Last May, I wrote a post titled “Theurgic Affirmations for the Joyous Mysteries,” the first attempt to explain the Theurgic Rosary that I’ve been practicing since 2017.
(Actually, it’s been a gradual process of evolution since before 2017, that’s when it reached the form I’m using now).
The plan was to write two more posts, one for the Sorrowful and another for the Glorious Mysteries, but somehow that got lost in the ever-growing pile that is my “to do” list. So without further ado, let’s talk about some Rosarian Theurgy!
The “how-to” is already explained in the posts about the Joyous Mysteries linked above, so I’ll just give the Affirmations with a brief explanation:
1. The Agony in the Garden
“I submit myself to the divine will, that I may dominate the wills of the spirits and of the world.”
This is something of an analogue to the First Joyous Mystery, where Mary shows humility when telling Gabriel “Ecce ancillam Domini,” and thus consenting to God’s offer.
Here in the First Sorrowful Mystery, we go beyond imitating Mary’s humility and even beyond the Fourth Joyous Mystery’s call for obedience to Divine Law. Go instead go so far as to subordinate our will completely under the Divine Will, asking as Jesus asked, “Let this cup pass from me,” yet submitting when the cup was nevertheless thrust into our hands.
Yet it is here that we recognize submission is not a one-way street, where we give and God takes. Rather, this submission is a step to annihilating the ego, that with it cast out, God may fill us with His Love, His Knowledge, and His Power in its stead. Hence by submitting ourselves to the Divine Will, we ironically become empty vessels for God to fill with Himself, consequently becoming agents and perhaps even officers in His Kingdom.
If we call to mind the processes of the grimoires and how they almost unanimously call for prayer, fasting, pious works, and moral behavior, we can easily see that the magician’s power (and likewise the exorcist’s power) is based precisely on the subordination of the individual will to the Divine Will, that the magician or exorcist may become a channel of God’s authority as it were, thus able to dominate the wills of the spirits encountered or called.
To “dominate the world” in this affirmation is much in the same way, referring to the imprint of Original Sin left on the world, something we can see every time we turn on the news or read our social media feeds. The dominance we seek is not over other people’s minds or possessions, but rather a dominance over the presence of sin in the world in general and its influence over our lives in particular. This will be the theme of the next two Mysteries.
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
“I have control over my physical urges, that I may manifest my will on the physical plane.”
If the Agony in the Garden is a higher analogue of the Annunciation, then the Scourging is a higher analogue of the Nativity, the Third Joyous Mystery.
In the Nativity, we sought to become indifferent to the physical world and its conditions that we may overcome its limitations. Here in the scourging, we again look to the physical world, but in terms of its influence on us and how we react to it.
Let us be frank. Every last one of us has been horny and may have acted on it unwisely. Every last one of us has wanted to bash someone upside the head with a ball-peen hammer. Every last one of us has done some stupid thing or other that we regretted later on. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
The Second Sorrowful Mystery presents us with an opportunity to confront our stupid actions in the past, to root out what impulse may cause us to keep repeating those actions (Mystical Theology calls it the “Predominant Fault”), to confront this impulse, and get it under control. In fact, the first step of the spiritual life, the Purgative Life, is largely wrapped up in the quest for establishing self-control, and this control begins by learning how not to let the world or your passions get the better of you.
The second part of this affirmation, “that I may manifest my will on the physical plane,” is a reflection of that. When we have control over our urges, we are better able to act in ways that will enable us to attain the things we desire, and want them for the right reasons rather than merely for personal gain.
3. The Crowning with Thorns
“I have control over my thoughts and emotions, that I may manifest my will on the mental and astral planes.”
Much like the Agony in the Garden, this Mystery is also connected to the First and Fourth Joyous Mysteries, because it speaks to our mental states and emotions (humility or pride, obedience or rebellion, etc.).
Just as we’ve all done stupid things, we’ve also all thought stupid things at one time or another, and those stupid thoughts got us into trouble the moment we acted on them. The gift of this Mystery is the opportunity to confront whatever impulse causes us to “get dumb” (like with the Second Mystery, this impulse may likewise be linked with the Predominant Fault), and get it under control for the sake of the greater good.
Now, can we control what thoughts hit our mind at any given time? No, of course we can’t. But what we can control is what we do with a given thought: act on it, sit there and simmer in it, enjoy it, or throw it out of our mind. Just as the Second Mystery seeks to get us on the path of control over our bodies, so the Third Mystery seeks to get us in control over our minds and our emotions as we progress on our spiritual path.
The second part, “manifest my will on the mental and astral planes,” will sound anathema to the average Catholic but is actually a logical result of the Law of Correspondence: “As above, so below.” The Bible itself recognizes this principle in the Epistle to the Hebrews when comparing the copies of heavenly things to the heavenly things themselves (9:23), and here we refer to the domination of our emotional (astral) and intellectual (mental) spheres. As we increase our control over our thoughts and emotions, we cannot help but to increase the control we have over our interaction with the mental and astral realms as a result.
4. The Carrying of the Cross
“I am perseverant in all my works, that I may be successful therein and thereby.”
In the Epilogue to The Magic of Catholicism, I talk about the “Five Keys,” the fifth of which is perseverance. In fact, this fifth key is the one where everybody screws up from time to time, including me.
Perseverance is the result of discipline, the gaining control of oneself in both the physical and mental/emotional arenas. It is also through perseverance that one grows in increased self-discipline, and one’s results become increasingly fruitful. Yet it also become a sort of “level-grinding” experience and certainly not what the average person is looking forward to in terms of their spirituality. (Even more so during periods of desolation!)
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery gives us an opportunity to put our inner child aside, in fact allows us the chance to develop that inner child into our inner adult and (hopefully) thrive on the challenges life sends our way.
5. The Crucifixion
“I forgive others their impurities, that I may be cleansed of my own.”
This is by far the darkest of the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, yet is a higher analogue of the Fifth Joyous Mystery with its seeking to be filled with Christ’s Knowledge, Love, and Power. The reason here is that to be filled with Christ’s attributes is to identify with Christ more and more, even to the point of identifying with (and gladly accepting) his own self-sacrifice on the Cross.
But why did the Crucifixion happen in the first place? For the forgiveness of sin, both personal and ancestral. In light of this forgiveness, we here have the opportunity (and each of these affirmations is an opportunity!) to come face-to-face with whatever hardness exists in our own hearts, a hardness which prevents us from being filled completely with that knowledge, love, and power we spoke of in the Finding at the Temple.
Let’s call to mind, for example, the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-25). The servant was forgiven by his master, but refused to forgive a fellow-servant; we can skip to the end to see how that turned out. The mystery here is that the question of sin and forgiveness is a question of rejecting or accepting being filled with God’s presence, and also a question of sympathy: we must treat others the way we wish to be treated.
(In this light, the Golden Rule can itself be seen as a formula for sympathic magic, but that’s outside the scope of this blog post.)
When we act the way we wish to be acted upon, it sends a signal that we are ready for and receptive to purification with more than just our words, but with our entire being. Hence our entire being becomes progressively more receptive to being filled with that “knowledge, love, and power” we spoke of before, and with each of those being tempered by the other two, we learn to see, to feel, and to act rightly with what we’ve been given.
This, in a nutshell, is the theurgic purpose both of the exoteric moral teaching and of the Mystery of the Crucifixion, in that these serve to fashion us into vessels for the regeneration that will be a theme for the Glorious Mysteries.
That’s It! (This Time Around)
If anything, the Sorrowful Mysteries are an exercise in self-control, in purification, and in preparation for renewal. In fact we’ll find that constant renewal is important on our spiritual path, particularly when we find ourselves feeling “down,” or in periods of desolation, or are lacking the will to carry on further. These are the Mysteries to which we should appeal in these circumstances, the spiritual fruits of which can provide us with the strength to carry on.
Next, we’ll talk about the theurgic affirmations for the Glorious Mysteries, bringing this series to a close!