The occult community is flooded with poor examples of synthesis and syncretism. Often these poor examples come from mass market publishing houses are pumped out by the truckload. Coming across a work that is both a creative example of synthesis and a brilliant read is refreshing. That is what I found in Syzygy: reflection on the monastery of the Seven Rays by Tau Palamas. Palamas, working with the wildest fringes of Western Mysticism and the Monastic tradition has crafted a modern grimoire that is both intimate and alien.
Syzygy is the perfect name for this book, seeing as it blends together two seeming impossible esoteric traditions; Bertiaux’s Esoteric Voudon and Christian Monasticism. This is a profoundly personal text, as Palamas urges the reader to follow him into the life of a modern Gnostic bishop. While the foundation of Syzygy is Catholic Monasticism, the house itself is a non-euclidian mess of Esoteric Voudon. Powerful sexual imagery blends into stark moments of contemplation. Saints and Lwa appear intertwined as nightmarish guides to salvation. Somehow Palamas keep a firm grip on the reader preventing us from becoming lost as he flits between the extremes of Ora ( prayer) and Labora ( work).
Syzygy is a book in two parts. The first csection , Ora, introduces the reader to Palamas’s arduous practice. Drawn from the Catholic monastic traditions of St. Benedict Palamas’s spiritual practice is that of a monk in the world. The material requires a strict regimen of practices that go beyond what many would consider do-able in the modern world. Palamas handles these demanding practices with aplomb. If you are finding your practice becoming droll and bereft of inspiration you might find Syzygy a refreshing breathe of air. It may not be fun, but what Palamas offers is the experiences of a modern monk-magician utilizing grimoire and faith to create a personal practice of no little import.
Labora, the second half of Syzygy is a grimoire proper. This section allows the reader to put into practice the material Palamas explained in the earlier chapters. The work here is a blend of traditional Christian prayers and psalms with the Esoteric Voundon paradigm. Here Palamas urges the reader to offer themselves up as homes for the saints. Turning themselves into living temples. Here is where Bertiaux’s material becomes truly evident. This is the Voudon Gnostic Workbook material put into action, not with the Hoo and Doo spirits but with Catholic Saints. The practice is the same, only the flavor differs. That being said there is little comfort found here, this is not passive Christianity. No, Palamas’s work is Christian mysticism put into direct, if deeply disturbing action.
Rarely have I found a work that actually impresses me. As a dweller on the threshold with Bertiaux’s Esoteric Voudon material I picked up Syzygy due to it’s title. I’ll admit I hoped for an explanation of the often incoherent Monastery of the Seven Rays (M7R). While I did not receive a textbook, I found an example of how the M7R materials could be used by an occultist. I was not disappointed.