Balancing Sky, Earth, and Underworld

Building a firm foundation from which to reach for the sky…

When the cosmic egg cracked open, the division created three realms of experience (aka reality): the sky above, the earth we live on, and the bit below the surface of the earth which is unseen by us. The universe divides this way (from our perspective) as do the cycles of life. In birth we come to earth from the heavens “above” and after death we visit the underworld on our soul’s way back to heaven to be reborn again. We (and the rest of existence) are the yolk spilling forth from the cosmic egg broken open and the great serpent that laid this egg coils itself around it, eating its own tail for eternity.

The serpent is, of course, the Great Mother -the sacred feminine- whose eternal transformation (shedding skin / eating herself) encircles our existence. Her receptive, plastic nature shifts and reforms itself constantly to provide space for us to express ourselves, co-creatively, into the universe.

She is the void, the space in which creation can occur -the cosmic womb. All the many creative gods in the universe express their influence through generative embrace with the Mother. We exist in, and of, Her -and it is to Her that we invariably return.

The sacred feminine is the potential from which all things manifest; her eternal form encircling this creative process, cycling through the phases of life, death, and rebirth. And between these essential phases are the minor transitions which occupy most of our time within the earthly realm: growth, decay, and reclamation.

From the energies of the sky we’re born, we live our days upon the Earth, and our bodies return to Her as our souls transition through the Underworld, leaving a piece of ourselves (our shade) behind on each full-turn around this wheel of life.

Animists, like myself, don’t believe in the separateness of heaven from earth but instead in a cosmos arranged in nested frameworks: the Underworld within the Earth and the Earth within the Heavens. We are situated in the cosmic organism as a liver cell is situated within the liver, which is, itself, situated within the body. The system is immanently real at each level; none more so than any other. In the same manner, we are spirits situated within the spirit of the Earth which is situated within the Cosmos, which is constantly manifesting itself from the universe’s primal sexual forces (the sacred feminine and sacred masculine).

The Concerns Of Sky Gods

The sky gods love their dramas (and their patriarchy). Their squabbles, their champions, their olympian intrigues -they set humans on the path to struggle, glory, fortune, and tragedy equally. And they play games with one another using humans as pawns in their competitions. This is as true in ancient myths as it is in the news of today, these ancient dramas echoing over and over in eternally familiar forms.

From the myths we can surmise the Olympians are heavily invested into the concerns of so-called “civilized” man. In the last three years alone, the restrictive nature of Saturn expressed as lockdowns and tyrannical laws during its time in its home sign of heavy-handed Capricorn, followed by an explosion of (terrifying) new technology, rising technocracy, and the age of digitalization peaking, as Saturn moved into Aquarius. These are clear demonstrations of the sky gods’ influence in human affairs.

What does this mean for us magicians? That the whims of celestial spirits weigh heavy in our hearts and lives. As such, there is hardly a more effective magical tool than astrological magic. Astrologically-timed theurgic rituals are extremely effective at shifting the realities of modern, “civilized” life. This efficacy, and the natural wonder evoked by the heavens, is what makes this esoteric art so compelling as a practice.

Currying the favor of the gods is powerful magic, with powerful results, that can and will change the conditions of your life. This, of course, is the point of magic but it is important to take care that all the effects you experience are in support of your personal desires and goals. When practicing celestial magic we become embroiled in the concerns of sky gods. We become the heroes of epic myth who undergo trials and experience hardships, as well as our share of victory and glory. This is the cost of participating in Olympian sport.

Our Roots In The Earth

Our souls come from the stars and our bodies may indeed be star dust but on another level we are simply carbon-based organic beings composed of mostly water molecules. This makes us excellent antennae, as we are able to tune to the vibrations of cosmic forces at will, but nonetheless delicate organisms that cannot survive the harshness of the cosmos without the sheltering graces of the planet we inhabit.

The Earth is our Mother, not the Void. Our fragile existence depends far more on Her nourishing generosity than all the abstract intrigues of self-motivated sky gods. It’s true that attracting their favor can make one wealthy, famous, and powerful, but there is always a cost which should be factored into your magical strategy.

You can’t avoid making deals with archonic celestial gods if you practice magic; such is the stock and trade of sorcerers. Nonetheless, it is worth considering how to assert sovereignty to ensure your own peace, health, and fulfillment, along the way (for more on this read my piece on earth magic, “Sky Magic And Dirt Sorcery”).

Our roots are in the Earth, fed by the nutrients reclaimed in the depths of the Underworld, and our canopies touch the heavens. This is why we should always be mindful to maintain balance in all three realms.

Too much time in the Underworld slows you down, crystalizes your thoughts, makes you cling to the past and become inflexible to change. Too much time with your head “in the clouds”, on the other hand, can drive you mad with burnout levels of creativity, aggressive / extractive tendencies, and delusions of grandeur (another common theme in mythic tragedy). Too much time in Earthly realms makes one feral, physical, and overly literal.

Dreaming is the function of the Heavens, doing a function of the Earth, and returning to dust a function of the Underworld. We must respect these natural rhythms, incorporate them into our cosmology, and factor them into our magical approach.

Maintaining balance across the three realms, Heaven, Earth, and Underworld, should be our goal. This is not to say that we should perform less astrological magic –far from it. However, we should not neglect our earthly and under-earthly responsibilities and attempt to sustain a healthy balance as we work; in the mundane and the magical alike.

Striking A Balance

The best magical performance is achieved through self-mastery and, I’ll argue, one cannot hope to master their fate without concerning themselves with maintaining a healthy balance of sky, earth, and underworld in their spiritual practice.

Striking this balance is achieved through ritual. Ritual teaches the mind / body / spirit how to be in a more-than-human world where certain parts of the experience are unseen and largely unfelt, in the sense of the body at least. Extrasensory perceptions guide and enhance the spiritual experience but only ritual codifies it and makes it experientially-accessible in a useful way.

As a place to start, there are certain “maintenance” rituals which can be performed to maintain a healthy, balanced state at each level, such as ancestor veneration, nature worship, and celestial theurgy.

It’s usually best to keep your underworld practice as light as possible, unless you’re drawn to such things. Ancestor veneration doesn’t have to be any more complicated than lighting a candle on the family altar, keeping your relatives’ favorite traditions in their honor, or setting out an extra plate on special occasions. Nature worship can be of the venerative kind (offerings) or the performative kind (plant a tree, etc). Celestial theurgy, of course, is the familiar kind of prayer to heavenly spirits which we’ve nearly all grown up with in some form or another.

When you want to work with celestial energies, be sure that you have also attended to the other aspects of your experiential reality, otherwise known as the cosmos, here on Earth, and “down below” -or you may find yourself ungrounded and vulnerable to the whiplash-inducing whims of the gods.

The solution is to spend more time in the other realms, giving recognition to their inhabitants. If “the energy flows where the attention goes,” then recognizing a thing gives it real power -and it is a powerful spiritual gesture to do so. Adding appropriate gifts (offerings) extends this gesture of respect into one of veneration (for a deep dive on this subject, check out my video “Reciprocity And Spirit Dynamics”).

Offerings of blessed water to your garden, with prayers to Gaia / Pachamama, will help it grow and will heal your spirit in the process. Bread and water for the dead brings them symbolic comfort, and a candle lights their way home, saving you the trouble of being haunted by their presence. Simple rituals, attending to each level of the cosmos, support the healthy functioning of a human being (mind, body, and spirit) and from this place of balance you can extend your attention skyward to embrace the heavens.

Featured Image: La Luz Perdida by Rowye

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