The most peculiar part of Rufus Opus' Seven Spheres system for me was definitely the recommended order of the initiations. You start at Jupiter, work your way down from Mars to the Moon, and then go back up to Saturn for the final ritual. When I first went through the initiations last year I was determined to follow the book's suggestions as it was all very new for me. Now that I'm approaching Trithemian conjuration again through an actual course as opposed to as a solo endeavor, the order has been reversed—and frankly it makes a lot more sense to me that way. You get a taste of all the different planetary spheres in Moon, and then move your way up in the same order of succession as the actual Hermetic model of the planets.
The reprise of the seven spheres initiations proper will be taking place way later, however. At this stage in the Red Work I'm studying Agrippa, reading Hermetic texts, and cycling through the different facets of elemental initiation. It's funny how what happened originally for me last year was that I dreamed about adding on to the Seven Spheres book by going through the elements as well, using the archangels of the four quarters. With the help of my spiritual court we devised a plan to work through the elements in clockwise order of the directions, beginning with air. Now in the Red Work course this is an actual assignment, though it comes with a number of nuances and furnishings unique to its material.
So I'm going to be working through the elemental initiations a few times, getting comfortable with the spirits and really letting their rays fill and flower in my sphere. Instead of writing about them the evening or night of the ritual's performance, I'm going to wait a week to better reflect on the actual feeling. Since I completed my Earth initiation last Saturday, now would be the the time to do so.
I called Auriel again, communed, and requested the initiation. It might be something of a cliche but right off the bat I felt immensely "grounded". I can certainly be a little flighty at times (I'm constantly multitasking and working on a thousand things at once... I'm a Gemini with an Aquarius ascendant!) but after the initiation I noticed I was completely "rooted" to whatever I was to be doing at the time. Whenever I set my mind to something I just accomplished it. I've been super productive, breezing through university work and personal magical projects in a way that honestly has been a little unsettling to me. My memory seems to be better as well, which is interesting.
As for the "materialistic side" of things, as the element of Earth most certainly deals with that... about two days after the initiation I started to seriously clean. Whatever doesn't smell like hyssop smells like Florida water now. I wiped down everything, completely remade my working altar, waxed, polished, and dusted every tool, and fumed everything with a good helping of incense. I'm not a messy person and it's not like my spaces weren't clean to begin with, but I suddenly couldn't help but feel the need to get intimate with all the "materia" of my life. One on one, touching everything as if it was the first time I encountered it. Really mesmerizing myself with every texture and colour. Thinking back on it, it was almost trance-like. I'm elated with the organizational changes I've made; no doubt I'll be going through this many times over in the future.
Another noticeable effect was that I kept finding myself getting pulled over and over again to my ancestors. With their assistance and input I helped create a brand new shrine for them that works infinitely better for them and for me. The centerpiece of the shrine itself is actually a large, decorative, wooden box my grandmother gave me. I filled it with the keepsakes, trinkets, and inherited items from my family that help me best connect with my ancestors, and flanked it with other furnishings as well as a glass of cool water. Everything feels so much more steady and powerful, as well as joyous over all. Spirit itself moves more easily through the physical channels I've laid out because of the new correspondences.
Finally, regarding more "negative" side effects—because with the elements you certainly get both the good and the bad. I don't think I'm any more "dense" or "literal", but what I am is more... heavy? Mentally and emotionally, I feel as if I just sink as opposed to float. In a good way this has made me more productive, committed, and resilient as I mentioned. But the same applies for situations that aren't productive: when my brain decides to quit, that's it. On the days where I don't have classes I've slept in way beyond my normal time. When I don't "feel like" doing something I would be better off doing, I've found it a lot easier to justify to myself committing to and reinforcing that feeling. Honestly, it's kind of surreal to notice myself being so stubborn when I'm usually so flexible. Auriel basically warned me to watch out for that and it still slipped my mind the first few times. That said, Auriel also advised that it would take me less time to set a habit in stone than it would normally, and that's absolutely been true. As such, as soon as I recognized a problem it was far easier to move past it and train myself out of that negative mindset than usual.
This Monday I will be going through the water initiation, so I'll reflect on that in another week.