The Hand as Instrumentum Magicum – Five spaces of sacramental embodiment | Excerpt from Entering the Desert: Pilgrimage to the Hinterlands of the Soul

“Lead me from unreal to the Real,

 Lead me from darkness to light,

Lead me from death to immortality.”

 –  Brihadaranyaka Upanishad


Upon entering the inner desert of the soul and navigating the outer desert of the world, the concepts of “mind” and “body” dramatically expand and are symbolized by the magical instrument of the desert gnostic: the hand. Within the esoteric environment of the desert, the hand functions as a sorcerous tool for gnostic topography and exploration.  

There are no distinct and clear boundaries in which the mind and the body function separately rather a diverse array of atmosphere interpenetrate in quantum strangeness, each one influencing the other in alchemical symbiosis. The five fingers of the hand represent the five atmospheres of desert gnosis:

The corporeal realm (the physical body)

The realm of physical space (the surrounding environment)

The realm of conditioned perceptions (current beliefs about the self and the surroundings)

The realm of accumulating experience ( day to day spontaneous experience of images and verbal inputs which accumulate in the space of the mind / body)

The realm of the emotions (spontaneous reactions to all other respective realms and ongoing experiential awareness)

Just as the hand needs all five fingers to function effectively, the human consciousness needs all five atmospheres of awareness in order to achieve an integral alchemical transformation. Each atmosphere may have a unique expression or “life” which can function independently of the other respective atmospheres however the ideal alchemical experience occurs when all five realms function in an integral symbiosis.

From a mundane perspective these atmospheres hover around and often occlude the solar radiations of the Soul. However from an esoteric perspective, the atmospheres are literally emanations of the Soul, atmospheres which contain reflections and scintillations of the sacramental light of the Soul which burns away all traces of mirage.

The realm of corporeal manifestation is a fundamental environment for the desert gnostic, the essential fertile ground of all alchemical transformation; the desert gnostic does not deny the corporeal but rather acknowledges it as the fundamental milieu of spiritual incubation. The corporeal realm must be one in which the desert pilgrim feels confident, strong and comfortable, there is no denying the flesh in the desert.

The physical body is the alchemical womb of the senses which function as doorways to the Soul; the physical body becomes the desert laboratory wherein the senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste all function as revelatory voices crying out in the night of the desert. The corporeal realm literally embodies the terrestrial awareness. Any attempts to deny this or decry this leads to a radical cognitive dissonance and an escapist fantasy built upon imagination. Therefore this realm must be embraced and accepted before one can venture into the deeper realms of esoteric awareness. The denial of this corporeal acceptance is perhaps the greatest root of the manifestation of the mirage.

Entering the Desert – Image courtesy of the Occult of Personality Podcast

To protect the primordial empowerment of the subtle vision, the devotee must begin to envision all personal expressions as sacramental acts resonating from the inner chambers of the Soul out into the world of embodiment. The desert gnosis utilizes the hand as instrumentum magicum to represent the five spaces of sacramental embodiment, a living elemental symbol of protection and sacred remembrance which the devotee uses to live in constant awareness of the sanctity of the gift of Sacramental Vision.

The five spaces of sacramental embodiment are reflected in the opened hand of the desert gnostic, the spreading of the fingers representing the exteriorization of awareness as it enters the mundane world in search of primordial cosmic memories, the inner flame of subtle sight radiating out from the open palm. The devotee carries this ritual instrument within his own body, no need for external ritual encumbrances or flamboyant expressions of mystical arrogance.

The devotee becomes the sacrament, the corporeal becomes the ritualized space of sacramental awareness.


Entering the Desert: Pilgrimage to the Hinterlands of the Soul (Anathema Publishing, 2017)


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