The Pantacle

from Book 4

    As the Magick Cup is the heavenly food of the Magus, so is the Magick Pantacle his earthly food.
    The Wand was his divine force, and the Sword his human force.
    The Cup is hollow to receive the influence from above. The Pantacle is flat like the fertile plains of earth. The name Pantacle implies an image of the All, omne in parvo, (Lat. All in Little); but this is by a magical transformation of the Pantacle. Just as we made the Sword symbolical of everything by the force of our Magick, so do we work upon the Pantacle. That which is merely a piece of common bread shall be the body of God!
    The Wand was the will of man, his wisdom, his word; the Cup was his understanding, the vehicle of grace; the Sword was his reason; and the Pantacle shall be his body, the temple of the Holy Ghost.
    What is the length of this Temple?
    From North to South.
    What is the breadth of this Temple?
    From East to West.
    What is the height of this Temple?
    From the Abyss to the Abyss.
    There is, therefore, nothing movable or immovable under the whole firmament of heaven which is not included in this pantacle, though it be but “eight inches in diameter, and in thickness half an inch.”
    Fire is not matter at all; water is a combination of elements; air almost entirely a mixture of elements; earth contains all both in admixture and in combination.
    So must it be with this Pantacle, the symbol of earth.
    And as this Pantacle is made of pure wax, do not forget that “everything that lives is holy.”
    All phenomena are sacraments. Every fact, and even every falsehood, must enter into the Pantacle; it is the great storehouse from which the Magician draws.
    “In the brown cakes of corn we shall taste the food of the world and be strong.”* (Liber VII, IV:20).

* We have avoided dealing with the Pantacle as the Paten of the Sacrament, though special instructions about it are given in Liber Legis. It is composed of meal, honey, wine, holy oil, and blood. See Liber AL, III:23-28.

    When speaking of the Cup, it was shown how every fact must be made significant, how every stone must have its proper place in the mosaic. Woe were it were one stone misplaced! But that mosaic cannot be wrought at all, well or ill, unless every stone be there.
    These stones are the simple impressions or experiences; not one may be foregone.
    Do not refuse anything merely because you know that it is the cup of poison offered by your enemy; drink it with confidence; it is he that will fall dead!
    How can I give Cambodian art its proper place in art, if I have never heard of Cambodia? How can the Geologist estimate the age of what lies beneath the chalk unless he have a piece of knowledge totally unconnected with geology, the life-history of the animals of whom that chalk is the remains?
    This then is a very great difficulty for the Magician. He cannot possibly have all experience, and though he may console himself philosophically with the reflection that the Universe is conterminous with such experience as he has, he will find it grow at such a pace during the early years of his life that he may almost be tempted to believe in the possibility of experiences beyond his own, and from a practical standpoint he will seem to be confronted with so many avenues of knowledge that he will be bewildered which to choose.
    The ass hesitated between two thistles; how much more that greater ass, that incomparably greater ass, between two thousand!
    Fortunately it does not matter very much; but he should at least choose those branches of knowledge which abut directly upon universal problems.
    He should choose not one but several, and these should be as diverse as possible in nature.
    It is important that he should strive to excel in some sport, and that that sport should be the one best calculated to keep his body in health.
    He should have a thorough grounding in classics, mathematics and science; also enough general knowledge of modern languages and of the shifts of life to enable him to travel in any part of the world with ease and security.
    History and geography he can pick up as he wants them; and what should interest him most in any subject is its links with some other subject, so that his Pantacle may not lack what painters call “composition.”
    He will find that, however good his memory may be, ten thousand impressions enter his mind for every one that it is able to retain even for a day. And the excellence of a memory lies in the wisdom of its selection.
    The best memories so select and judge that practically nothing is retained which has not some coherence with the general plan of the mind.
    All Pantacles will contain the ultimate conceptions of the circle and the cross, though some will prefer to replace the cross by a point, or by a Tau, or by a triangle. The Vesica Piscis is sometimes used instead of the circle, or the circle may be glyphed as a serpent. Time and space and the idea of causality are sometimes represented; so also are the three stages in the history of philosophy, in which the three objects of study were successively Nature, God, and Man.
    The duality of consciousness is also sometimes represented; and the Tree of Life itself may be figured therein, or the categories. An emblem of the Great Work should be added. But the Pantacle will be imperfect unless each idea is contrasted in a balanced manner with its opposite, and unless there is a necessary connection between each pair of ideas and every other pair.
    The Neophyte will perhaps do well to make the first sketches for his Pantacle very large and complex, subsequently simplifying, not so much by exclusion as by combination, just as a Zoologist, beginning with the four great Apes and Man, combines all in the single word “ primate.”
    It is not wise to simplify too far, since the ultimate hieroglyphic must be an infinite. The ultimate resolution not having been performed, its symbol must not be portrayed.
    If any person were to gain access to V.V.V.V.V.,* and ask Him to discourse upon any subject, there is little doubt that He could only comply by an unbroken silence, and even that might not be wholly satisfactory, since the Tao Teh King says that the Tao cannot be declared either by silence or by speech.

* The Motto of the Chief of the A∴A∴, ‘‘the Light of the World Himself.” Vi Veri Vniversum Vivvs Vici. “By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.”

    In this preliminary task of collecting materials, the idea of the Ego is not of such great moment; all impressions are phases of the non-ego, and the Ego serves merely as a receptacle. In fact, to the well regulated mind, there is no question but that the impressions are real, and that the mind, if not a tabula rasa, is only not so because of the “tendencies” or “innate ideas” which prevent some ideas from being received as readily as others.*

* It does not occur to a newly-hatched chicken to behave in the same way as a new-born child.

    These “tendencies” must be combated: distasteful facts should be insisted upon until the Ego is perfectly indifferent to the nature of its food.
   “Even as the diamond shall glow red for the rose, and green for the rose-leaf, so shalt thou abide apart from the Impressions.” (Liber LXV, V:22.)
    This great task of separating the self from the impressions or ‘‘vrittis” is one of the many meanings of the aphorism “solvé,” corresponding to the “coagula” implied in Samadhi, and this Pantacle therefore represents all that we are, the resultant of all that we had a tendency to be.