Thomas Vaughan – About The Iynx-Wheel
Hecates’s Iynges-Wheels or strophalos,
Archaeological Museum of Argos.
Another sharing for the day from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, as a follow up with Algis Uždavinys article, ‘The Sounding Breaths Of The All-Working Fire‘ we published recently and that evoked the ‘Chaldean Iynx‘ and its central ritualistic place in Graeco-Egyptian Magic & Neo-Platonist worship, here is an excerpt from Thomas Vaughan’s ‘A perfect and full discoverie of the true Coelum Terrae‘, written in London in 1651. It is followed, as an appendix, by a note by Clément Rosereau from his French edition of the complete works of Thomas Vaughan, a.k.a. Eugenius Philalèthes published in 1999 by ‘Editions La Table d’Emeraude’ in Paris. We have modernized a bit Waite’s 1888 English and the note is a Via-HYGEIA translation from the original French into English. ‘Iynges are wheel shaped entities which are the powers behind the magic names that allow the magician to communicate with the big three. Each Iynx is the embodiment of that magical name which can be used to take control of an aspect of creation. In rituals these names were placed on a disk which as spun or turned to attract the Iynx to allow communication to take place. But this was physical act which symbolises the reality behind the fact that since the universe was created by words, a Iynx can be used to change some of the framework. Iynges have been completely forgotten by modern magic, but are the reason that repeated (circular) chanting is effective. They are a similar concept to the Egyptian Heka.‘ From Nick Farrell’s article, ‘The Universe of the Chaldean Oracles’. Finally, for a deepening of this perspective, Sarah Iles Jonhston devotes a whole chapter in her 1990 ‘Hecate Soteira’ to ‘Hecate’s Top and the Iynx-Wheel’ (Chapter 7 – Scholars Press,1990).
In this universal subject they found the natures of all particulars, and this is signified to us by that maxim: “He who is familiar with Proteus is on the threshold of the knowledge of Pan“. This Pan is their chaos, or Mercury, which expounds Proteus, namely the particular creatures, commonly called individuals; for Pan transforms himself into a Proteus, that is, into all varieties of species, into animals, vegetables, and minerals; for out of the universal Nature, or first matter, all these are made, and Pan hath their proprieties in himself. Hence it is that Mercury is called the interpreter, or expositor of inferiors and superiors, under which notion the ancient Orpheus invokes him. “Hear me o Mercury, thou messenger of Jove, and son of Maia, the expositor of all things!”
Now, for the birth of this Mercury, and the place of it, I find but few philosophers that mention it. Zoroaster (note:‘The Chaldean Oracles’ in Gemistos Pléthon’s review: ‘Magical Oracles of the disciples of Zoroaster‘) points at it, and that very obscurely, where he speaks of his Iynges or the Ideas in these words : “Numerous, silent, dominating the luminous worlds, they have three summit; the primal Meadow below them stretches.” This pratum, or meadow of the ideas, a place well known to the philosophers (Flamel calls it their Garden, and the Mountain of the Seven Metals) is a certain secret, but universal region: one calls it regio lucis, “the region of light,” but to the cabalist it is Nox Corporis (Night of the Body), a term extremely opposite and significant. It is in few words the rendezvous of all spirits, for in this place the ideas when they descend from the bright world to the dark one, are incorporated. For a better intelligence you must know that spirits whiles they move in Heaven, which is the fire-world, contract no impurities at all, according to Stellatus : “All that is above the moon, is eternal! and good, and there is no corruption of Heavenly things.”
On the contrary, when spirits descend to the elemental matrix, and reside in her kingdom they are blurred with the original leprosy of the matter, for here the curse raves and rules, but in Heaven it is not predominant. To put an end to this point, let us hear the admirable Agrippa-between whose lips the truth did breathe, and knew no other oracle-states it: “The Heavenly powers or spiritual essences whiles they are in themselves, or before they are united to the matter, and are showered down from the Father of Lights through the holy Intelligences and the Heavens, until they come to the moon: their influence is good, as in the first degree; but when it is received in a corrupt subject, the influence also is corrupted.”
Clément Rosereau’ s
note 45 on ‘Iynx’ (English plural: Iynges)
Iynx: The meaning of this Greek word is not well known; according to a definition by Synesius it is connected to magic. In Classical Greek, it is generally agreed that ‘Iynx’ is the name for a bird, the Eurasian wryneck, and by extension synonym of desire and magical charm. It is in this manner that A. Puech translates at verses 213 to 218 of Pindar fourth Pythian Ode: “But the Cyprus-born queen of sharpest arrows bound the dappled wryneck to the four spokes if the inescapable wheel and brought from Olympus that bird of madness for the first time to men, and she taught the son of Aeson to be skillful in prayers and charms…” (English translation by William H. Race, Loeb Classical Library)
We find again this very word in Theocritus’ ‘Second Idyll’: “Iynx (magic Wheel) draw that man to my house !“. (English translation by Neil Hopkinson, Loeb Classical Library). Ph. Legrand writes in a note in his French translation of Theocritus’ ‘Idylls’: ‘The Iynx was a bird, the Eurasian Wryneck, in which the eponymous nymph-daughter of Echo- was changed by the wrath of Hera after seducing Zeus with a love-potion. Attached to a wheel, the Eurasian Wryneck was used in love magic. Moreover, the word Iynx can also designate the wheel to which it was attached, or other magical instruments prone to a brisk circling movement.’
The wheel to which the bird was attached was called a ‘strophalos‘ and some Neo-Platonist philosophers were also using this instrument during their magical operations. The sound produced by this wheel while turning, had, it seems, for effect to dynamize the magical action in unsettling (French: ébranler) the Ether in a certain manner. This hypothesis seems to us confirmed by the ‘Chaldean Oracles’ to which Philalèthes was alluding and by a scholia by Michael Psellos.
The Iynges used in these magical ceremonies would have been the symbols of certain cosmic energies of which the ‘Chaldean Oracles’ speaks in precise manner: “The Intelligible Iynges, thoughts originating from the Father, fathom in themselves, being moved by silent wills.” (‘Chaldean Oracles’, 31 in Gemistos Plethon’s review) and Psellos comments: ” The Iynges are energies close to the paternal abyss and composed of three triads. Their intellection is made by the paternal thought that show them their own cause represented in the form of a self-centered unity. Of course, the signs and figures of the abstract world, being gifted of intellect, are apprehended by the beings of the secondary or inferior world by virtue of an noiseless and motionless intellection. Likewise, the intellects of spirits comprehend these hierarchies with the intellect, and that intellection is motionless, as the energies of the intelligible world contemplate the symbols of the same world, without a sound being made. They dwell in unknown substances.“
We ought to conclude then, that the Iynges are energies of the intelligible world, ‘ideas’ and magical ‘seeds’ for the world. Perhaps should we link these insights with the well known saying of Lao Tseu: “Everything that is born under the heavens proceed from what is in motion, and what is in motion from what is resting‘.