Ouroboros: The Design and Application of a Personal Magical System -Part I
by A. C. George
I am creating more than one esoteric system. A similar one that is more ‘advanced’ I have put on hold until I can complete the precursor, which is simpler and yet still adequately potent. It is not quite a training system, nor is its compilation quite an exercise to prepare for the ‘real deal’; but the pattern of progression does reflect that kind of thing to some extent. I resist the idea of labelling the system as ‘precursor’ because a) I am not in the habit of doing half-assed ‘precursor’ work when it comes to esoteric cultivation and b) this project is too involved and too long term to be labelled in such a diminishing manner.
The work itself I call Ouroboros System. It includes three esoteric symbol arrays, modified to my needs. The first is based on the binary system of broken and unbroken lines used in the Chinese Book of Changes (Yi Ching), the second the symbols of the divination system known as Geomancy, with a modified interpretation, and the third an array of Norse Runes, also non-traditional. All three systems amount to sixteen elements each.
This project has been in progress in one form or another for close to fifteen years. I would work on it for a while, write my conclusions, test it and then put it on the back burner. For a time amounting to a year I only got rudimentary results working with the third sub-system, that of runes. Then I explored Geomancy, and that took some years of on and off tweaking. In the last year or so, I have been examining stacked forms similar to the bagua or trigrams of esoteric Taoism as an adjunct to the other two arrays of sixteen elements. These are tetragrams, having four horizontal lines each.
I realize forging an esoteric system or aspects thereof is nothing new, especially when the elements of the system are borrowed from other traditions. That does not mean all attempts at such a thing should be evaluated by the same standards, or exhibit similar degrees of success or failure. I would say that any occultist is challenged to add their signature to their work at the very least. Purism in the sense of performing rote formulae, memorized from dusty books, is not what I would define as a worth-while approach to esoteric application, at least not beyond a rudimentary training phase.
On the other hand, designing and empowering one’s own esoteric system or at least formulating one’s original take on an existing system is to me a natural part of applied cultivation. I would think that a number of grimoires are notes of such endeavors, and not just journals of activity or information handed down from others.
But enough of explaining myself; it’s a tiresome and useless habit of never ending distraction. I certainly wouldn’t want to read some fool’s boring justifications for doing this that and the other. I would want them to get to the juice and describe what they are doing, how they are doing it, and perhaps why in the bargain.
As stated, I am creating a system of sixteen triadic symbol sets. That is sixteen sets of three symbol categories each. The tetragrams and geomantic sigils represent the numbers of the hexadecadic array, while the runes represent its letters, each having their own syllabic pronunciation. I may be giving the impression that I woke up one fine day and decided to plan slapping a bunch of sigils into arbitrary groupings and call it some fancy name, like Ouroboros System. Quite the contrary, this project more or less chose me rather than the other way around.
It started by dropping a bunch of rune cards and picking them up, when I realized I was spacing out and putting the cards face down in the form of a lizard (or so it appeared to me at the time). When I snapped out of it, I saw the lizard had sixteen cards and that if I put them in the same order- not including the eight missing cards- they would form a rune row different than that of the Norse Viking Runes, but of the same number of runes. More importantly, the array made sense to me, and even appeared to call out to me to be put to good use. I was hooked.
So I worked with it, tried to understand its patterns, what it represented, what its ‘spirit’ was. It took a while to somewhat fire up, it even with the impact it made on me, as a magical device it was quite wanting. I realized something was missing. I was already spending years trying to understand the geomantic sigils, to charge them and make them work or at least get a sense of what their ‘spirit’ was. Analysis took a few years because I would focus, and then be open to some form of inspiration or the outcome of subconscious mental processing (depending on how one views such things), to integrate into my understanding.
If I got discouraged, I would most always end up ‘boosted’ into a renewed sense of motivation from some profound experience of understanding when meditating upon one or more patterns of sigils and runes. I understood the sigils to be as numbers, since they had no pronunciation attached to them, and the runes as letters, but something did not match. The sigils felt as if they were just hanging there. It felt natural to use the binary system since its hexadecimal application was so obvious. The expression of four-bit binary numbers that attracted me was that of the tetragrams. When I placed the symbols together it was as if a dialog opened between them: the tetragrams revealed themselves as the identity patterns of the array; the geomantic symbols as the patterns seeking manifestation, and the runes were the paths or means of manifesting the geomantic vibrations. Somehow the whole took on the mythic quality of the Ouroboros symbol of ancient alchemy and magic, even though the serpent, lizard or dragon form was prominent from the start in my awareness.
I emphasize the process because I did not seek to interpret things this way, at least not consciously. On the other hand, the system appears to be congealing to my own sense of esoteric need. It includes the aspiration toward alchemical actualization, in other words. It is not just a matter of material attainment, which is probably the go-to motive for most involved in occult exploration and application. To make it clear, I am not an idealist after mystical realization and only. I’ve been practicing eastern styles of mystical cultivation for decades. Instead I am seeking to cultivate a western dynamic of alchemical rectification that includes worldly empowerment, in the sense of the known verse: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem, whose capital letters make up the acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L. One can easily search this, so for now I’ll refrain from elaborating.
Suffice it to say, the system being designed is taking on a life of its own and becoming a source of insight and even wisdom without even any real occult application on my part. The requirement at this stage can be boiled down to a single concept: Coherence. That’s what the system wants and needs in order to come alive, to first speak clearly and then act accordingly. At this stage it calls for nourishment, to be taken in the esoteric rather than the literal sense. No blood sacrifice going on here. Coherence is a concept I will attempt to elaborate in a future- hopefully the next- installment.