Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Moon Letters

[This is the 13th of my April A-Z Challenge series of posts on Symbols, Glyphs, and Sigils. Each day I'll try to include some material that old-school role-playing gamers will find useful, but I can't guarantee that there won't also just be a few posts filled with weirdness for the sake of weirdness....]

It's full-on geekiness here at the blog today for some J. R. R. Tolkien action... In The Hobbit, our heroes learn that their treasure map has some hidden writing on it -- writing that only becomes visible when held up so the Moon's light shines through it.  (And it's got to be the same Moon-phase and season as when the words were first written with a magic silver pen...)

So today's symbolism isn't so much the runes of Tolkien's invented languages, but the idea of the rays of a celestial body "activating" a bit of time-sensitive magic down here on Earth.  This of course can cross over into various interpretations of astrology.  Also, the Theosophists often get all rainbowy with their seven rays shining down on us and correlating with the classical planets.

A few days ago, I talked about the British Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and its eclectic Victorian wizardry.  They taught their advanced initiates some very literal "ray theory" when showing them how to do magical alchemy.  Their "Z-2" document contained a step-by-step procedure for creating the philosopher's stone (correlated with the steps of their Neophyte initiation ritual... i.e., the alchemist is "initiating" the dead matter and enlightening it to a higher level!)  The process involved exposing the ingredients to the rays of the Sun and Moon at precise times. Some practical alchemists have picked nits with the details given in the Z-2 paper, but French Golden Dawn scholar Jean-Pascal Ruggiu says not to dismiss them so quickly:
Another discrepancy of the Z.2 document with other secret operative alchemical works concerns the exposure of the matter to sunlight and moonlight, the sequences which are not correct. However, the mere fact that this process is given proves that the author of the Z.2 document was really well instructed in the mysteries of Alchemy, because this indication was never revealed in published texts (although it was often shown in many plates). Indeed, the action of light upon the matter, and above all, how and when it has to be applied, is one of the main secrets that the Philosophers reveal only to their pupils after due initiation and under oath. Fulcanelli gave a very good definition of Alchemy as being "the art of transmutation of the matter by the power of light."
Who's energizing who here?
Kind of also makes me think of various flavors of light therapy and color therapy!  After all, if the Golden Dawn could take their initiation rituals and apply them to "inert" matter, then why not turn the tables and apply some other (meta)-physical techniques back onto the initiates themselves?  :-)

Inventive RPG game masters will find dozens of ways to use these ideas to spice up their magic items and spells. If you're still scratching your head about how it can be fit into a rollicking picaresque series of adventures, see how Aang and friends dealt with various astronomical alignments, focused sun-rays, and doom-bringing celestial objects!  :-)


  1. Excellent. Another gaming type to add to my list. A-Z is proving particularly rich in this area.

    Love the theme here as well.

    New follower.


  2. Hmmmmm very interesting! If I ever do a story with interpreting runes or symbols that will be quite helpful. Thank you very much. Best regards to you. Ruby

  3. Thanks for visiting, Amanda and Ruby!