, and making the entirety of the universe far more complex.

So how long did all of this stuff take to happen, from the time of the divine spark up until the creation of the elements? Billions of years, seven days, mere seconds? All of these answers are wrong. All of these things happen before time coming into existence. So does that mean it all happen at once? No, it didn’t. In order for everything to have happened at once, time must exist, or at least the concept of it must exist. All of this stuff happened/is happening/happens. If Kether divides into Chockmah and Binah, shouldn’t Kether cease to exist? If that were true Kether would exist prior to the division, and not exist after the division, but in order for that to happen, time would have to exist. So even though Chockmah and Binah exist as the division of Kether, Kether also still exists, because there was no time when this happened and time still doesn’t exist where it happened. So at any moment, this division has occurred, it has not yet occurred, and it is currently occurring.

Now we have five elements that can be defined by these five things. First we have singularity. Each element is a separate individual thing. Notice they just aren’t one big group called the elements. Next we have duality. We can say that fire isn’t water, spirit, earth, or air. We can also split the elements into two separate groups. We refer to these groups as masculine and feminine, but remember the ideas of gender and masculinity and femininity haven’t yet been created. These are later creations that we use to try to describe the elements. We group them as such: Group A (Masculine Elements) consists of Spirit, Fire, and Air; Group B (Feminine Elements) consist of Spirit, Water, and Earth. We can also use duality to create opposite elements. Fire is opposite Water. Air is Opposite Earth.

We also have creation and division. So some elements are creationary (Fire and Water), and some are divisionary (Air and Earth). Fire and Water join together in union (the creation), and the end result is Air and Earth (the division).

We also split the elements into three groups. The divine element (Spirit), the creationary elements (Fire and Water) and the divisionary elements (Air and Earth). Fire and Water, and thus Air and Earth, are created by Spirit, and the union of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth together creates Spirit, so in a sense spirit creates itself, giving it a connection to the divine spark and the divine element.

So a short review thus far:

Spirit = Masculine and Feminine groups, creationary and divisionary, divine group.
Fire = Masculine group, creationary, creationary group.
Water = Feminine group, creationary, creationary group.
Air = Masculine group, divisionary, divisionary group.
Earth = Feminine group, divisionary, divisionary group.

Now remember that all of these elements exist in the first triad. Only acts can exist in the first triad. So we know the five elements must be actions. So what actions are they?

Spirit = The all of the universe (the act of not existing).
Fire = The act of creation.
Water = The act of division.
Air = The act of action.
Earth = The act of existence.

But it gets a little bit more complicated. Fire is the act of creation, and so it is also the act of destruction. Remember the divine spark created itself, and whatever came before currently is not anymore, so creation is also destruction. Meanwhile when you divide something you can also now combine it back together, so the act of division also brings about the act of union, so both division and union are water.

Also take these numbers; 1.Spirit, 2. Fire, 3. Water, 4. Air, and 5. Earth. Compare the element to the number it is assigned. Compare it to the Sepiroth that is also assigned to that number. You’ll notice some interesting things. Such as water, which represents division, is number three, which is the same as Binah, which deals with duality. Air meanwhile is four, and air is generally associated with thoughts and ideas, and the fourth Sepiroth is the first Sepiroth of the mental planes.

So why is Spirit non-existence? Spirit represents all things in the universe put together. What happens when you put everything together? You no longer have a duality. There is no self-definition. We’re heading back to the universe encompassing both what it is and what it is not. We’ve gone backwards. We no longer have existence. We now have what came before the divine spark. This is best described as non-existence, since it was what was before existence.

Anyways, now we have our five little building blocks. And we pretty much build everything else out of those five things, along with the five pieces we used to build those (creation, division, singularity, duality, and triplicity). As we start building we notice a few things. First off, everything in the universe, beyond those ten things, contain all five elements to various degrees. Secondly that most everything in the universe contains more of some elements, and less of others. In practice we tend to define things by the element which has the greatest concentration. There are some rare exceptions where we feel the need to define something by two or more elements because of an equal or near equal concentration. Also although it may be possible to define very complicated things, like people, as a single element, you’ll also notice that these things may have many varied aspects, and these aspects may be defined as different elements.

It’s important to note that when we say things are made up of the five elements to various degrees, we don’t just mean physical things and living things. We also mean thoughts and ideas. We mean abstracts like philosophies and religions. We mean completely imaginary things which don’t exist. We mean concepts like the economy. We mean actions like punching or thinking. Pretty much anything in all of the universe, besides the original ten building blocks, is made up of the elements. Remember there is nothing without precedence, so everything comes forth from the divine spark/first division. A few steps up from that are the elements.

A brief summary of some of the things the elements encompass:

Spirit: Associated with the divine, sacred acts, magick, and that which came before the divine spark. It is the element of the highest spiritual attainment. It is both active and passive. It represents all things, and also nothing.

Fire: Generally associated with passion in all of its forms. Fire comes on as strong and as forceful as it can, it burns like passion burns within you, and it eventually gives every bit of itself to reach its goal. It encompasses passion in the form of lust, and also passion in the form of creative endeavors, such as the fine arts, and also being passionate about specific things. It is associated with creation (by oneself) and destruction. It is also associated with absolute spiritual truth and the divine light of spiritual truth. It is associated with the day and is the great exposer. It is associated with the beginning of the first triad. Fire is an active force, being active by the very nature of its existing. It is the only element which does not have a passive form (if fire is not active, it cannot exist).

Water: Water is generally associated with emotions, love, relationships, and unions. It is considered flexible and adaptive and ever changing, and it is often associated with the future because of this. Water is also associated with the power of creation through union. It is associated with the night, and along with that the great mysteries and everything that is hidden. Water is associated with the end of the first triad (Binah). Water is a passive force, passive because it meets the demands of its environment.

Air: Air is largely associated with the mind. It has strong connections to intelligence, thought, ideas, imagination, and imaginary things. It is also the element associated with action and doing. It is adaptive and flexible like water, but remains an active force like fire. Unlike fire though air has a passive form. It is associated with the present, and also with the dawn (being associated with beginnings). Air is associated with the mental planes, especially the fourth Sepiroth.

Earth: Earth is stagnant and endures. It is usually associated with physical things and the physical plane. Because of this it also represents things like wealth and money and that which is completely practical and mundane. It also is associated with things that are immortal and forever. Earth is the only element which does not have an active form. Earth is associated with the tenth Sepiroth Malkuth (and due to its nature, also Yesod). Because Earth is stagnant and unchanging, it is associated with the past which is writ in stone. Earth is also associated with the dusk, being associated with endings.

The above brief summary of the elements is my attempt to define five things which are so abstract as to be undefinable in English. Even if I did have the words, each element has an infinite number of definitions and associations, meaning it would be impossible for me to list them all even if I spent eternity doing nothing but that. As a practitioner, you shouldn’t be dependent on a list for your elemental associations (especially because a complete list would be impossible). It’s better to have a deep understanding of the elements, to the degree that you can figure out the elemental associations of things as needed. It’s a good exercise to get into the habit of thinking about things in terms of what elements they are. What element defines your computer? The processor inside your computer? The font on the computer screen? The electricity flowing through the power cable? The emotions you’re currently feeling as you read this? So on and so forth. This is a simple thing that can easily be done as you go about your day. After a while though, you’ll start to come to a deep understanding of the different elements and how they work, and you’ll also, through practice, learn how to figure out elemental associations.