Thoughts on Correspondences
by Simon Jester
Below are several things you need to consider when you begin thinking about performing magical rituals and utilizing correspondences. These are the necessary first steps that must be taken in order to conduct effective operations, and they begin at a crucial point slightly before the actual selection of magical items, such as incenses, minerals, metals, and colors that are usually given in lists of magical correspondences. This kind of preliminary thinking helps you make such selections more wisely. They are of primary importance to effective ritual magic because the magical environments created by well-chosen sets of correspondences enable the magician to "tune in" to the desired magical frequencies with greater facility.
I had originally intended this entry to be my final one on the subject of correspondences, but the complexity of this topic would necessitate writing something much too lengthy for the blog format. Therefore, I'll spread these considerations out over the next several entries. Here are some of the things that should be taken into account when planning your magical work with correspondences.
Magical Intent & Magical Force—The very first step in working with correspondences has to do with your own personal motives for using magic. Before planning a ritual, selecting correspondences, and stepping into the Magic Circle, you must have a very clear and well-defined idea of exactly what you wish to accomplish. This idea is your magical intent, and gaining a full awareness of everything it involves and entails will establish the nature of the Magical Force with which you need to work. This, in turn, helps define the set of correspondences that should be employed. Your magical intent is the foundation on which all your subsequent ritual operations stand, and you must be very clear and certain about it in your own mind. Hang-ups and reservations about what you want to do with magic severely handicap the effectiveness of ritual performances and tend to result in physical exhaustion and emotional depression.
There are probably as many personal reasons for performing magical operations as there are magicians. These reasons run the gamut from the highly spiritual, such as healing a sick person or attaining greater enlightenment, to the selfish & petty, such as causing injury to an enemy or accumulating personal wealth, racking up sexual conquests, or gaining control over other people. The choice of motives for a magical working is entirely up to you, but I must here issue a warning that may seem trite and cliché in our overly self-indulgent times. All the old caveats in books of magic are given for very practical reasons. I have practiced magic most of my life, and have never known anyone who gained lasting personal benefit from using the Art for selfish, spiteful, or purely manipulative ends.
Once your magical intent has clarified and you are certain of exactly what you want to do, the nature of the Magical Force you need to work with usually becomes apparent. I say "usually" here because, unless you have already gained some familiarity with the various Magical Forces through study, this step may require further research. Depending on the nature of the magical tradition in which you choose to operate, the Forces have different characteristics, identities, symbolism, and correspondences. In the Golden Dawn tradition, a preliminary grounding in Qabalistic metaphysics will soon enable you to determine the Force that best corresponds to your intent and identify the Level at which you should work with it.
The Qabalistic Tree of Life, with its Sephiroth, Paths, Worlds and correspondences, acts like a seed crystal around which a whole Hermetic Tradition, complete with appropriate ritual formats and magical practices, has crystallized into a highly complex magical worldview. To help you select the Forces that most closely correspond to your specific magical intent, here is a very simplified list of each Sephira along with brief descriptions of the kinds of goals each one may help you to attain:
Kether—The highest forms of mystical experience and spiritual enlightenment. A heightened sense of purpose and meaning. An increased sense of security and the elimination of fear in the face of personal losses.
Chokmah—Enhanced creative energy and personal vitality. Increased personal motivation and effectiveness. Virility and dynamism. Creative change.
Binah—Enhanced listening and understanding skills. The ability to accept and successfully adapt to changes. An increased capacity to love. Good parenting skills.
Gedullah/Chesed—The ability to forgive and forget. The elimination of bitterness, resentfulness, and vengefulness. Foresight and effective planning. Health, prosperity & success in personal enterprises. Generosity and magnanimity.
Geburah—Strength and courage in the face of danger. Protection from attack. The ability to make sound judgments and discern right from wrong. Taking a stance in a conflict and not wavering or backing down. Getting rid of things that have become encumbrances. Ending bad relationships.
Tiphereth—Enhanced awareness of one's personal spiritual purpose and identity. Getting in touch with your True Self. Individuation in the Jungian sense. Contact and communion with "the Holy Guardian Angel." Healing on all levels. The ability to be kind while being assertive.
Netzach—Artistic inspiration and passionate creativity. Emotional enthusiasm and resiliency. Enhanced capacity to enjoys life's pleasures. Success in love and romance. Enhanced sexual performance.
Hod—Expanded intellectual capacities. Agility of thought and increased learning capacity. Improved concentration, problem solving, communications skills, and business transactions. Safety in travel. Effective mastering of magical skills. Enhanced divinatory talents.
Yesod—Attaining & maintaining psychological stability. Gaining psychic powers. Learning how to enter and create effective changes on the Astral level. Becoming more intuitively aware of things and learning how to harmonize with the cycles of nature. Sexual health and fertility. The ability to remember and understand dreams.
Malkuth—Material health, well-being, and stability. Attainment of personal goals. The effective expression of ideas and feelings. Learning how to use the elemental powers. Being able to cultivate a discipline and stick to a routine.
This list is neither exhaustive nor original, and has been compiled from memories of numerous similar lists that fill the pages of Qabalistic primers along with my own personal experiences of the Sephiroth. I provide it here merely to give you a starting point from which to begin your practical work, and hope that it will help you to clarify the specific Force upon which you need to focus in order to attain your personal objectives.
With further study, you will learn that each of the Forces represented on the Tree of Life manifests on different levels of being, or Qabalistic Olamot (Worlds), and this knowledge will help you understand the reason for the long lists of Divine, Archangelic, Angelic, Zodiacal, Planetary, Elemental (and even Demonic) Names supplied in lists of correspondences. Rituals usually require that more than one of the Names in the hierarchical chain of a particular Force be used. And this adds to the number of correspondences employed and increases the complexity of the ways they are utilized.
Ultimately, the best way to learn about the Forces and their hierarchical arrangements and multi-leveled correspondences is through hard work and long study. The relevant information is available in Regardie's The Golden Dawn or A Garden of Pomegranates and Crowley's Liber 777, as discussed in a previous essay. Start reading!
Magical Form—After identifying the Magical Force that best corresponds to your Magical Intent, you must next determine the form that a magical operation needs to take in order to utilize that Force in a way that fits best with the desired goals of the operation. Some of the most widely used ritual formats traditionally available to magicians are listed as follows:
Banishing—Banishing is done for two basic reasons: (i) to clear the environment and the inner being of the magician of negative influences or to perform such a cleansing on behalf of someone else who needs to eliminate such influences; and (ii) to get rid of any traces of negative entities that may remain after an evocation. Banishing is one of the most popular ritual formats used today, and millions of people perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram daily. Such rituals may be used to dispel feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, worry, physical illness and a host of other oppressive forces.
Invocation—To invoke a Force means that you focus it within your magic circle and also within yourself. By so doing, you gain altered perspectives and insights concerning problematic situations. Invocation can exert healing & empowering effects upon the magician (especially when augmented by using a magical technique called the Assumption of God Forms) and is used in Consecrations to infuse ritual tools, protective amulets, talismans, and whole environments with the power of a particular Force. Invocations are also used to ask for the aid of certain Higher Powers while performing subsequent magical operations, such as divinations, scryings, meditations, Qabalistic Pathworkings, and astral projections. Brothers of the White Light only invoke the benevolent Forces associated with the Sephiroth, but sometimes a Brother of the Left Hand Path has attempted the invocation of a demon. This dangerous practice reportedly puts one in grave danger of possession. One should only evoke demons.
Evocation—The evocation of a Force usually means that you summon it into manifestation at a location safely outside of yourself and the magic circle, traditionally into a symbolic circle-within-a-triangle called Solomon's Triangle or simply The Triangle of Evocation. Traditionally, only debased, demonic forces are evoked, as well as the spirits of the deceased when using a form of evocation called Necromancy. Evocation is reputedly an extremely risky business since demons are not well known for their pleasant dispositions. However, with some modifications in the commanding tone of voice and imperious attitude recommended for use in such rituals, benevolent forces can also be evoked if the intent is to ask them to go to some other place that is in need of their blessings and protection. In this case, no Triangle of Evocation need be employed, for this device is necessary only when dealing with negative forces that may become unruly. However, I have occasionally seen the Triangle of Evocation used within the circle as a focal point for positive Forces when consecrating or charging objects. In such cases, the objects are placed within the circle surrounded by the triangle, where the evoked Forces attain maximum focus.
Consecration—Basically, to "consecrate" means to "make sacred." In most magical traditions, the various magical implements (such as the Wand, the Sword and Knife, the Chalice, the Pentacle, and all other devices and objects intended for regular ritual use) are always consecrated during a special ritual performed specifically for that purpose. A consecration is a way to magically set something apart from the mundane world and keep it in reserve for very special purposes. It is a way of endowing something with a chosen Force so that it will forevermore act as a magical conduit for that Force. Many practitioners view the rites used during the making of amulets and talismans as types of consecration rituals in which an object or assembly of objects is magically dedicated to the task of providing protection or attracting a specific influence. (Amulets protect. The Cross, the Pentagram, & the Hexagram can all be used as amulets. Talismans attract. Grimoires like The Clavicula Salomonis and the Lemegeton provide many good examples of talismans designed to attract specific planetary influences.) Technically, anything can be consecrated, including people, animals, books, buildings, social contracts such as marriages, etc.
Initiation—This is a special kind of ritual designed to facilitate, or symbolically express, a successful passage into a higher, more enlightened state. The most obvious example of an initiation ritual still commonly practiced is academic graduation, although this appears to be no more than an anemic shadow of the fearsome tribal rites de passage that helped guide our shamanistic ancestors toward more expansive spiritual horizons. Traditionally, magical initiations have been strictly group rituals, and were performed only by multiple members of a lodge or organization. However, a movement today toward legitimizing the notion of self-initiation has gained wide acceptance.
To this list, some would add scrying, divination & astral projection, but these more properly fall under the category of psychic activities rather than ritual formats, although their efficacy is greatly enhanced by the performance of certain rituals. Some practitioners also include the processes of blessing, cursing, and enchanting or bewitching in this list, but many believe these things to be subsidiary goals only attainable during a performance of one of the kinds of rituals noted above.
In practice, most magical operations involve combinations of these separate ritual actions. For example, all operations, regardless of the personal intent that motivates them, begin by banishing influences that may be distracting or inhibiting. All evocations should end with another banishing or "License to Depart" that cleanses the psychic atmosphere of any remnants of the evoked forces. Invocations may be followed with consecrations in which the invoked energies are projected into a specific magical implement or object, or they may be used to enhance the accuracy of a scrying or the clarity of a meditation, a Pathworking or an astral journey. Invocations also accompany initiations in which the Higher Powers are called upon to approve an initiate's request to pass on into the next level of magical evolution. The combinations are infinite, but everything you need to do magically will be directly conditioned by what you want to accomplish (your Magical Intent) and by the nature of the specific Magical Force with which you need to work. Once you have determined the particular Force that corresponds best with your intent and chosen the kind of ritual required to utilize this force in a manner conducive to your purposes, the selection of correspondences may then commence with confidence.