Major texts on talismanic magic rely on the term “images” to explain the means by which celestial bodies impact the sublunar sphere that is our world. In this context, “images” are essentially Platonic forms, or idealized concepts, we receive from the stars and planets, which we can access magically. For example, a key image of Venus is Love, so when Venus is well-placed in the heavens, we can contact her via ritual and capture Love in a material object, such as an engraved stone. By holding on to the stone, we are able to project and receive Love according to our wishes, for the stone in our pocket holds a spark of the divine image captured in the proper material at just the right time.
Traditional and New Age Images
Al-Kindi, in On the Stellar Rays, writes “…when a man conceives some corporeal thing in the imagination, that thing receives an actual existence according to species in the imaginary spirit. Whence the same spirit emits rays moving external things like the thing whose image it is.” (25) In other words, thoughts are things, as is known to anyone who ever opened a New Age book that exhorts the reader to think positive thoughts to effect real change. The difference between al-Kindi’s image and that of the New Age is that the former relies on images arising from celestial, divine causes. New Age philosophy emerges out of a modern materialistic worldview where humans and sometimes spirits or angels exist in a kind of closed system together, but it’s ultimately human will that can create images ex nihilo. In contrast, al-Kindi and historical Hermeticists posit that we are lower on the cosmic food chain than the Divine Mind (also known as nous), which in turn informs the planetary and celestial spheres that are superior to the world below in which we dwell. Images flow downward from the nous, take on distinct forms in the planetary spheres – such as the above example of the image of Love – and then act on us in even more specific ways. My definition and personal image of Love is different from yours, dear Reader, but that is only because we live in the fragmented sublunary sphere and each of us reflect only a partial, individualized image of original and total Love.
Applying Images to Astrological Magic
The art of astrological magic is to recognize the symbolism inherent in astrological placements and utilize them to draw down a certain kind of image to make desired changes in our lives. For example, Venus in Pisces, occidental of the Sun, conjoining Jupiter, offers a spiritual, artistic, and otherworldly love, which is wonderful, but may not be right for everyone. Due to living in physical bodies that blind us to divine totality and perfection, one may actually crave the rather naughtier Venus in Scorpio, oriental of the Sun, square Mars, a far baser form of Love but no less powerful for it. Thus, the key is to first know what specific effect we want to achieve, and then to have the astrological sophistication to seek its image out in the heavens, so that we can create our talisman at the right time. Doing otherwise will have educational but momentarily undesirable results. Imagine taking your Venus in Pisces talisman to a Venus in Scorpio type of social event; it can only end in tears, the solitary eating of ice cream, and disenchantment with astrological magic.
Successful magic – astrological or otherwise – requires self-searching and understanding of one’s own motives; the images that continually act on our world are out there for the taking, changing in a protean manner as the planets and stars change their positions. All that remains is to determine when to reach out and grab the image most suited to our needs and wants that is available in the limited time we have. There will be much more on this subtle art in a future article; meanwhile, if you wish to find the best times for your magical rituals and talismans for the upcoming month, you can purchase the latest edition of the magical elections document here.