Tempus Eversionis 2023-2024

Companions in Light,

I extend warm solstice greetings to you all! The continual alchemical interplay between Darkness and Light that is our year has come now to its Nigredo phase, and we have entered the Tempus Eversionis: the Tide of Overturning.

During this winter tide we are admonished not to pursue works of practical magick and that this should be a “time of withdrawal, of meditation and of fortitude.” This is a time to get “back to basics” and renew our core personal practices such as warding, fortifying the astral body via the centers of activity, meditation, and solar adorations.

The rationale for not assaying works which require significant movement of the astral light, such as rites intended to produce practical effects, has to do with the perceived diminishment of our physical luminary during this time: the winter solstice marks the point at which the sun is lowest in the sky at noon. Of course this is similar to the caveat against working during the waning of the moon, and indeed the final quarter of the moon has an association with winter in the same way that the new moon does with spring (see The Sword and the Serpent).

Winter has a further ancient association with the north and the final stage of human life (from old age to death). This is well-established by the time of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, where winter is associated with the qualities of coldness and moisture. The nature of the sun is fiery (dry and hot) and therefore the sun is especially afflicted through the winter. Additonally, Sol enters it’s sign of detriment or exile in the winter months of Aquarius (in the Northern Hemisphere) since it is in the opposite sign to Leo, its domicile.

We can further augment our understanding of this seasonal tide from The Book of the Sun, written by Marsilio Ficino in the last years of his life:

“The Sun in its motion distinguishes days from nights and hours and months and years. Likewise by its light and warmth, it generates, quickens, moves, regenerates, fills with breath and cherishes all things which had been hidden; at its first advent it reveals them, and signals the coming and going of the four seasons of the year; and regions which are too remote from the Sun are likewise remote from life.”

Because Sol is undergoing its underworld journey at this time, the regions of birth, growth, and maturity are too remote for the rays of the sun and therefore those activities magically associated with such topics. And yet during this journey through the region of death, the sun has the capacity to elucidate, reveal, and activate things which may have been better left to the darkness. This would seem to be part of the reasoning behind Denning and Phillips’ comments in The Sword and the Serpent:

“To say, as some do, that the Tempus eversionis is appropriate to works of destruction, is more than the present writers dare recommend; it would be rather like saying that the most appropriate place to set off an explosion is in a powder-magazine. Furthermore, so powerful is this Tide that trends set in motion during its course can be actually revitalised by the onset of the Tempus sementis so as to cause distorted and chaotic effects in the spring.”

The Latin word eversionis also carries a meaning of “expulsion.” We can return to Ficino’s De Sole to understand this as it relates to the Sun’s entry into Capricorn on the winter solstice:

“Perhaps Cancer is called the gateway of men, since there the Sun seems on the point of descending; and Capricorn the gateway of the gods, since there the Sun seems to ascend resolutely.”

Just as it was held that the soul of man departed the world through the gate of Capricorn at death in order to begin its return ascent, so too does the entry of Sol into this sign signify its expulsion from the incarnation of the previous year: its symbolic death, as the old year is overturned to make way for the birth of the new.

Thus, the destructive nature of this tide reflects both the victory over death and the triumph of light implicit in the inner attainments of Tiphareth. Ficino writes:

“And finally just as nothing is more alien to the divine light than utterly formless matter, so nothing is more different from the light of the Sun than the earth. Therefore since bodies in which the earthly condition prevails are most unsuited to light, they accept no light within. This is not because the light may be powerless to penetrate – for while this light cannot illuminate inside wool or a leaf, it may however penetrate a crystal in a moment, which cannot be easily penetrated by anything else. Thus the Sun completely fills with light clear and pure natures everywhere, as if they are now, for a moment, heavenly; while those opaque and material natures it first warms and kindles with its light, then refines, and soon illuminates. And sometimes it elevates to the heights through heat and light this matter now made light and accessible. Hence Apollo pierces the dense body of the Python with the stings of his rays, purges it, dissolves it and raises it up. Nor must we forget that in whatever manner we hope that Christ will finally come into his kingdom, resurrecting human bodies from the earth with the splendour of his own body, similarly after the yearly dead winter, we look forward to the Sun’s reign in Aries, which will recall to life seeds of things on earth, as if suddenly reviving dead or half-alive animals to life and beauty. Hence Mercurius, as the arms bearer of the Sun, is said to excite those who sleep with his caduceus, and Plato describes an almost similar resurrection in his book on the Kingdom.”

These themes of illumination or spiritualization of matter – indeed, its sublimation – and of the reciprocal embodiment of light, are core to the Ogdoadic mysteries and signified by the interlaced octagram formed by the white square and the red lozenge upon the Mystical Tessera.

As the Tide of Overturning brings us back to the basics of our practice, let us not forget Denning & Phillips remarks on the significance of “the receptive eye of wonder” as one of our most magical tools (The Triumph of Light), about which Ficino also offers some wisdom in De Sole:

“We inept ones admire too much certain very insignificant things, if only because they are very rare; but blind and ungrateful, we have long since stopped admiring the very great things we used to respect. No one wonders at fire, burning just like the Sun of heaven, pure without being mixed, perpetually in motion, most splendid, which makes a very great show out of nothing, reducing everything to itself. No one wonders at the Sun to the extent that it is right to do so, ruling as it does over everything incomparably, the father and moderator of all things, healing sadness, vivifying things not yet alive and reviving things now dead. Indeed if once every year the home of omnipotent Olympus were to be thrown open, so great a splendour would suddenly be contemplated that everyone would most likely admire the Sun more than they do; they would humbly adore the Sun as the highest God, or at least they would hardly doubt its divine provenance. They would thank God daily as much as possible, as the hidden author of so great a gift. Therefore the Platonists Iamblichus and Julian commanded us to imagine the night without any light from the Moon or stars (by which the gift of the Sun is also manifest) so that we might realise more clearly what we would be without the supernal Sun, and how much we should owe to it.”

One of the most profound practices we can return to with this sense of novelty every day are the solar adorations at sunrise and sunset. Regardless of the words or version of this practice which you use – Egyptian, Isha Upanishad, or the Hymnodia Krypte – I urge you to perform this practice with your eye of wonder fully opened and ready to receive, as Ficino reminds us that Socrates himself did:

“When he was in military service Socrates often used to stand in amazement watching the rising Sun, motionless, his eyes fixed like a statue, to greet the return of the heavenly body. The Platonists, influenced by these and similar signs, would perhaps say that Socrates, inspired since boyhood by a Phoeboean daemon, was accustomed to venerate the Sun above all, and for the same reason was judged by the oracle of Apollo to be the wisest of all the Greeks. I will omit at present a discussion about whether the daemon of Socrates was particularly a genius or an angel – but I certainly would dare to affirm that Socrates in his state of ecstasy had admired not just the visible Sun, but its other, hidden aspect. For since novelty alone encourages admiration, why would Socrates be so amazed at what he saw everyday, whose movement and all power mathematics and physics have for a long time comprehended? According to Plato, he called the Sun not God himself but the son of God. And I say not the first son of God, but a second, and moreover visible son. For the first son of God is not this visible Sun, but another far superior intellect, namely the first one which only the intellect can contemplate. Therefore Socrates, having been awakened by the celestial Sun, surmised a supercelestial Sun, and he contemplated attentively its majesty, and inspired, would admire the incomprehensible bounty of the Father. James the Apostle called this Father the father of light [σελαη γενέτης]; light, I say, more than celestial, in which there is no change or shadow. …

Moreover although the Sun is exceedingly far removed from the Creator of the world, nevertheless all celestial things appear by divine law to lead back to the one Sun, the Lord and regulator of the heavens. And we are made fully aware from this that things which are in heaven, and under heaven, and above heaven, are similarly referred back to the one beginning of all things. And finally considering that, let us worship this one first principle with that same ritual observance that all celestial things give to the Sun.”

May winter’s promise of growing light bring an inner resilience and increasing fortitude to your Work.

EN GIRO TORTE SOL CICLOS ET ROTOR IGNE

In the Light of the Glorious Star,

Derik Richards
Grand Master
Ordo Astrum Sophiæ