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What is Hermetic Theurgy?

Hermetic Theurgy is the Art of raising the human soul to its own divinity through ritualistic practices which bring that soul into harmony with the divinity of the World Soul. These practices transcend the rational mind, and partake of the deeper Mind which pervades all the natural world. This ancient Art originates within the sacred precincts of Egypt and classical Greece, and forms the underpinning of modern mystical philosophy in the Western world.


Course overview

This three-part class teaches a core set of practices found within the western Hermetic tradition, sometimes called the 'yoga of the West.' These practices have many applications: energy healing of self and others, increasing your personal vitality and level of awareness, out-of-body projection, energizing sacred space, and many others. Their greatest value, however, is that they are the first steps on a path that can awaken you to the presence of your higher, divine Genius, sometimes called the Holy Guardian Angel.

Students learn about the root concepts underlying theurgic practice as taught by the Academy. Both the theory of theurgy within Hermeticism and its practice are briefly discussed in order to provide a context for the core methods taught in this course.

The term "athanor" refers to the furnace used by an alchemist to purify the First Matter and transform it through heat into the Stone of the Wise. Here we use this term to describe the methods by which the theurgist establishes sacred space and extends the aura, preparatory to further work.

Having established the athanor of the Art, the theurgist must now apply "heat" in order to begin transforming the First Matter. These techniques, from the basic Circulation of the Light to the more advanced Godform work, are used to create an excited state in the subtle bodies of the magician, liberating energy and making it available for personal development.

In the Western tradition, a primary goal of many schools is to establish a continuity in awareness at all levels of the human psyche, in order to train the intuition and make the theurgist fully aware of her purpose for being. In the Golden Dawn school, one of the ways this is done is to separate a portion of the subtle body/bodies, energize that portion, and re-absorb it. This is meant to plant a seed deep within the self that will, in time, create deep and lasting change in the psyche and increase the theurgist's level of awareness until, eventually, a connection is established between all functioning parts.

Having become skilled in the separation of a portion of awareness, the theurgist must seek to expand that awareness, opening it up to subtle influences from the deepest Self that lies at the core of Being. The techniques listed here expand awareness in a variety of ways.

Human beings have engaged in visionary practices for tens of thousands of years. From the shamanistic traditions of Asia to the Incubations practiced in ancient Greece, we have sought knowledge from the Otherworld in order to provide guidance in this world. In this course, students will explore the methods of Incubation as taught by the Academy, incorporating the Chariot of Light technique to enter the Otherworld in spirit. This course culminates in an overnight Temple sleep, wherein the student will learn to leave the body and journey throughout the night.

Students are given a brief overview of the historical materials pertaining to visionary practices, and how they have developed over the centuries into their modern form as practiced in a number of traditions.

The class is led on a journey to the otherworldly Temple of Hekate. This journey provides students with some experience with the techniques that will be applied to Incubation work.

Students are given guidance on how to journey out of the body during the sleep cycle. For most people, sleep means relinquishing one's awareness, and they only remember fragmentary dreams that provide a clue that something more happened than oblivion. However, students will learn how to allow the body to sleep while retaining full awareness out of the body. This opens a vast new dimension of experience, and prepares students for the overnight Incubation practice.

Within the precincts of a consecrated Temple of the Mysteries, students will be able to experience an overnight Incubation, a journey that can result in powerful visionary experiences and provide the student with access to new resources of wisdom and guidance. Furthermore, the student's progress toward the all-important Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel is helped by this kind of guidance.

The two-session course introduces methods of divination and meditation with the 78-card tarot as used in the western esoteric tradition.

Every esoteric tradition has a Guardian who is responsible for its continuity and growth within the human community, and Tarot is no exception. Students will be led to a visionary encounter with the Guardian of the Tarot in order to receive a blessing and to create a link between their deep mind and that of the tradition itself.

During the class, we will discuss the Qabalistic keys to the tarot. The 78 cards of the traditional tarot may be readily associated with the paths and sephiroth of the Qabalistic tree of life, which themselves are associated, in the Hermetic tradition, with the astrological planets and signs.

Also known as "skrying", tarot meditation is simpler than pathworking. However, you should use the same steps to prepare for both in order to achieve clarity of vision.

Skrying provides a non-immersive experience that can help you learn more about the cards. Its advantage over pathworking is chiefly its simplicity. Pathworking provides greater potential for deep exploration of each card and its meaning. Use both techniques and compare your experiences.

This technique of studying the Tarot has gained popularity in recent years, and has many variations by which it may be applied. The version presented here is derived from the teachings ofDolores Ashcroft-Nowicki in several of her excellent books on the subject.

In the second session of this course, students will learn an integrative method for reading the Tarot in divination. Before learning any tarot 'spreads', the students will learn how to enter the state of awareness that is conducive to divination as well as how to speak the truth of the divination. The spread taught here is one that the instructor has used for 30 years, and is based on a four-fold division of human experience and consciousness. Students will be able to perform simple readings for each other during class!

While Qabalah is derived from the branch of mystical Judaism known by its alternative spelling of Kabbalah, this body of knowledge has been adapted over the last few centuries to the philosophies of Hermeticism. Today, Qabalah forms the structural framework for most practices in Hermetic theurgy as well as one of the theoretical pillars of the Art.

 We will discuss, briefly, the historical roots of the western esoteric Qabalah, which may be found in esoteric Judaism and in Neoplatonism. We will also touch upon the pre-Platonic philosophies that give the Hermetic practices the power that they possess within this tradition.

We explore meditative techniques which originate within the practices of Kabbalah (from Judaism) as well as those which were developed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. These techniques provide the theurgist with the preliminary skills needed to delve more deeply within the roots of consciousness, and are a prerequisite for the more advanced visionary methods taught in the course.

We explore the place of the Qabalistic Tree of Life in the western tradition, including its use as a way to organize disparate systems of correspondences. These correspondences conceal a treasure trove of theurgic knowledge that, together with the chthonic visionary methods originating in shamanism, help to propel the theurgist into conscious communion with divinity.

The student is led through a series of pathworkings that explore the Tree of Life. A pathworking is a guided visualization whose purpose is to introduce the theurgist to symbolic realities that underlie the Tree in the Western tradition. It is unlike other forms of guided meditation in that it follows a strict sequence of imagery, whereas other forms are more free-form. The Western tradition includes both kinds of guided meditation, but pathworkings are almost unique to the Western system of magick.

Alchemy forms a fundamental body of knowledge and practice within the Hermetic tradition. It encompasses both the inner work of the theurgist as well as the work in the laboratory, and is focused upon the goal of transformation, whether of the theurgist or of the substances of the manifest world. This course focuses upon the use of plant alchemy, which is safer than mineral alchemy and very effective in supporting the goals of the theurgist.

We explore the fundamental ideas behind alchemical practice in the laboratory, including the philosophy of the Emerald Tablet, the primal Three Principles and Four Elements, and how these things are reflected in both the inner and outer world.

We will learn to create plant tinctures using alchemical principles. The student will also learn the difference between spagyric and alchemical processes, and how to apply both. Other alchemical preparations will also be explored from other branches of the Art.

The most important laboratory practices in alchemy involve distillation, which separates the constituents of the First Matter, and circulation, which both separates and conjoins those constituents. We will perform several experiments using distillation techniques:

We explore the creation of initiatory preparations, including the Ens, the Elixir, and the Plant Stone. We will learn how to use these as part of the Hermetic practice to enhance the theurgist's experience of the practice and to strengthen the connection with divinity.

This four-part class builds upon the practices taught in the Introduction to Hermetic Theurgy, teaching a method for healing that is based on the principles of Hermetic theurgy as well as borrowings from Indian and Chinese systems of healing. This method mobilizes the Cosmos itself to heal and transform the patient.

Students will learn the theory behind Hermetic healing as taught at the Academy. This theory builds upon knowledge acquired during the study of Qabalah, alchemy, astrology, and other Hermetic disciplines, creating a comprehensive and integrative approach to healing. Students will also learn that healing, as such, goes beyond the correction of physical illness by addressing the fundamental wholeness of the patient. It is therefore a legitimate way to further one's spiritual growth and learning.

In Hermetic healing, the foremost diagnostic tool is the trained intuition of the healer. In the Hermetic tradition, the primary goal of the seeker is to first establish a strong, consistent connection with the deep Self and the sources of knowledge springing up from It. This connection is cultivated by clearing away the obscurations that cloud the seeker's perception of that Self, and there are many ways to do this. Students will explore some of these as part of diagnostic training.

Students will acquire experience with the practice of Hermetic healing. They will receive a set of tools, the Caduceus and the Tablet, which are used to exercise Intent and acquire Knowledge, respectively. At the completion of the Course, students will have the opportunity to join the Healing Circle, which provides services for the community at large.

The recommended reading list has not been provided for this course yet. Check back later for updates!

This course provides advanced instruction in theurgic practices designed to take the student through a complete system of elemental invocations. It culminates in an invocation of the divine Genius of the theurgist.

 One of the roots of the Hermetic practicum is the theurgy taught by Iamblichus in the third and fourth centuries CE. Iamblichean theurgy teaches that whereas Gods are each a whole entity, lacking nothing and being perfect images of the One from which they sprang, humans are partial and imperfect. Our souls have voluntarily exiled themselves from the Whole in order to make manifest the perfection of Deity within a realm that is set apart.

The students receive a series of initiatory transmissions and learn personal workings that awaken the four Elements within. During this process, each student dedicates a portion of his or her Salt (personal time and a bodily Witness such as hair or spittle), Mercury (energy and energetic work) and Sulfur (consciousness and intent) to the Elements, such that when the parts are reunited within the student, they bring with them a "tincture' of the Whole.

Students will learn how to apply the Chariot of Light technique in progressively more advanced visionary work, culminating in the intensive practice of Incubation. In Incubation, the student journeys to the Otherworld to acquire knowledge that may be brought back to this world for the betterment of self and others. This practice complements the ritual work of theurgy, providing the inward, "night-time" aspect that gives theurgy its deep, expressive power.

In Hermetic theurgy, the term "god-form" refers to the image of a divine Being, visualized by the theurgist for a variety of purposes. In this course, the student will learn the fundamental techniques of god-form assumption as used during ritual. In addition, the student will be introduced to more advanced techniques in preparation for the Mahayoga Tantra practice as taught by Sam Webster in his book, Tantric Thelema.

Abraham the Jew was medieval Kabbalist of great renown who wrote the infamous "Book of Abramelin." In this book, he described a spiritual retreat which one may undertake in order to eventually have the experience of communicating with one's "holy guardian angel", which the Kabbalists believe accompanies all human beings during their lifetimes.

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Site news

This summer, we will begin an experiment in 'large' theurgy. We're calling it "Project: Awaken the Valley", and our intent is to find locally significant natural places where the Gods seem to be 'closer' and, through a program of invocation and seership, cultivate those places with theurgic offerings and related work. We hope to establish a living network of 'awakened' places in this way, and hope that this will be of immediate and long-term benefit to both the spirits of place and physical inhabitants, both plants and animals (including humans).

On February 12th I will be holding a one-day intensive class on Hermetic Theurgy in Weaverville. Registration is $20, online or at the door. This is a 6-hour intensive, with a one-hour lunch break! Here's the link to the class for more information:

http://www.sophicarts.org/class/2011-02-12-180000/introduction-hermetic-theurgy-one-day-intensive

The Tarot Club held its first meeting on Friday, January 7th. We discussed the cards, and held an inaugural reading to discover what we needed to learn about the Club and its place in the community. We used the 15-card layout with the Thoth deck, and here are the cards that came up:

The curriculum has been updated to include a course in visionary work. This complements the theurgic ritual practices taught at the Academy, providing an inward focus for those practices to balance their outwardly directed emphasis. This Visionary course includes the study of advanced pathworking techniques, applications of the Chariot of Light, and Incubation, which is the art of journeying while the physical body is asleep or in deep trance.

The recent two-day Hermetic Tarot class was a success. So much so that we (the alumni and I) will start a Tarot 'club', a periodic gathering where we practice readings and play tarot games. This was better than I hoped!

Coming up: another three-day Introduction to Hermetic Theurgy, in January. On the 5th, the 12th and the 19th, we will present the core practices that are used in so many ways at the Academy. Many of the courses require completion of this introductory class, so be sure to sign up soon!