Hay un blog citado mucho en twitter que se llama asi, “las cuatro esqunas del mundo“, y casi cae bien por usar ese titulo. Miré hace mucho tiempo que era eso de las esquinas, y acabó siendo el unico contenido de mi pagina de geocities, ya solo en archive.org. Voy a rescatarlo por aqui. De momento lo corto-pego, a riesgo de que google me ponga un -1 por plagio:
The Lesser Penta* Ritual
Ever wondered about the “four-corners and above” ride? Well, just put yourself in position, between Aldebaran and Antares, with formalhault in the south, summer solstice in Solomon bed, better if you move back in time to 1000 or 2000 BCE, and then look above you:
(picture taken from AllTheSky website).
As you can know, the magick conjure is stored in the common lore via the bedtime prayer
To God Almighty, The Lord of Israel, May Michael be at my right hand, Gabriel at my left hand, Before me Raphael and Behind me Uriel, And above me the Divine Presence of God.
which comes via the the sefarditic tradition (see below, and also in the book from Pedrosa titled “Las dos Sirenas”). When child, I was used to a Christian version “Cuatro esquinitas tiene mi cama, cuatro angelitos que me acompañan. Virgen Maria, no me desampares, ni de noche ni de dia”. Related to this we were used to the bedtime prayer “Con Dios me acuesto, con Dios me levanto, con la Virgen Maria y el Espiritu Santo”. Or look this another version, from Malaga:
cuatro esquinitas tiene mi cama cuatro angelitos que me la guardan dos a los pies dos a la cabecera y la Virgen Maria que es mi compañera.
So it is very surprising, to an Spaniard as myself, to learnt that this rite is used (as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, LBPR, or also some variants) in modern “alt magick” and “wicca” systems -at least it is surprising until one gets the original sources, most probably hispanic based.
It is also very interesting to learn that the “four corners” of “my bed” are really the four corners of the sky, which mark the seasons. The evolution process of the four corners, becoming evangelists, winds, monsters and archangels, is a very complex interplay of associations. Still, some basics are understable for instance the idea of getting the weather seasons from a mix of Cold/Hot and Dry/Humid, so that the four elements can be put in the system too. But please notice that Plato and Empedocles lived before the Esenian rites 🙂
The astrological puzzle is “Israel Shekinah”, the Divine presence of god. But from the picture you can see the traditional triangle with an eye in the middle. So it is not so misterious after all. And if you are Christian, you can use the Cygnus stars to see the cross!
If you are a deep city dweller, here is an additional clue: the asterism in the figure is named the summer triangle. It is not an official constelation, but in joins three stars from cygnus, aquila and lyra.
I conjecture a third possible cross between Cygnus and Aquila, inside the triangle, so it is also possible a Christian allegory, showing that Christ has been incorporated into the visible glory of God (I have not read about this, but I have not researched it in deep).
They are a more straighforward possibility instead of the triangle, just to assume the glory refers to the Moon and then one can meet ends with the arguments on Moon-cults, mesopotamian godness, etc.
Note that the standard astrology in alt magick is not exactly a set of constelations, but each star is associated with the firecamp of a daemon’s army. The more powerful the daemon, the brightest the fire, probably. I guess that the demons were drawed over an armilar sphere, which become the “bottle” where Solomon had trapped them. The glass version of this armillary sphere, used as an astrological tool, become the XIXth century popular “crystal ball” of skryers!
Also, it seems that other mnemonic systems have been essayed in astrology by using a sort of celestial writting; perhaps they tryied to read off from constellations a series of names instead of looking for figures.
Some milenia of zodiacal precession have moved the astronomical four corners across a varied range of stars and constellations (including very strong mithological groups as the “Pleyades”) and then suggesting different simbologies for sphinges, tetramorphs and every sort of royal stars. Add to this the simple problem od drawing the celestial sphere from inside or from outside, and guess that we will never know the original assignations of angels to the sky corners.
A very extensive review of the tetramorph can be found in this study of tarot card. Incidentaly, my mother used a “thot’s book”, a set of cards with letters associated to figures, to teach me the alphabet. The major arcana of the tarot most probably correspond to a latin or hebrew version of this teaching tool
The way from four angles to four angels is postulated to happen via the word “angaros” or “aggaros”, which is a kind of mounter courier, a messanger. It happens because the indoeuropean root for “angle” is also used to refer the angle between legs, then to ride could be said as “to ang” if such verb existed (actually, in Spanish we say “Montar a Horcajadas”, “fork-riding”).
How and when was this work assimilated to signify angel, I do not know (some dictionaries mention Sanskitt “angiras” for a divine messanger). Perhaps the paralell between a “corner of earth” and and angel or archangel was only seen as a inteligent wordplay. Or perhaps “angiras” was really evolving from “corner, angle”.
An extract from Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women
“While most could not read Hebrew—though there were some who recited the Shema in Hebrew from memory—most women said a prayer in Judeo-Spanish before going to bed, seeking protection from evil spirits throughout the night:
Kuatro kantonadas ay en esta kaza, Kuatro malahimes, kuatro anjelines, Ke mos guadren de fuego, i de flama, I de palavra mala, i de muerte subetania. Amen. There are four corners in this house, Four angels (in Hebrew), four angels (in Judeo-Spanish), May they protect us from fire, and from flame, And from evil speech, and from sudden death. Amen
- See Molho (1950, 163) for another version of “Kuatro Kantonadas.” According to Benbassa-Dudonney, the Sephardic women utter the prayer “Kuatro kantonadas ay en esta kaza” after reciting the “Kriat Shema” (1982, 26-29). It should be pointed out, however, that in many cases, “Kuatro kantonadas” in Judeo-Spanish was the only prayer used by women before going to sleep since they could not read Hebrew, the language of “Kriat Shema.” This prayer was popular not only in the Sephardic centers of the Balkans, Turkey, and the Dodecanese Islands, but also in Christian Spain and other localities, such as France and Portugal. In the Kriat Shema al Hamitah, the Shema for the Night Prayer, found in the Daily Prayer Book, the four angels referred to in “Kuatro kantonadas” are specifically named: “In the name of the Lord God of Israel, may Michael be at my right hand, and Gabriel at my left; before me Uriel; behind me Raphael; and above my head the divine presence” (Birnbaum 1949, 784). The Israeli-Sephardic singer Yoram Gaon performed for the welcoming of the new week, “Eli-Eliyahu,” in Hebrew, save for the following four lines, which are in Judeo-Spanish:
"A la derecha Mihael, I a la siedra Gabriel, Sovre la kavesa Shehina de El Kada dia i kada noche
[To the right Michael, / And to the left Gabriel, / Above the head the Presence of Him, / Each day and each night]” (Gaon, n.d.). José Manuel Pedrosa writes about the night prayer in Christian Spain (2000, 30-42). According to Pedrosa, “Certain determined common traits … allow us to affirm that the formulas concerning Las cuatro esquinas [The four corners] must be multi-cultural protective expressions of a magical rite against the spirits that in many countries are believed to surround an individual and his environment … in moments of carelessness, such as sleep” (1995, 187-220).”
More random references
Generically, for the archeoastronomy point of view, I suggest you to look for information on the “Mul-Apin” list, or even particular stars as the Pleiads (“Mul-Mul” or “Zappu”, the stars, seven times divine).
Completely unrelated, both the Pleiads and the triangle asterism have been reported in the different paintings at Lascaux prehistorical site. Look for Rappengluck in the web and also for Luz Antequera at
http://www.stargazers.com/jews.html tell us about the six-pointer star, the popular XIXth century jewish symbol, that
” Jacobs used a computer to search the ephemeris for the estimated time of King David’s birth (1050 B.C.E.) and found no time at which six of the seven planets used by the ancients were in this extremely rare configuration. At the AFA Convention in Atlanta in 1978 he was able to confirm the date of October 28, 1062 B.C.E., when the Moon in Cancer completed the second Grand Trine in the element of Water.(42) History remembers King David as the young boy who slew a giant with a slingshot. Stories of his power are legendary. It is said that Joab refused to join Absolom’s conspiracy against his father David “because he (Joab) had seen David’s favorable horoscope.” (See Sanhedrin 49a).(43) ”
Extract from masonic titles and duties:
Battery: [5-3-1]. The Knight’s duties are: “To purify the soul of its alloy of earthliness, that through the gate of Capricorn and the seven spheres it may at length ascend to its eternal home beyond the stars; and also to perpetuate the great truths enveloped in the symbols and allegories of ancient mysteries.” The apron is white, lined in black, and with gold stars on the white side (Pleiades, Hyades, Orion, Capella) and with silver stars on the black side (Perseus, Scorpio, Bootes). Also on it is a serpent, ouroboros, surrounding a scarab, a triangle in a glory with the Tetragrammaton in its center, and the four initials of the stars Regulus, Aldebaran, Antares, and Fomalhaut. The jewel is a gold tau cross (crux ansata) with a serpent entwined around it, and the Hebrew words HLThI (“he has suffered or been wounded”) and NChShThN (“the Brazen Serpent”) on it. The order has two ribbons: one crimson, with the words “Osiris, Ormuzd, Osar siph, Moses,” a bull and crescent, and the Hebrew word GBVRH (“Valor”); and one white, with the words “Isis, Ceres,” a dog’s head and crescent, and the word AVN (“Virtue”) — contrasting active/generative energy and passive/”capacity-to-produce” energy.