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By David Cherubim. Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.
Guitar playing is a Spiritual Art, for it is a musickal form of both Magick and Alchemy. It is a creative manipulation of the Elements of Nature and an artistic transmutation of Universal Forces through the skillful use of the hands and sound. It effects changes in both the player and the listener. With a proper understanding of both the technical and spiritual aspects of playing the Guitar, one is able to use the Guitar as an efficient instrument of the Will to create internal and external changes. The Guitar has its own Science, both conventional and unconventional in kind, and for the most part we are concerned here with the unconventional or rather spiritual and occult aspect of it all. For the serious and dedicated Guitarist, learning to play and master the Guitar represents The Path or Way of Enlightenment of which there is no end. Ultimately, playing the Guitar represents the Path to Spiritual Perfection. The Guitarist is always a Neophyte or Student on this Path. To become a master of the Guitar, relatively speaking, is to always be a Student of the Guitar, continually learning and growing with the instrument. The master never thinks of him or herself as a master, but rather as the eternal Student on whatever Path he or she is walking in life. We are all students here on this little green earth. Now the Guitar in its fundamental form is in the shape of a woman's body. This is significant from both the Occult and Psychological point-of-view. For Woman represents the Psyche or Soul of Nature, and the Guitar therefore symbolizes this same Divine Principle, called Neschamah in the Esoteric Science of the Qabalah. Neschamah, or the Universal Soul, pertains to the third Sephira called Binah (Understanding) on the Tree of Life in the Spiritual Wisdom of the Qabalah. This is the Sephira of the Goddess BABALON, who is the Divine Archetype of Woman in Magickal Philosophy. The Guitar is the musical symbol of BABALON. The Guitar is a Weapon of Musick for the Goddess BABALON. It is a Mystical Axe, a Divine Bow, a Spiritual Sword, and a Magickal Gun, but the only bullets fired from this gun are nirvanic sounds of Musick to which we are all defenseless. No one can escape the beauty and majesty and mystery of the melodies and harmonies and colors of Guitar Musick. We can all be penetrated and entranced by a Guitar song. It is the perfect musical instrument, capable of penetrating the very Soul of us all. By use of the English Qabalah, the words Musick and Guitar both produce the same number 456. According to the Esoteric Science of Gematria, which is based on the relative numerical values of words (that is, words and/or phrases with the same numerical value can be related or linked with each other), the words Musick and Guitar are linked. The fruit of the Guitar is Musick, which is the Language of the Gods, their Voices made manifest on earth, linking humanity to their Universal Spirit through Sound. (Note: My use of the letter "k" on the end of the word music is to represent a special number by use of the Hebrew Qabalah. By use of this ancient system of numerology, the word Musick produces the number 156. 156 is also the number of BABALON, who is the Goddess of Musick. The word Musick also represents music approached from a magickal perspective. In the Hebrew Qabalah, the letter "k" represents the number 11, which is the number of Magick in and of itself.)
According to Mythology, which represents the activities of the Spiritual Forces of Nature, the creator of the first type or form of the Guitar (called the Lyre) was Hermes. Hermes is also credited in Greek Mythology with inventing the first Plectrum (Pick), Syrinx or Pan-Pipes, and also the Flute. He is a God of Musick. In Occult Philosophy, Hermes is the Greek mythological type (or equivalent) of the Roman God Mercury and the Egyptian God Thoth (Tahuti). That is, all three of these Gods represent the same Spiritual Force of Nature (symbolized by the Planet Mercury in Astrology). Hermes-MercuryThoth is also identified as the Lord of Magick and Alchemy. As stated above, Guitar playing is a musical form of both Magick and Alchemy. Historically, the first form of the Guitar dates back to ancient Babylonia, but the actual roots of the Guitar (as we know it today) are in Spain, and it is an evolution of other stringed instruments from other parts of the world. In A.D. 711 the Moors (Dark Muslims) invaded Spain from North Africa bringing with them a stringed instrument which, after being integrated with other similar stringed instruments, developed into the classical Guitar (as we know it today) during the 19th Century. The classical Guitar - and its consequent classical sounds - is the foundation of the Spirit of the Guitar. From the classical Guitar developed the acoustic folk Guitar which became an integral part of the Musick of the African American Blues players (Blues is the primary core of Rock 'n' Roll or Rock Musick) during the early part of the 20th Century. Then, born out of the mother of necessity, the acoustic Guitar transformed into the revolutionary invention of the Electric Guitar. And the Electric Guitar became the very essence and driving force of 20th Century Musick, which it continually defined and redefined, and it continues to do so into our own apocalyptic 21st Century. It gave to all of us a whole new form and era of Musick and it has now become the most played instrument in the world. There is a collective, magickal and spiritual significance attached to the Electric Guitar. For the Spiritual Guitarist, it is the numinous Instrument of Lucifer, the Hammer of Thor, the Thunderbolt of Zeus, the Caduceus of Hermes, the Sword of the Warrior, the Stone of the Philosophers, and the Wand of the Magician. It has become the major Weapon of Sound in Musick and a dynamic symbol for the Spirit of Freedom and Independence since around the middle of the 20th Century, and it will continue to do so into the future! The image of the Electric Guitarist (or Guitar Hero) has influenced and inspired innumerable individuals all over our little planet, and this prevailing image has become linked with Magick and the Occult by various famous Electric Guitarists. For instance, we have Jimmy Page, who has inspired thousands of individuals to play the Electric Guitar and to study the works of the famous Magician and Occultist Aleister Crowley. (The Beatles included Aleister Crowley on the cover of their album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," Ozzy Osbourne sang about Aleister Crowley in a song called, "Mr. Crowley," and so on.) Jimmy Page was a serious collector of Crowley artifacts and books, and he even purchased and owned for many years the Boleskine house on the south-eastern shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, which was once the magickal residence of Aleister Crowley. And there have been other famous Guitar Heroes who have linked the Electric Guitar with Magick and the Occult or some other form of the Spiritual Path, including Jimi Hendrix, who was once actually defined as an Alchemist by another renowned Electric Guitarist of his time. This same guitarist stated that what Hendrix did with the Electric Guitar was magickal. Hendrix was, however, more than an Alchemist of the Electric Guitar. He was also an Alchemist of Sound. And his message was Spiritual. He believed that Musick will one day become the main source for people's spiritual inspiration, guidance and direction. To Hendrix, Musick represented the Universal Religion which embraces the essence of every Religion and which transcends all boundaries and limitations of time and space. Hendrix was way ahead of his time, both musically and spiritually, and his musickal influence has been, and continues to be, infinitely immense!
Now there are twenty-two frets on the Electric Guitar (not including the so-called open fret), and these may be linked with the twenty-two Trumps or Atus from the Book of Thoth (22 Major Arcana of Tarot or the Tarot Cards 0-XXI) and the twenty-two Paths on the Qabalistic Tree of Life which symbolize the Elemental, Astrological and Planetary Forces of the Universe. It should also be noted that in Occult Numerology the number twenty-two represents the Circle of Infinity. The mystical fretboard of the Electric Guitar can be compared to a Circle of Infinity, containing as it does a variety of sounds which may be manipulated in a variety of ways to produce an infinite variety of Musick. The Electric Guitar has six strings in all. Six is the sacred number of the Sun, who, in Greek Mythology, was represented by Apollo, the Greek God of Musick and Poetry. The first type of Guitar (Lyre) created by Hermes was given to Apollo who then became a Master of the instrument and it also became one of his sacred symbols. Now in magickal symbolism the Sun is primarily a masculine or Male Force, thus the Guitar, though it has the body of a female and represents the feminine or Female Force (the Moon), it also, by extension of the Six Strings, contains within itself the Male Force, as Yin contains Yang in the Oriental Philosophy, or as the Neschamah of the Qabalah contains the Chiah. The Guitar proper is both the body and the strings of the instrument. Without the strings, the body of the Guitar can produce no Musick. Also, note in this connection the phallic shape of the Guitar neck upon which the hand moves up and down; it is a masculine symbol attached to and united with a feminine form (the Guitar body). The Guitar proper is both Yin and Yang, Female and Male, Moon and Sun, Darkness and Light, and so on down the list of Complementary Forces. It is the unity of these two essential parts of the Guitar that makes Musick! There are seven Natural Tones or Notes in Musick and, with the five Sharps and Flats (the so-called Accidental Notes), we have Twelve Tones in all that we can play in various positions and octaves on the Electric Guitar. Both the numbers, seven and twelve, have great significance in Magick, Alchemy, Astrology, the Qabalah, Yoga, and in other Esoteric Systems and Philosophies and Religions. They are universally sacred numbers and they cover a lot of divine ground. But for now, regarding the seven Natural Tones (A, B, C, D, E, F and G), it should be noted that they correspond with the seven Colors of the Spectrum, the seven Chakras of Yoga, the seven Metals of Alchemy, and with the Sun, Moon, and the Planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. (The five Sharps and Flats [A#/Bb, C#/Db, D#/Eb, F#/Gb and G#/Ab] correspond with the five Elements of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit.) Also, in all, the twelve tones correspond with the twelve Zodiacal Signs of Astrology (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces) which, like the Sun, Moon and Planets, represent Spiritual Forces of Nature. Playing any of the twelve notes on the Electric Guitar, melodically or harmonically, is a musickal invocation of the mystical colors and spiritual energies of the Sun, Moon and Planets, and the Astrological and Elemental Forces of Nature. Of primary importance for the Spiritual Guitarist is the knowledge of the five Elements of Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Spirit, and their magickal relation to the fingers on the hands, particularly on the hand that is dancing upon the mystical fretboard of the Guitar. The thumb is linked to Spirit, the index finger is linked to Water, the middle finger is linked to Earth, the ring finger is linked to Fire, and the pinky finger is linked to Air. The thumb of Spirit acts as a support for the creative activity of the four Elements on the Guitar fretboard. On the other hand, the thumb of Spirit, combined with the index finger of Water, holds the pick that strums or plucks the Guitar strings to give it sound. Any of the other fingers on this same hand can be used to pluck the strings, with or without holding the pick, and they have the same Elemental significance as the fingers used on the other hand.
Also, there is an occult and magickal link between all ten fingers of both hands and the ten Sephiroth on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah, and also with the Sun, Moon and Planets. The right thumb corresponds with the first Sephira called Kether and the Planet Pluto; the left thumb corresponds with the tenth Sephira called Malkuth and the Planet Earth (World of the Elements); the right index finger corresponds with the second Sephira called Chokmah and the Planet Uranus (also called Herschel); the left index finger corresponds with the ninth Sephira called Yesod and the Moon; the right middle finger corresponds with the third Sephira called Binah and the Planet Saturn; the left middle finger corresponds with the eighth Sephira called Hod and the Planet Mercury; the right ring finger corresponds with the fourth Sephira called Chesed (or Gedulah) and the Planet Jupiter; the left ring finger corresponds with the seventh Sephira called Netzach and the Planet Venus; the right pinky finger corresponds with the fifth Sephira called Geburah and the Planet Mars; and lastly, the left pinky finger corresponds with the sixth Sephira called Tiphareth and the Sun. Using any one of these fingers on the Guitar is a way to express the Sephirotic, Solar, Lunar or Planetary Energies. The invisible eleventh Sephira on the Tree of Life, called Daath, whose corresponding Planet is the mystical Neptune (or alternatively Uranus), does not relate to any finger on the physical hands, but rather to the invisible astral Hand that moves the two physical hands into motion on the Guitar. Now the left and right Hands of the Guitarist are physical symbols and channels for the Spiritual and Qabalistic Forces of OB and OD (Yin and Yang of the Oriental Philosophy). OB and OD are represented by the twin Serpents on the Hermetic symbol of the Caduceus. The Caduceus is the Wand of Hermes. In the center, at the summit of Hermes' Caduceus, shines a Golden Globe of Glory which represents the Qabalistic Force of AOUR (Tao of Oriental Philosophy). AOUR is both the secret source and the divine product of the balanced interplay of the Universal Forces of OD and OB or Light and Darkness. OB, OD and AOUR also correspond with the following: the Sun, Moon and Planet Mercury in the ancient Science of Astrology; the three Occult Principles of the Mystical Art of Alchemy, called Sulphur, Salt and Mercury; the three Gunas (Elemental Qualities or Principles of Nature) of Raja Yoga, called Rajas (Activity), Tamas (Passivity), and Sattva (Equilibrium); the three Elemental Mother Letters of the Hebrew or Angelic Alphabet, which are called Aleph, Mem and Shin; and the three popular Aristotelian or Magickal Elements of Fire, Water and Air. OB, OD and AOUR also correspond with the subtle nature and different functions of the two cerebral hemispheres of the human brain and their integrated and balanced activity in the human body or Temple of Spirit. From a Psychological point-of-view, OB, OD and AOUR can be linked with the Subconscious, Conscious and Super-Conscious (or Cosmic Conscious) modes of mentation. OB, OD and AOUR can also be related to the Jungian psychological concepts of the Anima and Animus and the enlightening or taoistic psychological effect of their active integration in the human Psyche. In Occult symbolism, when the elements of Fire (OD) and Water (OB) are united and balanced, they produce Air (AOUR), which is the Element of Mercury, both the God and Planet. Mercury (Mercurius) is another name, and a symbol for, the Lapis Philosophorum or Philosopher’s Stone of the Mystical Art of Alchemy, also called Lapis Mercurius or the Stone of Mercury. (I refer you to my book, "Alchemy: The Black Art," for more information in this regard.) In spiritual terms, the Lapis Mercurius symbolizes the True Self (the Qabalistic Yechidah) and/or its True Will (the Qabalistic Chiah). Both Mercury (the God) and the True Will are represented in Tarot by the Atu of Thoth called The Hermit, who is actually an image of the ancient Egyptian God called Thoth (Tahuti), and whose physical symbol of creative expression is the Hand (Yod of the Qabalah). In Aleister Crowley's Tarot of Thoth, the Hand of the Hermit is located in the center of the picture of the Hermit card (Atu IX). For the hand is the central creative instrument of the True Will. (In the Led Zeppelin movie, "The Song Remains the Same," Jimmy Page identified and linked himself with the mystical image of The Hermit of Tarot. This image has thus become a virtual symbol of his identity in the musickal world.)
Guitar playing can also be linked with certain principles in the Martial Arts, which is more than a physical art form, but also a Spiritual Philosophy for the true Warrior. This includes, more so than most realize, the Art of Karate. Let us, for example, consider the Ki and Kata. The sounds produced from the Guitar are a projection of the Ki of the Guitarist. Ki is the Energy of the Soul and the Soundless Sound within the Guitarist, the actual spiritual source of the Musick that s/he projects. Ki can also be defined (and realized) as "feeling" and "spirit" or, in more musickal terms, "expression" or "emotion." (Emotion is a state of feeling.) Learning to properly play on the Guitar fretboard is primarily the result of learning to effectively play the Scales and Chords of Musick on the Guitar with feeling, spirit, expression or emotion. The Scales and Chords are similar to the Kata (Martial Arts Ritual) done with the hand and fingers. The enemy is, of course, none other than the self. (The real enemy is within.) And the weapon of the Guitarist is his or her Guitar which is primarily mastered through the Guitar Kata (Scales and Chords). The Martial Arts is "Moving Zen" or Active Meditation. The same is true when playing the Guitar. As every experienced Guitarist will testify, playing the Guitar is a meditation or act of Yoga unto itself, one in which both subject and object disappear from consciousness, and Musick is the result. (I refer you to the book, "Zen Guitar," by Philip Toshio Sudo, which will give you a more expanded view point of the metaphorical relationships between Guitar playing and the Martial Arts. This book is one of a kind and worth every penny you will pay for it.) Lastly, Musick is a spiritual, mystical and magickal art form. It originated as such and slowly developed through time into a theoretical and technical Science. As with any art form thus developed, it lost a large portion of its spiritual orientation and has become, for the most part, a rather mundane art form practiced by unenlightened folk. But the Scales of Karma must be balanced: the spiritual aspect of Musick must arise from the darkness, and Musick will become more of what it is intended to be, that is a creative means for the Universal Spirit to express itself and a powerful means for humanity to invoke and receive the divine Guidance and Illumination of the Spirit, and it will naturally become a Way to Enlightenment itself for both the inner and outer circles of men and women. Magick and music will once again combine, becoming one, and humanity will be raised higher on the Mystic Mountain of Illumination. The main musickal instrument in this spiritual evolutionary process will prove to be the Electric Guitar, as it has already proven itself to be in the past couple of decades. Many yet unknown effects and means for playing the Electric Guitar will manifest in the future by Magicians and Alchemists and Wizards and Warriors of the Electric Guitar, adding to its already existing vast treasure house of unique and powerful sound, and it will come to be recognized as one of the greatest weapons and instruments of power in the shaping of the New Age of Freedom that is now upon us!
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