Here’s the competed image of the Second Decan, which I’ve made for my father’s birthday.
According to this massive tome of correspondences by Stephen Skinner, Picatrix says that the image of the Succedent Decan of Libra is “a man dark yet delicious of countenance.” There’s an alternate list in Agrippa which says “two men furious and wrathful, and a man in a comely garment sitting in a chair.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t choose either of these lists as the basis of my work on this Decan. I had a list, which I now can’t find at all, that said that Libra’s second decan was “a half-dressed African, in triumph after his labors.” (This one from Benjamin Dykes is sort of close, where it’s “an African having a journey of marriage and joy.” (Look further down for the Libra decans).
Chris Warnock warns heavily against mixing astrological systems. Learn one, he advises, and don’t get them mixed up. I’m clearly getting them mixed up. The banner here with the Libra logo is edged in gray/black, for the Saturnine influences of the second Decan; the banner itself is yellow, in representation of Libra’s association with the element of Air; and the sign is emerald green, which is the Golden Dawn color for the sign of Libra. The moon and the sun are both visible; the moon is partially hidden behind a beam with a monkey upon it (a reference to the Mansion of the Moon on the day of my father’s birth). There are three kinds of cargo on the dock with this successful African (dressed in the colors of his Decan): a cask for liquid, a bag for loose solids, and boxes or crates for precious objects. The ship in the background is suggestive of successful voyages and the lack of clouds is intended to evoke success. The blending of air and water at the horizon suggests widened opportunities, and someone who broadens their boundaries.
When you consider how this image started, it doesn’t look too bad, though. I’ve learned to do pencil sketches of the works, before I try to create them with ink and brush-pen. The sketches are pretty much line-for-line what I wind up doing, but it’s only because I’ve drawn them that I don’t ruin work as I go. The drawings are, once again, just a more complicated version of Dave Gray’s Forms, Flows and Fields… it’s not hard to develop these skills — as I’ve told my students, I’ve really only been doing this for a few years, maybe four — but it does require a degree of creative confidence. Wasn’t that what Bryan Jackson said about picking up his guitar and learning to play? That it’s about being a public learner?
And when you consider my first effort to create the joyous African on the white board at school, you can see that I’ve come even farther. The illustration I completed today is of a type with the whiteboard figure, drawn in a cartoonish way with only one pen, but more involved and more detailed and with more depth — even though both are still flat figures.
Each effort to create the picture has gone further. Each picture has made the nature of the figure more clear. And each picture has brought me more into line with the vision of the figure, and likewise has brought the figure more in line with what I’ve seen or imagined the figure to represent.
We can go back even farther in time, and find his first appearance on the Kavad, too. Here he is, wearing white pants and flexing in empty space. As I’ve done these images, it’s occurred to me that each of them is like a deeper initiation into the power and potential of this symbol and its meaning. I’m really starting to get a feel for the ten-day period that’s ending today, and what kind of energy it carries along in the world. And I wonder if that is sort of the point? After all, most people don’t ever connect to the Decan of their birth; but those who do, usually only carry around a mental image of it. Those who carry a little sketch of it are a little better off; those who have seen it illustrated are better off yet — or at least more attuned to the mindset that created the lists in the first place.
Let’s go back even further, to earlier this year, in July, when I made this panel in my sketchbook. Hey, look at that, down here on the lower-right. I actually copied out all of the descriptions I could find of the second decan, and then I made an image out of them that looks NOTHING like this one at all! What happened?
It’s a complicated question. First, the image didn’t feel right. Too cluttered. Too many systems not working together to produce a coherent picture or a complete set of ideas. Most of all, too out of line with what I see my father being — a man who loves the good life, yes, like this man on his falcon-headed throne… but who is less of a mediator and more of a completer of tasks, less of a negotiator and more of a network runner. Somehow, the image I’ve produced seems more in tune with how I see my father than anything sketched in the abstract four months ago. And ultimately that may be the most important part of it. I’ve drawn together a symbol-set, and visualized them… and sigilized them… in a way that makes sense to me, while at the same time drawing upon deeper powers than myself. The final image has power and grace, and it will do the work that it is called upon to do, for the man for whom it was made: celebrate his birthday, and give him many more.
And if I have any magic at all, perhaps this is how I work it.