This is a detailed report of synchronicities and personal gnosis that followed my initiation into the sphere of Jupiter during a one week trip to the area of my hometown in the South of Germany. I experienced Jovial energies during a stroll through the city, another evening I received a symbolic gift, and a few days later I found myself on a nightly quest through the forest of an enchanted mountain.
The day after my initiation into the sphere of Jupiter I had to travel to Mannheim for a job. I stayed in a shabby hotel in Ludwigshafen, the other part of the twin city across the Rhine river. Let's be honest, Ludwigshafen ain't pretty. It is mainly known for hosting the chemical industry giant BASF and the city is dominated by a dystopian industrial landscape. BASF was a co-founder of the notorious "IG Farben" conglomerate responsible for Zyklon B (the gas used in the concentration camps), and other chemical research during the Nazi war effort.
Obviously Ludwigshafen was razed to the ground by Allied bombers during the Second World War and you can still feel it. In the shadows of industrial chimneys the cityscape consists of rectangular 60s and 70s buildings that had seen better days and everything looks somehow moldy and rotten and uninviting.
I walked around the inner city and I could not stop thinking about how Saturnian everything felt. I walked past a yellow brick building hosting a high school and the sculpture that adorned its front was a black metal object with sharp edges depicting Prometheus after his fall. What an odd choice for an educational building. What a strange coincidence walking through a Saturnian place after a Jupiter initiation and seeing Prometheus, who had betrayed both, first his Titan kin Saturn by siding with the Olympians around Zeus in the Titanomachy and then his king Zeus, to bring fire to his beloved humans.
I entered a very depressing shopping mall that maybe had its golden days some time during the early 80s and been in decline ever since. I had to find a shop to buy a cable. It made me chuckle to find a branch of the consumer electronics chain "Saturn" while I was thinking about Prometheus and the Titanomachy. In front of it was a giant Transformers robot statue, a metal "Titan". Wondering if all of this was already meant for me to think about or if I am just a mythology nerd I wandered through the shop and found my cable.
When I left the mall I walked by a stand of Germany's far right wing party AfD which was depressing but suited the overall atmosphere of this abomination of a place. I walked down the wide pedestrian shopping mile that looks exactly the same in every average German city, flanked by generic mobile phone and fast food stores - here it was just a little bit more rotten than elsewhere. I was hungry, but nothing looked inviting. I had known that Ludwigshafen was notoriously unappealing, but not expected to be dragged down into such a depression. I just wanted to go back to my hotel.
On the way back along the shopping mile the grey Saturnian vibes surrounding everything suddenly got shattered by the piercing sounds of a Zurna (Middle Eastern woodwind instrument that sounds a bit like an oboe or bagpipe) and a Davul bass drum. Shivers went down my spine and I intuitively followed the music. On the next street corner was a crowd of people dressed in festive clothes and I realized it was a Middle Eastern or Turkish wedding. Some of the young men started dancing and the music became louder. It caused tears to well in my eyes and I felt like a blanket of lead was suddenly lifted off me. The depressed feeling that had dominated my stay in this city had vanished immediately and even the overcast sky was suddenly flooded by sunlight and patches of bright blue sky.
Now I was completely certain: Kingship and betrayal, Zeus' Titanic ancestry, family gatherings, weddings, music and dance; Spirits of the Sphere of Jove were teaching me about their powers and energies!
Here's a YouTube video I found that captures the same vibes quite well:
Squares and Mercenaries
After my job I travelled to my hometown Heidelberg which is just a few kilometers away from Mannheim. My wife T. and daughter E. came down from Berlin by train to meet me there and we wanted to spend a week with my sister and my parents. At past visits we usually stayed at my parents house, but this time we had booked an AirBnB for five of the seven days. There have been some awkward tensions in the past and we simply wanted more privacy, but of course it was taken as an offence that we wanted more distance.
The AirBnB was a small one room studio apartment, so when T. took E. to bed around 7 p.m. I went outside for a stroll in the neighborhood. It was unknown to me because it was just recently built and used to be a freight trainyard and industrial area back in the days when I had still lived in the city. I aimlessly strolled along a shallow water canal with inviting benches and I sat down on one, enjoying the evening air. I noticed something lying beside me and picked it up. It was a cardboard box with a board game in it, labelled "Go für Anfänger" ("Go for beginners"). I was excited! Go, the "Chinese Chess"! I took it with me and continued walking until I reached a small bridge. I crossed it and wandered down a small road with modern duplex style family apartment buildings that reminded me a bit of suburban Tel Aviv. The street ends at an intersection with a paved pedestrian and bicycle road along pasture and farmland. I looked into the distance across a green field and noticed three strange looking shapes moving slowly across. It realized they were three very large birds, three storks! I stared at them and a thought popped up in my head: black and white like the Go game.
At that moment it hit me again: I was meant to find the game. It's Jupiter again! A quick online search on my phone confirmed what I had already anticipated: storks are associated with Jupiter. Chess too. I went back to our apartment and started researching about Go. The name is derived from the Japanese name igo, which is derived from its Chinese name weiqi, which roughly translates as "board game of surrounding". It is a 3,000+ years old abstract strategy game for two players and the goal of the game is to surround more territory than the opponent. In antiquity it was considered one of the four essential arts of the cultured Chinese aristocrats besides mastering a string instrument, calligraphy, and painting.
"The board has to be square, for it signifies the Earth, and its right angles signify uprightness. The pieces of the two sides are yellow and black; this difference signifies the Yin and the Yang; scattered in groups all over the board, they represent the heavenly bodies. These significances being manifest, it is up to the players to make the moves, and this is connected with kingship. Following what the rules permit, both opponents are subject to them; this is the rigor of the Tao." - Pan Ku, 1st century historian
I unpacked the game and noticed that instead of the standard 19x19 line grid, this one had just 9x9. Go boards have 4 to 9 decorative dots on symmetrically chosen line intersections. They help you not get lost between all the lines and intersections and have other minor functions in variants of the game. This board had four dots and I immediately noticed that the dots form a large square of four by four small squares - like the kamea of Jupiter! That made me pay more attention to the empty squares instead of the grid of lines around them and I noticed that the whole board has 8 by 8 squares, like a chess or checker-board. With the black and white pebbles one could even play checkers on this board! I found this similarity curious and I dove into the rabbit hole of the history of checkers - and it suddenly all started to make even more sense:
Long before Chess or Checkers existed, the ancient Greeks used to play a popular game called "Petteia" which Plato claimed originated in Egypt. It was played with black and white pebbles on a board divided in squares, mostly 8 by 8. The exact rules are unknown, but it was about capturing the opponent by surrounding them. It very likely survived into the Roman Empire under the name of "Ludus Latrunculorum" or "Latrunculi": "The Game of Mercenaries." Based on various mentions of the game throughout the history of the Roman Empire, various attempts to reconstruct the detailed rules have been made, but the most accurate reconstruction was made by Ulrich Schädler in 1994:
The game is for 2 players. Before the game begins the players decide how many pieces each of them is going to have. The allowed range is 16-24 pieces per player. The pieces start off the board. The first turn is decided by lot, such as toss of a coin. Then, each player takes a turn to place one piece onto any empty square on the board. Once all of the pieces have been placed, the players take turns to move their pieces. Pieces can be moved horizontally and vertically to any adjacent square. A piece can jump over another piece of either color, if the square behind the piece being jumped over is unoccupied. Several jumps can be made in one move, just like in checkers. A player can trap enemy pieces between two of their own pieces. A trapped piece cannot be moved, but stays on the board. Once an enemy’s piece became trapped, on their next turn, the player can capture it and remove it off the board, as long as both pieces that are trapping it are still free and did not become trapped themselves on the opponents following move. Once a piece is removed off the board it does not return into the game. If the opponent surrounded one of the enemy pieces trapping their trapped piece, then theirs is made free, where as the enemy trapped piece becomes trapped. A player can move their own piece between two enemy pieces only if by doing such a move will trap one of the enemy pieces. Such a move is called Suicide. The player who remains only with one piece on the board loses the game.
Go and Petteia. Games of strategy, conquest, kingship, capture and expansion. Game as cultural art for pleasure, leisure, and fun. Thanks for this gift, Jove! It is not only a clear pointer for me to act more strategically in my life, but I also already have a ton of ideas of how to apply concepts and elements of "Latrunculi" in magical operations and sigil creation.
Mons Omnium Sanctorum
Thursday evening I spontaneously decided to go for a hike to release some tensions from an unpleasant argument I had with my parents the night before. I had an urge to just enjoy nature and connect with some spirits of place of my hometown. I wanted it to be a bit adventurous, so I chose to walk up to the top of Heiligenberg ("Holy Mountain"), a 449 meters high hill on the opposite river-side of the Königstuhl ("king's chair") that rises above Heidelberg's old town.
Heiligenberg is a special place. It is a quite high elevation from which you can look far across the Rhine valley and parts of the Neckar valley. It was inhabited since the Neolithic era and Celts had built a double walled fort around its peaks around 500 BC. During the Roman era the hill was a sacred precinct with a North-facing temple to Mercury on its summit. Archeological finds include votive stones with Latin inscriptions to Mercurius Cimbrianus, "Mercury of the Cimbri",suggesting a place of worship of the Germanic god Wodan, who was identified with Mercury by interpretatio romana. In the 9th century a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael was built on top of the Roman temple, incorporating its rocks and it was expanded to a monastery in 1023. There is a second smaller monastery of St. Stephan below the peak from aorund the same era and next to that is the infamous Heidenloch ("heathen hole"), a pit 55 meters deep, of unknown age and purpose. It has been suggested that it is a Roman well or cistern, but most likely it had some kind of cultic function.
During his travels along the Rhine river in the mid 19th century, Victor Hugo even visited the Heiligenberg and the Heidenloch. I found out about this after my journey and I added some quotes of his report, because he describes the aura of the place in a very fitting way.
During the Third Reich, a Thingstätte ("Thing place") open-air theatre was constructed on the Heiligenberg for propaganda and cultural events. In my teenage years I remember that it was a tradition to celebrate the night before Mayday, Walpurgisnacht or "witches night" by getting drunk on the river beach and then hiking up to the Thingstätte with thousands of other people and partying all night with giant bonfires and drumming sounds. It was always a quite psychedelic experience that felt very pagan and it was the "largest inofficial event of the year" in Heidelberg.
I left our AirBnB around 8pm and took a tram to where I knew a hiking path to the mountain begins. The sun was about to set when I walked up the forest route. I walked quickly because I wanted to reach the top before complete darkness. It did not work out quite as I thought. It got dark fast and I soon noticed that I was a city guy now. Every tiny shuffling or cracking sound in the trees and bushes around me freaked me out a bit, not knowing if it came from a mouse, bunny, a boar, or worse.
I had left the town about noon by a path known as the Philosopher's Walk, which leads nobody knows where, as befits a philosopher's walk, — I found myself in a small valley; and after exploring it leisurely for awhile, I set to work climbing the side of a steep hill by one of those old paths one often finds in this region, — staircases paved with stone, one might truly call them. Twilight was slowly settling down upon the valley behind me, and as I turned when about midway up the ascent I beheld one of those weird, evening landscapes in which the mountains that border the horizon remind one of a long procession of immense snails, and the mist-veiled rivers and streams the silver track they leave behind them. --Victor Hugo
My first destination was the "Bittersbrunnen", a very ancient spring that had already served the Celtic settlers as a water source in the fifth century BC. It was night when I reached it and the moon shone brightly from above. The spring had been covered by erosion for centuries, but was restored in 1980 and stabilized by a stone construction, a small tunnel and a basin. I recited Eliphas Levi's "Prayer of the Undines" and left an offering of a handful of almonds I had taken with me as a snack. I wanted to take some of the spring water with me, but I did not want to sacrifice my bottle of drinking water for it. The almonds I had brought were kept in a glass jar, so I decided to use that and poured all the remaining almonds into my backpack and filled the jar with water from the rock basin of the spring. I noticed that the lid of the jar did not fit tightly enough and leaked water, so I could not put it into my backpack but had to carry it in my hand. It was a bit annoying, but worked.
Around 15 minutes later I reached the summit and I could already see the black silhouettes of one of the monastery's ruined towers through the trees. When I reached the St. Michael's ruins the starry sky and bright moon were overwhelming. It was a very magical atmosphere. I climbed the tower and looked around. I could see city lights of towns all around and gazed forever at the night sky, enjoying the moment.
From the broad summit, covered with a thin growth of heather and pitilessly swept by the wind, the country below looked, not like a landscape, but like a huge, nearly round geographical map similar to that which Christ must have beheld when Satan took him up into a mountain to show him all the kingdoms of the earth. --Victor Hugo
Then I walked over to the remains of the ancient Roman temple, faced North and recited the Orphic Hymns to the ruler of the day: Zeus, and to Hermes, the ruler of this place. I closed with a short prayer to Wotan and did a cycle of Qi Gong exercises and a meditation. I took a thin branch of a hazel tree that grows in the middle of the old monastery as a souvenir and apologized to and thanked the spirits of place for this memorable visit up here.
I left the sacred site and checked the map on my phone to orient myself and to find the shortest and easiest to walk path downhill. It was around 10pm and pitch black and I wanted to go home as quickly as possible. The fastest way was via the Thingstätte open air theatre, so I walked down the giant stairs facing the rocky stage area and memories of my teenage times popped up in my mind: my first ever high from some dubious legal ecstasy herb mix with 17 up here during Walpurgisnacht had definetly been a night to remember. How old I've become so quickly. Right below the Thingstätte is a small restaurant that was just in the process of closing and at a spring fountain next to it I refilled my drinking water bottle, put a jacket on and reorganized my backpack a bit for the hike down.
I walked down the paved mountain road that connects the restaurant to civilization and passed by the ruins of St. Stephan's monastery. I wanted to pay a quick visit to the Heidenloch before descending, so I walked over to the small circular hut that houses the ominous pit. I spontaneously decided to recite the Orphic Hymn to Hermes Chthonios because it felt appropriate and I threw some almonds down into the depths as an offering to whoever dwells here. The pit is covered by a metal grill and fine wire-mesh to keep people from falling down there or dropping their trash into it, but the mesh was wide enough for almonds to pass through. I listened to them falling and bouncing off the walls on their way down. The sounds seemed to not stop, just fade out very slowly. It was mesmerizing.
It was only an old cistern perhaps, but the hour, the place, and the moonlight imparted a strange weirdness to this mysterious chamber buried in the ground with only the sky for a roof. What can it be? Pushing aside the tall weeds and briers with my cane, I seize hold of a young sapling, and leaning over the side of the opening, peer eagerly down into the depths below. Just then I hear a sad and quavering voice behind me distinctly utter the word "Heidenloch." [...] I turn, but no human being is visible. Though I know very little German, the meaning of this term is familiar to me. It means the pagans' dungeon. I turn, but no human being is visible. The soft sighing of the wind is the only sound I hear. [...] I confess that I remained gazing down into the pagans' dungeon a long time, imagining it the empty tomb of some giant, perhaps, or a temple of the Druids, or the reservoir of some ancient convent, or even the site of a demolished gibbet whose grim sides had been sprinkled with human blood or piled high with lifeless bodies. --Victor Hugo
When I collected my stuff to go I almost kicked the glass jar with the spring water I had collected earlier and I left the hut to finally head home. It suddenly felt colder than before and there was also strong wind blowing through the treetops. Time to get going. I checked my phone again to make sure I would take the right path and suddenly my phone just turned off. I could not turn it back on as if the batteries had just died. It was weird because I knew I must have had at least 20% of power left when I last checked 10 minutes earlier. Fortunately I had my little yellow wand flashlight with me and I searched the side of the road for the beginning of the footpath I had wanted to take. But I could not find it.
I freaked out. No map, unexpected stormy weather coming up, no idea where to go. I oriented myself towards the city lights of Heidelberg, took my flashlight and just walked straight through the forest that wasn't very bushy and fairly easy to cross in this part of the hill. I reached a wide footpath and turned left walking parallel to the river. I remembered that a lot of paths follow around the hill and lead downwards in a zigzag fashion, so I just kept going. I noticed that I suddenly couldn't see very well anymore. It seemed like the air had become very dense and opaque, as if there was fog. I kept walking for 15 minutes but there was no path leading down, no curve, nothing. I decided to walk back into the other direction. I felt lost and scared. Was all this a result of me stirring up things in the creepy Heidenloch? Why did my phone die? Why is there suddenly fog and wind although it was clear sky before? Am I getting superstitious and paranoid?
I finally reached a crossroads with directions carved into a large rock. The arrows were not very clear, so I decided intuitively which way to go. It seemed to get darker and I could barely see anything but at least I got used to all the animal sounds around me by now without freaking out. I found another sign pointing to "Hirschgasse" ("Buck's alley") and I faintly remembered that name. It might be the small alley with stairs that lead down to the old bridge that crosses the river to Heidelberg. I followed the sign. What felt like an hour later I finally reached a paved footpath that led straight downhill. I followed it, but it dawned on me that Hirschgasse was not what I had thought it was. I saw streetlights and houses but I came out at the wrong end of the city on the wrong side of the hill. I didn't care, I was back in civilization!
I left the tree-branch I had used as a hiking stick at a crossroads, thanking it for its help, and walked towards the river. Under the streetlight I noticed something floating in the spring water glass jar I was still carrying in my left hand. It was a leaf. I opened the jar and took the leaf out, thinking it was a good idea to not drink the water on my way down. Then I noticed that there was something else floating in the jar. I held it up to the light and looked more closely. I almost dropped it when I saw two small creatures floating in it, with arms and legs, and fins and long tails. What the hell? I had accidentally taken two amphibian larvae with me from the ancient Bittersbrunnen spring! What did it mean? Was I supposed to take them home with me?
I walked by the Neckar river towards the old town of Heidelberg, pondering about what to do now. There was no way for me to take these creatures back to Berlin! When I reached the Old Bridge and walked across towards the town's gate I stopped and did an impromptu prayer to the river spirit. I told him I cannot take these water creatures with me and that I will give them into his care. I asked him to protect them, let them grow and show them the world downstream. I opened the jar and flung the contents down the bridge into the waters of the Neckar. I felt sad about losing the ancient spring-water I had so carefully carried down Heiligenberg. I had wanted to use it for magical operations. But I also felt somehow relieved and liberated. It was a curious emotion and I walked through the city gates and greeted the "Brückenaffe" ("bridge monkey"), a little bronze sculpture of a baboon like monkey holding a mirror towards the spectator. It made me chuckle. Yes, I am such a fool!
I bought myself a Kebab and walked through the old town to Bismarckplatz where I luckily caught the last tram to where our AirBnB was at and I arrived home safely around midnight. What a trip!
Before my initiation into the sphere of Jupiter I had expected mainly that I might learn lessons about earthly manifestations, material wealth, something I have never been good at, or about the expansion of my own sovereignty in terms of my life as a freelancer and entrepreneur. I was surprised that the main topic that suddenly unfolded was about very personal family matters.
Sachiel had pointed me to some quite painful issues regarding my relationship to my parents that I had assumed were resolved a long time ago. But they were not and they bubbled up again. I did not get into details in my report due to their private nature. All I can reveal is that it was an unpleasant confrontation in several episodes in which I pulled all my empathy and diplomacy together and tried very hard to make my case in arguments with my parents and seek their understanding. Unfortunately I was not able to reconcile with them about fundamental elements of my life and our relationship - but eventually that was perhaps the quintessence of the Jovial teachings: Zeus had Titan parents and he had to defeat them to gain sovereignty and the throne of the world!
My afternoon in Ludwigshafen had presented me with the Saturnian melancholy and depression, suddenly broken apart by Jovial optimism, joy of music and dance, and the founding of a new sovereign family all represented by the image of a Middle Eastern wedding.
I was gifted a board-game of strategy and conquest, expansion and sovereignty that immediately sparked a ton of ideas and interpretations without even having played it yet. There will be a lot of things to unpack from this in the future for sure, and food for thought about my role in the world and my approach to life. I am excited to embrace it.
My nightly pilgrimage to the holy mountain of my birthplace unexpectedly turned into a small "Hero's Quest" that reconnected me with the spirit of place. I visited and honored the god who was once worshipped at this place and when I recited the hymns to Zeus and Hermes I realized that they both are parts of Wotan's nature (Jovial and Mercurial). I was illuminated and left in awe by the moon and the stars above and haunted and cursed by dark forces from the below. I had unknowingly (unconsciously) carried two amphibian larvae in my hand from an ancient source in a dark forest up to the summit and all the way down to the valley where I became conscious of their existence and flung them into the raging waters of the river of my hometown. Right after that, a monkey showed me a mirror and mocked me a fool. That whole evening is already so dense with potential meaning to unravel, it will take a while to fully comprehend.
What seems to have shifted in my consciousness after my initiation ritual is the constant feeling of having been taken out of 3D reality and forced to become an observer of my own life. I've had this feeling occasionally every since I started practicing rituals, but now it feels like I levelled up and can't stop seeing everything from that perspective. It does not mean that I have difficulties being present in the moments of my life - quite the opposite actually. It was rather a shift in general awareness of life itself.
Another very profound difference is that now - especially after my nightly journey - it feels validated to me that my own mind and objective consensus reality are not two separate worlds, but rather different points of one spectrum. It has become difficult to separate my mind from a dark forest with a bottomless pit and ruined monasteries. As above, so below.
A smaller yet peculiar observation is that from the beginning of my preparations and research for the Seven Spheres initiation I had noticed a recurring synchronicity: Almost 70% of the time I looked at my phone throughout the day to check the time, it presented me some kind of interesting number combination. Double numbers, like 14:14 or 21:21, mirrored ones, like 12:21 or 15:51, as well as triplets or quadruplets, like 23:33 or 11:11. After the initiation, the probability of those has risen to over 90%. Now I am actually surprised when it does not happen.
The night after my journey to Heiligenberg I had an intense and vivid nightmare in which I was haunted by a demon named Samael. I bound and defeated him, but it triggered some interesting synchronicities I will get into in a future post. But besides that, I have a hunch that my next initiation will probably be into the sphere of Mars.
(Victor Hugo's quotes taken from an English translation of his travel report "Le Rhin")