Before picking up my copy of Jason Miller's "The Sorcerer's Secrets", I had previously heard of IAO, the gnostic version of the Tetragrammaton, consisting of the Greek letters Iota, Alpha, and Omega. Frater U:.D:.'s "High Magic" contains a discussion of some uses of the IAO formula as a centering exercise and in the creation of mantric sigils. Even then I found it pretty interesting, and for a short time I experimented with the centering exercise version as an alternative to the Qabalistic Cross. The name IAO, to me, has always felt less specific to one particular deity or culture, despite the fact that it's derived from YHVH. Typically it has had the sense of a general source of power and authority.
Since learning from Jason through TSS and Strategic Sorcery, I've included IAO in my regular practices and in numerous workings through various permutations. Beyond those things I adapted from Jason's material, though, I hadn't explored it much further until recently. To an extent, that changed when I read the little chapbook called "The Lunar Formula of IAO" by Derik Richards. He treats the IAO formula a as belonging on a "lower" arc than I normally work with it on, yet there was still some things I gleaned from it that have proven useful.
For example, an explanation of IAO from TSS goes into the Greek alphabet and their associations with the elements, the planets, and the zodiac. Fitting since IAO is the Greek version of YHVH, this system of the Stoicheia associates I with Sol, A with Luna, and O with Saturn. From a Neo-Platonic Hermetic standpoint, Jason's interpretation essentially places it as Sol ruling all things between Luna (the first sphere beyond those of the elements), and Saturn (the "highest" of the planetary spheres. Thus it places Sol as ruling all things. Taken this way, a practical use of it is as a way to draw the light of the divine (ie. power) down through the spheres.
With that said, a similar way this can be taken is I being a Solar, generating principle with A being the Lunar, transitioning and changing principle and O being the Saturnine, stabilizing principle. Of course this parallels the astrological concepts of cardinality, mutability and fixity.
Thus, the way I utilize this oh, so nifty name in magical work is:
- A key with which to draw forth raw, undifferentiated and yet balanced power.
- A name of power with which to draw upon spiritual authority that can be applied to different types of work.
Following the logic of some of this, it's not perfect but so far it has worked rather well for me. I have more to write about this topic, especially in relation to the elements. Stay tuned!