An Essay on
© 2008 by Academic Services International, Los Lunas, NM, USA
The Instruments - Continued
The Disk is a circular piece of metal, preferably cast of solid gold. Ideally, it is nine inches in diameter and about one-half of an inch in thickness. The Disk is also called a Pantacle, a Pentacle, or (rarely) a Coin.
The Disk is the elemental instrument of Earth. It is usually placed in the center of the Altar. It represents the basic principles that the magician has selected to govern his or her general work. It is inscribed (by using the magical dagger) with a geometrical map of the levels of consciousness as expressed in the unique design (formula) that the magician will use in performing the Great Work, plus any symbols (letters or graphics) that help to further define the scheme.
It is of vital importance that the design be perfectly balanced in a concentric arrangement. The most common mistake made by neophytes is arranging the design in a non-concentric manner so that it appears as a vertical picture - this is appropriate for a Lamen, but not for a Disk.
Basic arrangements in the design usually include four concentric symbols. In the center is a dot or an eye, or some similar glyph that represents unity. The next two levels proclaim the operative blueprint, often being the 3=8, 4=7, or 5=6 formula. Some magicians expand into three levels with a (for example) 5=7=11 formula. Anything will work as long as it is balanced, meaningful and workable.
In the perfect magical world to which we constantly refer, the magician would find and operate a gold mine, extracting a rather large portion of pure gold. This would then be cast into a Disk of proper dimensions, and would be worth a small (maybe a large) fortune. This Disk should then be highly polished, and the design would be inscribed thereon. After purifying, charging, and consecrating the Disk, (however it is made) it should be kept wrapped in green or earth-toned silk.
In the "real" magical world in which most of us live, we find that we must usually rely somewhat on spirits of acquisition and salesman to help us out. First of all, this amount of gold is prohibitively expensive - thus we may accept brass as a substitute. Perhaps you could find a brass disk already punched out from sheet metal in a metals warehouse - this is exactly what we found in the mid-1960s - they were eleven inches in diameter, about an eighth of an inch thick, were perfectly round, and had a smooth surface that was easily polished. But I have never seen the likes of them since that time. Thus, in later times, we had to evoke machine-shop demons. Here is how you do it:
Go to a metal shop-supply house. Find a brass plate that is between one-eighth of an inch (1/8") and one-half of an inch (1/2") in thickness. Have the machinist cut it with his metal-cutting band-saw into the diameter of your choice - probably between six inches and eleven inches. The perimeter will be rough with band-saw marks and must be extensively polished (see below), while the flat surface will probably be relatively smooth and will polish much more easily.
Find a round brass bar that is between four inches (4") and six inches (6") in diameter. Brass bars usually don't come any wider. Have the machinist cut it with his metal-cutting band-saw into the thickness of your choice - probably between one-fourth of an inch (1/4") and one-half of an inch (1/2"). The surface will be rough with band-saw marks and must be extensively polished (see below), while the perimeter will probably be relatively smooth and will polish much more easily.
Regardless of which style you select (plate or bar), polishing will be required. Obtain an electric drill and a rubber disk "backing pad" attachment that is used by automobile body-repair persons (see your local auto parts store), or just use a "disc sander." With contact cement, glue the Disk directly to the rubber backing pad - make certain it is perfectly centered or it will take a lot of extra revolutions to get the Disk perfectly rounded.
Rotate the Disk (with the electric drill or disc sander) while placing the edge of the Disk against a flat concrete surface or a metal file. Brass is soft and it will soon be ground down to form a perfect (but rough) circle. Then do the same thing again, but this time place the surface of the Disk against a (very flat) concrete surface. It will soon be ground down to a flat (but rough) surface. Obviously, if the Disk already has a relatively smooth edge or surface, you can skip the concrete/file stage and proceed to finer polishing.
Now that the Disk is rounded and flat, you must polish it in stages using various implements and (in the finer stages) the cloth pad that attaches over the auto body-repair backing pad. This is the sequence:
1. Rotating the Disk that is glued to the rubber backing pad, use: (1) A steel file or carborundum surface, (2) Finer steel files - or finer carborundum - as required, (3) Coarse emery cloth [used with water] or sandpaper [no water], (4) Finer grades of emery cloth [with water] or sandpaper [no water],
2. Detach the Disk from the backing pad and attach the cloth pad over the auto body-repair backing pad. Rotate this cloth pad directly on the Disk while applying the following abrasives (that are mixed with water): (1) Pumice, (2) Zinc Oxide or powdered Chalk or other fine polishing abrasive, (3) Brasso - a commercial brass polish [add no water].
Do this on both surfaces and the edge of the Disk. At any stage, scratches or imperfections may be observed and must be removed by returning to an earlier stage. You should end up with a brilliant, shining Disk that looks just like gold. As time goes by, the shiny brass will oxidize and become dull - this is remedied by getting out the can of Brasso and a soft cloth, but now the polishing can simply be performed quickly and efficiently by hand.
The design is probably best inscribed with an engraving tool. Take care - one slip of the tool means regrinding and polishing again in order to restore a smooth surface.
Now that's a lot of work! The Disk will probably be the hardest instrument to build in a proper manner.
For the warrior-priest-knight, the Disk is a representation of the shield.
In terms of magical anatomy and physiology, the Disk represents the muscular system of the magician that makes terrestrial motion and activity possible.