Infernal Geometry

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Infernal Geometry
« on: August 21, 2020, 07:19:30 pm »
Infernal Geometry (2019) by Toby Chappell has been highly praised a couple of times on this forum. I finally also got around to reading this book.


A lot of it consists of two different types of content, which alternate with each other:
- The much larger part goes into the historical background the angular system of magick is based upon. That was quite interesting, and seemed also fairly accurate to me to a large degree (not completely sure about certain aspects of mythology).
- Especially the first and the three last chapters go into explaining the symbolism of the sigil of the trapezoid as representing certain steps in the development of self-awareness and in how the psyche further transforms itself. The author also shortly lays out how he assumes magick works: One does a symbolic action that refers to a goal one has, and thereby the objective universe reacts by giving one some insight on how to get to that goal.
The final chapters also lay out certain rituals/practices based upon the 9 angles-system.

**Angles and their effects**

One of the inspirations behind the sigil is a list of 4 principles cited from The Command to Look, which are easy to confirm by intuition.

Yet while it in theory should fit well, I don't think the sigil of the trapezoid comprises these 4 principles (or 3 of them, the 2nd doesn't apply either way) well.

The trapezoid itself is supposed to represent the 4th principle, yet to me it seems nothing like that - it rather seems like a misshapen rectangle or perhaps a truncated triangle, so if anything it represents incompletion, imperfection. Or it looks like an actual object, e.g. a tabletop, seen from a particular perspective, which also doesn't give me the associations expected from the 4th principle. And the pentagram gives me warm and fuzzy feelings, so it can't reflect the other principles very well for me either.

I haven't paid much attention before to angles in my surroundings, but in the house my parents moved to some years ago, where I lived for several years as well,  there are a lot of non-horizontal ceilings, especially in the bedrooms. I have never noticed any effect of that on my psyche except that they are slightly more interesting to stare at.

I find it curious that, while for many other things explanations are given, it is simply claimed that unstraight angles have negative effects on the psyches of people not familiar with their power, and positive effects on those familiar with it. Well I might pay more attention to that now, let's see.

**The 9 angles**

As mentioned above, the sigil of a trapezoid and a pentagram combined symbolizes the digits 1 through 9 that represent certain parts of both the genesis of the self-aware psyche and of how creative processes work from a subjective perspective. I think I'd need to apply that to processes I'm familiar with in order to really grasp it, but I think I got the gist of it. I still find it quite abstract, though.

**Historical rituals**

The 6th chapter serves as a kind of exegesis of some rituals from The Satanic Rituals. Therefore it's recommended at its outset to read other texts related to them, namely Frank Belknap Long's "The Hounds of Tindalos", Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark", "The Dreams in the Witch-House" and The Call of Cthulhu", Aquino's "The Metaphysics of Lovecraft", and of course the rituals in question, Aquino's "The Ceremony of the Nine Angles" and "The Call to Cthulhu" and LaVey's "Die Elektrischen Vorspiele".

The three stories by Lovecraft I found very boring. I had to force myself to finish them, I was yawning all the time, and not of tiredness. The Hounds of Tindalos was slightly more interesting, but perhaps because I read it before the other 3 stories or because it's quite shorter.

While I tend to value Aquino's writings, I would disagree on central points with his interpretation of Lovecraft's stories, they gave me an utterly different impression. But they were the only thing by Lovecraft I have read thus far so perhaps I'm just not familiar enough with his work.

It's very good that Infernal Geometry provides such a thorough exegesis of the rituals taken from The Satanic Rituals, because without that I wouldn't have understood the least of them.

But even so, I don't really understand the point. I can't really try them out as described, at least the first 2, lacking a room besides my bedroom (and lacking a group to perform them with). Yet based on my intuition they'd have quite a different effect on me than the intended one.

"Die Elektrischen Vorspiele" is supposed to lead to power over other people by means of putting oneself in an anxiety-inducing surrounding. Well I don't desire that goal very much but even if I would, I can't wrap my mind around how that's supposed to work, it would rather drain me instead of making me stronger in any regard.

"The Ceremony of the Nine Angles" seems like a kind of confirmation/initiation ritual, i.e. a symbolic way of adopting the angles system into one's psyche. But their language seems much too cryptic to me, both in the original and the Havamál version, performing that should have hardly any effect when done without thorough preparation, I would rather recommend regular contemplation sessions focused on e.g. one verse of the ritual at a time or on certain sections of the book in order to absorb the system and finding one's own understanding of it, and then one doesn't really need that ritual anymore.

And "The Call to Cthulu" is supposed to get one connected to the primal parts of one's mind, and here again I'm at a loss as to how that's supposed to work. The exegesis of this one is much shorter in comparison.

If I compare the explainations to those given in the essay by Aquino in Appendix A, there are quite some differences, btw.

**New rituals I**

This chapter starts with two more rituals. The first of them, "The Bond of the Nine Angles" not a full ritual itself but intended as a ritual opening, so I guess to symbolize to oneself that one is now performing a ritual, and it looks like something that would work well for that purpose, if a tad too long. I don't usually do any opening when doing spiritual work, I just get my tools (if any) and get right into it.

The second is an initiation ritual to which basically the same thing applies as what I wrote about "The Ceremony of the Nine Angles" above. But as it's more explicitly initiation-like, I can see the symbolic point it can have as a self-confirmation that one is actually gonna work with that system. So I think the best approach would be 1) regular contemplation of the ritual's parts until one has grasped them well 2) performing the ritual 3) continuing to work with the system.

**New rituals II**

The chapter continues with suggestions for regular practices. I have other priorities currently than meditating right after waking up and practicing visualizing right before going to sleep (in both situations I'm often much too sleepy to be of use for anything), but in principle that's a good practice and I'm not excluding giving it a try within that framework.

The symbolism of inhaling to the count of 4 and exhaling to the count of 5 is obvious. It would have been nice if also potential physiological effects of doing so for 9 minutes would have been noted.

The noon ritual is supposed to be performed outside. It seems a bit strange to me to expect from the practitioner to have private surroundings available outdoors to draw symbols into the air every day without causing unwanted attention. But going for a short walk outside after lunch can sometimes help with noon-(or rather afternoon-) tiredness as claimed, yes, even though that should rather happen at like 3pm and not at noon proper.

The 2 daily practices not bound to a specific time also have their practical problems. The first is focusing on the Angles of Understanding and Being (the 3rd and 4th) whenever crossing an intersection where the streets/paths don't meet at a right angle. Yet that would apply to the vast majority of intersections I cross, I would have to look out for those which are even close to a right angle. So, only counting intersections (junctions and crossroads) outdoors, when walking to work I'd be doing that meditation at least 8 times in the 12 minutes that way takes me (compared to 4 or so that are kinda right-angled, yet even 3 of those have at least one path each leading steeply uphill or downhill, so they are irregular as well in a way).

And the other daily practice is about noticing the angles in whatever room one enters in order to bring up some self-awareness. Yet most rooms I enter are rooms I enter at least once a week if not several times a day, so that quickly would become a mindless routine, so I'm not really convinced of its usefulness.

**New rituals III**

The "advanced" rituals in the final chapter seem more interesting. But I don't understand how they are supposed to get one into the appropriate mindset in most of the cases. I assume the author has a point when saying that it needs to be experienced and not just studied.

Their purposes are:
- getting a message from one's future self
- getting inspiration (I guess)
- putting a project on hold
- facing an obstacle one tends to procrastinate on
- getting dreams of particular kinds
Also included are descriptions on how to use the system for divination and sigils.

Well technically I could benefit from that 4th one but I know the reasons for me procrastinating and I have tons of ideas of how to approach them (and am experimenting to find the right ones), and the ritual seems to be mainly about finding out the reason and getting any idea of how to approach it.


The historical background and exegeses were quite helpful and will likely make it easier for me to understand also certain other esoteric writings.

I would have preferred if suggestions for practice would have been spread throughout the book instead of being only found in the last 2 chapters. Also, I'd have appreciated further suggestions for integration of that system of magick into daily practice as the suggestions given don't fit my routine that well.

Yuggothic seems like a fun conlang (if fairly limited), and the alphabet used for it is quite pretty.

I'm not sure whether I'll actually use much any of the practices. I didn't find the system intriguing enough, I'm not sure whether I'll really get anything out of it. It's more relatable than quite a few other systems I encountered, though. What also makes it easier to use is that the focus is not on evoking anything or on manipulating energy in any particular way but more on getting insights by putting oneself into certain mindsets, which will lead to changes  in the objective universe, which is in line with the theory of magick the author provides.


The usage of "performative utterance" is wrong imo. The definition is correct, it refers to a phrase that creates a change merely by being spoken, yet that's not the same thing as the examples from rituals the author provides.

If you say "This court is now in session", then that instantly and automatically means that the court is in session as long as other people accept that you are in the position to make this statement.

If you say "We shall have Power", while it has a certain effect on your mind, it does not literally make it true immediately. It makes a statement about objective reality which you could only fulfill indirectly by doing changes to subjective reality which then, long after the ritual, may have the desired effect, whereas actual performative utterances merely make statements about shared subjective reality (i.e. culture-based notions) that are not expected to affect objective reality except for by means of the changes in behavior they cause.

Saying "We shall have Power" would be as if a judge would say "I shall make a fair judgement" or similar (within a cultural context where that is not the traditional way to open a court or similar).

I agree that such ritual words are linguistically peculiar, yet I don't think there is a technical term for them within linguistics (but then, the field of pragmatics isn't my focus of study). So it's good that the author brings that up. I would refer to their mechanism as self-suggestions or self-hypnosis.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 07:21:56 pm by Liu »

Re: Infernal Geometry
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2020, 03:21:00 pm »
Thanks for the informative post about this book. This one is near the top of my to-get list. The theory of angles has piqued my interest as of late after reading the Book of Smokeless Fire. Angles are mentioned quite a bit in that book as well although I agree with you on the point that I've never felt "affected" by them before in homes and buildings.
"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." ~Ernest Henley



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Re: Infernal Geometry
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2020, 07:13:02 pm »
Thanks for the informative post about this book. This one is near the top of my to-get list. The theory of angles has piqued my interest as of late after reading the Book of Smokeless Fire. Angles are mentioned quite a bit in that book as well although I agree with you on the point that I've never felt "affected" by them before in homes and buildings.
Thanks, you're very welcome. Perhaps you wanna add your impressions once you got around to reading it. And it's good to know that you had the same (lack of) experience regarding angles.

S. Ben Qayin seems to also have some experiences with the Lovecraftian deities, so it's not surprising if he'd also use part of that system even in a fairly unrelated book.