Al-Jabhah, the 10th Mansion

Al-Jabhah - the brow of Leo
Al-Jabhah – “the Brow”

Today the moon is in the 10th mansion, an auspicious place for power, success, healing, recovery, improvement, help, and growing strength. Given that I gave away my “blank” of this mansion to Javier, I decided to recreate it now, at the astrologically appropriate time, and with its complete dataset of astrological and magical symbols arrayed around him.

It turned out rather nicely, and I think rather better than my first effort at producing a miniature of this Mansion. As I’ve said before — if you take the time to absorb the data, you can commit it to memory by both word and image and location as well. During the course of the drawing effort, I even went outside to find the moon and mentally register where in the sky it was. But it’s not present above my local horizon yet… which I should have remembered.

Anyway, it’s probably useful to see that I didn’t get here on my own: On the right, much smaller, is a link to a different picture: this miniature, over and against the very rough initial drawing that I made of Al-Jabhah in my notebook a few days ago.  And further down, of course, is the one that I drew using the application, PAPER by on my iPad.

So… Here are my original notes for the Al-Jabhah card, and the original sketch I did in Moleskine notebook. I admit to borrowing in some detail from the work of Nigel Jackson and Christopher Warnock, to whom I’m deeply indebted as an artist and a thinker on these things.

But despite that, there are three major things I want to get across:

  • 1) every time I’ve drawn this mansion, I’ve gotten a little faster and a little better at creating it. As I’ve said before, these lists of images are in part a program of study for developing a magician’s artistic skills.
  • 2) the original creators of these lists assigned angels and mystical letters and planets and herbs and other “data” to these images as a means of subdividing and explaining the universe — we’re looking at an animist Feynman diagram of the Higgs Boson, seen through the mind of a medieval mystic, the CERN particle accelerator of his time. Except the particle accelerator in this case is a person, not a machine.
  • 3) the act of drawing this picture, of a lion head floating over buildings and a hill with a river flowing out of it, will alter your consciousness. You will become a different person by drawing it than you were beforehand. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad an artist you are —making the picture from right where you are in artistic abilities will make you a better artist, and bring you greater success. Even if you fail at making the drawing, you’ll succeed.
Developing the image of "Al-Jabhah"
Sketchbook and cardstock

But it’s more than that, really.

Look, Elizabeth Gilbert says that before the Renaissance, people never used to say that a person was an artistic genius. They said, that person has a genius.  And we who know a thing or two about magic, or about language… we know that a genius is the word that eventually becomes the Genie of the Lamp, in the stories of Aladdin and other Arabian Nights folktales.

What people said, in other words, is that artists were the servants, or the assistants, or the mediators, or the ambassadors, or the hands and eyes and ears of a spirit in the material world.

And the name of this spirit of the 10th mansion is Ardesiel: an Angel, who is the bringer of good fortune, power, success, and the clearing-away-of-obstacles. (Ok, I added that last bit.  I don’t have any evidence of that, but the Lion wanted to stick out his tongue at me in this image, suggesting that he really wanted me to know that everything was going to be all right.  His image has even gotten FRIENDLIER each time I’ve drawn him.

But is it possible to deny that I’ve gotten better at drawing him?  As you read through this post, consider: you’re going backwards in time as you read this entry, even as my mind is thinking about the one that may come next.  Everytime I’ve drawn this, I’ve had some new insight into how to do it — first I started with color on a computer screen, and then I’ve moved to pen and ink.  Everytime, a little better.

Brushes Painting: 10th mansion
an early Ardesiel

So it is with our students, both exoteric and esoteric.  We need practice at this stuff.  Drawing Ardesiel’s floating lion head just once isn’t enough.  This is something that bears repetition.  None of this lioning around (small joke there. very small. miniscule.)

But Gordon has speculated on the way in which a magician, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses in the spirit world, is very much akin to the superheroic teams of our era’s favorite comic books.  I find myself wondering, as I make these drawings for the kavad and to boost my drawing skills, if our caped crusaders and supermen are merely the modern incarnations of this flyin’ lion and his 27 other lunar compadres.

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