And so we are at the end of our journey, or is that the beginning? Certainly we have reached the final of the Five Pagan Virtues with To Go. Because I started this series of posts with ‘nothing to say’ the transition between To Keep Silent and To Go may appear to be disjointed in comparison to other posts so I will begin with a short bridging comment here rather than edit the original post.
The fourth virtue of Silence refers both to the act of keeping silent and the knowledge of when to speak out and when to hold your tongue however when viewed as part of a greater cycle of learning it is the point at which we are encouraged to take a moment and prepared before moving ahead. Take some time in silence to gathere what has been learnt in the preceeding steps and cycles and gain clarity of understanding the actions you are about to take as you Go forward.
To Go was added to the original Four Powers of the Sphinx by Allister Crowley. The concept is explained over a series of publications before being fully revealed in Liber Aleph.
As with the preceeding four powers I am not going into detail about Crowley’s work and expansion of the Powers of the Sphinx. For that level of detail I would direct you to read Michael Osiris Snuffin work. Instead I’m going to offer my personal interpretation of its practical application in paganism, although I will refer to Crowley where appropriate.
To Go represents the point of transformation, the ending of one cycle of experience and learning and the beginning of another. We go forth with our knowledge, willingness and daring, tempered with the insight and circumspect of silence, and put everything in to practice. As a result we evolve as magical practitioners and as individuals, achieve new levels of understanding and direction for our resumption of the cycle. We go forth and practice what we have learnt and move forward in our understanding. For me, this is a virtue of movement.
Crowley and Lévi viewed the process of progressing through the virtues in a slightly different way. Rather than perceiving a never ending cycle of learning they saw what Crowley described as ‘To Go’ as being the pinnacle achievement supported by the preceeding four stages. According to them once a practioner had achieved mastery and harmony over of To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent then it became possible for them to achieve the fifth.
Keep in mind that Crowley considers the four Powers to be “Forces of Nature, each in its Balanced Strength” (Aleister Crowley, Liber Aleph) as represented by the four components that make up the Sphinx itself as well the four classic elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Crowley explains in Magick Without Tears and The Book of Thoth that the achievement of the fifth power is wholly dependant on achieving the preceeding four and the practitioner will achieve understanding and mastery of the God within.
Whilst I acknowledge that we all contain within our spirit a spark of the divine, and see the cycle of the Five Virtues as being an effective means of connecting with this force I think it limiting to our spiritual development to view this as a one off cycle. This might not be the intention of Crowley and Lévi originally but it was something that I took away from my reading.
For me the Five Pagan Virtues form a cycle of learning and develop which can endlessly repeat itself as we learn about ourselves and our magical practices as much as a formula for achieving the Divine. For me the next step would be to return to the East and the virtue of To Know. It’s a time to read and review the previous cycle and move forward, either by practicing and learning from mistakes or picking up new areas of learning and experience.
This brings me to the end of this series of posts and I hope you have enjoyed reading this series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Other series are either planned or are in motion already so watch the top bar for changes.