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4- Basic Principles of Theurgy


The Gods, which exist as Henads in the Monad (see Part III), proceed outward into manifestation, thereby becoming Living Ideas in the Nous of the Demiurge and giving rise to a lineage of Daimones and mortal human souls (see "Pythagorean Succession" on the first page). These Ideas descend through the World Soul, who births them into time and space to inform the material world. Thus all around us and in our souls we find the Forms and Ideas belonging to the Seirai(Chords) of the Gods; they are the material and means of theurgy, and our next topic.


Sumbola and Sunthêmata

When things that are enformed by the divine Ideas, whether they are found externally in physical reality or internally in psychical reality, are used in theurgy, they are called sumbola or sunthêmata. These words are often translated "symbols" and "tokens" or "signs," but we will understand better their role in theurgy if we begin by looking at their meanings in ancient Greek.

A súnthêma is something put together or devised (suntithêmi), an agreed upon signal, password, passport, indeed any token or sign. More generally, sunthêmamay refer to a pledge, covenant, or agreement, or to tokens of these relations. Further, it may refer to a communion or connection between two parties. Thus, in the context of theurgy a sunthêma is a password or sign, given to us by the Gods, in token of and to facilitate our communion with Them. Reread the preceding definition and try to grasp the full meaning of sunthêma, for it will help you understand the role of sunthêmata in theurgy.

A súmbolon brings together (sumballein) two things. We may begin with the most concrete meaning: in ancient times the parties to an agreement might break an astragalos (small bone), ostrakon (pottery shard), or coin into two pieces; the two parts, each retained by one of the parties, fit together like lock and key. So also a seal impression in wax or clay, such as made by a signet ring, is a sumbolon, a good metaphor (oft-repeated in antiquity) for the impression of the Forms on matter. The Material Form or Embodied Idea is the signature or imprimatur reflecting the sanction of the God. The sumbolon is a sign of goodwill, and thus in theurgy of a God's goodwill. The signet ring and like sumbola are proofs of identity, the passwords and secret signs that allow one to proceed and, in a theurgic context, to approach and contact the Gods. Such a password might take the form of signum and responsum, and so also in theurgy there is an interchange of signs. The God teaches the Signs; if the theurgist responds appropriately, they are admitted. So also, the sumbolon becomes a token of the agreement, treaty, or contract between the parties; here, between the God and theurgist. In particular, the sumbolon as secret sign leads to its meaning as allegory, omen, portent, or occult sign, and in these meanings we arrive at the Engli