Burning Up or Burning Down

Last night I went to the pub with some friends, because it was Tuesday and I work from home on Wednesdays, so what else was I supposed to do?  (Be responsible, do some reading, do some chores, etc., but I never made claims to be a responsible boring adult.)  Because it was cold and Tuesday (the day of Mars), I took along two little magical trinkets of mine: a fire agate pendant I’ve made into a home for a fire elemental I’ve befriended and a large chunk of citrine quartz that a friend gave me, which houses a golden-light-cat spirit or something.  Having them around, plus chatting with my HGA on the walk to the pub, was interesting and they all got to know each other a little more closely.  I had asked for their opinions on the interaction of Fire and Light in terms of magic and the cosmos, and the resulting chat was pretty interesting.  (I apologize if my thoughts below aren’t particularly clear, but I’m still sleepy.)

First, some mundane observations.  All things can potentially burn.  Fire is present in all things, whether as potential energy or combustible materials within a substance, though it might take more work to get something particular to burn than something else.  When things burn, they emit light and heat, and can cause other things nearby to catch on fire.  Fire cannot take place without some gas, however, such as oxygen, which can also double as the necessary fuel if one desires a short but large fire, as opposed to a slow but controlled and small fire burning on a piece of wood.  Controlled fire, fed and tamed appropriately, can be a huge boon to those who know how to use it; uncontrolled fire can be disastrous and dangerous to anything and everyone around.

In terms of the occult, although fire produces light, Light is the cause of Fire.  When something burns and shows its Fire, it’s really the underlying Light that’s being revealed, whether in terms of activity or desire or nature.  Light shines and is shown into the world by actually accomplishing one’s will, which has the underlying cause of working out the Will of the One Thing, which reveals its undifferentiated Light when accomplished.  Fire is not undifferentiated, and it itself is not the One Thing, nor is it a quintessential element; Fire is just one of the four elements that make up our little niche of the cosmos on Earth.  However, it is the highest, lightest, and Lightest thing we have, and is closely associated with the Light that comes from above.

As the most volatile element, Fire burns, and in burning also consumes matter.  When Fire burns, it can burn in one of two ways: up or down.  In either case,  matter and the other elements are consumed for a certain purpose, a certain direction, a certain intent, a certain Will.  Burning up will result in illumination and enlightenment, and requires the consumption of material reality in order to achieve this.  This is like the Fire of the Sun and the process of K&CHGA, which often has the side effect of burning up all the bad parts, dark parts, and nasty parts of one’s life to achieve a better one.  This is a good kind of burning, though the heat can burn and blister, because one reaches a higher state than one was previously at.

On the other hand, one can also burn something down; unlike the previous kind of Fire which burns with the intent to reach a higher end, Fire can also burn to reach a lower end, which burns material reality for the sake of material reality.  Unlike cracking a few eggs to make an omelette, transforming something base into something more rarefied, this is like trying to violently fight with someone to achieve friendship, or fucking one’s way into being a virgin.  This sort of action tries to consume material goods to produce it, which can have that effect but at a greater cost than one might otherwise pay.  I’m reminded of what Frater RO says about working with Goetia: “you get everything you asked for, and nothing you want”.  That’s because Fire doesn’t want to move down, it wants to go up; this is why it always reaches skyward towards the Sun and the Stars, and why some groups like the Zoroastrians consider Fire to be holy.  When Fire is aimed and forced downward, it’s forced into more fuel than it would need to achieve something higher, which then causes the Fire to consume everything nearby.  In other words, it’s a lot of effort with not a lot of payoff, if there’s any appreciable payoff to be had.  In this sense, this is the kind of Fire associated with Mars, which discriminates between the useful and useless, the worthy and the worthless, and cuts out anything that is not absolutely necessary in the cosmos.  However, this kind of burning is controlled by a strategist; when used by a berserker, there isn’t any discrimination to be had, and all things are up for destruction.

The difference between burning up and burning down is really a matter of purpose.  Each element is associated with a certain direction of motion (in addition to a cardinal direction): Fire goes up, Air moves around or expands, Water goes down, and Earth stays put or contracts.  When an element is moved or made to move in a direction according to its nature, things go well; when not, things suck.  One wouldn’t use Water to dry something out or use Earth to heat something up; these are things not proper to their natures.  Likewise, when using Fire for low ends, one is going to have to face the kind of burning associated with a chaotic war; when using Fire for high ends, one gives up the fuel that’s most readily burned and illuminated before the Fire can do much at all.  The most ready fuel for Fire is the dark matter that it tried to escape from, much as in the cosmogony that Poemander showed Hermes Trismegistus; only by using what we can give up as fuel for Fire can we ascend, but when using Fire for low ends, one has to deal with the chaotic and destructive nature of unnatural Fire.


About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

One Response to Burning Up or Burning Down

  1. Pingback: Getting Burnt by the Stars, part 4: Why, Daddy, Why? « The Digital Ambler

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