In my Crowleymas post earlier today, I include a picture of a book I made, a re binding of Liber AL vel Legis (Crowley’s Book of the Law). It started its life as a standard paperback edition that looks like this. In the fiery third chapter of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, one of the last verses (v. 73) of the book reads “Paste the sheets from right to left and from top to bottom : then behold!” So I did just that, taking the book completely apart first, then putting it back together. The paperback was perfect bound, so after removing the original cover I was left with individual pages. They had to be separated into “signatures” (groups of pages for sewing a book), then the right side of a double page spread glued to the left side. Each signature was then pierced and sewn with Coptic stitch – top to bottom. And behold!
The Coptic stitch ensures that the book will lay flat when open. The three chapters were each given a ribbon marker in an elemental color. This one was given to Lon Milo Duquette, for his participation in our Fortune’s Wheelhouse podcast meet up last month. I made it for Lon because in one of his books (maybe it was Ask Baba Lon or Low Magick but I am not sure now) he describes how he got his first Liber AL, gluing all the pages together per the instructions, then destroying it via burning per the admonition. It was one of the funniest things I’ve heard him say (out of lots of funny things he says) when he describes watching each page separately burning away (due to the glue) as a “magickal version of the opening of Bonanza“. That made be laugh so much I thought he should have this one. I hope he doesn’t feel the need to burn it! Anyway speaking of dear Lon, his latest book Son of Chicken Qabalah is just hitting the store shelves. I’m sure it will be both funny and insightful, so am looking forward to reading it.
I made a few other special hand made books as gifts for the organizers of the Fortune’s Wheelhouse meet up. They are an exact duplicate of my own personal ‘magician’s journal’ that I keep on my altar for ritual use. These books are divided into 7 signatures, one for each of the 7 traditional “planets”, each corresponding to a day of the week. Each signature is bound in the color of that planet’s sephira, per the Golden Dawn Queen Scale of color, and each has an appropriately colored ribbon binding. The chapters are in descending Chaldean order of the planets from slowest to fastest (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon), and each ribbon is longer or shorter depending on the planet’s length of orbit.
In each section I’ve put everything a practicing planetary magician needs at their fingertips, including information on all the most useful astrological correspondences in the worlds of plant, animal, mineral, and mankind, planetary sigils and seals, geomantic figures, magic squares, and a translation of the planet’s Orphic Hymn. Plus there is blank paper, graph paper, and vellum paper inside at the end of each section for recording more information one finds useful. Here is a picture of today’s altar, done up in the Golden Dawn color scale colors for Venus, since today is Friday, Venus’ day. The colors are Emerald, Sky Blue, Pale Green, and Bright Rose, rayed pale green. In addition to being Venus Day, it is currently also Venus’ season, and Libran Aleister Crowley’s birthday. The altar has all sorts of Venusian offerings: a green candle in a copper holder, mead (honey wine), rose petals, 7 rose hips, and sea water and scallop shells gathered during Venus’ day and hour. The journal is open to the Orphic Hymn for Aphrodite.
Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I am pretty much obsessed with the Golden Dawn color scales. I’ve painted both Rosetta Tarot and Tabula Mundi Tarot by faithfully following them, and in the process lots has been revealed. My third deck in progress is also being painted with them, and taking it even further as an exploration of watercolors and light. (Coming soon!) For those of you who received Part I of my article on the color scales and have been waiting for Part II of the article, I apologize it is taking so long. It is really that I’ve discovered there is so much to say about them that it has turned into a much larger topic I really want to address properly. So it will come, but maybe will be more than two parts, or even a book of it’s own, or a chapter in my next book. Rest assured I am working on it.
Which is why I was delighted to recently discover the book Taro as Color, by Ithell Colquhoun 1906-1988, with an introduction by Amy Hale. As it is fully illustrated in color, it is a bit expensive. But I could not resist getting it since this is my area of fascination and expertise. Because in addition to planetary magic, I also am a practitioner of color magic. Ithell Colquhoun was a fascinating artist and occultist, who created a tarot deck consisting of pours of enamel paint in elemental colors for each card. These were exhibited only once, in a village of Cornwall, in 1977.
I discovered this book through the Occulture podcast and the episode, which aired in August, is linked here if you want to have a listen. Ryan the host, even mentions to the guest during the episode sending a link about the book to Susie, my co host on our Fortune’s Wheelhouse podcast! I wish one of them had sent it to me so I would have found it sooner, as hey this topic is in my Wheelhouse for sure! I’ve only been obsessing about the GD scales for 7 years or so. But hey I stumbled across it thankfully via Ryan’s show, and I am so glad I did. It is a gorgeous book.
And what is really interesting to me is that last year, and this spring and summer, I was playing around doing the exact same thing as Ithell, just for fun, without even knowing she had already done this making of poured paintings for each card.
Here is her poured painting for “The Spirit of Aither” (or Aether), otherwise known as the Fool, followed by one of my paint pourings made last year for the Fool card.
So you can see a similar approach. She used the same colors but with the Bright Pale Yellow of the King Scale as the center, where I used the Bright Pale Yellow to cover the entire canvas before pouring the other colors of the scale on. She dotted the Emerald with gold enamel to achieve the “flecking” of the Princess Scale. I mixed gold powder into my Emerald to achieve the flecking (which looks better in person than it shows here).I also blew air over the painting with a straw, for additional reinforcement of the Air element the Fool corresponds to.
I’ve not yet finished all the pouring, as I had to give up on them for a while to work on my other tarot, which is a more representative art deck instead of these abstract works I did for fun. That one I’m currently painting in watercolor, in the Golden Dawn color scales, and it is coming soon!
I did the paint pourings in acrylic, rather than Ithell’s enamel. I don’t think acrylic was available in 1977, and she used enamel as that is what the Golden Dawn was using then to achieve the brightest purest colors available at the time. It is a very messy process (at least when I do it) so I have to do it outside. Sometimes there is extra paint left, and I don’t want to pour it on the ground. I had to pour it on something to dry, as once it is dry it is inert and pretty harmless. So I’ve been pouring all my colors on this wooden block, rotating it so it has paint on all six sides. I guess I could call it the Cube of Space when it is done, as eventually it will have all the colors of every card, even if they get hidden under each other each time I do another pouring!