by Frater A:.O:.C:., Artisan of the Het-Nuit Lodge, OSGD
Summer Solstice, 2001
A description of the nature and construction of our Lodge’s Magical Tools.
The Great Work of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn is to advance the theory and practice of Golden Dawn Magick, from the Aeon of Osiris in which it was originally conceived and developed, forward into the present Thelemic Aeon of Horus. To this end, its rituals have been redacted to de-emphasize the Dying God of the past Aeon in favor of the Crowned and Conquering Child, while also incorporating the trans-concurrent Aeon of Ma’at, the Lady of the Balance.
This Thelemic redaction of the Rituals of the Temple called for a redesign of the Tools of the Temple Officers. Available examples and instructions on design of G:.D instruments reflect the Old Aeon symbolism, of the kind also found in the trappings of the Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches. The most commonly seen examples derive from the Stella Matutina Lodge and reflect that lodge’s strong Christian influence.
With all due respect to those who follow a path similar to the S:.M, many of their tools have extensive Christian symbology, in particular the use of the Calvary Cross, that are loaded with the memetic “baggage” of the Father God and the resurrected Son. Those seekers and adepts that have embraced the new Aeon often have difficulty accessing the symbolism of the old Aeon; while it is self-consistent, it calls up too many distracting connotations that interfere with the effect the tools should have on the subconscious mind.
My goal was to retain the basic Hermetic symbolic framework found in the tools, but to replace the overtly old Aeon details. To this end I have tried to go “forward into the past” and draw directly from Egyptian symbolism that corresponds to the “occult” god forms of the Temple Officers that bear them.
The Wand of the Heirophant
The Heirophant of the New Aeon is Horus or Ra-Hoor-Khuit. The Heirophant’s wand, as designed by the S:.M, is not altogether unsuitable. It consists of a red staff topped with a crown, and as such could be taken as a symbol of the Crowned and Conquering Child. But the intention of the designers was to represent the Father God, and the image of a crown is strongly connected to that idea. (Note: This design was used in the Wand of the Past Heirophant.) There are two possible designs that would work within a Thelemic redaction. One is the wand of the Heirophant as depicted in the Tarot: a red staff mounted near the top with three crossbars. The other possibility is a red phoenix-headed wand, as depicted being held by Ra-Hoor-Kuit in the Stele of Revealing. However, this kind of Wand appears in the Adept ritual, so it is less desirable for this reason. In any case, the staff must be separated into four sections by three gold rings, defining the four Sephera on the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life.
The Wand of the Hegemon
The Hegemon is the godform of Ma’at, and her wand is also red but separated into three sections with two gold rings, defining the Sephera of the Pillar of Mercy. In the old Aeon system, it was mitre-headed, and the gold mitre bore the red Calvary Cross. The S.M. ritual of the Neophyte Hall specifically refers to the cross on the Hegemon’s staff as representative of “religion”, which is the proper guide of aspirations of the soul. In Thelemic redaction, the proper guide is True Will, the “balance” between Light and Darkness, and so the mitre is recast as a golden symbol of the female yoni (combined with the masculine ‘rod’ of the Wand itself), and the cross is replaced with the Feather of Ma’at. Also mounted into the top piece is an actual feather, preferably one of red or one of red striped with green.
The Sword of the Heirus
The sword is such a universal symbol of Masculine energy that it is difficult to imagine much refinement is needed. However, since the Heirus of the New Aeon is Seth, rather than Horus who now sits on the Throne, the grip of the sword could be black rather than red, and the metallic parts of the hilt and pommel in silver rather than brass or gold. But as red is also one of the colors of Set, the original design may be used.
The Staff of the Kerux
The basic design of the Kerux staff is that of the caduceus, and that symbolism again is not drastically altered by Thelemic redaction. The winged red disk that crowns the staff remains, as do the twin black and white snakes that coil around it. However, I decided to render the Staff in three dimensions, rather than in the “flat” two-dimensional design of tradition. In the old design, the snakes “zig-zag” from left to right, criss-crossing each other in the way commonly seen in drawings of the caduceus. It’s as if you can “see” the spiraling snakes on both sides of the staff at once. In my design the snakes actually spiral around the uppermost section of the staff forming a double-helix in the manner of the DNA molecule. To fulfill the alchemical symbolism of Water, Air and Fire, they arise from a deep Abyss of Water (imagination), represented by the blue of the lower part of the shaft, and transcending a “ring pass-not” of gold, twine around a top section of yellow representing Air (intellect), their heads meeting at the red winged disk representing Fire (power). The wings are designed in the manner of Egyptian art rather then the “angel wings” of the old style, and the disk bears the Eye of Horus, which represents the Light in the Darkness.
The Cup of the Stolistes and the Censer of the Dadouchos
These elemental tools are so simple and basic that no redesign is called for. The Cup is of deep blue glass and eight-faceted, and trimmed around the top with flashing orange. The Censer is brass, trimmed in red and flashing green.
The Sword of the Sentinel
The Sentinel is “Anubis without”, whose role is protection of the Temple. Any sword can properly be used, but it should be one that is actually *sharp*, capable of being used as a real weapon. A combat-grade, carbon steel blade is recommended, and a red grip is preferred.
The Wand of the Praemonstrator
The original design is a blue shaft surmounted by the Elemental Cross, with each arm it’s appropriate elemental color. I added a white moonstone to the center of the Elemental cross, symbolizing the 5th Element of Spirit, arising like a capstone from the apex of the four-sided pyramid. The shaft has a gold pommel, a gold ring halfway along the shaft, and a gold mount under the Cross. This divides the shaft into two sections, representing the Sephera of the side Pillars.
The Sword of the Imperator
For this a basic double-edged short sword is used, of a length similar to the length of the other Dais Officer’s wands. It is Medeival style, with a brass hilt of two arms ending in three-leaved florus, similar in shape to the arms of the Rose Cross lamen; therefore it represents the three Alchemical Elements of Salt, Sulphur and Mercury. The handle is a deep redwood color, with a simple circular pommel. It has a carbon steel blade, sharpened to a battle-worthy edge.
The Wand of the Cancellarus
This Wand is essentially identical to the original GD design, a yellow shaft surmounted by a Hexagram, though instead of a “hollow” hexagram I made a solid head with the yellow hexagram set against it’s flashing ground color of mauve. (The color of mauve fits in with the formula of Thoth amd Maat in the New Aeon, and herein lies an occult secret… shhh..) The shaft is yellow, with rings identical to the Praemonstrator’s Wand. I had thought to add small colored stones to the points of the Hexagram symbolizing the Planetary forces, but it just looked too cluttered.
The Wand of the Past Hierophant
This Wand was more problematic, and I hope my Fraters and Sorors agree with my choices. The original design simply states that it is identical to the Wand of the Hierophant. but this would not fit our Formula, since our Past Hierophant is not the same as the old GD’s. Our Past Hierophant is Osiris, rather than Horus the Elder. (I always thought that was kind of an “afterthought” designation by the original GD — like, they had to make him *somebody*, so…) In our Formula, the Past Hierophant really *is* the Past Hierophant — the Hierophant of the Old Aeon.
So I decided to base the Wand on the original Hierophant’s Wand — the “Scepter of Power” — but with some slight variations. The traditional design is a six-pointed red crown trimmed in gold. I altered the “points” to reflect the shape of the crown of Osiris as usually depicted in hieroglyphs. They are also curved inward, like the folding of a flower, symbolizing the fading of the Old Aeon. Instead of gold trim I added a tear-shaped gold jewel to each “petal”, symbolizing the tears of the Mourning of Isis.
The staffs were constructed from 1-inch diameter wooden dowels. Additional parts were hand sculpted (quickly!) from epoxy resin and attached to the dowels with epoxy glue. Each was then sanded and covered with two coats of Utrecht gesso primer base, then hand painted with at least three coats of Liquitex acrylic artist’s paint. Details were either hand painted or printed with an ink jet printer on canvas stock and glued on with contact cement. The staffs were then sprayed with a two coats of Krylon high gloss acrylic finish. Making each staff took about 12 to 16 hours of work, spread over a period of at least one week, since paint must allowed sufficient drying time between coats.
In the making of G:.D:. tools, colors are of great importance. Each must be chosen according to the Briatic (Queen) Scale, and correctly matched with each other for maximum “flashing” effect. This is important even when flashing colors are not set together side-by-side on a single tool. Metallic hues, such as gold, are chosen to appear as pure metals rather than “antiqued”.
Purity of color is required, so paints must be mixed carefully and applied so that each color is solid, consistent and uncontaminated. Attention to detail is also a must; as much as possible lines must be crisp and clean, surfaces smooth and unblemished, proportions correct and balanced. The goal is a tool with visual impact, that looks “otherworldly”, almost too pure in color and shape to be “real”. This is the reward for the time and effort spent.
With all respect to past makers of G:.D tools, some of the few examples I have seen have left much to be desired as works of art. Some of the instructions I’ve read make me cringe; coloring the Cup using glued-on paper, or constructing the Kerux’s staff with foamboard and white glue. Since not all of our sorors and fraters can be expected to be tool artisans, I took it upon myself to create new tools for our Lodge since I have some years experience building such devices. I take great pleasure in the work. It is a form of meditation for me; I call on the powers of the Gods to guide my hands, and I concentrate on the attributes of the piece as I construct it, often chanting god-names and mantras as I work. It is *operative* work, and I feel a kinship with the ancient artisans who first called themselves “masons” and began the traditions that we draw on in our Lodge work.