Sunday, November 13, 2016

Images and Iconography




Exodus 20:4 “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

Have you ever wondered why the Xian god of the Old Testament included this dictum into the original Ten Commandments? Have you ever really thought about this for a moment? Most people when they read the above verse only view it as images pertaining to gods and goddesses because in verse 3 it is written, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and in verse 5 it states, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”.

However, the above verse when examined alone is a very strong stance against any form of image production in the ancient world. He’s stating unequivocally to not make “any graven image” i.e. statues, totems “or any likeness” (interesting choice of words here) because “any likeness” covers any sort of imagery be they painted on papyrus, stone work, or cloth. The verse goes on to say “of anything” which pretty much covers everyone and every thing there is but ancient man didn’t quite know what all could be captured in images so it was stated as “in heaven above, or that in the earth beneath , or that is in the water under the earth” and that was as much as the ancient Hebrew who came up with this law could conceive. Most likely a Levite as they were the lawgivers in their day.

So okay yes let’s put this all into perspective and ask WHY is this such a huge thing with cranky ol’ YHVH that he has to have it put into the holiest of words to the old Hebrews. What is it about images that make this so special and sacred?

Images Capture Souls

Some have said that ancient man believed that images capture a man’s soul and this was a deadly thing that only witches and sorcerers dealt in. We do know that there are some religious sects and societies today who are against having their photographs taken for an old time superstition that the camera will capture and thus steal their soul. Conseuently if we have these people believing this today, it stands to reason that in simpler times, ancient man believed such superstitions as well.

To capture someone's soul was considered to be evil and sorcery of the darkest kind. Of course it took a special practitioner who had been taught and trained specifically how to do this. There are however hints in old manuals and references that this sort of thing could be done if one was skilled enough. For instance there are tales from Haiti and Africa about capturing a man’s shadow, i.e. an image double of himself, with which you could then in effect kill him the man by stabbing his shadow if you were there to strike the shadow at the right moment. In some accounts of this tale, the sorcerer needs to speak a lengthy incantation just prior to stabbing the shadow and the stabbing is done by shoving a dagger into the shadow down into the dirt thus transfer the energy of death directly from the individual to the elementals of earth itself to receive and claim their prize.

In other accounts, the sorcerer needs a bucket or pail of water with him and he follows his victim preferably from mid-to-late day when the Sun’s rays will cause the victim’s shadow to elongate enough so that the sorcerer can more easily stab the victim’s shadow. An incantation must still be uttered but the pail of water must be set so that the victim’s shadow lays across it, then at the end of the incantation, the sorcerer stabs the water with his blade thus killing the shadow which presumably kills the shadow's owner or the victim. In all likelihood this is to leak the life from the shadow body into the pail. In some accounts the water is kept and used to make the victim a slave in the afterlife while in other accounts the water is scattered so the victim’s soul is shattered.

We also know that ancient man believed that their gods resided in images or would come down into images such as statues and live in them. Others believed that cloth and papyrus images provided a more portable method of carrying one’s deities and spirits with them which you could set up and interact with albeit this was a much later development as ancient man first used stone and then later other materials for their gods and spirits.

So really today is it any different when we have folklore that states to use a photo of the target of our spell? I don’t believe we’re off the mark as much as people think. Ancient man would have been quite at home with our use of portable imagery in the use of photographs and drawings today. Yes it may have rattled his sensibilities but once he was over that setback, he would have embraced our form.

Iconography

Ever go any into those old Catholic cathedrals? I’ve not been in one yet but I’ve been in a large local Catholic church and one of the first things you tend to notice are the icons, i.e. statues of Jesus the Christ and his mother Mary. They’re all over. And depending on the church, there can be lots of statues of not just those two but other saints from the Catholic pantheon’s hierarchy.

Often these statues or sculptures as they are often referred too, are beautiful and made of delicate materials like porcelain or sometimes more durable materials like marble. Sometimes they’re made of metal, ivory (Greeks used ivory a lot), wood, Terracotta, clay or sometimes a particular technique such as Repoussé sculpture which is metal beaten into shape using a hammer and puncheon. But why sculpture? “In the widest sense of the term, sculpture is the art of representing in bodily form men, animals, and other objects in stone, bronze, ivory, clay and similar materials, whether the objects represented actually exist in nature or are the creation of the imagination of the artist.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13641b.htm)

Images Are Powerful

This whole line of thinking brings us back to the point of why bother with this whole concept to begin with. Why do Muslims freak out if representations of Allah appear? Why aren’t Christians freaking out over images of Jesus the Christ and Jews not freaking out over early paintings of Yahweh creating the world?

Images are powerful. They have far more power than words themselves do. If you can capture the essence of a moment in time in an image, it can say far more than volumes written about that moment. This is why images are so valuable: because people will see the image and come to their own conclusions about what the image represents as well as how it affects themselves. Ancient wise men recognized this fact and it scared them because you cannot have a group of people, a society, all thinking in the same manner if some of them are off doing their own thing and thinking for themselves. You have to bring them all onto the same page including their beliefs.

If you have this nebulous idea or concept of what GOD is, you can more easily control how someone thinks by shaping their thoughts of what GOD is through words and preaching. This is what the early prophets did. They went around like modern day evangelists not only preaching what they felt was the words of GOD but also spoke what they believed to be HIS interpretation of the code, i.e. rules and laws, were and how one should live by them. You cannot rule a people let alone unify the group if you cannot get them to be all of the same mind. Unification equals power and these ancient wise men knew this.

Images were kept out of middle eastern religion of Judaism but when they ran into the pagans of Europe who had been using imagery to depict their heathen gods for centuries, it was not easy to get these people to give up their ancient ways either. Thus sculptures and iconography came about in early churches and cathedrals which drew the converted pagans closer to Christendom. Further Europeans didn’t stop with just iconography in their churches, because they also created images representing their kingdoms which eventually made its way onto their portable banners and shields. Thus a soldier was constantly reminded he was out fighting for his king and country not merely to be a brute in a war and steal from the fallen.

Some of these standards began to use mythical images of monsters such as dragons and griffons due to their legendary value as fierce warriors against their enemies in the battle. Some chose lions, bears and other mighty animals of the forest in the hopes the standard would become the official image of the king it represented out on the field of battle. Because that wasn’t some grunt warrior who stabbed you, that was the king whose banner bore the dragon who stabbed you.

We even see today the fierce protests over our own nation’s flag burning's where people get visibly upset when someone tramples on or burns an American flag. The outcry is often heard far and wide across the media. We even have strict laws as to how we are to treat our flag, a “symbol” of our nation, and incarceration as well as heavy fines are imposed if you are found guilty in some locales of mistreating or abusing this symbol.

Statues or sculptures or our own modern wise men like Martin Luther King, Jr. can often be used to contemplate the thoughts of a wise man. Some have said they've stared into the eyes of statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. It makes you wonder how he would have dealt with our modern day-to-day problems from his simpler yet wise perspective. others have looked into the statues of great chiefs of the American Indians and saw the pride, power and majesty of men who lived simply, and in harmony with nature rather than fought to withstand against the elements as we do today.

Amp Up Your Practices

So now you’re wondering, “Okay Moloch, this sounds great and all but how can I use this to my benefit?” If you’re new to the occult, it’s time you found someone to work with and more importantly found an image of that spirit or deity to use as well. Imagery was very important to the ancients - enough that some cultures used it all the time while others forbid it completely. That simple fact alone should spur you to want to use image magic far more than you currently do.

First acquire an image of your patron. (There are a LOT of deities out there so find one to work with if you haven’t already and for the sake of this article I’m presuming you already have). Now let’s say for instance you’ve chosen some spirit that is known such as the Mayan deity "Kukulkan" but imagery for him is scant. Not to worry because even imagery found on temple walls will work fine.

Kukulcan Wall Carving

So what you do is you find a suitable image of your chosen patron and print it off. For instance if you are unable to find any statuary of Kukulcan, then use the one above, a temple carving. Just print it off and put it into a picture frame. Set this on your shrine where you will interact with deity or spirits. You have an image to focus your mind on when talking with or praying to your patron, Kukulcan. Some folks say that statues are far more powerful as icons than paper, cloth or other 2D mediums. Of course if you are knowledgeable and know how to prepare statues properly, they can become repositories of power for spirits. Sadly I am not at liberty to divulge how to do this but suffice to say it is not as simple as some make it out to be.

Prayer is the strongest medium used to make these images come alive. This is because it needs to be used in tandem with the icon itself be that icon a sculpture or a painting. The idea of a painting or drawing a deity or spirit is also interesting in that it too can act as a repository of power by the sheer act of using it as a doorway to contact with the spirit.

By placing the paper image into a photo frame, you’re setting it off from the mundane world. Now you should regularly interact with your beloved image. Focus your attention on it as you pray. Talk to the spirit, pour your heart out to the God all the while as you realize the image is NOT the God but merely a cosmic telephone. When you think of it in this manner, it’s not such a big deal to talk to a icon, is it?

Kukulcan Sculpture for $189 USD
Some statues or sculptures are horridly expensive to the average person’s budget. This one of Kukulcan is, as of this writing, $189.00 USD + shipping that I found on Google shopping. Not everyone can afford not has the room for large sculptures or statues of their cherished and beloved patron deities. Thus the concept of 2D imagery works well.

However if you take the time to do the research, which I have, you can often find a Catholic saint associated with your pagan deity. In Kukulcan’s case, He being Mayan is associated with the Aztec Quetzacoatl or the feathered serpent who is associated with Thomas the Aspostle called Didymus or the Doubter aka Doubting Thomas. Thus you can use an image of Thomas the Apostle and any statuary of him as well to use for Kukulcan.

St. Thomas the Apostle statue for under $30 USD

St. Thomas the Doubter
And before you go running off on those anti-Catholic tantrums because you’re Pagan or occult, stuff it for once. This is not church worship here. You are merely borrowing iconography that has been duly associated with your pagan deity of choice thus that Catholic saint is FREE and CLEAR to use as you see fit!

Preparation

Before you’re sculpture is ready for use, you need to wash it down with some regular water and a damp sponge. This is merely to get the dust and grime off of it. Then you carefully towel it dry with a soft cloth or soft paper towel. How take either some store bought Holy oil that you may have purchased from a botanica or perhaps if you’re daring and want to give your iconography some real oomph, try some of my own Kabala oil on it. Rub it into the icon as you pray aloud to the spirit it represents. In this example, we’re using Kukulcan so we may say something like,

“Mighty spirit, Kukulcan! Waxaklahun Ubah Kan! Great feathered serpent who makes the winds blow and the seas froth; Kucumatz, hear me you who helped raise our people to build cities and develop rituals; Quetzacoatl of Venus, you who helped use to learn, to create, to craft; I call upon you to bless and instill in this simple icon a simple mote of your divine power so that I may interact with you and receiving your wisdom and divine blessings.”

Now you pray. Close your eyes and simply pray. Just relax your body and allow your mind to fixate upon your deity until you are in a zone where you have lost all awareness of the world. Your mind is just plugged in because you are imagining yourself before your deity talking to It. Hold the icon in your hands or if it is too big, hold your hands loosely around it as you pray.

At first Kukulcan may show Himself as a man, perhaps a priest wearing a ceremonial dress while standing on the top of his flat pyramid in Chichen Itza. Over time and through continued prayer, He may show you more of Himself and His glory. Often spirits start off humble when showing themselves to prospective new followers and with dedication as well as perseverance the spirit will take things further.

This is how you bond with the spirit. You spend time praying to and interacting with it. The more you do this, the stronger your bond becomes. It is just like when you interact with your ancestors in that you don’t just recite a rote passage to them but you also pour your heart out to them and tell them what it is that afflicts, frightens, or confronts you.

2D Images Will Work

For those of you who are obstinate and refuse to work with any sort of Catholic imagery, then just work with images of Kukulcan on his stone wall, 3D bas reliefs and even his temple is a worthwhile symbol worthwhile enough to interact with the spirit. Remember photographs are thought to capture impressions of psychic residue for wont of a better term. Any one of the following images of Kukulcan would work out well should you need to use something other than a 3D sculpture.




The key with 2D images is that you could dab a bit of Holy or Kabala oil on the edges and center OR you could use some of my own 7 Mighty Men cologne which is perfect for this sort of application! This is because 7 Mighty Men was created by 7 Vodu Barons and this formula gives life to things. Here you put the 7MM into a spray bottle and spray the image before you put it into a photo frame. Then you will offer the photo to the Four Cardinal directions (E, W, N, S - in that order) and present it with the invocation given above or something like it. Then hold the image in the frame and like you were instructed with the sculpture above, close your eyes and pray to the spirit. Spray the image for 21 days with the 7MM and the image becomes a living repository for the deity.

That is essentially how you can really amp up your spiritual practices with images and iconography. From there, it’s a simple matter of researching what your deity/spirit liked as far as foods and drinks, games and entertainment, and so forth. Your deity shrine can become a real place of power if you spend time at it and work with the spirits. This is a method that has worked well for me and others over the years and you should spend time seeing what you can do to fire up your own spirit shrine.

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