An Essay on
© 2008 by Academic Services International, Los Lunas, NM, USA
The Instruments - Continued
The Altar is placed in placed in the center of the circle. Ideally it is a double cube, with one cube placed on top of another. Each cube is about two feet on each side, making the Altar (more or less) four feet high. A more precise measurement aligns the Altar top with the magician's navel.
Ideally the Altar is made of wood, although other materials may be suitable. Sometimes one may simply use a night stand or a double-cube sized television cabinet.
The Altar, being of rigid, squared dimensions, symbolizes the basic, solid principles that govern creation, and it is the foundation upon which the magician works.
It should have access doors to the interior, and perhaps a drawer or two, inside of which are stored the other consecrated instruments when not in use.
In a perfect magical world, the magician would select a fine acacia or oak tree, chop it down with a magical axe, cut the trunk into boards that are then sanded and polished. The boards would then be fitted into place and held together with iron nails or screws, or glued with wooden dowels. The exact height of the finished Altar would be equal to the distance of the magician's navel from the floor.
Acacia is used symbolically in Freemasonry to represent purity and endurance of the soul, and as funeral symbolism implying resurrection and immortality. The bark, root and resin are used to make incense for rituals.
Smoke from its bark is thought to keep demons and ghosts away and to put gods in a good mood. Humans and elephants enjoy an alcoholic beverage made from its fruit. An Acacia tree is possibly the "burning bush" that Moses encountered in the desert (Exodus 3:2).
In terms of magical anatomy and physiology, the Altar corresponds to the skeleton of the magician whereupon all life and movement is supported.
The Altar Cloth is optional. It covers the Altar and is colored according to the nature of the working. It should be silk or wool and may be embroidered with suitable designs.
A self-respecting magician will avoid the use of synthetic fabrics within a magical circle. These include nylon, dacron, polyester, etc. These manufactured fabrics are notorious for holding a charge of positive ions, which radiate their own anxiety-producing, electromagnetic field.
In a perfect magical world, the magician would raise a fine sheep or maintain a selection of silkworms. The resulting wool or silk would then be woven into a square or round fabric and dyed with a suitable color. Any embroidery would be hand-sewn with a consecrated needle using wool or silk thread, or perhaps gold or silver wire extracted from the magician's mines.
In terms of magical anatomy and physiology, the Altar Cloth represents the periosteum that covers and protects the skeletal bones of the magician.
See The Symbology of Colors in the Appendix
The Sacred Book is the text most revered by the magician. This book contains the magical, philosophical, or moral precepts upon which the magician bases his or her general workings. This might be a Bible (which merely means "book" - a text most magicians who have been subjected to the Inquisition will probably not select), the Koran, The Book of the Law, The I Ching, etc., or a text delivered directly to the magician by his or her Solar Angel.
This text will set forth the basic moral, ethical, and philosophical principles that the magician has chosen to rule his or her operations and, in fact, his or her life.
This Sacred Book may remain out of sight within the confines of the Altar, unless otherwise directly involved in any actual magical working, for the magician will certainly have already memorized its entire contents.
In a perfect magical world, the magician would possess a Sacred Book written in or her own script with a magical pen upon fine linen or papyrus made by hand. It could be copied from another established text or it might be written directly by dictation from a higher being.
In terms of magical anatomy and physiology, the Sacred Book represents the central nervous system that determines basic consciousness and primary reactive responses.
The Book of Rites is the written text of the ritual about to be undertaken by the magician. This book contains the magical ceremony, including the actions, gestures, phrases, and words of power. It is important that the advanced magician design his or her own ceremony - the use of a previously published grimoire (grammar), book of spells, or similar text would be ridiculous. However, in order to practice, the beginner must usually rely upon previously published rites, examples of which appear in the Appendix of this Essay.
In group workings, copies of this Book (which realistically might only be a collection of typed pages) would be held by each participant - so that everyone is on the same page, so to speak.
This Book can be eliminated if the magician, or the group, has completely memorized all the details set forth therein. This is in fact a requirement in Freemasonry, wherein all participants have been made to commit their rites to memory, for the writing down of the rituals is forbidden (see Masonic Rituals on the wild world web, or in books written by heretic, renegade masons).
In our perfect magical world, the magician(s) would utilize a Book of Rites constructed and written down in the same manner as prescribed for a Sacred Book.
In terms of magical anatomy and physiology, the Book of Rites represents the peripheral nervous system that determines ritualistic consciousness and delivery of specific motor actions.
The Record is another book, the third type to be considered, that is used for writing down the procedures used and the results obtained therefrom. It should include the date, the time, the prevailing conditions (temperature, wind conditions, etc.), the practice(s) that were performed, any phenomena observed, and the results. The modern New Age term for this Record is a Journal.
This Magical Record is often valuable at a later date, when the details have faded from memory (in sometimes only two or three days).
In our perfect magical world, the magician would utilize a Record constructed and written down in the same manner as prescribed for a Sacred Book.
In terms of magical anatomy and physiology, the Record represents the memory that is preserved in certain brain cells of the magician.