Book Review - Emil Stejnar's 'Magic with Astrology'
As the fifth book in the series of the Books of the Master Emil Stejnar published a volume called ‘Magic with Astrology - The Genetic Code of Spirit and Soul’. What follows is my personal review of the first edition of the book in German language. My goal in sharing this review is to make some basic ideas of the path of Gnostic Hermetism accessible for English speakers - as I believe it has considerable value to enrich our Western occult lore. Ultimately I hope these books will be translated and available to a broader international audience soon.
As today little of Stejnar’s teaching is known outside of the German speaking world I took some time for a slightly longer introduction on Emil Stejnar during my previous review of his book on the four elements. I won’t repeat this here and therefore recommend to read this earlier blog post first.
(Note: Should you be interested in publishing Stejnar's work in English please contact Walter Ogris at email@example.com)
The Human Constitutions according to Gnostic Hermetism
Stejnar’s book on Magic and Astrology doesn’t assume the reader already is familiar with the basics of the human constitution according to Gnostic Hermetism. What is explained in depth in his book on the Four Elements is introduced again in a light version and easier language in the first chapters of this book. However, everything that follows, all astrologic innovations that Stejnar shares in this wonderful book are derived from this model of human anatomy. The two central ideas are that:
- not only our physical body but also our subtle body consists of specific organs that hold a designated function. The cellular make up of these organs and their interactions with each other make a central pillar of Gnostic Hermetism.
- Secondly, it is assumed that each organ holds a certain amount of individual consciousness itself. Thus the spirit model of magic is expanded inside of the human anatomy. The work of the mage thus begins with contacting, understanding and ultimately taming these individual beings that reside within himself and create the essential gateways to the spiritual world around him.
In the chart below you can find an abbreviated overview of the human constitution according to Gnostic Hermetism. To understand how these layers of anatomy build on and interact with each other is essential before one can move on to investigate how the spiritual beings of planets and zodiac signs influence our personalities and lives.
Consciousness and the Forces of Fate
After introducing the basic model of human anatomy the early chapters of the book are dedicated to explaining the appropriate consciousness or an effective inner attitude with which to approach the planetary forces that govern our forces of fate.
The focus is on examining the actual question we have on our mind when working with these forces - and how this question reflects our state of consciousness. According to Stejnar the goal of astrology is not at all to predict future events, but to develop a deeper understanding of the inner makeup and potential of ourselves, fellow human beings or moments in time. Rather than looking back and asking ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’ the more effective question is to proactively look ahead and ask ‘What will life be telling me by exposing me to the specific experiences of tomorrow, the next year, etc.?’ The goal is to achieve a state of inner observation and awareness through which life turns into a continuos dialogue between the diversity of forces we are exposed to and in - joyful or painful - contact with and our own I-AM-SELF consciousness.
Parallels are drawn on active dream work and how we can approach our own waking life in a similar fashion. Once we manage to experience the inner coherence of our own life as meaningful as a dream, a myth or a fairytale we have opened the gate to actively work with the planetary forces surrounding us and pervading through our minds and bodies. The process of this gradual awakening to the actual reality of being a spiritual being in a corporeal shell can of course take many lives.
The Planets as Inner Organs
The real value of the book only starts to emerge once Stejnar begins to explain the planets as human inner organs, the Planetaries. Here we hit on a vein of gold that helps the astrological beginner to swiftly grasp the true essence of each planetary force or spirit in connection to their own being.
Personally I have read many books on astrology over many years, worked through several files of occult order materials on astrology and even attended astrology group training for several months. After all these experiences I find Stejnar’s language to be the most concise, yet still vibrant and living explanation of the spiritual beings and organs inside of us. Here is an example:
“Each subtle planetary organ is a living centre of energy. In its function as an integral part of our being (Wesensglied) it possibly can be felt like a split personality. Each organ of our soul has its own desire and fulfills its function in following this pursuit. Its quality will be defined by the four primordial qualities from which its cells are constructed and which determines the direction of its urge:
The personal being of the inner SUN wants to be perceived and acknowledged. It consists of solar cells that glaze, heat and radiate by which they place their own centre into the epicenter of the entire environment they partake in.
The cells of the inner MOON are constructed from the element of water and thus cold and moist, i.e. calm and in motion. The Moon wants to feel, to be influenced, and is both receptive and fluctuant just like our moods and fancies. By following our experiences it starts to realize itself through these as well as through the phantasies it creates about these.” (Stejnar, p.67/68)
By understanding the spirits of the planets as inner organs of our own being their forces and impact on our everyday lives immediately become accessible. Just like we understand how important it is to have a heart well functioning - even though we have never seen it with our own eyes - so we simply get why developing each of these ten functions to its full capacities and in harmony with each other is the fundament to a healthy life - and a well balanced personality.
The Signs of the Zodiac
Congruously the 12 signs of the zodiac are also explained as living spirits. Just like the Planetaries they are driven by an inner urge, a purpose which creates the centre of their being and that they strive to fulfill. However, in difference the signs of the zodiac can only fulfill their drive once they have been activated by a planet. They are matrix like structures that define how certain forces will manifest. Yet, in order to be activated they need to be triggered first by such a force.
“The pure fact of being able to think (Mercury), feel (Venus), want (Mars) and know that one exists (Sun), one owes to one’s personal organs of the planets. Yet, how one thinks, feels, wants and acts, how one loves and hates, how one perceives and ponders, how one desires and does, is defined by the qualities of the cells of the signs of the zodiac, which create the necessary structures for the organs of the planets.” (Stejnar, p.72)
This explains why the planetary beings are rarely observed in their pure unfiltered states. Rather they are clothed in the structures of the signs of the zodiac. These structures, the nature of the 12 signs of the zodiac are in turn explained in such precise and intuitive language that they immediately come to live and offer to be experienced first hand. Here is another example:
“Cells of Aries act like little spring boards, they provide drive and impetus to everything they are touched by. Reflexes of these cells ignite and accelerate and solve all sorts of obstacles. They are always gazing ahead.
Cells of Taurus are best thought of as lumps of earth. Whatever they coat turns heavy, takes form and becomes the soil for further growth and formation. They only look at what is real.
Cells of Gemini have three eyes. Whatever looks through them can - without getting affected itself by it - take an objective view at the two opposite sides of any situation. They are attracted to anything that is new or that takes a new form.” (Stejnar, p.74)
If planets provide the basic charge into a specific direction or a basic capability the signs of the zodiac define how these take form and are brought to life and experienced.
As a logical next step Stejnar explains the astrological houses as the actual areas of life in which both these forces materialize: If the planet Venus enables you to love at all and e.g. the sign of Taurus shapes how you are able to express your love, then the house both of these forces manifest themselves in defines what your love is most attracted towards.
Practicing Astrological Magic
Until this point Stejnar has presented a unique approach to astrology under the premises of Gnostic Hermetism. However, he hasn’t mentioned how to work with these forces consciously and certainly he didn’t expand on how to work with them from a magical point of view. This forms the second part of the book.
Stejnar’s approach on astromagic completely revolves around the concepts of the astrological aspects and transits. What is meant by this are the activations our personal gates of planetary power - as defined by our birth horoscope - through the continued revolution of the planets. Of course this book review doesn’t allow to discuss these concepts in detail. Thus I’ll assume we are all familiar with their basic astrologic functions and meaning.
“In a transit you are always connected with the sphere of the planet in transit. Cells from the planetary sphere of being actively stream into your sphere of consciousness during transit. Thus the genius of the plant talks to you by touching your respective inner organ and tries to make you behave in a certain manner. Similarly you are connected to their sphere by means of the activated inner organ and cells of your own being stream back into the sphere of the planet.” (Stejnar, p.121/122)
This active communion between planets in transits and our own inner being is expanded by another key concept Stejnar introduces. Not only is the planet in transit activated within us through the respective organ, but the 360° of the ecliptic also work as dedicated spirit gates. Here we find the connection to Bardon’s 360 genii of the earthbeltzone and - for the first time - find a full explanation of how these spiritual beings work within us through the mediation of planetary forces.
“The 360 degrees of the ecliptic form the skin of the soul of our consciousness. Each degree turn into a gate to our space of consciousness as soon as a planet passes over it or it is activated by an astrological aspect.” (Stejnar, p.107)
It is at this point that Stejnar starts to deliberately dissolve the line between magic and mysticism and where we realise how far he has left the realm of ritual magic behind: Each time these astrological gates are opened by the transit of a planet or a specific aspect to our birth horoscope we are in direct embrace with the spiritual being that passes through the gate into our inner organs. It is our own level of consciousness, the training and hard work we maintain on ourselves that decides how able we are to realize this contact and to make conscious use of it.
Wether we are passively influenced by the genius of the ecliptic degree or the spirit of the planet - or wether we are able to talk back to them, to create a conscious spirit communion from each moment in time, is entirely up to us. This is the nexus where inner and outer magical work coincide.
“The one who knows the place and the time of any intelligence can easily connect to their being or make conscious use of their organic cells. If in addition to this he knows how to make use of his own birth horoscope and the specific gateways that connect him personally to these realms of powerful beings, his success will be double.” (Stejnar, p.209)
As a simple rule of thumb Stejnar provides the following three questions to interpret and understand the impact and meaning of each transit - or magical communion:
- Which organ is affected or in resonance? Which specific function of my spirit or mind is being influenced or changed, emphasized or irritated?
- Which planetary force is getting involved in the function identified? Which qualities and characteristics are streaming through the opened gate into myself?
- Which reaction (bodily, spiritual, mental) is to be expected in light of the astrological aspect? Beneficial, irritating or challenging?
What Stejnar offers to the reader is the astrological science of the tides of power. Many grimoires detail specific day- and night-hours of their daemons and much time has been spent in comparing versions of these tables across ancient sources. What we find in this book - and in more detail in Stejnar’s Thebaic Calendar - is an infinitely more precise and personalized approach to the same subject. The gates of power are located within ourselves and their keys are held by the stars above us.
The most precious knowledge our early ancestors held was the wisdom of the seasons and how this influenced all their actions as tillers. Knowing how to read formations of clouds, the color of the earth, the change of temperature, the behavior of animals and spirits alike all in service of using the ground when it is most ready to accept and nurture new life, was the most precious and yet occult wisdom they had.
As magicians times are long gone since we had an equally detailed knowledge about the tides of spiritual forces surrounding and within us. Maybe these times even never existed - and we simply created the memory of a better, more magical past for ourselves?
Reconnecting to our land and the tides upon it on can take many forms. We can light a candle outside of our house, we can sit on the grass, hold a stone and ask what they need from us. We can bury ourselves in a coffin in the woods and imagine we turn into earth and reunite with the grounds we have come from. Whatever way we choose for ourselves, it always starts with looking away from ourselves and into the land we live on. I still have this hope that magic at some point - just like the wisdom of the tillers in the past - will turn again into a science and art that is as much about the land we live in as it is about us as human beings who try to find our place within it.
While I am on this journey reading Emil Stejnar’s book on ‘Magic with Astrology’ helped me gain great additional perspective. There is so much richness of living magic waiting for us. There is so much scientific detail of inner subtle cells and planetary organs still to be discovered... At this point, however, the most valuable effect of Stejnar’s book is more on my awareness and less about my actions as a magician.
While I deeply believe astrology has a tremendous effect on our lives, I choose not to regulate or consciously try to control these powers. Reading up charts of planetary tides each morning, aligning my schedule and ritual actions to the tides of celestial gates is certainly a powerful approach to magic. But it is not me. Me, for most of my magical endeavors I simply trust that time and the forces that rule it are smarter than I am.
Whatever needs to come in contact with me, will do so. And rather than continuously trying to control what I touch and feel and love and expose myself to, I am working hard on turning myself into water that can flow through all these experiences like a natural river: Enriched and scented by each encounter, yet never holding on to it.
Life for me is too short to spend so much time on calculating, designing and laying out what I might do next... Instead I try to lead my live like an animal, trying to get back in touch with the instincts, voices and tides around myself. I would make a terrible tiller for sure - and after all these years I know an equally bad astrologer just as well. But knowing what you are not and yet still acknowledging the power these techniques hold, comes with huge inner value. It gives us freedom to choose.