What are Points Chauds?
You probably won’t get the same answer from two different people, never mind a room full of people working the system. For the purposes of this site, we can roughly define the points chauds (French, lit. “hot points”) as locations on the human body that are “power points,” that can be empowered and/or activated, and that are directly connected with both the subtle body and some source of energy that is external to, or extends beyond the borders of, the human body. In this sense, while some participants in the work have speculated on correspondences with or connections to the meridians as they are conceived of in Chinese medicine and/or the chakras as they are conceived of in Indian/Hindu tradition(s), the points chauds are distinct from these more familiar systems. They are not simply interchangeable systems or terminologies, though connections are nearly certain.
Tau Allen Greenfield, the bishop overseeing the current Great Arabia Working of points chauds empowerments, has described the points in connection with “the Quasi-Masonic sexual and mystical empowerment ‘points’ on the human body, part of a lost system of 360 points, possibly of Akkadian-Sumerian origin . . . and carried forward by the lineage of mystical and magical priesthoods to the present time” (“Recent”). Greenfield has delineated the connections between the points chauds system and the Rites of Memphis-Misraim, which he believes to comprise a quarter of the original and lost “primitive” shamanic systems of initiation/empowerment (“Recent”).
As currently mapped alongside the Memphis-Misraim degree system correspondences, there are 97 points in the system – in the earlier Misraim rites there were 90 degrees, and in its later counterpart, the Memphis rite, there are 97 (Greenfield “360”; Compleat Rites). Current participants in the Great Arabia Working have already mapped, activated, and worked with several points that are “off the charts,” suggesting that Greenfield’s preliminary articulations of the points corresponding to a larger system of correspondences are worth further exploration.
In the Voudon Gnostic Workbook, Tau Michael Bertiaux refers in a few places to points chauds or “power points.” Within Bertiaux’s system, which was expanded upon in consultation with Bertiaux by Greenfield and others in the 80s, there are sixteen “hot points” or points chauds. Bertiaux writes, “With Les Houdeaux the most important matter is the orientation of the temple of the inner power, or the arrangement of the symbolic engines in space-consciousness. Now, it is very important to understand that we are the serviateurs of Les Houdeaux and must make the design of the temple, which is the cosmic map of magick, ideally suitable for their work….Thus, the most basic point in this science of esoteric work is the knowing of the points chaud or the engines of occult energy which are diffused through the spheres of magickal consciousness” (Bertiaux 39). Bertiaux goes on to describe four levels to the temple that may be conceived of as different, “higher worlds and regions of real power” (39). Bertiaux goes on to say, “These are four magickal regions or zones, and each of our lessons in this first series will treat of these zones of powers as collections of many hot-points…” (39).
In Bertiaux’s conception of the points as a type of “magickal engine,” he describes “eight magickal directions or pathways of power for the growth of more and more hot-points…. Each of these doors of consciousness has its own meaning and vibration, its own spirit or Loa and its own life, its own intimates and its own initiations, and its own projections into other dimensions and pathways through space-consciousness and time-will” (39).
The mention of the potential for “growth” of the hot points is provocative, considering and even extending beyond the opinion of T Allen Greenfield that the points are part of a larger 360 degree system. In the Voudon Gnostic Workbook and Monastery of the Seven Rays material, the points chauds are numbered 16, and are directly related to “physical places or parts of the body” (Voudon 487), and they are said to “actualize what is latent by giving something which is not fully experienced by the student, even though the student has the power deep within his psyche” (487). The points, then, are “accessible” via other means than those we are currently working within; in fact, Greenfield has commented that he has encountered magickians in whom some of the points were already activated, and that in some cases a practitioner working the points chauds system seemed to have “self-activated” some of the points – or perhaps the points, once activated, can work to further activate themselves.
The idea of energized points does not, of course, originate with Bertiaux, as any serious student of Haitian vodoun is aware. Of the more easily available of sources dealing with the matter of sacred points, Zora Neale Hurston is perhaps the most lucid. In Tell My Horse, she writes of a rite she attended in Archahaie for Loco and the dedication of a new hounfourt:
“A visiting houngan became possessed and the cry went up that “Papa Loco” ‘Amarre les points’” – that is, he was “tying the points.” That means that the loa was personally taking a hand in the execution of the things asked him by his followers…. Loco took possession of the body of the houngan and performed the ceremony himself” (158).
Here we might speculate on the nature of the energy that the practitioner of the points chauds work seems to “access” – that which seems to be distinct from, external to and separate from, the both the physical and astral bodies. In Haitian and “New World” vodou, the concept of possession is central, and certainly Bertiaux has commented on the connections between the points system as he articulates it and the tradition of the possession of the serviteur by the loa. Such possession, or even partial possession, does not seem to adequately account for the vast majority of experiences of the participants in the points chauds workings, however. The matter deserves further commentary.
Robert Farris Thompson explains the importance of the points in the relationship between the visible and invisible worlds, between the spirits and the devotee, when he describes a Kongo ritual for calling on the god and the ancestors, in which a point, or cosmogram, was drawn on the floor:
“Drawing a “point”… formed only a part of this most important Kongo ritual of mediation. The ritual also included “singing the point.” In fact, the Bakongo summarize the full context of mediation with the phrase “singing and drawing [a point],” yimbila ye sona. They believe that the combined force of singing Ki-Kongo words and tracing in appropriate media the ritually designated “point” or “mark” of contact between the worlds will result in the descent of God’s power upon that very point” (110). He continues, “To stand upon a point, to invoke the presence of the gods and ancestors, means that a person “[knows] the nature of the world, that he [has] mastered the meaning of life and death,” “empowered with insights from both worlds, both halves of the cosmogram” (Thompson 109-110). But there is a danger in standing in this place. As Dayan notes, the loa and the ancestors must be served, and they require special diets. A serviteur who cannot serve the loa is as rootless as the loa who “loses the necessary anchor,” who is “dispossessed” and “roams the countryside, bereft and rapacious” (Dayan online). The balance of the worlds and the stability of community and identity are threatened when worlds and class and cultures collide – at least in this context.
When the ancestral loa are lost, when the source of spiritual power is removed, the spirits can be bought and sold like slaves. Metraux writes, “the ‘hot point’ (point chaud) which is sold” by the bocor, or sorcerer, to Haitians “desperate to grow rich at whatever price” is “usually a spirit who is bound to serve them on certain conditions” (Metraux 287-288). This malignant magical and spiritual condition, according to Metraux, is a result of petty greed, a desire for vengeance, a triumph of the individual over the community. But the acquisition of a point, even outside the context of a ritual of mediation and spiritual selfhood, as in the Kongo rites, comes with a price and a responsibility:
“It is said of someone who has acquired a point chaud that he has got a “commitment” (engagement). This agreement – which binds him to evil spirits – usually entails an obligation to feed the baka [bought loa or zombi soul] with a human being, preferably some member of his own family […] The possession of a ‘hot point’ is only obtained at great risk” (Metraux 288-289).
Whether the loa is served or enslaved, the meeting place of the gods and man remains a site of potential danger. Farris writes of the Kongo ritual of lowering the point to the accompaniment of the sacred song, “The song was a warning. It suggested that the charm was like lightning, descending in slow motion, a spirit, a simbi, a force that could not be touched or seen” until lowered to its “appropriate point of revelation” (Thompson 111). Without the ritually appropriate parameters, when the loa can be bought and sold like slaves, the community is threatened.
While, in the work of examining the links between African, Haitian, and “New World” conceptions of the invisible world as it relates to the current points chauds work, much remains to be done, I dedicate so much space to the above descriptions because I believe that the sense of community is as integral to this work as it is to the work that the anthropologists describe. I do not believe that the points chauds work is inherently evil, self-serving, or destructive – in fact, I have found myself, against any “inherent” preference or wild imagining, engaged in healing work and spiritual service since I started working this system. However, I feel that this work is best not undertaken in isolation, that it is potentially dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken, and that a sense of magickal or even social isolation can be seriously detrimental to the magickian who undertakes this work. We are not in the Kongo, nor in Haiti, but none of us operate in a vacuum, and I believe this work entails certain responsibilities. These may vary from individual to individual, but I would be remiss in writing this article if I did not express my very firm conviction on that matter. This work is not mojo to be bought and sold – and I say that as a rootworker and reader who relies on income from those activities for a living. At least for me, the points chauds work has forced me to reflect on the role and importance of the communities in which I am a part. I do not believe this work was meant to be, or can be, done alone, and in that light it differs from some more commonly encountered initiatory practices in the Western tradition.
History of the Work
T Allen Greenfield, after his consecration as bishop by T Michael Bertiaux in November 1988 in New York City, brought over two decades of scrying practice to work on Bertiaux’s admittedly difficult Voudon Gnostic Workbook, as well as his experience with yoga, traditional scrying techniques, and the correspondence system in Crowley’s 777 and the traditonal hermetic practices of scrying on the planes. This effort was directed toward scrying the “actual aboriginal degree system for the authentic magical tradition” (“360”).
T Allen Greenfield began practical work in the 1990s on the points chauds system, in conference with Bertiaux and as a result of meditation techniques developed by Bertiaux and the late W.W. Webb. TAG set about to “empower individual participants with select or full sets of these points” (“360”). Greenfield writes, “I have little hope of recovering all 360 degrees of the authentic tradition, but I think I, or my best students or others who read this may succeed in . . . accomplishing the entire degree system of the Rite of Memphis-Misraim, fully one fourth of the ancient system, bypassing (though not necessarily being a substitution for) ritual initiation and generating profound understanding of and use for all existing systems of initiation, and enhancing the work of those involved in such systems. The “trigger points” or “power points” – known as points chauds in the system of Gnostic Voudon as taught by T Michael Bertiaux and developed according to his methods, with due consultation with other sources, are an attempt to expand upon the empowerments and their corresponding points on the human body developed at the end of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st. As stated the authentic tradition may be reasonably postulated to have originated in ancient Sumer, Akad and Babylon, with heavenly correspondences to each degree of initiation in a complete circular system of 360 degrees, of which the 90 degrees of the Rite of Misraim (Egypt) represents only one fourth of the original. The earliest form of the authentic tradition was shamanic, and remnants of this system survive all over the world in aboriginal society. The first systematic system of magick appears to have come from the rich early societies of Mesopotamia, Sumer, Akkad , Babylon and related societies” (“360”).
Greenfield proposes the following measures for further work in these directions, and has engaged in the second round of empowerment working with the current participants in accordance with these guidelines:
(A) All recipients of “points chauds” beyond a few should be invested with the “power and wisdom” of the ancient priesthoods, if not with the actual priesthoods themselves, as “containments” for the energies transmitted.
(B) All recipients should be encouraged to keep notes and share with other participants the results of empowerments as they progress, be they positive, negative or neutral.
(C) The points should be administered in “sacred space” or “power zones”. While room should be made for spontaneous empowerments, on the whole the recipients should study the points and their correspondences, the antient degrees with which they are associated, and should indicate themselves out of their own intuition and study and experience which points are to be empowered on a given occasion, by word and gesture, and should determine the number of points they are comfortable assimilating on a given occasion. (“360”).
Greenfield notes, “The actual system itself, being self-actualizing once communicated, is self-defining and self proving, and one should modify the working mythos accordingly – be that not at all or abandoned entirely, or somewhere in between.”
A Note on the Ongoing Records
The points chauds system is initiatory in nature, and often has profound effects on the recipients. (Before TAG decided that participants needed to be consecrated in order to “contain” these energies, several members of the original working group in the 1990s suffered such ill effects as madness, disappearance, death, and instances of abrupt and very uncharacteristic withdrawal from any occult involvement whatsoever.) Because much of the experimental work in progress is highly personal in nature, much of the collected and annotated material uses sometimes confusing initials or shortened names and comes from various sources where the participants are writing about their experiences. Not all participants write as much or as freely as others, and not all of the writings are available to the general public, so much of what is collected here is quoted from other sources, though with permission and with anonymity intact where requested. Some material is gathered through private interview when public comments from participants have not been forthcoming. I will, when granted permission, link to those original sources.
According to T Allen Greenfield, results have included “precognitive powers, advanced travel in the body of light to other terrestrial locations and times, healing powers” (“360”). Individual participants with whom I have worked have reported increased healing capacities, increased empathic ability, increased scrying and clairvoyant ability, and added “juice” in general magickal workings.
It would be irresponsible of me not to mention, again, the less desirable side effects. These have included the “Princess effect,” in which the points are activated but the activation does not “take,” lingering physical, psychological, and emotional effects including mild hallucinations, difficulty in initially controlling the newly-increased energy flow, and generally all of the psychic fallout one may expect from experiencing what is essentially a very rapid and concentrated set of powerful initiations – the results depend largely on the individual and his or her state of preparation. The experienced practitioner may note that these are the same sorts of effects that one may experience in any esoteric initiatory system; I think it important to emphasize that the points chauds work is, in effect, initiatory, and that, as the saying goes, “the vessel must be properly prepared.”
The Work is ongoing into the year 2007 as I write this. We will share more details and experiences as they develop and as we progress.
Pertinent Quotations on the Points Chauds from Bertiaux.
or Notes for Further Consideration, Commentary, and Development
from “Gnostic Zoology: From Bio-Physics to the Ojas-Organisms” (p 327 of the VGW)
“One of the basic assumptions of the magickal life-sciences is that if there are fields of force which are conscious, there are also living organisms, either of a physical or a metaphysical type, in existence and subject to magickal exploration. Technically speaking, all of gnostic physics is a form of biophysics, because we are examining consciousness-directed energy fields. But it is necessary also to move our explorations beyond the categories of physics, so that we can see the life-fields now as organic systems. These organisms are the externalizations of the Ojas system and are to be found in a variety of contexts. For the purposes of our magickal study, we can state that these organisms can be clsasified fundamentally as types of the four basic forms of Ojas.
Question: Is the magician made up of these organisms?
Answer: The magickal vehicle of the magician would certainly be composed of these organisms. However, this vehicle is generated by magickal processes and is not the same as the astral body or other karmic vehicles.
Q: Are these organisms ever inducted by magicko-radionic methods?
A: Yes. There exist special zoological initiations for this purpose. Such experiments give the magician an entry into the pure universes and hence extend his powers by menas [sic] of his becoming one with that archetypal realm.”
from “Bathos-Gnosis: The Kama-Ojas Field” (p 329)
“Question: What is this new energy called “Bathos-Gnosis”?
Answer: Actually, Bathos-Gnosis is quite an ancient idea. It refers to the making use of the deepest energies of a gnostic and magickal character. It refers to the powers of the deep as they are realized in the magickal sciences of the gnosis. It also refers to the magickal methods whereby students of the gnosis are inducted into the deepest and most powerful levels of the ultra-consciousness.
Q: What is the Kama-Ojas Field?
A: The Kamas-Ojas Field is the name for the magickal mechanism whereby the deep powers of the gnosis are fed into the candidate for magickal development…. This field draws its powers from sexo-magickal radioactivity and the deepest regions of cosmic lust, or magikcal libido. It is the basis for the physics of the ultra-unconscious…
Q: Are there methods whereby these energies are inducted into the candidate?
A: They are inducted by means of our psionic and radio-metapsychological machines, which pick up and transmit these energies at the “present time/broadcasting” range of operation. They may also be inducted my means of magickal explorations and also through the Yemethian system of initiation, of which there are 16 hot-points.
Q: How are candidates for magickal development inducted into the field?
A: They are simply given to it. They become data for its operations. They must not offer an [sic] resistance to this field. They must seek to enter this field totally and merge their total being with this field in order to realize the powers of the deep, which are the magickal energies implicit in the field of the gnosis. They must give themselves totally to this power. The surrender must be absolute.
Q: Are the Points-Chauds of this system entities or are they processes?
A: Both. Everything in this field is both an intelligent entity (beyond human levels of intelligence) and a dynamic process or energy. When the candidate is with the system, these points-chauds merge with his mind and psychic field. They do not when the same person is separate. They are like psychological complexes of the most creative sort, which being radiations of the archeytpes are sustained by the planetary energies in question. Hence, it would be possible to lose the powers if you withdrew from the gnostic continuum of the system.”
p 487 “The Nature of Empowerments”
Q: How are empowerments arranged or organized, because from what I have heard they are highly structured objects?
A: Empowerments or empowerment, when viewed as a group process, are arranged in forms of 16, like much else in the teaching [note: the work as currently articulated has gone beyond the 16 point system into the 97* system as discussed by T Allen Greenfield on his website]. However, they are related to 16 physical places or parts of the body, because they actualize what is latent by giving something which is not fully experienced by the student, even though the student has the power deep within his psyche.
Q: Are empowerments connected to chakrams as in yoga where energies are projected from chakras into the student?
A: Not necessarily. Something may connect them and sometimes this does happen, but I think empowerment work is more esoteric than chakra work, as we find it in layayoga. I also know that empowerment in certain ways makes use of certain tattwas, which are not used by yoga. In this sense, then, they are highly esoteric and particularly secret. Yet, we can understand that empowerments can be related to chakras in the usual sense.
Q: Then would you say that empowerments make use of the energies of kundalini and the other mysteries of layayoga?
A: Again, this would be to simplify the matter. Actually, in the gnosis kundalini is present as psychic pneuma and vital pneuma, or spiritual power; but it is much more of an extension beyond the powers of yoga, as vast as they are. For this reason, I think it best to say that yoga is one form of empowerment.
Q: Is empowerment connected to initiation?
A: It can be seen as part of that process. The infusion of energy and power from the cosmic dimension to the body of the student during initiation is a form of empowerment at work. However, really during empowerment exercises, it is the unconscious which is now liberated by the teacher in the student.
Q: ARe the ray-lines, which connect the empowerments to their objectives, e.g., the student of the Master MB, in the body of the student and if so, have these been measured or analyzed?
A: Such lines of power do exist and these lines of power do have a network type of occult structure. They are closely similar to lattices as we see them in other places of the universe. However, once the empowerments are given, at least in the esoteric sense, it can be said to remain there permanently as a link between the vital self and the cosmos of vitality, which is the source of the empowerment. However, it has its place of existence in the intimate intuitions of the Master, which link him to the student.
Q: Does empowerment imply devic work being done at the same time?
A: I think that empowerment work does take place with a devic continuum or inside of the actual field of a devic energy. That was the basis for the old idea of the connection between empowerment and possession, or the reception of vudo [sic] energy. Lucien [Francois Jean-Maine] came to see this connection as the basis for how empowerment worked.
1. Les Houdeaux, or where we are now. 2. Les Linglessoux, or the realm of the shrouds of the dead. 3. Les Cadavres Piquantes or Cadavres Piquants, which is the world of embalmed corpses.
4. Les Faiseurs-des-Zombi, or the mages who bring the dead back to physical activity. (39)
I quote Bertiaux at length here more to give the reader an idea of the origins of the current system rather than in an attempt to illuminate any of the finer points of Bertiaux’s conception of space-time engines or spider-loa. (The reader is directed to the Voudon Gnostic Workbook and other material available to Ordo Templi Orientis Antigua and the Monastery of the Seven Rays members for further illumination. The current working group is not directly associated with any of these organizations.)
Bertiaux, Michael. The Vodoun Gnostic Workbook. New York: Magickal Childe, Inc. 1988.
Dayan, Joan. “Vodoun, or the Voice of the Gods.” Raritan, 10, 3. Accessed 4 November 2005. Available in Academic Search Premier, Accession Number 9604242187.
Greenfield, Allen. “360/90 Points Chauds System for SCRYING THE UNIVERSE.” Updated August 6, 2006. Available as of January 3, 2007 at http://www.mindspring.com/~hellfire/bishop/points1.htm
Greenfield, Allen. “Recent Arabia Working Diary.” Created May 31, 2006. Available as of January 3, 2007 at http://tausirhasirim.livejournal.com/38561.html
Greenfield, Allen. The Compleat Rite of Memphis. Marietta, Georgia: Luxor Press, Inc., 1998.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
Metraux, Alfred. Voodoo in Haiti. Trans. Hugo Charteris. New York: Schocken Books, 1972.
Rigaud, Milo. Secrets of Voodoo. Trans. Robert Cross. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1985.
Thompson, Robert Farris. Flash of the Spirit. New York: Random House, 1984.
Trefzer, Annette. “Possessing the Self: Caribbean Identities in Zora Neale Hurston’s Tell My Horse.” African American Review 34, 2. 299-312.
Special thanks to Tau Allen Greenfield, Tau Peristera de Magdalene, Tau Heosphoros Iacchus, John Crow, Tau Meitros, and Tau Anahita, and the members of Synods A, B, and C for their contribution to this work. Any errors or misinterpretations are my sole responsibility.