The other day I saw a Facebook meme in a magick group. The meme claimed that a phoenix was associated with Leo, a vampire with Scorpio and other such things. Maybe this association is of some long-standing tradition. If so, I have never seen it before. I suppose the meme made some people feel good because it appeared to validate their feelings of personal association with various creatures. Oh! That explains it! One person now feels happier about her upcoming tattoo. I am not against anyone feeling happy. Find any reason you want to be happy.
I am not going to try to read their minds. Maybe some thought it was totally legit. Others thought it was just an amusement. I cannot read the minds of Facebook users. I know that I am about to step into some dangerous territory here.
Traditionally, a lion is associated with Leo and the phoenix is one of three animals of Scorpio. I am not going to go on a rant and tell people there is only one way to do things. This is not correct. There are traditional ways of doing things and those traditions exist for a reason.
The first reason occurs within particular traditions. Within the Golden Dawn framework, there would likely be some difficulty if someone used a funky meaning of a tarot card within the initiatory framework. Such actions may make one feel good in the short term but someone is going to feel a lot worse in the long term because the energy pattern of the initiation was modified without making corresponding adjustments to the entire system of magick. In a system as complex as GD those adjustments are difficult just within the initiatory structure alone.
The second reason is one of ease. This is much more important to folks that are working on their own than many of them realize. Those that have worked within the Golden Dawn current are familiar with the line from one of their initiation rituals, “By names and images are all powers awakened and reawakened.” There is a truth there that operates well outside the realms of ceremonial magick.
Over the centuries, people that have wanted to tap into the persistent powers of Leo have used the same sigil, (below), name (Leo) and animal (lion) as well as more obscure names and images. These things work like a combination lock. The difference is that a combination will simply open the lock.
In magick, the power that comes through that open door depends upon the power invoked and how far the door swings open. The latter is determined by some things out of the magician’s control, such as the time of the year. The amount of usable power also depends on how much power the magician is capable of bringing to the earth and processing. You do not want to generate more power than you can effectively use.
That last part is sticky. If I were to pretend to quantify power, I would say the full power of Leo is 100 and no Leo power is 0. Someone that normally can move 15 units of power can suddenly generate 80 and then not be able to do that again for quite sometime. Trust me, that will change your perspective on the powers of magick in a hurry. You will find a new found respect, if that ever happens to you. You will appreciate safety measures that so many blithely throw away. Why because that unused 65 units of power has to go somewhere. The last place you want it is stuck in your own psychology. Have you ever had to deal with a Leo?
The reason that combination works is the same reason one follows a trail through the forest. All those people that came before you have marked the way. They have found ways around rocks, learned that going that way leads to a cliff and have broken any branches that may have grown across the path to snag those nifty magickal robes. You can get to your destination by going off trail but the level of effort increases along with the danger.
So, if you are tempted to wander off the trail, ask yourself why. If the traditional way is not working for you but it has for 10,000 people before you, why is that? Are you missing something or are you that unique? Is it your ego, “Well, I am not going to listen to those traditionalists!” Have you not done the preliminary work? Is it that your path follows a totally different set of associations? There can be a thousand good reasons to move off the trail and just as many bad ones. Make sure you have a reason. Otherwise, you are making your explorations harder and more dangerous for no reason at all.