□ The Individual Mind
□ Systems: Magic, Science
□ Contact point of the Masters
□ Language and Visual Images
Symbols: Names and Versicles, Apron.
Planet: Mercury Color: Orange
The beams of Geburah and Tiphareth meet in Hod and thence arises in Hod a brilliant pure and flashing orange tawny. And the Sphere of its Operation is that of Kokab, the stellar light, bestowing elegance, swiftness, scientific knowledge and art, and constancy of speech, and it ruleth the sphere of the action of the planet Mercury. And Elohim Tzabaoth is also a God of Hosts and of Armies, of Mercy and Agreement, of Praise and Honour, ruling the Universe in Wisdom and Harmony. And its Archangel is Michael, the Prince of Splendour and of Wisdom, and the Name of its order of Angels is Beni Elohim, or Sons of the Gods, who are also called the Order of Archangels.
Hod is the concrete mind. It is the sphere of Mercury, and to it are attributed all that is intellectually systematized, such as the magical arts, literature, science and commerce.
It-is at the base of the Pillar of Form beneath Binah, as Netzach is at the base of the Pillar of Force beneath Chokmah. And in these two lower Sephiroth is seen the same balance of form and force found in the Supernals. The difference is that this pattern is expressable in terms which can be conceptualized and understood by our minds. While in Chokmah and Binah it was necessary to speak in the most abstract and symbolic terms, such as the "idea of outpouring force," or "the idea of form which restricts force," we are now dealing with concepts which can be immediately understood in terms of the make-up of the individual personality. The symbolism is closer to home. In the human personality the Fire of Netzach is the animal intuition, while the Water of Hod is the concrete, rational, mind.
The Tarot, often called the "Book of Thoth," is referred to Hod. Thoth (Egyptian), Hermes (Greek) and Mercury (Roman) are different names of the same God. Each is a messenger, patron of learning and teacher of the mysteries. All language (a carrier of messages) relates to Hod.
In the Golden Dawn version of the tenth card of the Tarot, THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE, the dog-headed ape at the bottom is Cynocephalus, companion of Thoth. It was also the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for writing. Cynocephalus related to the Moon, as Thoth related to Mercury. And in ancient astronomy the Moon was believed to follow Mercury like a faithful dog (note the dogs in all versions of THE MOON, Key 18). By extension of this idea we understand that language is the faithful companion of the student of the Mysteries. Words of power are his greatest instrument.
This is the reason that Names and Versicles relate to Hod. It is not easy to persuade natural doubters that a word, properly vibrated, can have a powerful effect on the inner planes. Yet the effect of words on our own plane is obvious. Who can be indifferent to words such as "I love you," or "I hate you." But to be effective, words must have feeling behind them. In the same way that "I love you," or "I hate you" sound strange and empty unless expressed with emotion, the Words of Power of Hod are only effective when they are projected with the intense feelings of Netzach. In other words, the dynamic energy of
Netzach is brought to bear through the vehicle of the words. This is the reason that so many fail in their attempts at ritual. Words alone will not suffice; the form of Hod is useless without the force of Netzach. And the reverse is also true.
Those who approach esoteric studies with great vitality and enthusiasm but lack the discipline of Hod are wasting their time. And those who fail to bring the intuition of Netzach to bear on the many words written about the inner sciences will quickly decide that the "Hermetic Mysteries" are pedantic and lifeless.
It is said that whosoever learns to pronounce the name of God, iHn>, will be master of the Universe. And when we see that the Qabalistic fourfold division encompasses many names (attributes of the One), each of which requires a different learning experience to "pronounce," the statement makes special sense. The names of the system are of Hod, but the beginning of the ability to properly use them is in Netzach, whose Gods encompass the whole Tree.
Form is limitation. It is restriction. There can be no form without a force which is in some way restricted. So found in Hod are the dynamic qualities of the Netzach force, which are limited in order that they can be dealt with through our normal process of thought. This limitation takes the form of both language and visual image, which are a far more interchangeable currency than some might believe. They are both sets of comprehensible symbols agreed upon by societies for the transmission of messages. We know that language is artificial and has no intrinsic qualities of its own. The same is true for visual images, such as the Sign of the Cross, the Tarot cards, or even what we perceive to be a tree on this earth. These are carriers of idea, which are neutral in themselves. For this reason, the Hermaphrodite is the magical image of Hod.
It is in Hod that the carriers of idea are separated out. In evolution, Hod completes the Pillar of Form. It is a stabilizing balance to the completion of Force, a balance which is modified in Yesod and emanates our material world in Malkuth. Hod and Netzach (like Geburah and Chesed) are effective only when their energies are actively merged in a third Sephira. In this case, we see the merger of Mercury (Hod) and Venus (Netzach) giving rise to the Moon (Yesod).
The second major symbol of Hod, The Apron, also refers to the Moon, as does Thoth himself in one aspect. This Apron is a traditional Masonic symbol. It is the symbol of the builder who is the craftsman of the Mysteries, and one which, when worn, covers the sexual organs attributed to Yesod. And, as we move to consider Yesod, we shall see the extent to which the manipulation of sexual energies is the basis of all practical work.
So, in the great scheme of return toward the Godhead from our material condition, Hod is a primary point, a point of conceptual transfer. Here the masters first contact their chosen disciplines, clothing themselves in forms comprehensible to the human mind. Here are presented to the student the formal tools of the Hermetic Path (as opposed to the Orphic Path of Netzach, or the Devotional Path of the Middle Pillar).
All of this is a great deal less mysterious than it may seem. It may appear that to deal with Hod (or any other Sephira) means only the projection of oneself into this sphere, by ritual or meditative techniques. These are, of course, important. But we use the forces of Hod whenever we immerse ourselves in the documents of the Mysteries, or whenever we approach anything intellectually. The Sephiroth are integral parts of ourselves, in a state of constant activity. The principle of the practical Qabalah is that we turn our conscious attention toward a particular aspect of ourselves, and thereby gain access to the corresponding part of the greater Universe. As there are four hundred Trees of Life, we function consciously at the highest level which our spiritual development will allow.
One final point which must be made is that while Mercury is the teacher of the Mysteries he is also the God of deceit and trickery. One writer recently suggested that this aspect partly represents the "adaptability" required for esoteric work, and conferred by the Hod energies. But, as has been said, the whole Astral realm seeks to deceive. When we deal with the astral images, we do so with all of the perceptual vulnerability of our human minds. We are particularly susceptible to this in the alternately bright and murky sphere of Yesod. And it is in Hod that we begin to understand the mechanisms of our perceptions.
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