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Triangle of the Art

The Triangle of the Art comes from the Grimoire tradition of magic.  Its function was to concentrate the spirit being invoked into one space so that it could be seen visibly.   It first appeared in the Lesser Key of Solomon the Goetia where its function was to constrain and force evil spirits to manifest.

We have very few accounts of Golden Dawn evocation magic and the most famous is the account published by Pat Zalewski in his Talismans and Evocations of the Golden Dawn.  That was a ritual which was written by Alan Bennett (Frater Iehi Aour “Let there be light”) and was designed to get the nearly unpronounceable spirit of Mercury TAPHTHARTHARATH to physical manifestation.
 What was telling about this ritual was that it used a triangle of the art to manifest the spirit outside the circle. Bennett’s triangle of the art was not that used in the Goetia, in fact it was a simple triangle enclosed in a circle. The circle outside the triangle would help to constrain and concentrate the spirit by effectively placing it in another reality.  In the triangle, Bennett placed a sigil of TAPHTHARTHARATH to aid its manifestation. This is a key part of understanding the Golden Dawn Z2 instructions for evocation .
One of the areas that Bennett suggested that followed the Z documents, was that the triangle was placed in the point where Mercury was in the sky at the time of the ritual.  However, in the case of evil spirits he suggested it should be placed in the West because this was where the Qlippothic spirits should be.  This is pretty daft because it implies that spirits such as  TAPHTHARTHARATH were evil and needed to be treated as unbalanced demons.  It is fair to say that the last thing you want to do in an evocation is bring anything out of the lands of the West.  Then there is the small problem about what the magician does when you are invoking an Angelic force.  These are only some of the sorts of problems that the early Golden Dawn adepts had trying to fit the Z documents into the Key of Solomon texts.

Mathers’ Goetia translation was released unfinished by Aleister Crowley, who had financed it and wanted his money’s worth (he more or less claimed to have written it).  Since this happened a long time after the collapse of the Golden Dawn,  it took some time for the Golden Dawn community to realise that it was not a work of the Great Beast, but potentially a Mathers paper.  Copies of the “Crowley” Goetia ended up on the shelves of some Whare Ra members and it was this triangle of the art which was adopted in their private rituals.
This classical triangle of the art was the one I have used for many years without questioning it.  Then I started to wonder why the Goetia’s author used Greek names as these did not strike me as having the necessary cabbalistic power to do the job required.  In addition with the exception of Tetragrammaton the names did not make much sense – what was an Anaphaxeton?   It is fairly clear that the three are supposed to be names of God, but it was not clear which ones.
Tetragrammaton just means “four lettered name of God” and we know that is YHVH יהוה.   so it was possible that the other names were also Greek instructions for Hebrew names.
Primeumaton means literally “the first name”.  Indeed the Goetia says that the name means: “Thou who are the first and the last, let all spirits be subject to us and let the spirit be bound to this triangle which disturbs this place. In the first verse of Genesis the name of God mentioned was Elohim אלהים.  “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and earth.”

Traditional Triangle of the Art 

So far I was happy as the divine name of Binah was YHVH Elohim and this connection made sense given the function of the triangle was to bring something into manifestation.   But that still left the name Anaphaxeton to find meaning and ritual function.
Mathers’ translation of the Goetia in the chapter on the Magical Triangle of Solomon said that “Anaphaxeton” is sometimes written “Anepheneton” but this is not much help either.
Mathers had written in the Key of Solomon Chapter VI that the name ARPHETON, and in the name ARPHETON, “by which the angels who are destined to that end will summon the Universe, in visible body and form, and will assemble (all people) together by the sound of the Trumpet at that terrible and awful Day of Judgment, when the memory of the wicked and ungodly shall perish”.   Then Mathers had written a footnote saying that this name was sometimes replaced by Anapheneton, or Anaphaxeton.
The name was connected with the more martial aspects of God, but its use is not complete until you consider the Goetic prayer that Anaphaxeton was supposed to represent:  “Thou great god of the entire heavenly host.”  The great god of the heavenly hosts was Tzabaoth ,  Tzabaoth  is the plural form of “host” or “army” and used as a divine name in its own right.  In the Golden Dawn it was part of the divine name of Hod and Netzach.
This would mean our triangle would be bounded by the divine name YHVH ELOHIM TSABOATH or the Lord the God of Hosts.
Using the name Elohim beginning with the letter Aleph and Tsaboath beginning with the letter Tsaboath you could read the meaning of the divine name around the triangle as:
YHVH the beginning and the end,
Lord for eternity
The Lord, the first and the last
Eternal God
God the Alpha and the Omega

Suggested Triangle of the Art 

As is typical, in researching this article, I found someone on the internet who came up with similar conclusions, and gave me the breakthrough I needed.  Writing in his blog  Enoch Bowen pointed out that YHVH was often replaced in the Key of Solomon by the name Adonai. For example in Isaiah 6:3 in a description of the  Kerubim, the prophet wrote:
“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD (YHVH) of hosts (Tsaboath): the whole earth is full of his glory.”
But the Key of Solomon the King  Book 1, Chapter 5 there is a conjuration based on the same verse which says “… by the troops of Angels who cease not to cry day and night, QADOSCH, QADOSCH, QADOSCH, ADONAI ELOHIM TZABAOTH”
This means that the Key of Solomon used ADONAI as a replacement for YHVH.  This is fairly common as YHVH was considered unpronounceable and was often replaced by Adonai.  Adonai is still a four lettered name of God.   Replacing Tetragrammaton with Adonai makes more sense when you realise that the triangle of the art is closely connected to Isaiah 6:3.
It does not change my translations of the names around the triangle because YHVH was often interpreted as Lord.
The effect of this would be to turn the circle and its triangle of the art into a symbolic representation of the vision of Isaiah, which is exactly the sort of thing you want from an evocation.  But there is another clue here within the Bible text itself.
There were two important visionaries in the bible which were the inspiration for Ceremonial Magicians and mystics – Ezekiel and Isaiah.  Both of them had similar visions of the throne of God.
The difference was that Isaiah’s vision was of a static temple with God and his angels not moving.  This was because in Isaiah’s time the Jews were not in exile, whereas in Ezekiel’s time they were.  Using imagery of Isaiah’s vision is ideal if you want the spirits you summon to be connected to the divine and yet stay still.
In the middle of the triangle is the name of the Archangel Michael whose name means “like unto God.” Michael could be a method of bringing down the power of Almighty God so that it might protect the people of God.  Michael often appears as an advocate and protector of humanity.  His function is important when summoning demons.  Michael is often seen as killing the dragon of Evil.  The use of Michael at the centre of the triangle protects the operator while at the same time helping to provide a suitable medium of communication.
Mathers’ Goetia also gave colours for the Triangle of the Art.  He said that the triangle should be outlined in black with the three names written on the outside of the triangle in red.  The name of Michael should be written in black on a white background.  In the centre there should be a circle which is of dark green.
While the triangle is a symbol of Binah and creation, the circle within it is more problematic.  Traditionally a circle was seen as being the divine and spiritual, particularly compared to the geometric figure of the square, which represented matter. In the Golden Dawn green was the colour that represented the seventh path of the tree of life, Netzach in the Queen scale).  Given that the   Goetia was not written for the Golden Dawn, it is more sensible for the green to be seen as representing nature. A green circle would mean the spiritual side of matter, which is where you want the spirit to manifest.
Given that a triangle of the art was supposed to assist and constrain the spirit or angel, painting the circle green would be giving it a target to manifest within.  In  other words you do not want it to be solid, which would be pure nature, but the spiritual side of matter — Nature.
According to Goetia the triangle of the art was three feet across, which is a curiously specific number.  Having used triangles of that size they create manifestation that are somewhat stretched and the triangle could be happier being bigger.  If you look the diagram that Mathers provided it would suggest that the triangle should be bigger than three feet.
The number three is attributed to Binah, but it had other meanings which were connected to the triangle’s function. According to Agrippa three was connected to the name  Shaddai שדי  which was the name of God with three letters. It means “Mighty” so the symbol that the triangle is a mighty force that holds everything together.
In the Golden Dawn Z documents the triangle of the art was placed outside the circle where ever the physical planet was in the sky at the time.  Since the Z documents create a temple, this means that the triangle is outside.  But the temple which is created in the Z2 documents is a 0=0 temple of Malkuth.  This symbolically means that anything which is evokes is not expected to appear in Malkuth and is supposed to be viewed on the astral nebulous matter which surrounds a magically empowered temple
At the same time it was expected amongst some Golden Dawn magicians that a “physical appearance” meant just that so the Z2 insistence that such an appearance was possible would appear to be a contradiction.  It might have been for this reason that the Bennett ritual was written using the Z2 formula, but ignored the rule which demanded that the temple had to be set up for a 0=0.
It could have been that Bennett wanted to get a physical manifestation and was removing everything that would have stood in his way. Given the ritual map of the Bennett ritual it is fairly clear he did not bother with the 0=0 godforms or set up his ritual within a 0=0 temple. What would be interesting is that if someone attempted the same ritual but more closer to Z2 and see if they repeated Bennett’s results.

[1]There is no room in this article to explain this in detail. Generally, what happens in a GD evocation is that the adept initiates a pentacle which gives him control over the being. With a sigil in the triangle of the art, it means that what happens within the circle also has a resonance with what is happening in the triangle. As the ritual purifies and consecrates, and creates a simulacrum of the spirit within the “subjective” circle, it is having a direct effect on the “objective” spirit being evoked in the triangle. If the sigil was not there, it would make it difficult to get a physical manifestation because the triangle would be in a “different world” from the circle with no point of magical connection.

10 thoughts on “Triangle of the Art

  1. One of the points in the GD that is not discussed is where to place the triangle of art. The Spirit of Mercury Evocation has it in the west, close to the Qlippoth’s gateway. Frankly having it here disrupts the energy flow of the temple, especially in temple consecration. I argue that it should be in the east in the station of the evil one, where the negative forces are known to be. There is a great deal to this argument to justify the triangles placement there, more so than having it as Bennet did, in the west, but this is not the place for it..The station of the evil one in the 0=0 is like a manhole cover in a street, necessary but not disruptive..

  2. Perhaps this is a bit of an aside, but treating the spirit of a planet as evil does come right out of Agrippa and was reproduced by Barrett in The Magus. See Chapter 22 of Agrippa’s Second Book:

    “The sixt table is of Mercury resulting from the square of eight drawn into it self, containing sixty four numbers, whereof eight on every side and by both Diameters make 260. and the sum of all 2080. and over it are set divine names with an Intelligency to what is good, with a spirit to what is evil, and from it is drawn a Character of Mercury…”

    Similar quotes can be found in the same section for all seven planets, classifying the spirit as evil and the intelligence as good. Taphthartharath is the spirit of Mercury, not the intelligence (that would be Tiriel).

    Having done a lot of my own planetary work with these spirits and intelligences, I think I can safely say that in practice it doesn’t quite work that way and treating the spirits as malevolent is simplistic at best and flat-out wrong at worst. However, what Bennett was doing was in line with claims made by the traditional sources.

    1. You make some excellent points but the constructs or good, evil and inbetween are contextually dependent, and that usually comes down to author and what creed is followed. What is evil outside of the GD and what is evil inside the GD may not be the same. As far as I go I would never consider the planetary entities as evil in a mundane concept , though they can be is the planet is negatively aspected. for then they work against you – so context is important here. . The station of the evil one I mentioned above is not really an evil station but more like a pressure release valve in GD ritual, a trash can of sorts where the overflow collects. As such its an ideal situation of the evocation triangle.

  3. Thank you for replying to an anonymous poster. I was referring to your statement, “Using the name Elohim beginning with the letter Aleph and Tsaboath beginning with the letter Tau you could read the meaning of the divine name around the triangle as:”
    Tzabaoth begins with the Hebrew letter Tsadi=90 (or 900 when final). But the letter Tav=400. They are two completely different letters, no more interchangeable than if you took it for Teth=9.

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