Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Chief Adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn as re-established by Israel Regardie and authors of a vast number of books, including the new Golden Dawn Magic.
Magicians, Wiccans, and Neo-pagans are no doubt familiar with the concept of working with the elements to effect magical change in one’s environment and circumstances. The four elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth and their attributed qualities have been a fundamental part of Western magical practice from the time of the ancient Greeks. Magical forces have been classified in accordance with the elements ever since. Although the four elements are aligned with physical substances of the same name, in magic these elements are considered divisions of Nature as well as categories of existence and action.
In Golden Dawn magic, the powers of the elements are invoked and dismissed with the aid of four implements consecrated for this purpose. They are the Fire Wand, Water Cup, Air Dagger, and the Earth Pentacle, which are described as the Tarot symbols of the letters of the divine name YHVH. Collectively, these tools have another title, the Elemental Weapons. Countless authors have referred to them as such.
The title “weapons” hearkens back to a time in the ancient world when one of the primary duties of a magician was to perform apotropaic magic, or magic that drives away evil. Some of the earliest magic wands were bundles of sticks or branches. Apotropaic wands used by the ancient Egyptians were made of ivory, curved like throwing-sticks, and carved with the images of protective deities. Eventually, different types of wands and other implements were developed for different purposes, such as the Zoroastrian gurz, a type of mace used in exorcisms. Other objects such as protective amulets were also employed to keep harmful influences at bay.
Implements used by Golden Dawn magicians have very specific functions and uses. Of these, the Magic Sword attributed to Geburah and Mars can aptly be described as a spiritual weapon. The GD manuscripts state that the sword should be used in all cases where great force and strength are needed, but especially for banishing and defense against evil forces. However, referring to the Elemental Tools as “weapons” gives an inaccurate portrayal of how these instruments are employed in our tradition and might be an inadvertent remnant of a medieval worldview from a time when almost all spirits were thought to be hostile and adversarial to the magician.
The Fire Wand, Water Cup, Air Dagger, and Earth Pentacle are designed to invoke and dismiss the spiritual forces that are associated with each tool. They have a certain bond and sympathy between them, so that even if only one is to be used, the others should also be present. All are inscribed with divine names and sigils and painted in the flashing colors that relate to their respective elements. The Fire Wand falls under the Hebrew letter Yod of the Tetragrammaton and the masculine polarity; it is a potent symbol of the magician’s willpower. The Water Cup is attributed to the letter HehVav and represents the intellectual skills of the adept. Finally, the Earth Pentacle, a circular disk that serves as a container for magical forces, is under the presidency of the final letter Heh. It symbolizes the magician’s ability to manifest his or her goals.
Rather than viewing these implements as weapons to “battle” unruly spirits, we should think of them as talismanic badges of authority. A magician trained in the skills of focused visualization, the projection of willpower, energy movement, clarity of intention, and vibration of godnames, can use them to open portals between different spiritual realms and energies. Perhaps it is time to de-weaponize the elemental tools and recognize them for what they are: consecrated passkeys to the unseen realms.
Our thanks to Chic & Tabatha for their guest post! For more from Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, read their article, “The Pentagram and the Magic of Light.”