Sunday, July 12, 2015

How to Enter the Tunnels of Set

The Dog Days are upon us (depending on how you choose to time them) which has frequently corresponded with some of my most intense and often unusual occult experiments and experiences. Several years ago I began a complete path-working of the Qlippoth and Tunnels of Set starting during the Dog Days and stretching across a year to end at the completion of the next Dog Day period. Over the past few days a friend and occult colleague of mine began a new exploration of the Tunnels so I thought it might be useful to share some further details and concrete examples of the methods I used in my own work.
Painting by A.O. Spare

Some Background: I want to take some time to lay out the general theory of the Qlippoth I used in the past and will be using here. For those more interested in concrete ritual details, rather than theory and methodology, feel free to scroll down to the ritual itself provided at the end of this post.

The Tunnels of Set designate the paths that make up the reverse side, or nightside, of the Qabbalistic Tree of Life or, as the reverse of the tree is also called, the Tree of Death. My work was heavily informed by Kenneth Grant's Nightside of Eden which, itself, was partially based on Aleister Crowley's brief Liber 231.
Main chart from Liber 231, containing the Seals of the Tunnels on the right side.

Following Grant I experienced the Tunnels as an utterly foreign inverse of the manifest universe. I've discussed some of the details concerning this aspect of the Tunnels in earlier posts:
"The challenge is that the Nightside of the Tree of Life generally represents the negative side of reality, not dark or evil elements in any positive sense but rather the realms of non-being. As such their main positive manifestation in our daily world is in terms of a dissolution, disruption and destruction that resists all control and channeling. They don’t represent, then, a positive power of destruction that can be used or channeled. Any such use or channeling is as likely to destroy the will and work of the magician as the intended target.While walking the Tunnels of Set offers a treasure of mystical insight their practical promise is exceptionally difficult to work out. It is a bit like trying to use an acid that immediately devours any container we might temporarily use to hold it or any path we might attempt to guide it down in order to achieve some end. The energy entailed precisely resists any form the magician might give it."
This is the primary view I used during my work and my experiences corresponded to this anticipation. However, I am not dogmatically committed to this view of the Qlippoth, though it was my working framework. There are numerous overlaps between the entities of the Qlippoth and various spirits from traditional Grimoires but, while occupying the theoretical space mapped out above I would insist that traditional demons and pagan gods/spirits are dramatically different from the entities of the Qlippoth. This view has been reinforced by very different personal experiences obtained when working with Goetic entities from the Grimoires and Qlippothic ones. I will have more to say about Goetic entities when I discuss the excellent work of Jake Stratton-Kent on the Goetic tradition in the near future. But for now I will simply point out that what follows is written from the perspective that we are dealing with very different classes of entities when dealing with traditional "demons" and "spirits" than when working with Qabbalistic Qlippothic forces.

I also used, in my work, parts of Linda Falorio's "Shadow Tarot" which was, at the time, not yet complete. She has since published a book on her Qliphothic Tarot deck and decks of the cards themselves. Though I haven't yet acquired the cards or her book I am slightly troubled, for the reasons stated above, by her filling out of the minor arcana of her deck with Goetic entities. I'll have to wait until I have had the chance to look more closely at her work to know for sure what she is up to, but generally the Major Arcana of the Tarot is made up of the paths of the Tree of Life which she, appropriately, replaces with the Tunnels of Set while the Minor Arcana presents the ten Sephiroth in various forms. Now the Sephiroth like the Paths have Nightside inversions which, while at times being identified with traditionally Goetic spirits or pagan gods/goddesses, should from a Qabbalistic viewpoint be seen as very different from the entities of the Goetic Grimoires. It does not seem that she has noted this distinction but I am not yet certain of that.

One fairly simple way to make the point above is to stress that mythologically we can distinguish between the Qlippoth or Shells whose origin predate the manifest universe since they come from the "shattering" of the first attempt to create the universe from traditional "demons" who come from one of two sets of "falls" from grace. The first, from the most well known revolt in heaven led by Lucifer, and the second occurring when the Watchers began sleeping with human women and were cast out of heaven for this reason. None of this touches upon the much more historically interesting and subtle readings of the Grimoires presented by scholars such as Jake Stratton-Kent in his Encyclopedia Goetica who trace the Goetic entities to pagan origins rather than Biblical Hebrew or Christian ones.

Qlippothic Geography: There are at least three ways to conceive of the orientation of the Nightside Tree in relation to the standard Tree of Life. Most simply it is seen as located on the opposite side of the tree like the dark side of the moon. This inverts the horizontal arrangement of the Sephiroth and paths but maintains the perpendicular orientation. Another view locates the Nightside as beneath the Tree of Life but flipped upside down so that it stretches down like the roots of the original tree. The horizontal organization is maintained and the perpendicular aspects are inverted.

The Qlippoth as Roots

Finally the Nightside Tree can be located on the back of the Tree of Life but inverted both horizontally and perpendicularly. This is the version which Grant most generally favors and the one that I, similarly, favor and find most accurate to my experience. It is what informed the methods I will lay out below. 
Qlippoth presented on the Tree of Life
Qlippoth as inverted on the back of the Tree of Life



Assuming, then, that the Nightside Tree is flipped and present on the "back" of the Tree of Life and that it represents a negative or inverted universe/reality the real challenge concerns the question of how to enter the Nightside. This is, in fact, a subject which occupied Kenneth Grant repeatedly throughout his three Typhonian Trilogies.

I wish to take a moment to mention that I feel that pathworking is the best manner of working with the Qlippoth, at least at the start, because their energies are exceptionally difficult to draw into the positive world to which the Qlippoth are naturally opposed in every sense. Until one has journeyed, in some sense, to the Nightside and, in doing so, fostered the necessary Nightside energy and persona in oneself that allows for contact with Qlippoth entities "calling" the spirits and energies from the back of the tree is, in my experience, very difficult or impossible.

So, how do we enter the Tunnels of Set?

The Three Gates: The Tree of Life itself is marked with two points of imbalance which provide for access to the Nightside Tunnels of Set. These points are Malkuth's rather far removal from the Tree, dividing it from the other Sephiroth by Yesod and, of course, the legendary Abyss stretching between the lower seven Sephiroth and the higher three. The most obvious entrance to the Nightside is via the "fallen" Sephiroth of Daath in the heart of the Abyss. The nonexistence of Daath locates it solidly within the negative universe of the Qlippoth yet its palpable "missing" nature on the Tree of Life marks it as a doorway from being to nonbeing.

The second gate is found in Yesod - the sphere of the moon, the "Akashic records", the Astral plane, as well as dreams and illusions. The inverted Nightside Tree locates the inverse of Kether on Yesod, so that entrance to the "top" of the tree of Qlippoth (found, of course, at its bottom) is via Yesod. This gate, I must stress, is particularly perilous because of the risk of merely dealing with phantoms and illusions summoned from the astral plane rather than actually entering onto the Nightside Tree. There is also difficulty here since, strictly speaking, neither the day nor nightside of the tree has an obvious gate here. There is a path, but it isn't as overt as that of Daath in the Abyss.

The third gate is found at Tiphareth on the Tree of Life. This gate has a particularly interesting aspect. Specifically, it exists because it overlays the Abyss and Daath of the Nightside Tree. We might propose that these three gates each are different types of gates. The gate resting in the Abyss on the Dayside is, in a sense, a one way door from our side to the Otherside. The gate at Yesod is a point of imbalance, marking more a "thinning" of the boundary between the two trees than any overt path.
Finally, the gate of Tiphareth is another one way gate that goes from the Otherside to our side. This makes it rather hard to access from our side.

There is an interest point to consider here concerning the difficulties one frequently faces when one attempts to gain, or succeeds in gaining, the Knowledge and Conversation with one's Holy Guardian Angel or Higher Self. This process is frequently conceived of as either a rising on the planes to the station of Tiphareth or as a communication with the energies of Tiphareth (amongst many other ways of theorizing the subject). Almost inevitably this quest or its completion go along with rather extreme forms of negative manifestations. As one reaches to "heaven" all the powers of "hell" rise up against you. There are many adequate ways to understand this phenomenon but an interesting one might see the attempt, on our part, to contact our connection with divinity as an inadvertent "knocking" on the door at Tiphareth to the Nightside. Though we cannot just open this door ourselves, purposefully or inadvertently, we can provoke the entities from the Nightside to open it and come forth. The danger of this is that, before the completion of rising to Tiphareth (or whatever other image one prefers) one is unlikely to be equipped to deal with Qlippothic entities especially when they have come forth of their own accord.

Because of the very real risk of deception and confusion at the level of Yesod and the inaccessibility of the Nightside Abyss from the dayside, the most direct route to the Tunnels of Set is also the most obviously dangerous one - namely to "enter the Abyss" and pass through the open door perpetually waiting at Daath. This is the method I used and which I shall outline below.

However, some sort of warning is surely called for at this point. Suffice it to say that working with the Qlippoth, especially when one is very successful at the work, places an exceptionally extreme degree of tension and pressure on one's personality and identity. Working with the Qlippoth is working with spiritual and psychological acid (and I don't mean the hallucinogenic drug) and it is impossible to avoid being "burned" in life-altering ways. I have worked extensively with other famously "dangerous" entities and found their dangers to be generally overstated. I made several serious blunders with Goetic entities when very young and, in retrospect, found it exceptionally educational and valuable such that I would never warn anyone against the Grimoires no matter their age or intentions. My blunders were inconvenient at the time, to be sure, but more valuable than not. I have worked for many years with the Enochian spirits and have found the greatest danger from them to be their tendency to feed into the assumptions and misconceptions of the magician. Again, with a few exception I am sure, you mostly risk self-deception and all the things that go along with this. The Qlippoth, however, are of a caustic and extreme nature rather unlike Goetic or Enochian entities and represent, from my view, a far more immediate and swift risk to the balance and well-being of the magician's mind and spirit (I do not hazard to say anything about more material aspects of the magician's life which are susceptible to alteration from any and all occult work). Remember, the very nature of the Qlippoth makes them the enemy of any balance or well-being as we might conceive it from the Dayside of the Tree. Engage with them only if you are willing to risk and, indeed, embrace the most unpredictable challenges to one's own internal integrity and makeup. Despite that, the Qlippoth do indeed represent a very powerful force for personal transformation (whether that transformation be for the better or worse). Some stones face heat and pressure and become diamonds, but most become dust.

The Ritual    

Hecate or Artemis with bow and hunting hound.
Preliminary Considerations: My work with the Tunnels of Set and Qlippoth consisted of a series of rituals across a year's time. Each ritual involved one Tunnel and, generally, one of the Qlippoth associated with a Nightside Sephiroth connected to the Tunnel in question. Each ritual involved two main elements. First, a sigil consisting of the Seal of the Tunnel in question and any symbols associated with the Qlippoth to be worked with. Sometimes these sigils included copies of the appropriate card from Falorio's Shadow Tarot but were always embellished with appropriate additions of my own design. These sigils were frequently charged in various ways either before or during the working. Secondly, each ritual involved (either before the ritual itself or during it) an action fitting what Carl Abrahamsson describes (though I wasn't aware of his description at the time) as the "Formula of Babalon". Put simply, each ritual involved some specific transgression of a personal taboo challenging my inhibitions. One must do something one would never normally do and something which is a legitimate challenge to one's own sense of self.  

My first ritual, starting the work, included the above mentioned elements but was slightly different since it also involved what I consider the greatest challenge of the full study - gaining access to the Tunnels of Set to begin with. The basic elements of the ritual, then, involved rising to the level of the Abyss on the Tree of Life, opening the gates of Daath and crossing to the Nightside, and there traversing one Tunnel and visiting one Nightside Sephiroth with its associated Qlippothic ruler.

Preliminary experimentation had made clear to me that, though one entered at the Abyss on this side which would seemingly correspond to the Nightside's Yesod Sephiroth known as Gamaliel, in fact the process of passing through the doorway at Daath included a process of inversion which located one in the Nightside Abyss in the Tunnel of Gargorphias. So, following the entrance through the Abyss to the Nightside I walked the Tunnel of Gargorphias to the Nightside Sephiroth corresponding to Kether,  Thaumiel. My further pathworkings traversed, then, from Thaumiel "up" the Nightside Tree to eventually end at the "top" at Nehema (the Nightside partner to Malkuth). In other words, I didn't start on the Nightside at either its version of Malkuth or Kether, but rather in its Abyss, and so did not start with either the "first" tunnel or "last" tunnel. Gargophias is usually listed as the third tunnel which I take to be the first one "easily" accessible via pathworking.

The location of the Tunnel of Gargophias, though the Tree should be upside down.

Ritual Details: I started, then, having performed a rather dramatic action fitting the Formula of Babalon a few days previously (though it is strongest to perform the action as part of the ritual I have found this to be rarely workable) with a sigil capturing the entities of the Abyss I would be dealing with, a representation of my Babalonian action, the Seal of Gargophias and symbols appropriate to Thaumiel.

Seal of Gargophias from Crowley's Liber 231
There are three main entities central to my "navigation" of the Abyss and the door at Daath. These are Choronzon, Shugal and Hecate each of which was represented in my Sigil. Choronzon is the fairly well known guardian of the Abyss, representing dispersion and the utter empty self-assertion of ego. Shugal is the partner of Choronzon, conceived of as a wolf, dog or coyote of the Abyss sometimes seen as occupying our side of the Abyss or representing Choronzon's reflection on the Nightside. Finally, Hecate is associated by Kenneth Grant with the path of Gargophias and can, similarly, be seen as a Nightside guardian of the Abyss doorway between the two trees. (As mentioned earlier, I recognize the inadequacy of the Qlippothic Hecate to the historical pagan goddess and would, from the view of this work, insist on their difference even if Kenneth Grant wouldn't.)

Ritual Procedure:   

0. Casting the Circle - This is not intended for the "protection" of the practitioner since the dangerous forces are being called into the circle without the use of any triangle. The circle's main purpose is to allow the energies to build up, to insulate the working against interfering external energies and, to the small extent possible, to "protect" the world outside the circle from the energies called. This protection of the outside world was largely a failure since rather dramatic "leakage" occurred. The tree on my front lawn, directly outside the window of the temple room in which I was working, was struck by lightening during a storm that arrived unexpectedly while I was working and was extensively damaged. In any case, the circle ritual should be one using energies appropriate to the work rather than more traditional banishing rituals. I used Crowley's "Star Ruby" but the version taken directly from The Book of Lies utilizing the names Chaos, Babalon, Eros, and Psyche rather than the standard Thelemite version using the names Therion, Nuit, Babalon and Hadit. However, the Gnostic Pentagram Ritual or any circle of appropriate energy could be replaced.

1. Astrally "rise" to the Abyss on the Tree of Life, however once one fully feels present there the following elements should be performed in bodily form not just astrally.

2. Performance of Crowley's "Conjuration of the Dog of Evil" from The Bartzabel Working. This is, on the surface, the summoning of a spiritual guard dog to protect the boundary of one's ritual space and is very efficacious for this purpose. In this ritual, however, it also serves as a summons to Shugal as a guardian against the entities of the Abyss and a guide to the Otherside. Towards this purpose a brief call to Shugal can be appended at the start of the summons or the name Shugal may be inserted into the Conjuration itself.

Conjuration of the Dog of Evil 
"Arise, Dog of Evil, that I may instruct thee in they present duties
In the name of Horus, I say unto thee, Arise.
Thou art imprisoned.
Confess thou that it is so.
I have done this in the name and in the might of Horus.
Except thou set they face in my defense, though are blind, and dumb, and paralyzed: but thou shalt hear the curses of thy Creator, and thou shalt feel the torments of my avenging wrath.
Therefore be though obedient unto me, as a guard against them that hate me.
Let thy jaws be terrible as the storm-parted sky.
Let thy face be as a whirlwind of wrath and fury against the enemy.
Arise, I say, and aid and guard me in this Work of Art.
O thou! whose head is of coal-black fire!
Thou, whose eyes are as columns of smoke and flame!
Thou, from whose nostrils goeth forth the breath of destruction!
Thou whose body is of iron and brass, bound with exceeding strength: girt with the power and awful blind avenging force - under my control, and mine alone!
Thou, whose claws are as shafts of whirling steel to rip the very bowels of my adversaries.
Thee, thee, I summon to mine aid!
In the name of Horus: rise: move: appear:
And aid and guard me in this Work of Art!
Rise, Dog of Evil, to guard the Abyss of Height!
Rise, I say, to guard the Four Quarters: the Abyss of the North; the Abyss of the South; the Abyss of the East; the Abyss of the West.
Rise, I say, to guard the Abyss of the Great Depth.
Horus it is that hath given this commandment.
Be thou terrible against all them that hate me!
Be thou mighty to defend me from the Evil Ones!
At the confines of Matter, at the Threshold of the Invisible: be thou my Watcher and my Guardian! Before the face of the Dwellers of the Abodes of Night!
As a flaming sword turning every way to keep the gates of my Universe: let thy teeth flash forth!
Nothing shall stop thee while thou settest thyself in my defense.
In the name of Horus: Rise, Move, and Appear: Be thou obedient unto me: for I am the Master of the Forces of Matter: the Servant of the Same thy God is my Name: true Worshiper of the Highest."   
4. The opening of the Abyss via the traditional charm repeated at least three times, but as often as necessary until the energy is fully and potently felt:
"Zazas, Zazas, Nasatanada, Zazas!"
5. Charge the Sigil in whatever manner one prefers.

6. Call repeatedly to Gargophias while concentrating upon the charged sigil.

7. Recitation of "Hecate's Hunting Call" from Crowley's  The Vision and the Voice, 27th Aethyr until the energy of Hecate and her hounds feels present:
"Untu La La Ulula Umuna Tofa Lama Le Li Na Ahr Ima Tahara Elula Etfoma Ununa Arpeti Ulu Ulu Ulu Maraban Ululu Mahata Ulu Ulu Lamastana!"
7. The "Ode to Hecate" from Crowley's Orpheus, to be recited from the very height of ecstasy and passion:
Ode to Hecate
"O triple form of Darkness! Sombre splendour!
Thou moon unseen of men! Thou huntress dread!
Thou Crowned demon of the crownless dead!

O breasts of blood, too bitter and too tender!
Unseen of gentle spring,
Let me the offering
Bring to thy shrine's sepulchral glittering!

I slay the swart beast! I bestow the bloom

Sown in the dusk, and gathered in the gloom
Under the waning moon,
At midnight hardly lightening the East;

And the black lamb from the black ewe's dead womb
I bring, and stir the slow infernal tune
Fit for thy chosen priest.

Here where the band of Ocean breaks the road
Black-trodden, deeply-stooping, to the Abyss,
I shall salute thee with the nameless kiss

Pronounced toward the uttermost abode
Of thy supreme desire.
I shall illume the fire
Whence thy wild stryges shall obey the lyre,

When thy Lemurs shall gather and spring round,

Girdling me in the sad funereal ground
With faces turned back,
My face averted! I shall consummate

The awful act of worship, O renowned
Fear upon earth, and fear in hell, and black
Fear in the sky beyond Fate!

I hear the whining of thy wolves! I hear
The howling of the hounds about thy form,
Who comest in the terror of thy storm,

And night falls faster ere thine eyes appear
Glittering through the mist.
Of face of woman unkissed
Save by the dead whose love is taken ere they wist!

Thee, thee I call! O dire one! O divine!

I, the sole mortal, seek thy deadly shrine,
Pour the dark stream of blood,
A sleepy and reluctant river

Even as thou drawest, with thine eyes on mine,
To me across the sense-bewildering flood
That holds my soul for ever!"
8.  Enter the Tunnel of Gargophias via meditation, astral travel, spirit vision etc. and commune with its denizens.

9. When your work with Gargophias is complete tread the Tunnel to Thaumiel, returning from the astral to use the sigil as need or not at all if it proves unnecessary. Commune with the entities of Thaumiel.

10. Return onto your temple and body. Banish appropriately or, more dangerously, leave the door open and energies present for your future pathworking from Thaumiel onward.

A. O. Spare, "The Vampires are Coming"