Pigment 532

Tank Green/ June 1, 2024/ Writing Walking

Photo of a round yellow and white flat bloom of lichen on mottled grey concrete. A sliver of grey sky behind.

Photo of a round yellow and white flat bloom of lichen on mottled grey concrete. A sliver of grey sky behind.

This is Pigment 532, or Sun Ra Yellow, the characteristic colour of Thelemic painting philosophy. It is the colour of the sun when seen through a blanket of ayahuasca mixed with cannabis tea and a shot of absinthe. It is principally found on a railway bridge in Harbourland, Kent, just off the North Downs Way, but can also be found in smaller quantities in similar locations throughout the island.

Pigment 532 disguises itself as a lichen, but those of us who have read Alistair Crowley’s Book of Colour Law will recognise the characteristic striation of the external ring of the yellow bloom. Due to the power, potency, and rarity of Pigment 532, it is not permitted for any one person to take more than 5 scrapes (equal to 1 gram) of the pigment at any time. I did not take any as I am crap at painting, but if you were to take some, you must use your hiking knife to scrape the pigment into a metal tin (never plastic as it would melt). Then, once back at your laboratory or studio, you grind it in a pestle and mortar with an equal quantity of Maldon sea salt. Finally, you should add some gin to achieve your desired consistency.

Whilst Pigment 532 appears yellow in its natural state, it becomes transparent once you have finished preparing it. As stipulated in the Book of Colour Law, the artist should first paint their composition as normal, using oils or watercolours only. Subsequently, and after performing the ceremony described by Crowley in the Book, the artist should very sparingly paint over the parts of the painting they wish to come to life.

You might be thinking that those parts will fall out of the painting, but that’s not how this works. The quite amazing thing is that 23 minutes to 23 full moons after applying the Pigment, you will receive a message telling you that the magic is done. Precisely how the message appears will depend upon your temperament: you may find a squirrel knocking at your window, or perhaps a photo will fall off the wall, or maybe a delicious smell will tantalise your nostrils just so. The point is, you will know. It will be obvious. 

Within 532 minutes of receiving the message, you are to lick the tip of your left index finger and touch one of the parts of the painting you covered with Pigment 532. It doesn’t matter which one as, very soon afterwards, it is you who will fall out of this life and into the realm of the being you created.

Reader, it stands to reason that you need to think very carefully about this in terms of what you are bringing to life with Pigment 532. Not only do you need to consider the behaviour of the being, but you also need to think about the kind of realm the being will inhabit. It’s no good assuming that just because flowers grow on plants in this realm, that they will in the other. Pigment 532 is magic in its purest form: anything can happen.

In addition, the being’s realm will likely not correspond at all with the painting, since, to the being, your painting is a prison from which they have escaped. So the star may not choose to live in a sky, nor the fish in an ocean. A goldfinch, for instance, could be anything from a bartender to a microbe to a WWF wrestler. It would still be a goldfinch, you understand, but it might not choose to act in the ways you would expect a goldfinch to behave. 

Without being too dramatic, I do think it is sensible to get your affairs in order before using Pigment 532. Frankly, there is no way of knowing if you would survive being an atom floating in space alongside your goldfinch, if that is what they have chosen for themselves. That said, I don’t want to be overly negative and discouraging: you could end up floating on a cloud with ease, come back and write a best selling memoir about your experience, and then sell the film rights for billions. As such and on balance, I think it’s definitely worth the risk.