Working Compass Magic

To Every thing there is a season, a time to every purpose under Heaven (Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV))

Modern Traditional Witchcraft uses a compass system, as opposed to the more familiar Kabbalistic Tree oriented systems which were so popular throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first century. For a better understanding, we must consider that the witch, like the metaphysical philosophers before her, makes use of the character and spirits of a particular aspect of the compass, identifying and working with the airts rather than the sephiroth of the Kabbalah. This means that the witch engages directly in a cyclical event, a spiral of flux and reflux, in contrast to the more Platonic schema of emanations, descent and ascent and the transcendent. In doing so, the immanent forces inherent in the cosmos, from the bones of the Heavens to the Draconian land, are seen as engaged with us right now in an ever present cosmology that is separated from our regular conscious awareness only by our perspective. Where the pagan and witch depart is in the use of these forces; where the witch may put these cosmic forces to her purpose while the pagan worships them.

Philosophers and astrologers have been examining the characteristics, the spirits, of the cycles of Time for millennia, resulting in detail that reduces the same from aeons, to yearly cycles, lunar and even to the hours of the day and days of the week. The knowledge and observations of the movement of nature, the rotations of the cosmos and the workings of Space-Time has occupied the minds of men since our earliest Promethean gift accelerated our evolution exponentially. As our ancestors peered into the deep gloom of the night sky, they observed patterns amongst the stars, which bore familiarity through a keen eye. Meanwhile, agricultural ancestors, working closely with the forces of nature, witnessed the shifting of seasons and began to attempt to predict the behaviours which would impact their lives. Through these combined observations, the heavens and earth were conjoined as mankind grew and became better at working with these forces, divining any wrinkle or rub which might be avoided, or made use of.

In our modern age, we are now acutely aware from science and academia that we can calculate the likelihood of an event occurring. Indeed, our minds work in such a way that we unconsciously are attempting to assess probabilities all the time in the decisions we make. In the magic of the witch, we might use our compass to observe probabilities of events and narrow them down, making use of the spirits of such to better produce the outcome worked for. When we increase the probability of an event, we bring it closer to manifesting. When that goal might be a probability outlier, such as something that would be completely unexpected or unlikely to occur, there is a lot more to do to increase the probability. However, if it is a highly feasible outcome, it is much easier to affect the necessary magic and influence that probability into manifestation. This all sounds rather scientific and academic and, to an extent, it is. The application of such technologies have been used in one way or another by practitioners of magic and religion for millennia, resulting in a catalogue of grimoires that insist upon harnessing the influence of the planets, stars, seasons, and hours, in the operation of magic. The witch is not so different, except that the relationship and understanding of these things is based upon a compass and not the Kabbalistic material that made its way into Western Traditions around the time of the Renaissance.

When we consider a compass, we think immediately of the four cardinal directions, which orient us in our world. These points correspond to the mythic pillars or winds of antiquity, which support or separate the heavens or otherwise acts as conduits between. In Greek myth, the anemoi, or winds were assigned a cardinal direction over which they ruled, and from which their wind originated. In addition, they presided over their own seasons and activities and the characteristics of each was distinct from his brother. These winds still yet find a place upon the Rose Compass of the practicing witch, who identifies and works with the spirit of that point or direction. Between these, each other point of the compass has its own spirits too. In attempting to identify the character of these spirits, the ancients observed the Decans, first as 36 groups of stars that appear on the horizon every ten days (hence the Greek Decan), and later as astrological triplicities within each of the twelve zodiac signs. With their own character, the Decans can be calculated to show planetary rulership, again reflecting the Titanic ifluence over events.

Illustration from Compass der Weisen (Berlin, 1779).

The roots of the Rose Compass are demonstrably linked to those workings found throughout grimoires and works such as the Picatrix, and Aggripa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy. The methods used to discern the character of the spirits which may bring their influence to bear, being observed and utilised by the magician or witch, can be made to increase probability. That is, in using the virtue of a particular planet or house in its correct season and place, we can work the magics of which nature are perfectly in accord with flux and reflux.

From Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy

In addition, the association of these with the human body has long been observed. Indeed, the earliest mathematicians are accredited with witnessing the same repeating patterns throughout nature and making study of how these may be associated and correspond.

So Aries governs the head, and face, Taurus the neck, Gemini the armes, and shoulders, Cancer the breast, lungs, stomack [stomach], and armes, Leo heart, stomack [stomach], liver, and back, Virgo the bowels, and bottome of the stomack [stomach], Libra the kidnies [kidneys], thighs, and buttocks, Scorpius [Scorpio] the genitals, the privities, and womb, Sagittarius the thigh, and groins, Capricornus the knees, Aquarius the legs and shins, Pisces the feet. (Agrippa and Tyson, 2018)

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) worked from the philosophy of 1st Century BCE Roman architect Vitruvius in examening the proportions of man. The result was the Vitruvian Man, a now famous image that demonstrates the natural proportions of man in relation to itself and the world around him. In occupying the compass rose, we can see it squared and the conjunction of the eternal with transient, the monad and the four. This further demonstrates the uses to which the compass may be put in operating on a level that might take advantage of the virtues in order to bring about change. To paraphrase Aleister Crowley, this is, indeed, a science and art.

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

The gifted and insightful witch, Griffin Ced, produced a beautiful deck of cards which brought together the tradition of tarot with the witches’ compass, enfleshing the workings of this cosmological map and presenting in such a way that is easily accessible. As a teaching tool, it provides unbounded insight into the spirits which have major influence and, by working with and through them, how we might affect the necessary change, or perform magic.

In scientific terms, we are increasing the probability of a particular outcome through measuring and observing the factors which influence the event and adjusting where necessary those elements which facilitate the end result. Who says witchcraft is dead?

Agrippa, H. C. and Tyson, D. (2018) The Three Book of Occult Philosophy, or of magick ; written by that famous man. Llewellyn Publications.

About Ian Chambers
Ian Chambers is a traditional witch engrossed in the study and practice of the Art as conveyed by means of the mysteries. By diligent study, research, exploration and direct application of the myth and magic, the author has dedicated his life to the Work with many sacrifices upon the way. Walking the lonely path, the Covenant of the Wanderer, a Child of the Land of Nod, raising the lantern by which the path of the Chapel Perilous may be illumined and the Castle perceived. You can read more about the author here.
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