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The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition - Mark Stavish



The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition
by Mark Stavish, M.A.
Copyright 1997. All Rights Reserved.
The doctrine of the ‘Body of Light’ is replete throughout Western esoteric literature.
Unfortunately, while many references are made to the concept, little information is
supplied regarding its origin (or formation), stages of growth, and applications. The
purpose of this document is to supply qabalistic and alchemical students with a workable
esoteric theory, and practical technique, regarding this often obscure subject.
Theoretical and Historical Background
The origin of the “body of light” is seen in gnostic literature as early as the first century.
However, extensive documentation and theory exist in Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, and
Indian literature and practices of an earlier date. Under the general heading of chi kung ,
or Chinese internal alchemy, these practices are designed to create and mature a body of
subtle astral and etheric energy that is capable of existence independent of material
consciousness. This body is also thought to be capable of infusing the material body
with sufficient energy to allow it to become more subtle and ‘etherial’. This
‘etherialization’ is said to make the physical body, under the direction of the adept,
capable of de-materialization at the time of death. Enoch, Ezekiel, the ascension of
Jesus, his mother Mary, and even Mohammed with his horse, are often given as
examples of this form of dematerialization in Western spiritual literature.
Unfortunately, while Eastern systems have maintained a working technical tradition of
the theory and its application needed to achieve this goal, little information remains in
the West of a similar nature. The idea of the ‘simulacrum’ is the closest we have, and
may very well be the starting point of such experimentation. It can be seen from the
Eastern literature available, that the idea of the “Body of Light” often called the “Rainbow”
or “Diamond Body” is the perfection of a vehicle for the exteriorization (projection), and
continuation of consciousness beyond material reality. This paper will attempt to show
how the development of this body can be achieved through existing qabalistic practices,
and that the stages of its growth corresponds to total realization on the Lunar ( Yetzirah),
Solar (Briah ), and Saturnian ( Daath) planes of consciousness.
It is important to realize what is meant by these ‘planes’ however, as they can be
confusing when first encountered as an esoteric teaching.
When the Cosmic created the universe, humanity, or the ‘human seed’, that aspect of
consciousness which was to grow into realization of godhood, descended from primal
unity. This unity is symbolized by the Divine World of Atzilooth, and the Holy Upper
Trinity in the Tree of Life.
When consciousness experiences increasing levels of density as matter is created, duality
forms and continues to the material world. This first descent from unity to duality is the
so-called “Fall” and to prevent a premature return to Unity, that is before all of creation
could be encountered, a barrier was placed called in qabalistic literature, the Abyss. This
is the “First Day of Creation” or appearance of time/space.
As the descent continued, the human seed experienced progressive levels of sexual
polarization as well as being further removed from its memory of Divine consciousness.
After the level of Divine Harmony in creation, or Tiphareth, the center of humanity's[20/09/2014 00:15:10]

and is seen in the techniques often suggested for use by the student. or that of the Gate of Life and Death. or physical death itself. The Doctrine of the Subtle Body in the Western Tradition . Mead states that the doctrine of the subtle body achieved its highest expression in India. and it is the ‘body’ or expression of consciousness used for Reintergration to Unity. and that is what separates material creation from the psychic and spiritual worlds. or at least not fully. However. like in all occult activity. Here. and you know already about your Magical Personality[1] which has been quietly growing in strength with each month’s work. although he may have been unaware of other oriental teachings. and has complete free will to seek what it desires. “When working in this way [Pathworking] you are using the astral body. there may also be confusion regarding its actual purpose — that of extended consciousness. If this is not done. encountering the ‘Second Death” in order to penetrate the Veil. and while it is full of scholarly research regarding the theories and beliefs regarding the subtle body. dangers come more often from rushing through preliminary work instead of allowing it to proceed in a healthy and natural pace. Ashcroft-Nowicki further states that the Body of Light can acquire a kind of ‘self consciousness’ after a period of development. humanity has no memory of its Divine origin. The small ‘child of light’ is often compared to a fetus in the astral womb of the practitioner’s aura and temple. or Paroketh. The Body of Light is deliberately built for a purpose. a Magical Personality is acquired through practice and concentration. The Ritual Magic Workbook Ms. or even potential danger.The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition . that just as there is confusion among some students regarding the Body of Light as being the astral body. precautions must be undertaken to avoid the destruction of the astral body if the Second Death is to be avoided.” P. Above the Solar World. But there is another form used by some magicians. and once it is formed it can be troublesome. The astral is an etheric form common to everyone.Mark Stavish sense of self. This http://hermetic. and grown to proper strength so that is can be a help to the magician and not a hindrance. Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. It is not easily formed. it lacks any description of the techniques used to experience it. an additional barrier was created.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] . or Paroketh. another term for it is ‘cowan’. However.[2] It is possible. It very well may be one of the few books dedicated to this subject available. and requires firm handling. the Resurrection Body is established. the Body of Light. then it must be reconstructed with a new birth. The astral body has access to three levels of consciousness. because few people pierce it except during near-death-experiences (NDE’s). than from the exercises themselves actually being psychically dangerous. Out-of-Body experiences (OOBE’s). to the next three levels. Some think that it is the same as the astral body. When its function is clearly understood. and that notions of the subtle body develop along with those of alchemy and astrology. educated. then greater attempts can be made to realize its full potential. So called. This is both true in East and West. some people never manage it. She also goes on to say that few Western magicians have ever been able to master the technique fully. When we attempt esoteric exercises and a return to Primal Unity. This is the appearance of individuality free of the Divine spark. as this paper will attempt to show. Finally. Mead and the Subtle Body GRS Mead wrote a booklet around the turn of the century titled. This idea is also stated in Tibetan and Chinese literature. and then must be shed. a third barrier of Veil is encountered. the Veil. 153. although no reasons are given. but it is in fact quite different. states. we must pierce the first Veil. It must be matured. The material quoted is almost exclusively Gnostic-Christian in origin. or ‘surviving the Second Death’.

“Moreover. has nothing to do with today’s (1919) astral body. (p. allows us to experience the Vision of Beauty Triumphant as referred to in modern qabalistic schools: “Tiphareth translates to Beauty. and is the only complete ritual of the Mithrian cult that has survived to present time.” (p.” (p. and that the sidereal body. 58) Proclus states.”[3] “There was a time when we they could behold Beauty in all its brilliance. the radiant vehicle ( augoeides ochema) [corresponds] with heaven. there was a strong Biblical and midrashic tradition of increasing in grades of purity of the individual allowing for ascension and resurrection to take place. winning out over those believing in a purely spiritual resurrection. yet. the radiant body. together with the rest of the Blessed Company — we [philosophers] in the train of Zeus. As in the Sepher Yetzirah and the Golem. increases in power and purity. a subtler phase intimately bound up with the highest themes of sidereal religion. It is described as : the spirit-body.vulgar horoscopy. and where initiated into that mystery. and is made of light and/or fire. in which we joyed in mystic ecstasy. that is. and the resurrection body. Three Levels of Light The three basic ideas around the subtle body are that it progresses though the levels of the spheres. the body of Light is often suggested. While the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh was hotly contested during its developmental stages. This means that a man capable of remaining in Tiphareth has “spiritualized ” his matter.” This does not mean that he cannot receive the influences of the higher sepheroth (higher according to the Tree).com/stavish/essays/bodylight.The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition . we are told. philosophic astral theory set up a ladder of ascent from the earth to the light world. and other [ranks of souls] in the train of the Gods — they both beheld the beatific spectacle and [divine] vision.Mark Stavish astrology has nothing to do with “. or vegetative-animal soul. The Radiant Body . perceive or live something of their nature and mode of action. depending on its degree of purity. Despite appearances to the contrary. The descriptions of these accounts.. more vital. and this mortal [frame] with the sublunary [region]”. which may be called the holiest of all. Mead points out that the belief in physical resurrection was not universally accepted by the Jews of Jesus’ day. and its theurgical practices are similar to Indian yoga. is the force closely aligned to the physical body. so there was a supra-physical. suggest that the bodies they http://hermetic. It is located on the Pillar of Balance which is the Pillar of consciousness and corresponds. with the ‘flesh lovers as they were called. or soma pheumatikon . The Spirit-Body . when. vital and psychic side to alchemy — a scale of ascent leading finally to man’s perfection in spiritual reality.9) Mead also states: “But even as there was a deeper. has formed his glorious body and has obtained the power to go beyond incarnation.30) The ritual also states clearly that it is the method whereby spiritual perfection and birth of the subtle body are attained. side of astrology. Elijah and Jesus.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] .” (p. Similar to the nephesch. in Jewish Qabalah.13) Mead also states that Zosimus states catagorecally that the Rites of Mithras were identical in purpose to the practices of alchemy. Mead points out that there is the possibility of extreme confusion when reading the ancient literature and the vocabulary used to describe the spiritual body. to the highest state in which a man incarnate on this earth can live. a man “of flesh and blood . Mead asserts that the spiritual body is essentially one.

These four directives: going slow. giving it http://hermetic.L. preventing it from wondering. longevity. It is differentiated into subtle and simple elements. did not die. and unconscious. where as the physical body is contaminated by the grosser elements. Elijah. You will in fact have partially ensouled it. the breath that is in me. “The subtle rules the dense” and how it might apply here. and to feel no sympathy for this self-created and projected aspect of ourselves. the genuine sense of the simulacrum being ‘other’. and can be directed to have effects on the physical body .S. the individual and unique expression of God we all carry within us. Therefore the moment you feel as if the cowan is getting above itself. be tantamount to “the Fall” in our own personal microcosm.Mark Stavish inhabited were the same. Thou Perfect Body of me!. essentially a quintessence. as in A. These ‘bodies’ in fact. First Fire of fire in me. What makes the resurrection body different is that while it can and does exist within the material world. often violent imagery that can be dredged up from a nephesch (subconscious) that doesn’t want to be integrated into the workings of the ruach (Mental-Spiritual functions). and problems. Primal Earth-essence of the earthly essence in Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition . and reminding the BOL who is boss. Despite the projective imagery. if they are desired. As one ‘body’ or expression is purified and ‘dies’ another takes its place.” She then suggests withdrawing all contact with the cowan for a lunar month. but was taken into heaven bodily in a chariot of fire. London 1907) The Technique The technique suggested by Ashcroft-Nowicki is the simplest and most direct. is that the BOL is a superior being to physical world. To do otherwise. She also states that when the B. can be a very rewarding psychic and spiritual experience. unlike Jesus however. Thou Primal Substance of my substance. They will think it is you and trust the appearance. and A Mithraic Ritual . First Breath of breath. 102. increased health. such ss Jesus’ passing through the locked door. and yet not the same. Yet despite these warnings. the water in me. It offers many avenues for psychological cleansing. At this point. and possibly even a kind of ‘psychic mutation’ that allows for increased psychic activity along family lines. while no specific rituals are employed. are not really separate bodies. the creation of the BOL. First Water of my water. even the tiny amount used here. The Mithraic initiation states: “O Primal Origin of my origination. performing in a sacred space or enclosure. it is free from material constraints. the cowan [Body of Light] will eventually gain a half conscious mind of its own. God-given for the Blending of the blendings in me. However. she warns. and in no uncertain terms remind it who is boss. This perfect body was.. that it should be given firm disciplining. as we shall see. Something you cannot allow for it has no protection against the darker forces who will take it over and use it against you and even against those with whom you are involved. is to court disaster.O. give it a good psychic shake. are common to Eastern and Western methods of creating the BOL. This would in fact. “With the constant implanting of consciousness. What is missing in the modern accounts. is sufficiently developed to begin to desire acting on its own. The Western schools are silent about what the implications of the Hermetic axiom. but clearly stated in the Oriental ones. even partially. the BOL is still a part of us. or is. method. It is these effects which allow for the etherialization of the physical body. it will almost certainly make a bid for freedom. but increasingly purified expressions of the personality. yet could overcome material limitations. and psychic enhancement. it is suggested that the ritual be performed in a consecrated temple to prevent the simulacrum from wondering. They were tangible.” (p.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] . By disciplining it. First Fire.

[5] Of course. Previous experience with planetary invocations will make some of the following instructions easier. and the Rose+Cross Ritual. than to rush through and simply do the work haphazardly. it is generally suggested that the first year of activity be spent learning Elemental and Pentagram work. the required skills of concentration. In relation to what has been said previously. Ideally however. during the first planetary hour of the day. Only after this period are planetary rituals. visualization. we are in reality giving those things to our self. The following method can be performed by anyone regardless of their level of experience. that these forces and ideas within us. Within the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn .[6] The material belongs to the curriculum of the Aurlem Solis Sacra Verbum. On occasion. alchemical. Among the most important points in gnostic and Platonic literature is the need to separate the subtle body from the physical body for its purification. Presumably. The most complete method available for creating the Body of Light is in the ritual called “The Magician” in Mysteria Magica. in psychology in neurotic and schizophrenic behavior. Pathworking can be started anywhere from the first year on and requires about 1 1/2 years to fully do all of the 32 Paths of the Tree of Life. the speed at which one works is not important. All magical tools are also constructed after being received into the Second Order. vol 3 of The Magical Philosophy by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. The fourth year often focuses on zodiacal magic and the completion of any Pathworking. In magical work we see this clearly in the creation of the BOL. The techniques given by Regardie in The Golden Dawn. The simulacrum however. the first 3-3 ½ years is spent learning very basic magical procedures. or Adeptus Minor grade. it would be best if it is done during the third or fourth year of qabalistic study.The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition . composed of fourteen distinct parts in total. or 23 through 19. such as the Supreme Rituals of the Pentegram and Hexegram. as seen and experienced through the multi-colored glasses of the Lesser Pentagram and Hexegram Rituals. left unregenerated and when given the opportunity. and related techniques as seen in Regardie’s work undertaken. known as the Portal Grade. The reasons for this are simple: the more experience you have in psychic and occult matters. the aspiring qabalistic magician will hopefully have worked through some of their more obvious psychological issues. Pathworking. and creating a strong working environment for psychic activity will have become second nature. and to take on self-consciousness. and in doing so. the easier it will be to achieve noticeable success.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] .[4] For those who do not belong to any formal course of study. It is better to go slowly and diligently and make real progress. they may be given in the preliminary section. to integrate them. with the third year being spent integrating the two. it is best to allow two to three years for this additional aspect of magical training. and even in severe forms of psychosis. The second year doing planetary work. to prevent psychic ruptures that might otherwise manifest in modern terms as mental illness. Esoteric work allows us to address these diverse aspects of our being. Since each Path is often done more than once. and http://hermetic.Mark Stavish function and purpose. will seek to manifest. particularly Paths 32 through 24 are critical for psychological health and should be done two or three times before doing the second set of Paths. by the third or fourth year of study. and astrological knowledge. or Adeptus Minor. This imagined. shows us in no uncertain terms. talismans. The ritual is divided into five main sections. coupled with the memorization and intellectual comprehension of a vast amount of qabalistic. and guiding it with a firm A note belonging to the title suggests that the ritual is considered most effective when performed at the beginning of the day. are not generally taught until the 5=5 Grade. In addition.

Feeling most of your consciousness operating from inside of it. Invoke the presence of your Higher Self. thought. Stand in the posture of the Adeptus Minor.Mark Stavish eventually real separation. with the silvery-bluish cord visible between the simulacrum and the operator’s abdomen or solar plexus. or flaming yod. but firm manner. good health. If possible. and place the Pentacle of Earth on the alter[7]. and action of your being. feeling a stream of energy running from your crown to your heart. and not as independent beings. upper abdomen region. Life. Maintain or reformulate your Flaming Crown center. or slightly East of center. Energize your heart center. upon the Earth Pantacle. Preliminaries The temple area should be set as usual. and appreciation for consciousness and the opportunity to develop in awareness and Service. Imagine in brilliant phosphorescence a flaming sphere. the hand of Mercy. and well being to your lower self and guph.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] . and Love be expressed in every cell. (Tau Cross. this flame of Creation within Send thoughts of blessing. Ask that Light. and imagine yourself growing to a vast and immense size. Move to the eastern Quarter and Face the West again. Be thankful that they are present to serve you. Project the simulacrum from the solar plexus. Pause for a few moments as the feeling of vastness disappears and you return to normal awareness of the temple. Affirm your intentions for performing this exercise. psycho-spiritual practices known.[8] Higher Self Place your left hand. Pause and imagine the great streams of energy circulating through your physical and psychic bodies. or toward the operator. but that they are at the service of the development of Self. Establishing the Temple Perform the Banishing Ritual of the Lesser or Greater Pentagram. Perform the Middle Pillar a second time if needed.The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition . Perform the Middle Pillar exercise. Only by freeing the psychic self from the constrains of material life can we experience the full degree of good and evil in our psyche. Assume the position of the Adeptus Minor. and feet. This cosmic seed. wear a consecrated Rose+Cross present. Have it facing East. The methodical and militant purification of our psyche and integration of its diverse aspects constitutes the most difficult. The Lower Self Turning clockwise. love. forms the core of the technique. Affirm your position of authority over your lower self and physical body in a loving. Lower arms and meditate on the significance of your Higher Self. http://hermetic. and back up again. and rewarding. Turn to the East and ask that the Powers of the Higher Self be present and fully utilized for this operation and at all times forward. face the West of the Temple. touching your crown and uniting you with the cosmos. arms outstretched). with alter in the middle.

In this instance it is helpful to grow the image in size and stature to a larger than normal http://hermetic. or Golden. assistance. At some point you can then begin to educate it further. it is to be interjected or Astral purification of the simulacrum so that it can be rightly called a Silver Body. the simulacrum can be tincted with particular qualities and virtues. filling the whole image with the light and sense and virtues of that planet. and envelope you in a body of light. Give blessing to your Nephesh. Radiant Body. The effects of this are different than the usual methods for Assumption of the Godform. address the image before you firmly and lovingly that it is to give your full assistance in the Great Work. First. Energize and imagine the simulacrum attaining a high degree of integration. Or imagine counterparts of physical organs inside the simulacrum and them having the colors and sounds of their planetary counterparts. practice performing the Middle Pillar inside the simulacrum. under the influence of the Sphere of Saturn. that it might become a Solar. Also. or Resurrection Body. use a general plan of associating the simulacrum with the planets. bones. or Spirit. The simulacrum can also be projected and modified to a deific image or godform. When generally projected. to Luna and Sol at the head.Mark Stavish Exhortation and Instruction In the Name of your Higher Self. This can be done in several ways depending on your personal preference. or the Queens Color Scale. either as a mist. Instructing the Simulacrum After a two or three weeks of successful projection and reabsorbing of the simulacrum. as it will be influenced and influential upon the Lunar and Astral worlds as a whole. When venturing into the Quarters. or a shadow image fusing itself into your earthly body. influenced by the Briactic Worlds. you can begin projecting specific ideas into it. of dynamic electric and magnetic qualities containing within it the balanced potential for all bodies of the four Elements. This is the Lunar. Air. Feel the energy move throughout your body and sink deep into your muscles. Using the colors. or Earth. by imagining them along the spinal column from Saturn at the base.The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition . it would find perfection in the Diamond. marrow. or additional work is needed. symbols. Completion Re-absorb the simulacrum and the silver cord by imaging it return to a cloud or mist of bright bluish-gray or silver psychic protoplasm and collapsing backward along the cord (bring the cord with it) into your body at the level it was projected from. and sounds of the planets. use the simulacrum and tune it to the Element you seek to explore. Imagine them in bright white light. just below the surface of the skin. making it a body of Fire.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] . Rejoice in the successful operation. after it has been projected. and thank it for its participation in this ritual. If any particular instruction. Close down firmly. in the Name of the Most High. Beyond this. Always reabsorb the energy. it should be thought of as a body of Quintessence. Water.

The purpose of the simulacrum is to create a vehicle for the purification and expression of astral (Yetziric) and mental (Briah) energies.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] .The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition . sometimes called the House of God (Deu) or Fire (Feu) shows us that the ever flowing lightning bolt of Mezla will destroy any imperfections that it comes in contact with. [2] See: Fundamentals of Esoteric Knowledge .[9] The letters can be done in blazing white. or redirected by the Sword of Geburah. The Nephesch. MN. It is important that your consciousness be projected firmly into the simulacrum during any working. ©1988. overlaps and connects the worlds of matter (forming our Salt ) and mind (forming our Mercury ). or according to the Queen’s Scale. The simulacrum can be charged with Hebrew letters. [1] The Magical Personality is defined as a self-created image of one’s self that allows for greater power and presence when doing esoteric work. The Philosophers of Nature (PON). or an Enlightened Will. It can also be charged with the Tetragrammaton. and not carved on the surface. Both are eradicated. These Four Qabalstic Worlds and their overlapping. they should be seen as existing inside the figure. As such. glowing and strong. the 24 th Path converts Solar (soul) energy into Natural (psychic) energy. we can in effect. but also between our emotional and physical realities. The 27 th Path is also a sort of Kundalini Yoga exercise. Copyright 1995 [5] For more information on Pathworking see: PON Qabala Course . disciplined. This can be done to the physical body as well. prior to projection of the simulacrum. and some effects on the 28 th Path (Net-Yes) as this Path governs the flow of Psychic energy through our Psychic centers.Mark Stavish appearance after it has been created. Ill. Lesson 1-3. Both are under the influence of Mars. This exercise will have secondary effects on the 24 th Path. or our passions and lusts. The Lightning Bolt on the tarot card the Tower. we are adding the third Essential. and Magical States of Consciousness by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. in the normal Y (Head) Heh (Shoulders) Vau (Spine) Heh (Hips Feet) fashion. it also acts as a bridge between not just our objective and subjective worlds. alter our physical appearance and health through proper and loving purification of our astral matrix. Highways of the Mind by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. © 1995. Where the 27 th connects Natural Energy to the Intellectual World. and will assist in its creation and projection. which constitutes the bulk of the ‘self’ that we are refining in this work. The Philosopher’s of Nature (PON). Llewellyn Publications. or the overlap of Mind and Spirit (forming our Sulfur). 359-362. [4] See: Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition by Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. and clear out psychic blockages on the Path of Return. When we address it from the perspective of our Kether. http://hermetic. and that the energy be completely reabsorbed after it is over. or Will. We cannot ascend and take our mistaken ideas with us. as they reverse the flow of Mezla. Saint Paul. As stated. Wheaton. Wheaton. form the basis for inner and outer alchemy. whereas the 24 th Path is the arousal of Kundalini. Engraving them according to there location and association with the physical organs as outlined in the Sepher Yetzirah. [6] P. All of the Paths of Yetzirah will be effected to some degree by this exercise. Ill. Lessons through . As with the alphabet. Lesson 17. forming the Three Essentials. or projected onto it from elsewhere. [3] See: Qabala Course .com/stavish/essays/bodylight.

In The Philosopher’s of Nature (PON) Qabala Course .2006. [8] Use of the ‘Elemental Grade Signs’ or the ‘Rending of the Veil’ is at the performers discretion. the Hermetic Rose+Cross and the Pantacle of Earth are ‘adept level’ tools. that astral projection occurred rapidly.The Body of Light in the Western Esoteric Tradition .com | About | Contact | Participate | Become a Patron Hermetic Hosting | Hermeneuticon | Hrmtc Underground http://hermetic. often before the fifth or sixth letter was reached. they when they imagined the letters within their physical body when falling asleep. However. but also slightly more difficult to control. Hosted by Hermetic. they are not constructed until the very end of the six year course.html[20/09/2014 00:15:10] All written material on the Corpus Stavish site is Copyright Mark Stavish 1998 . in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn .Mark Stavish [7] As mentioned. They also noted. All Rights Reserved.   Previous | Top | Index | Next Corpus Stavish | Outlines | Interviews | Essays | Rituals | Alchemy Home | Features | Fellows | Figures | Forms | Reflections Hermetic. [9] One student who did this noted that the simulacrum was more .com/stavish/essays/bodylight. the Supreme Pentagram and Hexagram rituals are presented in the second year.