CONNECTING WITH THE LAND: MALKUTH AND THE MAGICIAN
By Laurel Bohart
© 2002 Laurel Bohart
Connecting with the land is a fundamental basic to the practice of magic, whether one is a shaman, a magician, a priest, or a healer -- and some of us are all of those. Earth is our home and our dwelling place; who we are and what we do is worked out right here and now on this physical plane. Malkuth is the gate of life and the gate of death: here and only here on this plane are we given the opportunity to grow and become and learn who and what we really are. Yet living on this plane is probably the most difficult of all tasks to accomplish.
In A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism, Knight says of Malkuth: “The sephira Malkuth represents the entire physical world and although it might seem that the fact of the physical world is obvious to everyone there are probably few people who are really capable of living in it at will; that is, whose consciousness is focussed in present time and place and not wandering to happy or traumatic conditions of the past or wish fulfillment dreams or vague worries of the future. So many people have all their faculties centered on their mental life or their emotional life rather than the sensory life of the physical world…. Yet looking at things from an evolutionary and re-incarnationary standpoint, the physical world is the world which should be thoroughly grasped by the soul -- there is ample time for emotional and mental meanderings after death.” Or as my grandmother used to say of some folk “They’re too heavenly minded for their own earthly good!”
It’s easy to get caught up in our internal affairs and forget about our physical existence until something catches our attention, such as an overflowing trashcan or a dirty fridge and then our preoccupation with things occultic or mystical tends to take a quick back seat to cleaning house. Fortunately things Malkuthian tend to make themselves quickly and painfully known if we neglect them, and trouble on the earthly sphere is sure indication that we need to tend to that sphere before anything else. But there is another aspect to the Land that sometimes gets neglected and that is its elemental underworldly aspect. Without a good working relationship with the Land on all levels, a magician cannot mediate energies from the inner planes to the outer aspects of reality with fullness of power. And we all know what ungrounded energy can be like and what trouble it can get us into!
Sometimes in order to ground ourselves, we may need to be outside by the sea, or a lake, within a forest, or the best urban equivalent. It takes very little time to find a secluded spot, do some deep breathing, and send our energies into the earth beneath our feet, or circulate the energies from the earth through our auras and bodies and back again. This is a cleansing purifying and energizing action that goes well with daily meditations and can be used to deepen one’s connection with the Land on all levels of one’s being. Granted, this is a very basic exercise used by most beginners in the Western Tradition but it’s a very effective and useful tool.
Another useful exercise is to visualize the World Tree as a shaman would see it, with its branches in the UpperWorld, its trunk in the MiddleWorld and its roots in the UnderWorld and then to travel up and down in meditation along the tree itself. In the shamanic system, and also in the Magigroup system, the three worlds correspond to the three “rays” of Power, Wisdom and Love: Love being the Middle World, Power being the UnderWorld and Wisdom being the Upper World. These correspond with the three Magi who are the group’s main contacts: Balthasar the mage who carries Power, Gaspar the priest who carries Wisdom, and Melchior the king who carries Love. Within the Middle World which is also our own on, all its levels corresponds the Great Dance and the Lesser Mysteries of that Dance. But the Dance and the Love which is Logos is given on all the levels, for all the worlds intermingle, and there is no dividing line between them. Connecting to that Love is part of the grounding process, becoming aware of the Light within the Land, of the Eternal Love that glues all reality together and gives it cohesion.
Books such as Matthews The Celtic Shaman or Stewart’s Power Within the Land give various methods of connecting with the underworld and the Light within the Land, from guided meditations to drumming and chanting and dance. Visualizing a hole in the ground such as a cave or a hollow in a tree, and then sending one’s consciousness into the earth is obviously a form of the magical journey, but can be used shamanic-style to ask questions and get answers to very mundane but perplexing problems. The native traditions of North America and the British Isles start off in this fashion, and these native traditions, the innerward spiral of the magic maze, form much of the basis of the western magical workings, the roots of the Tree.
These underworld traditions connect also with the Myth of Demeter and Persephone and the Trials of Isis, and can be used to give a fuller understanding of these myths and subsequent ritual workings. Within the Fraternal Order of the Magi, which is most of my own experience, connection with the land is made within ritual, such as the Chant of the Elements or the Rite of the Archangels, whose focuses are the Gifts of the Magi and the coming of the Christ Child within the human heart, with its subsequent illumination and realization of connection to all of Creation within the Heart of God which is Love itself. For Malkuth reflects Kether, and Metatron that great Angel is Lord of both.
Another aspect of working with the land is the ability to “see” and work with the dragon lines, those veins and arteries of golden etheric fire, which conduct the lifeblood of the Mother Herself. There are places of power within the land, which can be tapped as sources of energy and give powerful meditative vision when one connects with them. To the ancient peoples of many lands, these dragon lines linked earth with the heavens for they saw the stars of the outer cosmos reflected within the Deepest Places both of themselves and the Starlit Lands in which they lived and moved and had their being. That knowing is innate in humankind, and with practice and connection with the Great Spirit, Singer of the Song, Dancer of Heaven, the Prayer of Life can be lived to its fullest whether one is called to be a mathematician or a magician. For all of us have our place in the Body of Christ.
Malkuth is indeed a sphere of great power, the place of learning, of instruction, of working out salvation, and working in of gnosis. “The material world can be considered as being a focusing or earthing point for the creative powers of the Spirit…. As Above, so Below. Spirit and Matter are as great poles in a vast cosmic battery; each has to be functional before current can flow in the magical circuit between Daath and Yesod. This further implies that all knowledge of spiritual realities can be gained from contemplation of the physical world...” “We are beings immersed in that sphere (Malkuth), whether we like it or not, and it is one of the most important on the whole Tree for it is the Gateway to all further spiritual development, and until the lessons of Malkuth are well and truly learnt, the paths of the higher spheres must be closed to us.”...(Knight, A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism).
Connection with the sacred land is as old as humanity, and older, and unless we are in right relationship with it, with all that implies, we cannot be in right relationship with ourselves, our fellows, or the inner side of Creation.
OPENING THE ARCH OF HEAVEN
In the Name of the Son of Light
The Son of Maria
Keystone of the Arch of Heaven
Who joins as One
The Forks upholding of the Sky,
His the Right Hand
His the Left Hand
His the Rainbow Letters
In the rich fermented Milk.
May you go His Way
In all Shapes of Shapes
In all Colours of Colours
It is the Son of Light
The Son of Maria, saying,
“Ask in My Name
You shall not be cast out.”
Do you see us here
O Son of Light?
Says the Son of Light
Ancient invocation of the Son of Light (The Underworld Initiation by R. J. Stewart)
Gareth Knight, A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism
R. J. Stewart, The Underworld Initiation
Caitlin and John Matthews, The Western Way, A Practical Guide to the Western Mystery Tradition, Volume 1.