Not knowing where else to start, I resolved to begin with the three things that I thought were most important to add:
- Icons of the seven planetary governors
- The thirty-six Faces of the Decans (part of the Solar Zodiac)
- The twenty-eight Mansions of the Moon
A lot of other stuff is open to debate, but these aren’t, not really. I’m also mindful of Frater Seraph‘s recent comment, where he asked if it were truly necessary to fill up ALL the white space? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But the planetary governors panel now has seven windows, and two blank spaces. Maybe Uranus and Neptune, maybe Iophial and Ratziel… not sure yet. As you can see in the photograph on the left, the windows of the seven governors are of about the same size… but the one standing by itself with be Michael. The two on either side of him, the blank spaces?
Maybe Sandalphon and Metatron, the angels of the presence and of this world. It’s hard to be sure exactly what goes where, these days. I am aware, though, that I’m making a cosmological map here, and I’d like to avoid getting things wrong. Skyllaros also asks why I include the AODA/Druidic elements… I’m a member of that organization, and a half-hearted Druid — I’d like to be more involved, but I became a member because I wanted a way/method to practice this stuff in a group, and Druidry seemed like a good idea… but the work doesn’t really resonate with me as much as I’d like.
Then, there are the windows of the 28 Mansions of the Moon. These Mansions came into Western Astrology by means of the Arabs, who brought them over from India. There, the Hindus called them the Nakshatras, which I guess is a fancy word for Mansion. The Indians had 27 mansions, the Muslims had 28, and I like that in my kavad, the 28th mansion hangs off one side in a weird way, with a little bit of space below it for some additional moon lore. Maybe the Synodic cycle. If there were a simple way of calculating eclipses, that could go there, but it seems like a long shot. Or…
I think I have it. There’s a pair of traditional astrological symbols called the North and South Nodes, or more poetically, the Head and Tail of the Dragon. The idea is that there’s this invisible dragon out there in space, and every so often he swallows the moon or the sun, and there’s an eclipse. These Nodes are points in space, which gradually move around the Zodiac, and designate the window in time/space when an eclipse is possible. They’re not really possible at any other time. Maybe some representation of them could go there?
The placement of the 28 Mansions was a big challenge. 28 is not a nice even number, and I thought it was important that all 28 be visible on a single set of panels at the same time. I felt the same way about the Faces or Decans of the Zodiac — if they weren’t all visible at the same time when the Kavad was open to the same point, one might make the assumption (as a viewer, rather than storyteller) that there were no relationships between these windows. But, there are! And it’s important that these relationships be preserved.
So, When I turn the Kavad around, on the other side, around the innermost chamber, are the windows that will hold the 36 faces or Decans of the Zodiac. These are the 10-degree wide sub-divisions of the Zodiac.
There’s some evidence that the Mansions and the Decans were used as part of an Ars Memorativa system, and if you can’t see the images, you can’t learn them. So again, here, they’re preserved on either side of the central shrine, in two panels of sixteen (32 windows), and two panels of two (4 windows, making thirty-six). I’ll note for the record that my computer won’t handle thirty-six open windows at the same time, so this is a serious improvement, even though it’s analog.
I’ve got one last piece to show you all, and that’s the framework on one of the inner panels, which is the framework of the Hexagram.
In Golden Dawn style magical training, the Hexagram is an important formula. It represents the union or concordance of forces between the seven traditional planets, and also represents the relationships of symbols on the Tree of Life.
I was debating making this the Golden Dawn’s banner of the East, but I think I’ll actually leave it just as the Hexagram. I love the GD’s magical work, but I’m not technically a member of any such order, nor have I gone through its initiatory framework, and really I don’t know much more than I’ve read in the various public books. Also, a good amount of it is the typical Victorian verbiage, and in many ways the Kavad is designed to express truths without the need for words (which is ironic, given how many words I’ve already poured out trying to write about my experiences in building this thing). And, the people who created the Golden Dawn were trying to provide a set of spiritual experiences to their members, but still had to do so within a Christian framework exclusively, even when adopting elements of Judaism and Kabbalah and Hinduism into their practice.
I heard a talk online by Christopher Warnock recently in a webinar he gave for Kepler College about talismans, Picatrix and traditional astrology. He’s really got his act together, but one of the things that struck me is how in the West we’ve let our traditional spiritual lineages die out — or we’ve deliberately murdered them. (Not necessarily us, mind you, the living, but first the Romans and then the early Christians, and then the Barbarians, and then the Inquisitors and the Witchfinders, all did a very good job of exterminating spiritual lineages. We somehow got on the track that there was a war on in heaven, and all the groups that weren’t us, were blinded by the demons they worshipped. And those demon-worshippers, whether Lithuanian pagans or Basque pagans or Wiccae in England or Pictoi in Scotland or Druids all over or Go∂i in Iceland or medicine men in North America… We exterminated them all, one way or another, in the West.
And it occurs to me that a kavad is potentially a way of resurrecting a spiritual lineage, or starting one. I don’t necessarily think this is my job. But in India, kavads are made by a traditional group of craftsmen in a specific place, and they take a very specific set of forms, each particular style telling a particular story; and the storytellers who learn the kavad-stories are a priesthood, of sorts. So there’s a kind of urgency involved in getting the shape of the kavad, and the arrangement of stories or images on it, correct. Because once the methods of its construction and consecration are out there, and available, there is, if you will, a limited window of opportunity to correct the framework of the story, before it starts drifting into a ‘fixed form’.
I’m also… I’m also conscious of this cross at the center of this kavad. The Cross was made out of leftover materials, but more and more it feels like it doesn’t belong; or if it does belong then it needs to be crucially transformed in some way. @LillithsPriest on Twitter asked me if there would be a Golden Dawn Rosy-Cross at the center, and I said I didn’t know. One possibility was to establish the Passion of Christ at the center, as a metaphor for the Hermetic Solar Initiation. Another possibility was the story of Osiris, for exactly the same reason. I’m not sure that either is correct: in both the Egyptian tradition and the Christian tradition, the death of the god-king is a huge deal, yes — but not for nothing does the story of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child parallel the story of Isis and Horus. The coming into the world of the Solar child from a Lunar mother is every bit as important. Furthermore, the Kavad itself is very much like a womb. To have solar/masculine symbolism at the center of that… Well. It bears thinking on.