In my last article, I started to explore the structure of my Crossroads ritual widget. In this article, I’m going to figure out some aspects of stance and gesture in the ritual. In my next article in this series, I’ll be talking about cleaning up and simplifying the ritual for ease of use. Again, this ritual is being designed to align a space to the energies of Hermes and Hekate at the Crossroads, to make the place resonate to that particular mythology for Deipnon and spell work calling for being at a crossroads.
Receptive, Projective and Closed
For very practical purposes, I like to limit my stances and gestures to ones which unambiguously fall into one of three categories: receptive, projective or closed.
There are tons of gestures from many ancient and/or respected traditions that employ the use of gestures which don’t fall into one of these categories. They have symbolic meanings and serve as an interface between body and mythology. As for me, I feel that I can reference the mythology or the symbols without that ambiguity. It is my aesthetic preference for each gesture to do double-duty. If I have to choose between correct symbolism and effectively moving energies, I will choose the latter without hesitation. Obviously, that is a lousy choice to have to make.
Both the receptive and projective gestures are going to be in some way open, allowing for energy to move.
There are kinds of energy, too, in my experience. Each has a different quality.
- Authedeia: The refined essence of vision (or the force which directs will), projected from the eyes. Used for creating thought forms and images, or for glamours and illusions.
- Psyche: Life energy, directed through the breath, centered in the nose and mouth, where air enters and leaves. Used for vivifying thought forms or talismans. Often directed through voice.
- Pathos: The strength of your passions, centered around the heart. Used for invocation and changing the tenor of energy in the room.
- Eros: Procreative energy, centered on… I think you can figure it out. Useful for getting stuff to physically manifest.
So, if you want to send or receive any of these energies, you need to not have them obstructed by any of your limbs.
I might add the energy of movement as a fifth type, or perhaps I should say that movement can help move these energies, and supplement them.
Receptive poses are open, and either still, or involve movement of (usually) hands toward the area, or shaping the limbs in a way that reaches out from that area, helping energy to flow toward it, and may involve stepping backward with your non-dominant foot. One example of this type of ritual gesture is the waving of hands three times toward the eyes done by Jewish women after candle lighting, but before saying a blessing. Though this is immediately followed by covering the eyes, which is, of course, a closed gesture.
Projective poses are open and involve motion away from that particular area of the body, and may involve stepping forward with the dominant foot. The Sign of the Enterer is a fairly famous example.
Closed gestures are like closed body language. Covering an energy center, most especially directly after receiving or projecting, such as in the Sign of Silence, is the most common way that this is used.
So what are we doing?
In the first part of the ritual: Establishing the flow of energy in various directions. Gee, you know? It would be really cool if we could establish the flow of Authedeia in the first part of the ritual, and end this off by establishing the flow of Eros. Psyche will be recognized when the names are called, in the power of the Breath/Voice. As for Pathos, we’ll have to figure that out.
I’m actually favorably impressed with the idea of doing this with a tool. It could be a dagger or a fire-brand. Either is extremely Hekatesian, and the first part of this ritual relates to Hekate. That saves us the massive headache of figuring out hand positions and whatever else. The magician should stand center with feet shoulder’s width apart, and draw the lines from the eyes to the various stations. For symbolic reasons, rather than facing in each of the six directions, they should only face those stations where the images will be. The other stations should be saluted over the right shoulder.
In the second part: Establishing the images and names of Hekate. That’s all from the eyes and breath, right there.
Again, the body should only turn to face the three stations where Hekate’s images will be. A gesture will be needed to focus the energy of the eyes, and a tool will not be appropriate for this work. The script will need to specify that the tool be set down before this. [We know from this decision that either a central altar or a belt-holster will be required. I really want the magician standing in the center during this portion of the ritual, so belt holster it is. That eliminates the fire-brand idea. Dagger it is.]
Because we are specifically focusing on Hekate’s three-bodied nature, and because we are looking to focus the energy of the eyes, a triangle will be good, here. Please refer to this adorable picture of a little girl and her accurate demonstration of what I am talking about.
Because we are projecting, the triangle-hands should start close to the face, and be slowly pushed away from the body during the vibration of the name pertaining to the image we are formulating.
Then, break the hands apart and open the arms, symbolizing the opening of a gate. Really either of the following two positions will do. I like the first one better.
The exact hand position does not matter, and it leaves room for creativity.
The head, and just the head, should then be turned to call the name of Hekate corresponding to the next position on the right. This should be repeated until the magician has returned to face the originally formulated image, and then the images should, all in unison, join hands.
In the third part: Taking the stone from the station, call the name of Hermes, walk to center and deposit. Rinse. Repeat.
Ok, do we need gestures here? Whereas I imagine the magician standing in the center throughout every part of the ritual up until now, here is where the stones, set at the six stations before the ritual started, must be gathered up. It is important to me that travel be a big part of this segment of the ritual. I also wanted to work in the energy of Pathos. While not specifically a gesture, I think that picking up the stone and holding it over the heart while vibrating is the best way to integrate this energy, empower the stone with the force of the name, and keep the hands busy.
Here is where shit gets syncretic no matter what I do.
Unavoidably, I think of the open right hand as symbolizing charity. I say that because of by background in Kabalah, in various Fraternal orders where I have taken degrees, and because I’m (mostly) right-handed, and my right hand is my check-writing hand. The left hand, conversely, to me, is symbolic of Empathy…. for very similar reasons, except for the check-writing. These two qualities, to me, resonate to the nature of Hermes, specifically at the Crossroads. Here is the last stop on the way out of town. Here is where the outcast rests before seeking a new home. This is where the wealthy traveller leaves coins, and the poor one picks them up, promising repayment.
The stone will be held over the heart, therefore, with both hands.
Since I’ve already gotten syncretic, may as well keep the ball rolling.
Please see the Vitarka Mudra. The stone should be picked up between the thumb and index finger, before being brought the the heart, and held between the hands in the Namaskara Mudra.
When the last stone is placed on the Herm, hands should be held in the Dhyana Mudra, as shown above, over the groin, or just above, in preparation for the last part of the ritual.
In the fourth part: Establishing the flow of energy in various directions. This time, with Eros.
The closing of the ritual pertains to Hermes. The Herm is Phallic, and represents the energies of Eros, in some ways, so let’s start there. Even as Hekate’s tool is the dagger, Hermes is all about wands and staves. He’s got his “Golden Rod,” and the Kerykeion staff with the snakes and such. Wands are manageable in our belt-holster scenario, and easy to make or obtain.
The magician should stand center draw the lines from the Herm to the various stations. Because Hermes is scooting all about in this ritual, facing each and every direction is non-problematic.
When this is completed, the magician should silently walk around the perimeter of the circle, touching the wand to each of the stations, and then come back to the center, touch the Herm, and make a proclamation.
“I declare these, the crossroads, duly consecrated.”