Urania - Rite 8. Magic of Mercury and Sophia

Urania, Ceremonial Magic of the Goddess

Fellowship of Isis Liturgy by Olivia Robertson

Part III. Planetary Magic

Magic of Mercury and Sophia

Ritual no. 8

Priestess: (Invocation) Divine Sophia, Triple Goddess of Wisdom, Who are the Holy Spirit of Truth; descend upon us with Thy white wings of the Dove, and give us Thy Diadem of Stars! We seek Thee, for all must seek for Truth. Thou are concealed from us by the veil that divides Reality from its reflection. Divine Bride, help us to be born again, that we may know our immortality.

Oracle: It is not easy to penetrate My veil. The second birth is preceded by the second death. the ending of ignorance and delusion. All that you see and hear and feel are but the phantom senses of my counterpart, My Daughter, who is My Soul. Cunning Mercury, however, will teach you to reach My Sphere through His wit and speed! He steals upon Me when I turn My back; but when I face Him, He stands immobile, with downcast gaze. For to reach My Bourne, the curved path is the straightest way to reach Me: It is the heresy that conceals the Truth: and the backwards journey that will bring you forward. The spiritually proud rush towards Me and are blinded by My Light. The clever ones, who follow the deviating path of Mercury, the Psychopompos, reach Me when My eyes are closed. The ways of night are safest; the low path more sure than the lofty way upwards to the mountain peak.

Surely Mercury knows Me, for am I not His Mother, Maia? I am the shy Goddess in the dark cave which is the Matrix of the Light. If you would find Me, look over your left shoulder; move against the path of the sun; look at symbols upside down, and walk backwards into the future! I hide My wisdom in the stories I tell children before they sleep. The sciences tell the facts clearly: but Inner Truth is concealed in fable and paradox.

Students of the occult mysteries are the hidden children of the veiled Sophia. Yet, remember, as you pursue your circuitous journey through the labyrinth of conceptual thought and mystic symbols, that without Love and without the Law, all your knowledge is not only meaningless but dangerous. For the Universe is based on the foundations of the Law, and the Father God enforces the Law. My son and The Bride, the Pneuma, offer Love and Truth. With the Union of Truth, Love and the Law you will find Wisdom. You will have also regained the happiness of the butterfly and the flower.

Planetary Magic: Mercury and Sophia

On the central altar let there be a yellow triangle and within it, a vessel of burning charcoal, one feather, and a green branch. On the right of the triangle let there be a crystal ball, and on the left, a white flower. The Magician wears a blue robe with stars as insignia and a silver mitre. Magician holds the Caduceus, a wand entwined 3 times with one gold and one silver snake, and tipped with a winged sphere. The Enchantress wears a white robe and a dove-grey cloak, with a dove as insignia. She wears a mitre of stars. The circle of Practitioners around the altar wear yellow robes and mitres. The Candidate is outside the circle. She is robed in white and a white veil conceals her face. A gong stands at the left of the altar.

Magician: Seekers after Truth, we are here assembled in our circle that we may perform the Planetary Magic of Mercury and Sophia. The Magus requires a pupil, so that all of us may learn through tests undergone by the Aspirant. Who chooses to learn from our sacred magic?

Candidate: I am willing to learn.

Magician: What is your Intention?

Candidate: To face reality and so to acknowledge its Goodness.

Enchantress: Reality contains the Great Absolutes; and without clear spiritual ends, the means of Mercury's Path is beset with cunningly devised pitfalls! Hear then the wise words of the Thrice-Holy Hermes Trismegistus, from The Divine Pymander.

Magician: Every soul is immortal and ever moveable. The soul is generated from a certain Essence, not of matter; being a thing incorporeal, and being born of a thing also incorporeal. Soul is eternal intelligent Essence, having intellect as its peculiar reason. Through her own thought proper to herself the soul acquires harmony. There are then Essence and Reason and Understanding and Thought! Yet also be good, O child! The Good will philosophize pre-eminently.

Candidate: Thus I learn that goodness must be conjoined with intellect, that essential intelligence may be obtained. What must I study, that I may realise my Intention?

Magician: It is necessary to answer three questions.

Candidate: Ask them! My Teachers have already given me the answers, through long years of instructions.

Magician: The answers are indeed plain to the merest youthful student. It is the Questions that are so impenetrably obscure, so twined about with enigmas, that only a fool or a genius may even fathom what the questions are!

Candidate: I have followed the Path of Mercury, of Hod, from my youth up, with Qabalistic and Alchemical Teachers well versed in the most complex systems of the Occult. Present me with your questions, and be they carried to the extreme of circumlocution as was the Gordion Knot, nonetheless, Pure Reason and logic will, as a theme is followed through the contrapuntal dissonances of a fugue, find the pure gold of Truth.

Magician: All these systems you have been taught are but comparisons to aid the mind find that which is beyond its little scope. The Sphere of Wisdom transcends all our sciences, be they occult or empirical. It is the Causes behind the effects that you need to seek. And the Causes are reflected in our earthly realm by symbols, which we call objects - such as a tree - a stream - a butterfly. For you to penetrate to the Real World of the Divine Wisdom, Sophia, you need first to understand the ways of the mind, of Mercury. Here is the first question.

1st Practitioner strikes gong once.

Magician: Behold my mysterious Wand, the Caduceus of Mercury. What does it symbolise?

Candidate: Clear is the answer, given by my occult Teachers. The two Gold and Silver snakes entwined about the rod, represent Fire and Water, Sun and Moon, Positive and Negative Powers. These are brought to harmony by polarity through the central rod. My Alchemist Teachers taught me that Sun is represented by sulpher; Moon, by salt: and that which draws them to harmony; Mercury. Mercury conducts the two Powers to the Philosophical Gold, the Inner Sun, Symbolised by the Winged Disc. The rod also represents the spine, and where these snakes cross three times, are the three psychic centres, the Winged Brow, the radiating Heart and the womb and solar plexus, seat of power.

Magician: What does this Wand and these teachings mean to yourself?

Candidate: Nothing! This is the honest answer. Exhausted with much study, I am void of inspiration. Perform for me, I pray you all, the Invocation of Mercury, that my dull mind may find its wings!

Music - Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Suite,’ Mahler’s ‘Fifth Symphony’ or Bach’s ‘G Minor Fugue’ are relevant.

Magician lifts aloft the wand over the altar.

Magician: I invoke the God Mercury! I sing of Hermes, the Son of Zeus and Maia, Lord of Cyllene and Arcadia rich in flocks, the luck-bringing Messenger of the Immortals, whom Maia bore, the rich-tressed nymph a shy Goddess, for she avoided the company of the Blessed Gods and lived within a deep shady cave. Mercury who invented the first sweet-tone lyre, give us Thy skills! Thou who has wings on Thy brow and at Thy feet, give us bright minds and swift thought! Bestow on us that inspiration that rises beyond our heavy and entangling logic. Thou art called thief of the kine of Apollo, that are the clouds; for to the Intuition all is enjoyed without possession, secrecy or bounds. Let the Serpent Dance be offered Thee!

Serpent Dance. One line of dancers, holding hands, interweave with another line, as in the folk dance “In and Out the Arches”. Psychic shifting opal colours may be seen intercoiling like snakes.

Candidate: I could laugh with joy! Now I see! To rise above the bounds of intellect, the soul needs rhythmic movement. I watch colours interpenetrating every sphere, for the blue of one rainbow is echoed in another both above and below! And each note of this music has its counterpart, through octaves, into every sphere. This is the secret of Mercury's lyre, which is mutely telling the story through this Caduceus.

Magician: How may the Magician travel through the spheres through understanding this law of resonance?

Candidate: As did these Dancers, through rhythmic breathing and movement, achieving balance through inter-acting radiations. So is the silver snake balanced with the golden snake. Mind is in harmony with the passions. It is at the point of balance between these two forces that creativity is obtained. Thus the travels of Mercury are in reality the ascent and descent of Consciousness through all Spheres of Being. The crowning disc encompasses the spheres, for it is the Pleroma - All-Being, All-Mind, All-Goodness. This is the true answer!

Magician: It is your answer. For to each soul is vouchsafed a different answer to a different question. But do not be downcast! You have understood what is needful for you, and so you have passed the first test. The Middle Path is your chosen way.

1st Practitioner strikes gong twice. Magician presents Candidate with the wand.

Magician: Unravel for us now the second enigma!

1st Practitioner strikes the gong once.

Magician: Behold this Yellow Triangle upon the Altar, and within it a fire upon charcoal, one bird's feather found upon the earth, and a green branch. To aid you, hear the words from The Most Holy Trinosophia of Le Comte de Saint Germain: "A blue robe spangled with stars had replaced my linen garment. A yellow altar stood opposite me from which a pure flame ascended having no other substance for its alimentation than the altar itself." In a drawing the Comte illustrates the altar as being triangular. "A lighted torch stood beside it, shining like the sun; hovering above it was a bird with black feet, silvery body, a red head, black wings and a golden neck. It was in constant motion without however using its wings. It could fly when it was in the midst of the flames. In its beak was a green branch. Altar, bird and torch are the symbol of all things. Nothing can be done without them. They themselves are all that is good and great." Think well. What is the Name of the Altar? And of the Bird? And what are bird and torch and branch in the arcane language?

Candidate: I am grateful for my Teachers of the Mysteries for preparing me for this test! The bird is the Ibis, Thoth, God of Wisdom, the Egyptian Mercury. For Mercury of the Philosophers remains in a suspended state only in the midst of fire. The black feet and wings symbolise the earth; the silver body, water; the red head, fire; and the golden neck, air. The bird is also called Ampheercha of the Alchemists from which is derived the Philosopher's Stone. The green branch is the Acacia of Rebirth through transmutation. The altar is called Athanor, that which contains. The Torch is derived from it and is named Lux, the Light through which the bird is transmuted into its true Essence, the alchemical Gold.

Magician: You have studied well and possess an excellent memory. But tell me, what do these emblems mean to your soul?

Candidate: Nothing. I feel no elevation of spirit, no soul's longing. Pray invoke for me Hermes of Hellas. He who guides the soul through the spheres, that my soul may awaken.

Magician: Bright-winged Hermes, Who conducted the wandering soul of Persephone from the darkness of Hades where She rules as Queen, to the Olympian skies of Her Mother of the fruitful corn, Demeter; harken to our prayers and, as Psychopompos, help our souls' wings to grow and give us spiritual flight!

Magician offers incense to Hermes on the fire. Each Practitioner does this in turn. Moving left to right round the altar. Enchantress holds her hands over the fire places her hands upon the head of each Practitioner in turn before the incense. To each she speaks these words:

Enchantress: Receive now the Power of Maia of the dark shady cave, Mother of Hermes, Mother of light!

Practitioners may feel cold power in their heads and hot power through their spines.

Candidate: I give thanks to Maia and to Hermes! Now my Inner Eyes are opened. I know that Light comes from Darkness. All my learning is but the reflection of the Real. I can know nothing save through Divine Source. I recognise the Bird as the Phoenix reborn from the Fire of Creation. The green branch is Nature. The Altar appears as past, present and future to the Insight of the initiated child of its Mother, the Phoenix. Now I have the true answer!

Magician: You have given your own answer true to yourself. You have chosen the Path of Nature. The second Test is passed.

1st Practitioner strikes gong twice. Magician presents Candidate with green branch.

Enchantress: Listen to the third question. Look upon this crystal sphere and this white flower upon the altar, on either side, the crystal to your right, the flower to your left. What is their meaning?

Candidate: I am fortunate in having Gnostic Teachers. The crystal ball, which Alchemists associate with Mercury, to the Mystic represents the Higher Sophia Epinioa, the Holy Spirit. As-taught by Simon Magus, the Epinioa descends through the spheres to gain experience. As the Goddess becomes human she is called Pneuma, the soul. She sinks lower still and is termed the Lower Sophia Achamoth. As such she is symbolised by this fragile white flower susceptible to disease and death. From thence She is conducted upwards by Hermes with his wand, Orpheus with his lyre, or the Christos with his crook. The Qabalists term this the ascent from Malkuth to Kether, both aspects of the Goddess. When Her three Aspects are in harmony, she is the Trinosophia, and as such She creates the Demiurge.

Enchantress: What is this Demiruge?

Candidate: I was taught by my Gnostic Teachers that the Sophia shapes the Father and King of all things, the Demiurge Who creates, guided by His Divine Mother. He is beneath the Sophia and above the material world. We are taught by Basilides: "For there rules the great Arcon, Whose dominion extends to the firmament, Who believes that He is the only God and that there is nothing above Him." And of this God, Ialdabaoth, St. John tells us in the Apocryphon: "He apportioned to the angels some of His fire: but of the pure Light of the power which He had inherited from His Mother He gave them none. For this reason He held sway over them, because of the Glory that was in Him from the Power of the Light of the Mother. Therefore He let Himself be called 'The God', renouncing the substance from which He had issued . . . and He said to the angels 'I am a jealous God, besides Me there is none - thereby already indicating to the angels beneath Him that there is another Deity: for if there were none, of whom should He be jealous? My answer therefore is that the Crystal represents the Immaculate Conception incarnated in the White Flower: Wisdom, born of Herself.

Enchantress: A most learned answer, worthy of a daughter of Sophia! But in truth do these teachings mean anything to yourself?

Candidate: A little more than the two other questions, but why, I do not know. Perhaps it is because I imagine Sophia as my mother, and I recognise in the Demiurge my father! Otherwise these strange teachings seem a veritable phantasmagoria. Yet they evoke some response in the soul. They bring to my memory the words of Jesus of Nazareth - Immanuel, as recorded, in the Apocryphal Gospel of St. John: "Even now did my Mother the Holy Spirit take me by one of mine hairs, and carried me away unto the great Mount Thabor." I wish that I could experience such an ascent. Pray invoke for me the Holy Spirit, the Triple Goddess Sophia!

Enchantress holds her arms aloft in the ‘Y’ position before the incense.

Enchantress: Descend upon us, Holy Spirit, Thrice Holy Sophia! Come both to our minds and to our hearts!

Enchantress turns to Participants in turn, arms extended in blessing. Light may be seen like two white wings or circlets of light above each head and around the crystal.

Enchantress: Hear St. Thomas as he tells of Sophia in his Apocryphal Gospel.

1st Practitioner: The Damsel is the Daughter of Light, in whom consisteth and dwelleth the proud brightness of Kings; and this sight of Her is delightful. She shineth with Beauty and with Joy. Her garments are like the flowers of Spring, and from them a waft of fragrance is born. And in the Crown of Her Head the King is established which with His immortal ambrosia nourisheth them that are founded upon Him; and in Her Head is set Truth; and with Her feet She showeth forth joy.

2nd Practitioner: And Her mouth is opened, and it becometh Her well: thirty and two are they that sing praises to Her: Her tongue is like the curtain of the door, which waveth to and fro for them that enter in. Her neck is set in the fashion of steps which the first Maker hath wrought, and Her two hands signify and show, proclaiming the Dance of the Happy Ages; and Her fingers point out the Gates of the City.

3rd Practitioner: Her Chamber is bright with Light, and breatheth forth the odour of balsam and all spices. And surrounding Her, Her Groomsmen keep Her, the number of which is seven, whom She Herself hath chosen. And her Bridesmaids are seven, and they dance before Her. And Twelve in number are they that serve before Her and who are from the Bridegroom, that by the sight of Him they may be enlightened.

4th Practitioner: And for ever shall they be with Her in that eternal joy, and shall be at that Marriage whereto the Princes are gathered together: and shall attend at that banquet whereof the Eternal Ones are accounted worthy: and they shall put on royal raiment and be clad in bright robes: and in joy and exultation shall both Bride and Bridegroom be. And they have glorified the Father of Truth and the Mother of Wisdom.

Candidate: At last the Gnosis dawns within my soul. The crystal represents Truth which is omnipotent on every level. The flower symbolises love and also has love within it, for Love is omnipresent, within the heart of all beings and existences. From the marriage of Truth and Love is born Wisdom. Too long have we followed the Path of the Intellect alone: may we turn to Sophia, our Source. This is the Gnosis.

Enchantress: This is your own answer, relevant to your true need. You have chosen the Path of Wisdom. You have passed the Third Test.

1st Practitioner strikes gong twice. Enchantress presents Candidate with the flower.

Enchantress: Seekers after Truth, let us contemplate the symbols of Mercury and Sophia.


Reports are shared.

Enchantress: Let us send thoughts of serenity and understanding to all who seek.

Magician: We offer thanks to Mercury and to Sophia.


Sources: "The Divine Pymander of Hermes Trismegistus", trans. John D. Chambers, Samuel Weiser, New York, 1975. "Hesiod, and the Homeric Hymns", trans. Evelyn-White, Heinemann Ltd., London, Loeb Classical Library. "The Gnostic Religion", Hans Jonas, Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts. The Apocryphal New Testament, trans. James, Clarendon Press, Oxford.


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