The purpose of our work is the unfoldment of a higher consciousness,To become as a God, Goddess, or an Immortal. We do this in order that we may obtain a better understanding of cosmic law, and how to break it.This is how the great work is looked upon by most of the Left Hand Path.Those on the Right Hand Path often look at it as a trip back into the all-powerful Supreme Creator who is concerned with and involved in macrocosmic (universal) as well as microcosmic (individual) matters.This subsumption into the ALL can be brought about by an individual’s efforts and faculties to serve in conformity with the Will of this Supreme Creator.These two Ideas on what the Great Work is may blur and shift depending on who you ask, and what funny Hat they may have on at the time. Eliphas Levi, one of the first modern “ceremonial magicians”, defined the Great Work thus:
“The magnum opus is pre-eminently the creation of man by himself, that is, the full and complete conquest which he can make of his faculties and his future; it is pre-eminently the perfect emancipation of his will.”
The modern incarnation of the Golden Dawn defines the Great Work as “a term borrowed from alchemy’s magnum opus. Refers to the path of human spiritual evolution, growth and illumination, which is the goal of ceremonial magic.”
And then we have The Great Work within Thelema,who say it is the process of attaining Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel and learning and accomplishing one’s True Will.
According to my old friend Don Webb, the Great Work on the Left Hand Path is a quest for Sovereignty. It seeks four types of rulership:
• Rulership of the Inner World
• Rulership of the Outer World
• Royal Power in the Outer World
• Royal Power in the Inner World
He then tells us that the basis of the Left Hand Path is that humans are but machines, but may in potential become gods. That statement alone sums it up,When this higher consciousness and Immortality take form in action, we shall develop more skill in applying our knowledge of cosmic law to the solution of every-day problems.No Longer Robot,but acting as if we are Gods, we become Immortal.To succeed in this understanding we must learn how to control and direct a force which, although it is occult, is really “hidden in plain sight,” inasmuch as everything in our environment is a manifestation of it. The first step toward gaining the knowledge which shall enable us to control and direct this power is to learn that although many names have been given to it, all these names are attempts
to describe a single reality.More than 5000 years ago, the ancient Chinese masters came to the understanding that everything is composed of the same energetic substance, which they called Qi (pronounced “chee”). These ancient masters observed that there is a oneness and wholeness in all existence and that everything is energetically
interconnected as one body. Africans know it as ngai, Australian aborigines call it kutchi, in North American Indian
dialects it is kukini, orenda, wakonda or manitou, and the Polynesian name is mana. This last suggests the Sanskrit manas, which has come down to us through the Greek menos and the Latin mens, as the root of mind.
One of the best accounts of Qi in the West is given by Alphonse Louis Constant,also known by his pen-name Eliphas Levi-
“”There exists a force in nature which is far more powerful than steam, by means of which a single man, who can master it and knows how to direct it, might throw the world into confusion and transform its
face. It is diffused throughout infinity; it is the substance of heaven and earth, for it is either fixed or volatile according to its degree of polarization. This agent is precisely what the medieval adepts called
the first matter of the Great Work. When it produces radiance it is called light. It is substance and motion at one and the same time; it is a fluid and a perpetual vibration. The will of intelligent beings acts directly upon this light, and, by means thereof, upon all nature, which is made subject to the modifications of intelligence.”This force was known to the ancients; the Gnostics represented it as the burning body of the Holy Ghost, and this it was
which was adored in the secret rites of the Sabbath or the Temple under the symbolic figure of Baphomet, or the Androgyne Goat of Mendes. It is represented on most ancient monuments by the girdle of Isis which twines
in a love knot around two poles, by the bull-headed serpent, by the serpent with the head of a goat or a dog, and by the serpent devouring its own tail. It is the double serpent of the caduceus (the wand of Mercury), and the tempter of Genesis; but it is also the brazen snake of Moses, encircling the Tau, that is, the generative lingam. Lastly, it is
the devil of exoteric dogmatism, and is really the blind force which souls must conquer, in order to detach themselves from the chains of earth.By the direction of this agent, we can change the very order of the seasons, produce in the night the phenomena of day, correspond instantaneously from one end of the earth to the other, discern, like Apollonius, what is taking place at the Antipodes, heal or hurt at a distance and endow human speech with a universal reverberation and success. To know how to master this agent so as to profit by and direct
its currents is to accomplish the Great Work, to be master of the World,and the depository even of the power of God.”
I have given this long quotation because no matter how antiquated it may sound to our modern ears,the last line is quite telling when it comes to the subject of the Great Work-“To know how to master this agent so as to profit by and direct its currents is to accomplish the Great Work, to be master of the World,and the depository even of the power of God.” In modem times, the laws of physics have demonstrated that matter and energy are interchangeable and that matter is simply another form of energy. Matter is constantly vibrating in the form of particles or wave forms; it is constantly changing either affecting or interacting with energy. Energy is inherent in the living human body, and the human body is sustained by energy. Without an understanding of Qi or Energy and it’s relationship with matter, the Great Work can not be begun,much less brought to completion. Matter progresses to energy and energy to spirit, and vice-versa. Qi is considered the medium, or bridge, between matter and spirit. Qi has mass, the same way that smoke or vapor has mass. Qi as energy can manifest within the body through three primary levels:
• Physically as Matter: Energetically manifesting through the body’s cells and tissues in the form of Jing, Marrow, Blood, and Body Fluid.
• Energetically as Resonant Vibrations: Energetically manifesting through heat, sound, light, and electromagnetic fields.
• Spiritually as Divine Light: Energetically manifesting through subtle vibrations which extend through infinite space (Wuji) to the Dao.
Through the study and practice of Qigong, Yoga (mainly Kundalini or Pranayama) ,or any number of Body/Mind/Spirit practices from the east or west,we can begin our journey to Immortality.Just know this, if you wish to walk Left instead of Right, the virtues of self-sacrifice, selflessness, obedience, humility, and simplicity are not necessary in the accomplishment of the Great Work, but are at best, helpful to some but not to all, and at worst were rather placed in our world and minds to make us slaves and to make us easier to control and manipulate.That faith and religious devotion have little to no relationship with the attainment of spiritual illumination and success in the Great Work.The virtues are tools,and like all tools, one day you will find little use for them and must put them aside. To start the Work, we have to know what we enjoy, and what we have decided is good for us. We have to decide what we are willing to give up in terms of the work and what we must sacrifice to bring about change on our quest for Immortality. This takes time and is both a science and an art,so it may help you to look at it in this manner. I’ve only just begun such a task and may not complete it in this life,but if you read my work often you know that I believe this is the whole point to Mysteries,be it from the way of Theurgy, or that of Diabolism. I hope to to hear from all of you about your experiences with the Great Work, and wish you a good pair of sturdy shoes on your climb.
Sources: http://esotericgoldendawn.com/2014/golden-dawn-theurgy-right-or left/,http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/The_Great_Work, “Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path” By:Don Webb,Levi, Eliphas. Dogme et rituel de la haute magie, published in English as Transcendental Magic. A.E. Waite, trans.
Art Copyright 2015 Vincent Piazza