Tag Archives: hermetic quaternary

The Hermetic Cross: Sixteen Days of Insight

John Bell over at Hermetic.com is starting to build up a Fundamentals  section at the library — an area that encourages people to get off the sofa, put down the cell phone, and do some real spiritual work. 

That sort of thing really resonates with me. 

So when he asked me if I’d be willing to come up with a month of daily meditation exercises for his site, I immediately said “Yes!” and began to put together a program based on the Hermetic Cross, a.k.a. the Hermetic Quaternary, a.k.a. the “Powers of the Sphinx.”

Click here to check it out.

What is the Hermetic Cross?

Nobody really knows how old the Quaternary is or where it originated. All we can say is that it was first revealed in Eliphas Levi’s book Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie and not widely known until Levi’s book was translated into Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual by A. E. Waite in 1896.  I’ve been working with the Hermetic Cross for almost thirty years, and still each year brings a new insight or two.

The power of the Cross is not to be taken lightly. 

So I’m leaping at the chance to make this deceptively simple framework accessible to a wider audience. There is mystery at the center of the Quaternary that awaits you, but I dare not name it for fear of spoiling the revelation.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

If you liked this post you’ll love like my e-books.  Check them out at Smashwords.com or wherever fine e-books are sold.montage


The Holy Cross: Vervaeke, Exegesis, Truth, and the Hermetic Quaternary

In this video I examine the Cognitive Scientific idea of the Four Ways of Knowing (as expounded by John Vervaeke in Episode 1 of his video series Awakening from the Meaning Crisis) by the light of Hermetic and Christian concepts.

For a Google spreadsheet of all the Holy Cross associations I make in the video, click here.




Heart: Martial Arts Training Involution #178

The heart is the center, the core, where everything begins and ends.  In martial arts, the heart sits at the the intersection of form, intent, action, and reaction.  In Cabal Fang martial arts, these four things equate to the Hermetic Quaternary — “To Know, to Will, to Dare, to Keep Silent.”  In the Frontier Rough  ‘n’ Tumble martial arts milieu, these equate to the four animal teachers —  Stag, Bobcat, Dog, and Hawk — and of course to the cross and to the medicine wheel.

These associations are prehistoric and are equated to the four directions.  Thus we see them cropping up everywhere — the Four Living Creatures from Ezekiel, the four heavenly creatures (Ox, Lion, Man and Eagle), the Four Holy Beasts from Vietnamese folklore, the Four Symbols from Chinese folklore, etc.

Heart: Martial Arts Training Involution #178

  • Form.  Spend 15 minutes working on your form.  How do you do that?  Here are some ideas: break down a technique by practicing it slowly, get in front of a mirror and analyze your movement, practice your kata, poomse, hyung, etc. with extreme exactness, etc.
  • Action and Reaction.  Spend 15 minutes working on your action and reaction.  If you have a partner, work flow drills.  If you’re going solo, run flow drills with your heavy bag, grappling dummy, floor bag, etc. (if you need some flow drills, read Chapter 26 of the CFSG).
  • Intent.  Spend 15 minutes honing your intent with meditation.  Intent is the secret sauce that makes everything you do open up like a flower (last week I explored a related idea in this video).   Think of a suitable phrase, about a dozen words, that embodies your intent.  Pick a famous quote from your choice of wisdom literature — a Bible passage like the one I used (“Be ye therefore perfect as your father, which is in heaven, is perfect” ~Matthew 5:48) or a quote from the Tao Te Ching (“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know”).  Set a timer for 15 minutes and assume your meditative posture of choice.  Mentally recite the first half of the phrase as you breathe in.  Hesitate with lungs full and airway open as you mentally recite the second half of the phrase.  Recite the first half as you breathe out.  Hesitate with lungs empty and airway open as you mentally recite the second half of the phrase.  This phrase, when split and used in this manner, will focus your mind and urge you into box breathing.  Repeat until the timer beeps.
  • Record.  And, as always, record your results and thoughts in your training journal.

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books.  Why not check one out?

9 Compasses and Workout of the Week #28

The Cabal Fang Workout of the Week is two-parter.  Enjoy!

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #28

Part 1: A nasty little pyramid with no breaks.  This works great with two heavy bags, one standing and one lying flat.  But if you only have one or none at all, you can either make one or punch the air.  No excuses!  Start with Splay Punch x2, Punch x2 from Mount, Punch x2 from Guard, Standing Punch/Kick x2 vs. the upright bag,  Then Splay Punch x2, Splay Punch x4, Punch x4 from Mount, Punch x4 from Guard, Punch/Kick x4 Standing.  Then Splay-Punch x2, Splay-Punch x4, Splay-Punch x6, Punch x6 from Mount, Punch x6 from Guard, Punch x6 Standing.  Keep going until you get to 5 Splays and all strikes x10.  Next round 4 Splays all strikes x8, then 3 Splays and all strikes x6. etc. back down to 1 Splay and all strikes x2.

Part 2: Find your compass and meditate on it.  There’s nothing worse than feeling lost.  To find out where you are and start heading in the right direction, get our your handy compass.   This holds as true in the realms of mind and spirit as it does in the realm of the forest.  When you want to orient yourself in the great outdoors you use a physical compass; to get your mental, spiritual bearings, get out a symbolic compass.

Yes, I said meditate.  Here’s how.  Look at the 9 “compasses” listed at the bottom of this post.  Which one seems appropriate to the problem, pickle, or situation you’re dealing with at the present moment?   Once you settle on a choice, memorize it.  Close your eyes and imagine that the North pole of the compass is tattooed in glowing letters on your forehead, the South one on your lower abdomen just below your belly button, the East one on your right shoulder, and the West one your left shoulder.  Set a timer for 10 minutes, assume your chose meditative posture and close your eyes.  Imagine that compass situated on your body.  Which words are glowing most brightly?  Which aren’t glowing at all?  Try to make them all glow evenly in your mind’s eye.

Below you’ll find 9 compasses that will help you orient yourself if you give them some time, consideration, meditation, contemplation, and prayer.

 Maybe the Being/Action compass is what you need.   Sometimes you don’t know if your problem is bad thinking or poor choices.  North/South is the “Being” dipole while East/West is the “Action” dipole.  There is no “wrong way” on a compass is there?  Of course not.  Just as there’s a time to go North or South depending on where you’re headed, there’s a time to accept what you’ve been dealt (“I am not”) and a time to reach down deep and assert your will (“I am”).  There’s a time to take action (“I will”) and a time to refuse to take action (“I will not”).   Sometimes these things overlap — inaction becomes an action, acceptance can become inaction, and so on, like a four-way game of rock-paper-scissors.  To figure out which direction you need to go, meditate on this compass and see if you can find your way out.

Or maybe you have a goal in mind and you don’t where to start.   Try the Ways of Achieving compass.   Not sure which quality you need to cultivate in order to hit your goal?  Meditate on the the Qualities of Manifestation compass.

When it doubt, go with the Hermetic Quaternary.   If you’re looking for direction but you’re not sure which compass is best, go with the one that’s been around since Eliphas Levi first wrote it down in 1854.  It’s about as powerful a tool as you could ever hope for.

Go ahead, give it a try!

Directions Hermetic Quaternary (a.k.a. “The Powers of the Sphinx”) Qualities of Manifestation Being/Action
North/Up To Know Purpose I am not
South/Down To Will Intent I am
East/Right To Dare Passion I will
West/Left To Keep Silent Determination I will not
Directions Western Elements Tarot Suits Astrology
North/Up Earth Pentacles  Ox/Taurus
South/Down Fire Wands  Lion/Leo
East/Right Air Swords  Man/Aquarius
West/Left Water Cups  Eagle/Scorpio
Directions Holy Grail Bloods Archangels Ways of Achieving
North/Up God & Goddess Uriel  To Visualize
South/Down Ancestors & Kin Michael  To Practice
East/Right Heroes & Friends Raphael  To Execute
West/Left Sacrifice & Nourishment Gabriel  To Plan


Orlando: Odysseus, Socrates and the Limits of Common Sense



The horror of what happened is penetrating.  Like the sulfurous smoke from barking gun barrels it seeps into my eyes, lungs and skin.  It makes me want to wretch, to run, to think about something else.  I see faces on television twisted by sadness.   I see videos and texts from beyond the grave.  My imagination is too strong, and my heart and mind descend into the pit of those terrifying, hellish hours.

And in the aftermath, everyone is trying to apply common sense to this tragedy.  People are drawing conclusions and making assertions about rights and terrorism and crime.  Not just policy makers, pundits and presidential candidates, but every day people like you and me.

I’m alone I think.  Whereas most everyone is making common sense conclusions and making common sense proposals, I am trying to see not just with “my gut” but gnostically, magically, mystically and scientifically.  I’m doing this because I have to take myself out of the equation as much as possible.  As Plato famously said through the semi-fictional mouth of Socrates, “Know thyself.”  In trying to know myself, I have learned that I know little, and that I am nobody.

In the myth of Odysseus and Polyphemus the Cyclops, the hero Odysseus must put aside his pride, hide his identity, and assume the name “Nobody.”  He drugs Polyphemus, and while the giant sleeps, he blinds the beast with a sharpened olive branch hardened in the fire.  When the cyclops awakens and calls to his brethren for help, all he can exclaim is that he has been attacked by “Nobody.”  His fellows think therefore that he has been blinded by the gods.  Odysseus and his men escape, but as they are leaving, Odysseus brags and gives away his name.  This allows the cyclops to pray to his father Poseidon for revenge, which comes indeed soon enough.

There are several lessons in that myth.  The first is that being selfless and putting aside your ego can help you overcome near-sighted monsters, even ones that look impossible to overcome.  The second is that sometimes your greatest weapon is the olive branch.

This myth is how I apply my gnostic sense and sight to the questions  posed by the horror of the Orlando shootings.   I’m not a policy wonk.  But if I was, I’d try to apply my scientific sense also.  I’d look at the statistics and the studies about gun violence, terror and crime.  I’d apply my magical sense, meaning that I’d evaluate and assess the hopes, dreams, desires and degrees of intent on all sides.  And of course I’d be informed by my mystical sight too, allowing myself to be open to what nature, the universe, and the One has to say.  In short, I’d legislate through the lens of the Powers of the Sphinx — “To Know, to Will, to Dare; to Keep Silent.”

The more complex the problem the less common sense applies.  Does it make any sense at all that you can’t exceed the speed of light?  That widening a road doesn’t eliminate traffic jams?  That the continent you’re standing on is moving at the rate of 1″ per year, that the earth is spinning at 1,oo0 mph while moving around the sun at 67,00o mph, and yet it feels like we’re standing still?  How can it be that, despite the evening news, the rise of ISIL, and the horror in Orlando, that the world is less violent now that it has ever been?

“Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before you reach eighteen.”  —Albert Einstein

Common sense is great for balancing a checkbook, hanging a picture, cooking a pot of lentils‡, or starting a revolution circa 1775.  Unfortunately, it really isn’t very good at solving the great questions of any advanced science — including Political Science — in an increasingly complex world.  It’s prone to faults, a leaky bucket in a world of microchips, noetic polities, and nanotech.

To move forward toward viable remedies and solutions, we’re going to have to get beyond common sense and see the world in at least four different ways — simultaneously and without contradiction.

But for now, can’t we take a little more time to just grieve and try to breathe?


“It is a Stoic belief, too, that the wise man will do all things rightly, even to the wise seasoning of lentil soup.”  This is because a traditional lentil soup contains just lentils, bay leaf, salt and pepper — another way of saying, “keep it simple, stupid.”  From The Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus (published in Vol. II of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928).