I. Preliminaries


The Holodêmiourgia (Construction of the Whole) is a contemplative exercise or practice (theôrêtikê askêsis) for aligning the energy centers of your soul and infusing Divine Energy into them. The first part (Katagôgê, Descent) draws down Heavenly Power; the second (Anagôgê, Ascent) draws up Earthly Power. It is similar to the well-known Middle Pillar Exercise, but is based on ancient Greek tradition rather than Cabalistic ideas. The structure of this particular version is based on Orphic theogonies and Plato's Timaeus, but incorporates elements from Pherecydes' Theogony, Middle Platonism, Neopythagoreanism, Chaldean Theurgy and the Great Magical Papyrus of Paris (a less eclectic group than it may seem).

The accompanying narrative is intended to make the exercise more comprehensible. It may be read to students to help them understand the practice when guiding them through it at first. For self-instruction, it should be read through several times before attempting the exercise, so that it can be performed without reading. All that needs to be memorized are the visualizations and the "intonations" (epôidai, incantations).


In the following, "to intone" means to vibrate or sing the sounds deep in the appropriate parts of your body; in some cases a pitch is suggested for the sounds (see also the
Appendix "Harmonic Considerations"). It is possible to do the exercise with silent or quiet intonations, but it is not as effective. Each intonation should be done three times, taking a deep breath for each one (several breaths may be necessary for some intonations). Meanings (following "=" signs) are given for the intonations, but they should not be spoken; they are for information only. The voces magicae (magic words, henceforth "v.m.") have no literal meaning. I have provided alternative intonations; in general you have a choice between voces magicae, God-names and philosophical terms. Experiment and decide which works best for you.

Greek words and voces magicae are given in (approximate) Roman transcription and in Beta Code {surrounded by braces}, which is a more exact Roman representation of the Greek alphabet. In Beta Code, accents follow the vowel or diphthong to which they apply, except they precede capital vowels. The accent "/" means a rising tone, "\" a falling tone, and "=" a rising-then-falling tone; the sign "(" means the vowel or diphthong is preceded by an h sound, and ")" means it isn't. For purposes of toning, make the change of tone a full fifth (e.g. do to so). The vowels are pronounced: a {a} = o (as in "not"), e {e} = ay (as in "ray"), ê {h} = (long) eh, i {i} = ee, o {o} = oh, u {u} = ü (German umlauted u, as in für, or Spanish y grec), ô {w} = (long) aw (as in "awe"). The consonants th, ph, kh {q, f, x} are pronounced as aspirated t, p, k, that is, with an extra puff of breath. (Compare Italian c with Scottish or German ch.) Finally, nk {gk} is pronounced ngk, ng {gg} is pronounced ngg and ou {ou} is pronounced oo as in "boot." (See A Brief Guide to Ancient Greek Pronunciation for additional pronunciation suggestions.) Here is some advice from the Greek Magical Papyri on pronouncing the vowels in voces magicae: a {a} "with an open mouth, undulating like a wave"; e {e} "with enjoyment, aspirating it"; ê {h} "like a baboon"; i {i} no advice; o {o} "succinctly, as a breathed threat"; u {u} "like a shepherd, drawing out the pronunciation"; ô {w} no advice.

Return to Holodemiurgia Table of Contents

Return to Biblioteca Arcana page

Send comments about this page
Last updated: Fri Aug 20 12:56:14 EDT 1999