Friday, August 20, 2010

Stellar Magic: A Practical Guide to the Rites of the Moon, Planets, Stars, and Constellations

Book Review: Stellar Magic: A Practical Guide to the Rites of the Moon, Planets, Stars, and Constellations by Payam Nabarz (Avalonia 2009)

This is a very interesting book and does seem to function as a practical guide. I learned quite a bit. Some of the rites are quite creative, not exceedingly difficult, and at least somewhat in keeping with ancient methods. The celestial bodies covered are: the constellation Orion (equated with Horus), star Sirius (Sothis & Tishtrya (Tir)), constellations Perseus & Andromeda, the Moon, the seven planets, Cygnus (Northern Cross), the Pleiades (the seven sisters), Great Bear and Little Bear, Draco, the signs of the Zodiac, Aurora (goddess of the dawn), and finally the microcosm as the Stellar World Cave. There is a good exposition of the Four Royal Stars of Persia (4 Stellar Chieftains) and their equivalence to the Hebrew Cherubim – the man, the eagle/serpent , the lion, and the ox – said to appear on the throne of God and also seen on the Wheel of Fortune Card in the Tarot.

The rites are speckled with excerpts from such ancient stellar texts as The Hymns of Orpheus, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and the Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster. In fact, there is quite a bit of star lore from Persia as well as Egypt, Greece, Babylonia, and even Celtic lands. The author is Persian so includes much from his native land. Actually, I really like his approach. Here is part of a blurb about him from the beginning of the book:

“Persian born Payam Nabarz is a Sufi and a practicing Dervish. He is a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, and a co-founder of its Nemeton of the Stars Grove. Magi Nabarz is a revivalist of the Temple of Mithras, and is working toward becoming a Heirophant in the Fellowship of Isis. He has also worked with the Golden Dawn system, Thelema, Nath Tantra, Wicca, and the Craft.”

So his perspective is quite diverse, inclusive, and tolerant. Refreshing it is. As I said many of the rites are creative utilizing altar candles in the pattern of the constellations and even painting the stars on the body as in traditional lore. There is a Beltaine Rite of Perseus and Andromeda as the lovers. There is a translation of the Persian Burj Nameh or Book of Omens from the Moon. There are also references to several books that sound interesting such as The Cygnus Mystery by Andrew Collins which apparently suggests that several of the Celtic stoneworks are oriented to various stars of the constellation Cygnus. Another book refers to the Lost Zodiac of the Druids. Other works referred to are the Greek Magical Papyri, Bulfinch’s Mythology, the Hebrew Sepher Yetzira, the Homeric Hymns, and several Sufi and Persian epic texts.

The rite for Aurora – the splendour of the Golden Dawn is interesting – as he explains the solar symbolism of the Egyptian winged disk and Assyrian Anshar and the Persian/Zoroastrian Fravahar – representing the Holy Guardian Angel (equated to the sun – Tiphareth in Hebrew) . The Fravahar represents the Fravashis – or guardian spirits – called Bountiful Immortals. He also mentions the Thelemic Liber Resh vel Helios – or Egyptian style adoration to the four stations of the sun – (we used to do the dawn version every day at the magickal gatherings).

The final chapter is a meditation rite about the Stellar World Cave and seems to be a culmination of the author’s extensive knowledge of the Mithraic Mysteries. The Stellar World Cave represents a microcosm of the Heavens and a means to connect to the World Soul – or Anima Mundi and become a component of the World Tree or Axis Mundi. Here is a rather long quote regarding the World Tree:

“One can climb the World Tree to other worlds, or hang like Odin from the Ash tree, or become part of the (Kabbalistic) Throne of Heaven by sitting in a chair which is the Throne, or, like Heracles and Perseus take the Golden Apples from the Garden of the Hesperides (located at the Little Bear/Pole Star guarded by the constellation Draco), fly around the Stambha, the Shiva Lingham, dance circling the (Voodoo) poteau-mitan, stand at the top of a Ziggurat, receive feathers from the bird Simurgh who sits at the top of mount Qaf (axis mundi): all are reflections of the same ‘thing.’ This is where the Shamans and Magicians interaction differs from Orthodox religion’s clergy; for example, in the Book of Revelation the Throne of Heaven is to be worshipped and the Apostle Paul’s interaction is one of observation and worship only. In another Christian observation, it is Lucifer who wanted the Throne of Heaven and this caused his fall. Jacob, Paul, and many others who have ascended to this point are simply worshipping the Throne, or want to take it; both approaches fail. In the Myth of Er (from Plato’s Republic) we again see a description of the Throne this time as Spindle of Necessity. In (Cicero’s) Dream of Scipio another vision of the Throne is described. The Mystic’s and the Magician”s interaction with the Throne or Axis Mundi as we see in the meditation below is quite different.”

Also included in the book are many poetic excerpts on stellar themes and also some of the author’s own poetic observations including an amusing one about where he lives at Oxford in the UK. It is called an Astral Tour of Oxon.

This book is highly recommended and represents a form of ancient magick much neglected in modern times but quite essential in cultures of the past. As quite a bit of mythology the world over is astrological in nature – there is much to learn from star lore. I look forward to reading another of the author’s books, - The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief That Shaped the Christian World.

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