An Abbreviated Barbarous Name in a Solar Vision Spell from PGM Va

As part of a little research project of mine, I’ve been trying to come up with magical formulas that consist of five or six words or simple phrases.  We’ll talk more about why later on once I get to that point in my research and have a post to share about it, but for now, suffice it to say that I was flipping through the PGM again recently, and came across a short little entry, PGM Va.1—3.  There’s no title or heading for this, though Betz classifies it as a “spell for direct vision”:

O Hēlios ΒΕΡΒΕΛΩΧ ΧΘΩΘΩΜΙ ΑΧ ΣΑΝΔΟΥΜ ΕΧΝΙΝ ΖΑΓΟΥΗΛ, bring me into union with you!
(Add the usual, then anoint yourself, and you will have a direct vision).

(Transliteration of the barbarous words: BERBELŌKH KHTHŌTHŌMI AKH SANDŪM EKHNIN ZAGŪĒL)

Short and simple, I guess.  But something is weird about this already, given its unusual PGM index number of Va, seemingly belonging neither to PGM V nor PGM VI.  Sure enough, Betz indicates that this papyrus doesn’t belong to PGM V, the famous Papyrus 46 from the British Library, nor to PGM VI, which is Papyrus 121 from the same collection.  Rather, PGM Va belongs to the Stockholm Papyrus, aka the Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis, a collection of chemical and alchemical formulae and recipes largely focusing on gems, pearls, and textile dyeing.  It’s only at the very end of this papyrus on a separate folio that we find the following (the whole scan of which is up on the World Digital Library):

Preisendanz gives the transcription of this as:

Ἥλιε ΒΕΡΒΕΛΩΧ ΧΘΩΘΩΜΙ Α̅Χ̅ ΣΑΝΔΟΥΜ
ΕΧΝΙΝ ΖΑΓΟΥΗΛ, ἔχε με συνιστάμενον.
Κοινά, καὶ τότε ἐγχρίου, καὶ αὐτοπτήσεις.

The way Preisendanz includes this papyrus is such that it comes between PGM V and PGM VI, and thus immediately follows the final two parts of PGM V, PGM V.447—458 and PGM V.459—489.  It’s these segments that give us the Divine Illumination of Dreams ritual and the Invocation to the Supreme Nous that I discussed not too long ago, which share some similar barbarous words as this one (ΧΘΕΘΩΝΙ similar to ΧΘΩΘΩΜΙ, ΖΑΓΟΥΡΗ similar to ΖΑΓΟΥΗΛ).

Importantly, note something in the original manuscript and in Preisendanz that’s not in Betz: the overline over ΑΧ.  This indicates one of two things: that it’s either a number (which is incredibly unlikely in this case, but if it were, it’d be 601), or it’s an abbreviation for another word.  The author of the Stockholm Papyrus uses abbreviations regularly, like Η̅Μ̅ for ἡμέρα “day”, but Α̅Χ̅ is likely an abbreviation for another barbarous word.  The question then becomes: which barbarous word would Α̅Χ̅ stand for?

Without other context, I’m not 100% sure what this abbreviation would refer to.  The word that immediately comes to mind would be ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ (AKRAMMAKHAMAREI), but I’m sure there are other candidates for this, too, like ΑΧΑΧ (“AKHAKH”, PGM1.42ff, PGM III.410ff) or ΑΧΒΑ (“AKHBA” as a name for Aiōn from the Mithras Liturgy in PGM IV.475ff).  ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ also appears in the short victory charm in PGM VII.1017ff, which directly starts off hailing Hēlios, and also in PGM XII.153ff, a spell for divine revelation, which also includes a name, ΒΑΡΒΑΡΒΕΛΩΧΑ ΒΑΡΒΑΙΑΩΧ (“BARBARBELŌKHA BARBARIAŌKH”), tantalizingly similar to ΒΕΡΒΕΛΩΧ in PGM Va.

However, given the similarity of ΖΑΓΟΥΗΛ to the name ΖΑΓΟΥΡΗ (“ZAGŪRĒ”) which is in PGM V.447—489 as well as in (amongst other parts of the PGM as a whole) PGM XIII, we can also pick up on the name ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ (“AKHEBUKRŌM”), which later on in PGM XIII is explicitly called “the name of Hēlios” and “signifies the flame and radiance of the disk”.  However, unlike ΖΑΓΟΥΡΗ or ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ, both of which are fairly common throughout the PGM, the name ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ only appears in PGM XIII.  I suppose it helps that this papyrus is contemporaneous with PGM Va and has the same Theban provenance, but perhaps more importantly, it has been noted before that PGM Va and the first 21 folios of PGM XIII are written in the same hand, giving more weight that ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ is the real name here.

It’s also more convenient that ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ actually starts with “ΑΧ” unlike ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ, which would have to be broken into ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑ and ΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ in order for the abbreviation Α̅Χ̅ to make sense.  Breaking up a name like this based on syllables isn’t that uncommon (like Μ̅Ρ̅ for Μαρια), but seeing that this divine name likely has its origins with Aramaic עקר מכמרי‬ `aqar makhmarei (“uproot the nets”, i.e. a magical command to dispel the magical powers and protections upon someone), dividing it along the lines of ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑ and ΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ seems unlikely.

So, depending on how you want to reckon it, Α̅Χ̅ is most likely an abbreviation for either ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ or ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ.  This means that we’d repair our solar invocation of PGM Va.1—3 as either:

  1. ΒΕΡΒΕΛΩΧ ΧΘΩΘΩΜΙ ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ ΣΑΝΔΟΥΜ ΕΧΝΙΝ ΖΑΓΟΥΗΛ
    (“BERBELŌKH KHTHŌTHŌMI AKRAMMAKHAMAREI SANDŪM EKHNIN ZAGŪĒL”)
  2. ΒΕΡΒΕΛΩΧ ΧΘΩΘΩΜΙ ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ ΣΑΝΔΟΥΜ ΕΧΝΙΝ ΖΑΓΟΥΗΛ
    (“BERBELŌKH KHTHŌTHŌMI AKHEBUKRŌM SANDŪM EKHNIN ZAGŪĒL”)

Personally, the more I think about it, the more ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ makes sense, given that PGM Va is about a solar divine revelation and that ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ is explicitly identified as a solar word/name—although some scholars have contended that ΑΚΡΑΜΜΑΧΑΜΑΡΕΙ is still a solar word in its own right along with other famous barbarous words like ΑΒΛΑΝΑΘΑΝΑΛΒΑ, so I guess it could go either way depending on how you look at the evidence.  However, given all the historical, linguistic, and symbolic evidence here, I lean towards ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ, but without seeing any other examples of either of these barbarous words abbreviated, I suppose it’s up to experimentation and divination to clarify the way forward.

As for actually using this invocation, well…there’s not a lot to really help us out, besides the ever-delightful “add the usual”, though the instruction to “anoint yourself, and you will have a direct vision” does help.  I suppose we could preface this (or follow it up) by reciting the Invocation to the Supreme Nous from PGM V.459ff, though the use of the name “Zeus” and lack of any overt solar symbolism seems to make this a less-than-ideal candidate.  PGM XIII.1ff has a good couple of candidates, such as the invocations from lines 255—261 and 335—341 that are explicitly for making Hēlios appear, to be said facing the east and to be used to “perform the acts of thanksgiving to Hēlios, rites to fetch lovers, send dreams, ask for dreams, make Hēlios appear, attain goals, win victories, and in short, everything”:

I am he on the two cherubim at the middle of the cosmos,
between Heaven and Earth, Light and Darkness, Night and Day, Rivers and Sea!
Appear to me, o archangel of God, set in authority by the One and Only Himself!

Using this method, however, there is a chance that Hēlios could appear “glowering”, i.e. upset or angry at you for having called him at an inopportune time.  According to the practice given in PGM XIII.1ff, follow the above with this to ask for another suitable time for the operation:

Specify an hour, a day, a month, a year, o Lord of Life!

Alternatively, the whole of the Preliminary Invocation of the Heptagram Rite from PGM XIII.734ff, to be used before the actual Calling of the Sevenths, may also work well, or this could be incorporated into the Heptagram Rite generally specifically for a solar and divine revelation.  Or you could just, well, “add the usual” according to your own usual practices.

As for the ointment with which you are to anoint yourself, this could be something as simple as pure olive oil or an oil composed of solar ingredients and prayed over, but there are plenty of other options we could pick, too, from other PGM sections:

  • PGM IV.475ff (the Mithras Liturgy): the oil of the mystery composed of a sacred sun scarab, lotus fruit pulp, honey, and rose oil
  • PGM V.54ff (another short direct vision spell): anoint the right eye with water from a shipreck or sunken skiff, and the left eye with kohl (“Coptic eyepaint”) with the same water
  • PGM V.213ff (Hermes’ ring to be used for revelation): salve of lilies, myrrh, or cinnamon
  • PGM XXXVI.221ff (a prayer to Hēlios for victory and restraining anger): just plain oil

Going back to the original topic of the post, on what barbarous name Α̅Χ̅ stands for, I should point out that I would never have noticed that this is actually an abbreviation for a name and not the word ΑΧ itself if I hadn’t looked past Betz and inquired about the origins and earlier versions of this text.  As I’ve seen discussed a number of times on Facebook PGM groups and by other amazing occult authors and writers, the more we take a deeper look at the PGM in Betz, the more we find simple mistakes or omissions that weren’t there in either the original manuscript or in Preisendanz’ critical Greek version of the PGM.  It behooves many of us to do this sort of deeper digging and diving, not only because it can lead to newer and surprising revelations and approaches to this sort of magic, but also because we have the technology, resources, and community collaboration to do this that wasn’t available even a few years ago.

A Follow-up on the Chaplet of the Eight Dragons

After I put up that post not too long back about the “Chaplet of Eight Dragons”, I’ve been trying to figure out more about it.  There’s really not a lot out there, and even after making a pair of them for myself and my shrine, it’s a pretty mysterious thing.  Happily, we did have a lead for more information: from Francis Warrain’s 1968 Physique, métaphysique, mathématique, et symbolique cosmologique de la Géomancie we get to the 1949 text De l’Architecture Naturelle, ou Rapport de Petrus Talemarianus sur l’établissement, d’après les principes du Tantrisme, du Taoïsme, du Pythagorise et de Cabale, d’une «Règle d’Or» servant à la Réalisation des Lois de l’Harmonie universelle et contribuant à l’accomplissemenet du «Grand Œuvre» (or, in English, Natural Architecture, Or, a Report by Petrus Talemarianus on the Establishment of a “golden Rule” According to the Principles of Tantrism, Taoism, Pythagoreanism, and the Kabala, Serving to Fulfill the Laws of Universal Harmony and Contributing to the Accomplishment of the GreatWork).  This book is pretty hard to find, but with the loving-kindness of my friends who let me use their academic institution interlibrary loan benefits, I was able to get a copy of the thing—and in an English translation put out in 2007, no less!

It is a cinderblock of a book.  And…well, it’s certainly eclectic and syncretic in its approach to everything, that’s for sure.  It’s a dastardly slog of a read, and it flips back and forth between topic to topic to topic.  The prefaces done by the translators describe much about the text:

Véga’s publication of [this book] in 1949 was another act of positive defiance.  The extravagance and gigantic size of the book, its superb typography and hundreds of illustrations, and the declared intention of teaching architects how to build houses and palaces, churches and temples with natural materials, in accordance with natural laws, were as contrary as possible to the drabness and shoddiness of the postwar world

The whole atmosphere of L’architecture naturelle seems in accord with its authorship by an aristocratic recluse, who chose as a pseudonym a Latinization of his ancestral home, while [Alexandre] Rouhier, the pharmacologist-editor, inserted the incongruous references to the personalities and interests of the Wronksian circle.  There is evidently room for further investigation of this enigmatic character.

The text truly is beautifully illustrated, blending elements of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, European, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, and other architectural disciplines along with no end of alchemical references.  Disappointingly, however, the “Chaplet of Eight Dragons” only appears once in the entire book: that of the printer’s mark itself, which in the translation is the very last image in the entire book:

 

Likewise, the only reference to the thing I could find in the book was in the addenda, which offers notes and observations about some of the minor illustrations in the book, namely the frontispiece, various prayer beads used to line the table of contents, and other small decorative but symbolic details about the book, finishing up with a bit about the printer’s mark itself:

The geomantic necklace or rosary which surrounds the printer’s mark is constituted by the juxtaposition, end to end, of 8 rosaries, each formed of 16 rows of beads, 8 even and 8 odd, i.e. of 24 (= 8 × 3) beads.  The whole necklace therefore comprises 192 (= 8 × 24) beads, which is a third of the number of lines which constitute the 64 hexagrams of Fou-Hi.

These 8 rosaries, constituting one larger rosary, are linked together according to positions which can be variable but which are always strictly ordered and precise.  On this rosary, which forms a closed circuit, the alternation of even and odd rows is such that, if taken in successive groups of 4, progressing by one rank each time, one obtains in each smaller rosary the 16 elementary figures of geomancy, without any figure ever being missing or repeated.  The order of succession of these 16 figures varies with each of the smaller rosaries.

Depending on whether one “reads” the rosary in clockwise or anticlockwise direction (and now the total number of beads becomes 384, which is the number of the beginning of the composition of the Soul of the World according to Plato), one may observe that there are, in reality, two rosaries perfectly distinct from one another but contained within the same object; this rosary therefore represents Duality within Unity, the “Yin-Yang” of Taoism.

On this geomantic rosary there are, 8 times over, distributed in a uniform manner in all the 16 ranks, an identical series of 6 ranks: 4 consecutive odd ranks of beads, preceded and followed by an even rank, which thus yield, in an invariable order, the succession of the 3 following figures: Caput draconis, Via, Cauda draconis being, according to their astrological correspondences, the North Node, Moon, and South Node.  Being distributed regularly on the necklace, they can be taken as points of departure for each rosary, which results in the Rosarium geomanticum being given its name, “Rosary of 8 Dragons.”  These dragons are amphibian, because if one “reads” the rosary in the opposite direction from the preceding, the succession of the 3 figures becomes Cauda draconis, Via, Caput draconis: the head of the dragon takes the place of its tail and vice versa.  On the north spire of the cathedral of Chartres, the weathercock bears the alchemical sun (pictured to the right of the Bottle, p. 361), the Virgin with the Child is seated upon a lead finial; and at her feed are 8 serpents, each facing in the 8 directions of space.

To this octuple succession of amphibian dragons uniformly distributed on the necklace, there is opposed by complement another octuple succession not uniformly distributed, which is comprised of 4 consecutive even rows of beads, preceded and followed by an odd row, and which thus yields, in an invariable order, the succession of the 3 following figures: Lætitia, Populus, Tristitia, according to the astrological correspondences Jupiter, Moon, and Saturn.

The metaphysical meditations that one can obtain by means of this rosary are, like those obtained with the aid of other rosaries, practically limitless.

No references to calling it the “Rosary of the Geomancers of Allahabad” that I could find, as Joël Jacques called it in his eclectic book on geomancy, and as far as I could tell skimming through this behemoth of a text, there’s nothing to back up Francis Warrain’s claim that “[t]hese ‘rosaries’ are commonly used, it seems, in certain and highly secret tantric sects as supports for very complex metaphysical meditations, as well as for geomantic divinatory uses, and also for subtle purposes of ‘recognition initiation'”.  However, it is known that the author of D’architecture naturelle and Francis Warrain were in contact with each other, so perhaps Warrain had some other information at his disposal that isn’t otherwise published—along with the tantalizing final line from the addenda of the book itself.  After all, as the section in the addenda describing the illustrations of prayer beads says:

The use of the rosary as a material support for the recitation of the formulae of prayer (mantras), undoubtedly originating in India, is common to all the doctrines which use the “Shakti” (Word) as a basis; its effect is to cause the awakening of “Kundalini”; it is completed by the use of the mystic diagrams (yantras), which are like a visual representation of the Mother under her subtle aspect.  The repetition of the “mantras”, following the numbers and mutations subject to the laws of the regular partition of the sphere, which are of cosmic harmony, aided by the contemplation of the “yantras” subject to the same laws and by a devoted attitude (mudras), causes rhythmic vibrations which have their repercussions throughout the series of multiple states of being, and serving to realize the interior illumination which is the goal of all “incarnation.”.

There are otherwise scant few references to geomancy in general in D’architecture naturelle, so despite the massive undertaking of this book and despite a few references to the Qur’ān, the ancient Egyptians, or Gilgamesh and Enkidu here and there, it would seem that topics of generally Middle Eastern or African origin didn’t seem to be of much interest to the author, instead focusing on European, Greco-Roman, Chinese, and Indian topics of spirituality and occult architecture.

It’s honestly unclear to me at this point what the real origin of the “Chaplet of Eight Dragons” is; though there are suggestions there are Persian or South Asian origins to the thing, without people from Iran, India, or Pakistan to corroborate this or flesh it out some, there’s not a lot going on here for that.  Happily, one of my Pakistani friends says he’s seen such a thing in use, so it doesn’t seem to be an outright invention by fanciful Western authors, but I can’t say much more about it at the present time.  Outside of these modern French geomantic and occult texts, the only other thing I can find it is this French geomancer’s blog, where she makes such rosaries based on similar resources as what I’ve already seen.  I suppose time will tell what other resources might arise to flesh out this little geomantic apparatus.

Updates to Divination Services (also, happy 10th birthday to me!)

So, first things first: happy birthday to the Digital Ambler!  As of today, the Digital Ambler is 10 years old!  This has been a wild ride, and I honestly had no idea that this is where I’d turn up, though it’s undoubtedly better than anything I could have imagined on that winter day back during my last semester of college when I started this blog as a tributary writing project for XaTuring.  From delving deep into classical Hermetic stuff to exploring the expanse of geomancy, from researching Greco-Egyptian magic to refining any number of other magical and spiritual approaches to making our lives better, I’m thrilled to have gotten this far, and I’m even more thrilled you all have stuck around for it.  Thank you, my amazing and lovely readers, for ambling along this path with me; let’s see where our path continues to take us.

UPDATE (2020-02-10): It turns out that this is my 777th post, and I’m upset I didn’t catch that when I made it.  I would’ve made something fancier had I been more aware, but of well.  Ten years and 777 posts between them; not a bad stretch!

Anyway, now that I’ve finally caught up on sleep from the gauntlet of divination readings from last month, I’ve been reconsidering how I want to continue offer divination services, and I’ve been rethinking my services and how I want to go about them.  I’m still offering them, no worries there, but I figured it’s time to get rid of the services that I don’t use and add the ones I’ve been using more as of late.  To that end, I just wanted to put out a quick update about the divination services I provide, both here on my website’s Services page as well as on my Etsy and my Ko-fi:

I’ve added a new divination service, “Domino Reading”.  This is a form of divination I’ve been experimenting with for some time since last year, and started doing readings for others through my Ko-fi as a test for client work.  I’m happy to say that I (and my clients) have been extremely pleased with the results, and I’m happy to make it a more formal thing.  The price for a domino reading is US$21 per reading, a three-bone reading that will address the situation, what to expect, what to accept, and how to conduct yourself through actionable advice both mundane and spiritual.

For reasons that will soon become clear, I’ve renamed the “Full Geomancy Reading” to just “Geomancy Reading”.  It was just the name that was changed, with the rate being the same (US$44 per reading).

I’ve taken down the “Horary Geomancy Reading” service entirely.  This was a rarely-used service, and there honestly wasn’t much need to have this up.  This style of reading is mostly an extension of the usual geomantic method by overlaying a horary astrological chart on top of a normal geomantic chart, per the method given by Priscilla Schwei and Ralph Pestka’s The Complete Book of Astrological Geomancy.  While a fun technique, it’s a lot of extra work for not a lot of extra gain, and I’ve generally encouraged people to go with the usual geomantic style of divination anyway, so I didn’t see much of a point in keeping this up.  Besides, the geomantic methods I use are already so encompassing that throwing in a halfway-horary chart doesn’t add much further detail.

I’ve also taken down the “Mini-Divination” service entirely.  Like with the “Horary Geomancy Reading” service, it was rarely-used, and, to be completely honest, that’s probably for the best.  This was a sort of mixed dice reading, using polyhedral dice (much as one would use for tabletop RPGs a la Dungeons & Dragons) to combine grammatomancy (Greek letter divination) with a short form of geomancy.  It’s a nifty technique, and while it was useful for a nudge in the right direction, that’s all it was really good for, either as follow-ups to earlier divinations for clarity or for a quick pointer in the right direction.  In the future, I may bring something like this back as a proper grammatomancy reading, but I haven’t yet decided.  While I adore the use of grammatomancy, between geomancy and dominoes, there are just better systems to use for almost all cases in general.  For now, I’ll keep grammatomancy with astragalomancy as part of a more devotional approach to Hellenic works; if this interests you, contact me and we can see about working something out.

So, with that, I offer two forms of divination readings: Geomancy and Dominoes.  In that light, what sort of reading would be best for particular circumstances?

  • Geomancy readings are the most complete form of divination I provide, and go into depth on a particular situation, choice, or event in your life, whether making a single choice or for a whole forecast.  These can be fairly involved, but also discuss matters put to divination in depth and at length with a high level of specificity.  This is my classic form of divination that I have the most expertise and study in, and it’s rare that I would recommend anything else to top this.  Whether you want to start small or start big, starting with geomancy is always a good idea.
  • Domino readings are the closest I get to card readings, and for the price, can’t be beat as far as bang for your buck if you’re strapped for cash.  They’re fast and easy to do, and though they can get pretty in-depth, it doesn’t have the absolute specificity that geomancy provides.  Still, they can be pretty up-front (sometimes with an amazing bluntness and frankness) with the details regarding a situation, the causes of it, and how to proceed with it.  A three-bone reading is both a good prognostic as well as diagnostic tool to determine what will happen and the best way of approaching it.  The traditional rule is that one should not have more than three bones read for oneself in the space of a month, and while I’m still feeling out that rule, it sounds like a safe one to go with.  Since my style of domino reading uses three bones in a single sitting, this means that it’s best to space out your concerns—though, if we find that we can break those concerns down into several topics, we could also do one bone per concern, which still manages to get a wealth of detail and information for this.

As a reminder, I charge each reading per query, not per session or time-block; some readings can take five minutes, some take fifty or more, and while I do my best to give as much detail as necessary and as desired, I don’t like throwing in a lot of filler to waste time or bandwidth.  As a result, each reading is charged per query—but, because of that, I also dedicate some time ahead of the reading working with the client to review, understand, and (if necessary) to refine the query, both for my sake so I understand exactly what the client would like to know, but also for the client’s sake to make sure the query is clear, concise, and concrete enough while also able to touch on as much as possible.  In the case where the client has multiple concerns or queries, we can rephrase and refine the query a bit to try to cover as many bases as possible so that I can touch on or address as many concerns as possible in my report, but things that are too unrelated to our chosen approach may best be put aside for a separate reading afterwards.

Also as a reminder, how the reading process starts will differ based on what medium you get it from:

  • If you get a reading directly through my website’s Services page (with PayPal as the only payment option, but using whatever other payment options PayPal themselves provides you), I’ll reach out to you at the email address used for your PayPal account and we’ll go from there.
  • If you get a reading through my Ko-fi page (with PayPal or Stripe), put your query in the commission request box when you make the commission, and when I receive the request, I’ll send you an email at the email address used for the commission request, and we’ll go from there.   Be sure you actually make a commission and not a donation; donation messages are generally publicly visible!
  • If you get a reading through my Etsy store (with all the forms of payment that Etsy accepts), Etsy will automatically send you a PDF download “ticket” to your email address with instructions on how to contact me and with what information.  Once I receive that information from you, we’ll go from there.

As always, if you get a divination reading from me, feedback is always deeply welcomed, whether up front or after the fact, and if you feel like you have something nice to say, feel free to leave a review for me on my Facebook page or by sending me an email and letting me know you have a review you’d be okay with me sharing.  If you find that my services are undercharged, you’re always welcome to leave me a tip through my Ko-fi, whether as a once-off donation or on a monthly basis, all of which helps keep my webhosting and other tools paid for as well as keeping my services’ prices low for those who need them most.

Thank you again, everyone!

A Simple Hermetic Prayer Rule

I’m not sure what a Hermetic parallel to Christian primitivism would be, especially given how little we know about actual Hermetic practices on-the-ground in the early part of the first millennium, but maybe something like this could be considered.

Like how I recently introduced a new prayer, the Praise of the Invisible and Invisible God based off Book V from the Corpus Hermeticum, I’ve been combing through other parts of the classical Hermetic corpus to come up with other prayers to recite.  What survives is largely philosophical, but there are occasional praises of God, exhortations of praise or prayer, and other exclamations of faith that dot the Hermetic literature.  We already pointed out a lengthy one from Book V not too long ago, but there are others, as well, and a few outright prayers, too, like the famous prayer from the end of Book I from the Corpus Hermeticum to the Prayer of Thanksgiving from the Asclepius, or the Perfect Sermon which also makes an appearance in the Nag Hammadi texts.  I’ve been experimenting with the explicit prayers that appear in the Hermetic canon, but I’ve even been coming up with others only based on it, even making my own kind of “Hermetic Mass” based on Book XIII (which talks a lot about the tormentors and blessings of the various spheres of the cosmos).

So far, as far as raw material to come up with new prayers goes, Book I is probably among the most fruitful.  It’s this very book of the Corpus Hermeticum that is named after Poimandrēs itself (though many translate this to “Shepherd of Men”, following Ralph Marcus, I favor a Coptic interpretation of this as “Reason of Sovereignty”), a testament of Hermēs Trismegistos himself when he obtained the divine vision of the creation of the cosmos and passage of souls, and how to achieve henosis both in this life and in the afterlife.  It’s at the end of this that Poimandrēs exhorts Hermēs to go forth and save the human race from the torments of their mortality (Copenhaver translation, and also note my italicized text in that last paragraph):

As he was saying this to me, Poimandres joined with the powers. Then he sent me forth, empowered and instructed on the nature of the universe and on the supreme vision, after I had given thanks to the father of all and praised him. And I began proclaiming to mankind the beauty of reverence and knowledge: “People, earthborn men, you who have surrendered yourselves to drunkenness and sleep and ignorance of god, make yourselves sober and end your drunken sickness, for you are bewitched in unreasoning sleep.”

When they heard, they gathered round with one accord. And I said, “Why have you surrendered yourselves to death, earthborn men, since you have the right to share in immortality? You who have journeyed with error, who have partnered with ignorance, think again: escape the shadowy light; leave corruption behind and take a share in immortality.”

Some of them, who had surrendered themselves to the way of death, resumed their mocking and withdrew, while those who desired to be taught cast themselves at my feet. Having made them rise, I became guide to my race, teaching them the words—how to be saved and in what manner—and I sowed the words of wisdom among them, and they were nourished from the ambrosial water. When evening came and the sun’s light began to disappear entirely, I commanded them to give thanks to god, and when each completed the thanksgiving, he turned to his own bed.

Within myself I recorded the kindness of Poimandres, and I was deeply happy because I was filled with what I wished, for the sleep of my body became sobriety of soul, the closing of my eyes became true vision, my silence became pregnant with good, and the birthing of the word became a progeny of goods. This happened to me because I was receptive of mind—of Poimandres, that is, the word of sovereignty. I have arrived, inspired with the divine breath of truth. Therefore, I give praise to god the father from my soul and with all my might:

After this, Hermēs recites his famous prayer itself, which has been a staple of mine and many other Hermeticists’ practices, a beautiful bit of devotional speech and supplication.

It’s the latter two paragraphs there that I took another look at, and considered that those would be excellent to base a prayer on.  Consider: Hermēs reaches out to those who seek after Truth, and “sowed the words of wisdom among them, and they were nourished from the ambrosial water” (i.e. water of immortality), after which those same people give thanks to God.  And after that, Hermēs himself gives thanks for “what [he] wished” (or prayed) for: his bodily sleep became sobriety of the soul, his eyes’ closing became true vision, etc.  And then, because of all that, he gives his famous “Holy is God…” prayer, a kind of “Threefold Trisagion”.

So I sat with this a bit, extracted the important bits, compared the translations of Scott, Copenhaver, and Salaman along with the original Greek given in Scott, and, after a good bit of writing and rewriting, I came up with the following prayer:

Sow in me the words of wisdom, and nourish me with the water of immortality.
By this, for this, and for everything, I give unto you my thanks.

May the sleep of my body become the sobriety of my soul.
May the closing of my eyes become true vision of Truth.
May my silence become pregnant with the Supreme Good.
May my birthing of the Word become the generation of true wealth.

Let me be receptive to the Nous, the Sovereign Knowledge,
that I may be inspired by the divine breath of Truth,
that I may praise God with all my soul and all my strength.

This actually works fairly well, in my limited experience trying it out, as a prayer in its own right, especially before using before the Threefold Trisagion.  The thing is that it’s very much directed towards being used before one retires to bed at night, what with the references to sleep and closing one’s eyes, as well as the original context of the content being used before people “turn[ing] to [their] own bed[s]”.  If this is a prayer that would best be used in the evening before sleep, what about one in the morning when one rises from sleep?  Easy; note the italicized parts below:

Sow in me the words of wisdom, and nourish me with the water of immortality.
By this, for this, and for everything, I give unto you my thanks.

May the rousing of my body become the awakening of my soul.
May the opening of my eyes become true vision of Truth.
May my speech become fruitful with the Supreme Good.
May my birthing of the Word become the generation of true wealth.

Let me be receptive to the Nous, the Sovereign Knowledge,
that I may be inspired by the divine breath of Truth,
that I may praise God with all my soul and all my strength.

This also works well as a morning prayer unto itself, but again especially so when followed by the Threefold Trisagion.  But there’s something else we can add, as well: the Prayer of Thanksgiving from the Asclepius.  Note how in that penultimate paragraph above from Book I that, after Hermēs gives his teaching to people, he “commanded them to give thanks to god, and when each completed the thanksgiving, he turned to his own bed”.  This means that, after the first two lines of the two derived prayers above, we could recite the Prayer of Thanksgiving, then continuing with the rest of the prayer, then finished by the Triple Trisagion.

On top of all this, we can take inspiration from the last part of the Asclepius that gives instructions on prayer (Copenhaver translation):

As they left the sanctuary, they began praying to god and turning to the south (for when someone wants to entreat god at sunset, he should direct his gaze to that quarter, and likewise at sunrise toward the direction they call east), and they were already saying their prayer…

My big issue with this is turning to the south, since the Sun doesn’t set in the south, yet the Asclepius says to face the south while also saying one “should direct his gaze to that quarter” where the Sun is setting.  My guess would be that the use of “south” here was a mistranslation or mistransmission in the text, and it should say “west”, maybe “southwest” to reflect a more realistic setting of the Sun for places in the northern hemisphere, especially between the autumn and spring equinoxes—yet in Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum, Hermes tells this same thing to Tat before he imparts the Secret Hymn, the Initiatory Hymn of Silence (note the italicized part):

Be still, my child; now hear a well-tuned hymn of praise, the hymn of rebirth. To divulge it was no easy choice for me except that I do it for you, at the end of everything. Hence, it cannot be taught; it is a secret kept in silence. Therefore, my child, stand in the open air, face the south wind when the setting sun descends, and bow down in adoration; when the sun returns, bow likewise toward the east. Be still, child: …

So, yeah, we really should be facing the south for sunset/evening prayers.  In this light, keeping in mind the Egyptian context here of Hermetic texts, it makes sense: the Way of Truth of Hermēs Trismegistos is also a Way of Life, and the direction of the West was the direction of the lands of the dead, and so inappropriate for prayers of immortality to the immortal God.  (Why, then, the direction of North wasn’t used, the direction of immortality itself, is not something I’ve puzzled out yet, but I’m tired, so it can wait.)

In either case, let’s take inspiration from this for our prayer routine above.  In the morning (ideally at sunrise), we’d say the morning prayer (with Prayer of Thanksgiving in the middle and Threefold Trisagion at the end) facing the east, and in the evening again (ideally at sunset) with the evening prayer (again with the Prayer of Thanksgiving and Threefold Trisagion) facing the south (though, if one is in the southern hemisphere, one should probably face the north instead).  Following the practice given in Book XIII as noted above as well as in the Asclepius, prayers are best made “in open air” (cf. “as they left the sanctuary” in the Asclepius), starting from a standing position, and bowing during adoration (e.g. the Secret Hymn, the Threefold Trisagion, etc.); prayers with words should be said aloud, audibly if not in a low voice, while prayers without words would be said in silence.  If standing is not possible, kneeling would be fine, prostrating instead of bowing at the appropriate times; which is my own personal preference, especially if indoors, and even more so if meditation, contemplation, readings, or other prayers are to be said either before or after this.

So there’s that: a simple prayer rule for devotional Hermetic practice, derived entirely from the classical Hermetic canon.  Short, elegant, straightforward, earnest; what more could one want, even if only to start with as a seed for extended or more elaborate prayer practices of Hermetic theurgy and henosis?  It’s something otherwise detached from any other religion or spiritual practice, and, perhaps most importantly, uses the actual words of Hermēs Trismegistos for our own prayers, and to repeat those same words (or to use them in a similar way) for following the Way of Hermēs is a powerful practice, indeed.

Speaking of “following the Way”, there’s something else I was considering.  We used that excerpt from Book I of the Corpus Hermeticum to create those evening and morning prayers above, but we focused on the latter two paragraphs of the excerpt for that.  The first two paragraphs, on the other hand, take a distinctly different tone: that of a call to wake up, a call to the Way of Truth that Hermēs Trismegistos began to teach at the instruction of Poimandrēs.  Like Buddha going around from town to town with the call of “Anyone for the other side?” or the Islamic adhān calling Muslims to prayer, similar language could be used as a preliminary…perhaps not “prayer”, but reminder of what it is to follow the Way and why we should do so.  Though I doubt there are many communities that would need such a grand call, it could be useful before both individual or group practice before any major Hermetic theurgic undertaking, even (or especially) those that rely on heavier PGM-style magic and ritual.  To that end, I figured I’d end this post by sharing my rewrite of Hermēs’ original call, based again on comparing the older translations of Scott, Copenhaver, and Salaman amongst each other:

O all you children of mankind, o all you born of the Earth, o all who you have given yourselves over to drink and sleep in your ignorance of God! Make yourselves sober, cease your drunken sickness, end your bewitchment by unreasoning sleep! Why have you given yourselves over to death, since you have the power to partake of immortality? You who have wandered with Error, you who have partnered with Ignorance: think again, and repent! Be released from the darkness, take hold of the Light, take part in divine immortality, leave behind your corrupt destruction! Do not surrender to the way of death by your mockery or distance, but come, rise, and be guided on the way of life!

Musings after a Marathon Month of Mancy

So, funnily enough, as it turns out?  72 hour-ish-long geomancy readings, eight domino readings, four video consultations, three planetary adorations, one New Moon celebration, one consultation done for myself, and taking two online classes?  All on top of the usual full-time job (surprise, I became the lead developer of a high-profile project with low-profile resources!) with three hours of commuting three days a week, daily practice, and managing a household?  It might, just might, have been a bit too much for me to handle with my usual amount of comfort and flair.  Yet, here I am, somehow alive after it all, thanks be to God and the gods.  I’m tired, my back and arms are sore, but I managed to get all my yearly readings done (and quite a bit else) before January was out, and for that, I’m pretty damn proud of myself.  It’d be nice to have a weekend to relax, but there’s always more Work to be done—as well as a few out-of-town trips that needed making, as well.  Oh well; no rest for the wicked, I suppose.

Over the past month, I’ve done probably the most divination I’ve done in a single month’s worth of time, and this was one of the busiest and among the most challenging months I can ever recall having (as well as one where I’ve slept the least).  It’s gauntlets and marathons like this that give us a chance to learn, not just about the things we do but about ourselves, and I wanted to share some of the observations, realizations, and concessions I’ve come to terms with from all this work this past month.  To be sure, I learn more and more about geomancy with each and every chart I cast, but I want to focus on some of the bigger and broader things than mere technique.

First, and probably most practically, I don’t think I’ll be doing a special for yearly divination forecasts again.  I’ve done them for three years now, and while it’s great practice for my own divination skills and a great thing for us all to do at the start of a new year (depending, of course, on when your new year starts), and while everyone loves a good deal, let’s be honest: I don’t charge enough for my usual reading rate (US$44 per geomancy reading) to make a special worth it.  Each yearly forecast takes about 60 to 90 minutes to do, and that’s after my usual reading ritual process of preliminary preparation and prayer, to say nothing of how much it takes out of me to do such a widespread and all-encompassing reading, including typing a 2000-to-3000 word report on it individual for each person.  While the energy spent on divination isn’t exactly repayable through money, it certainly helps, that’s for sure, and…well, let’s be honest, I know I undercharge for my divination services.  I consider them fair prices for me, and I would prefer to err on the side of caution to avoid any risk of gouging my clients while also ensuring that such divination can be accessible to those who need it.  I do not claim that my prices are inherently better than others, and those who charge more often have very good and necessary reasons for doing so, and I charge what I can because I can afford doing so (this is just my side gig, with my full-time job paying the real bills) without it impacting my actual skills and ability to do the work asked of me.  I charge what I charge because I think it’s fair, and I plan to keep them fair.  If people want or feel obliged to pay more, either out of appreciation for the work done or to ensure that my prices stay low for the sake of others who need it most, then you’re always invited to tip your diviner—such as through my Ko-fi account.

So, while I won’t be doing yearly specials for this type of reading anymore, that’s not to say I won’t be doing yearly forecasts.  If you find yourself, dear reader, wanting such a forecast done for you for the new year (using whichever New Year date you choose), you’re more than welcome to book a reading with me, just at my normal rate as I would for any other query.  However, towards the end of this year (and in the future, if this year works out well), I do plan on compiling a list of all the diviners, astrologers, readers, and seers among my colleagues and those I trust and look up to who do plan on doing yearly specials, for those who are looking for something specific from another reader.  It’s something I want to try out, especially to share good business with good people.

Also, besides tipping your diviners (if they deserve it or if you feel it’s appropriate to do so) and taking note of other diviners who do good work?  It’s absolutely, super important for us to get feedback on our work we do, and it’s so rare that we ever actually get it.  Retrospective feedback is like pure gold for us, because while we always stand to learn from books or teachers, learning from experience is at least as important (and in many ways is even more so), because retrospective feedback is what helps us refine our techniques, learning what actually works in practice or what doesn’t, realizing what a given omen actually meant in retrospect, and the like.  By postdicting our predictions, we can make better predictions, and that helps us all.  In-the-moment feedback is important to us, too, because that helps us navigate the energies, flows, and currents of power and fate during the divination itself, but that’s silver to the gold of retrospective feedback.  So, be kind, rewind: after you get a divination reading from someone, and after the event or situation inquired about comes to pass, take another look at the reading you got, see what matches and what didn’t, see what was precise and what wasn’t, see what was accurate and what wasn’t, and go back to your diviner and share your results.  I promise you, they’ll be ecstatic with this, even if they fucked things up, because it’s a chance for them (and all of us) to learn and improve.

Oh, and another thing?  Reviews!  For many people, the best way to advertise is simply through word-of-mouth, or leaving a good comment about someone whose work pleased you with their skill, precision, accuracy, and approach.  I know I don’t and won’t pay for advertising (in fact, I actively pay for webhosting to keep ads off my platforms as much as possible) and would rather let my work speak for itself, but I certainly won’t mind others speaking for me, either.  Diviners are still professionals, and professionals need to be able to profess their skills, otherwise they’re no professionals; if you found that such a diviner (whether me or anyone else) did a good job, consider leaving a comment on their blog, or telling others about them.  I’m not exactly greedy for more clients, but I won’t deny that I’d like to have a few more regulars or a bit more activity in that area of my life, and reviews are great for that.  Also, not gonna lie, getting a good review really just makes us as diviners feel good, and sometimes, that makes all the difference in whether we continue practicing publicly at all.  If you’d like to leave a review for me, feel free to simply mention my website on social media, leave a review on my Facebook page, or send me an email and let me know that it’s a review that I can share on my blog (and, if I get enough of them, I may even put up a whole testimonials page to collect them all).

As for getting more clients and business along the lines of divination, I think it’d be good, but the past month…well, it was hell for me to get all the work done on time.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I weren’t already working a full-time job, but as it is, and given how much else I get up to, this month has really impressed upon me that (a) more people actually come to me for divination than I anticipated and (b) my time is far more limited and constrained than I had thought, and I had been taking the flexibility of my schedule for granted.  While it was great to do four or six divination readings a day, it got old real fast when it was day after day of it while also trying to juggle household affairs and work concerns, both of which took a hit due to the time and energy I couldn’t devote to them as I should, along with the stability and quality of my sleep.  This marathon month of μαντεια showed me that, barring making this my full-time job (which would necessitate a significant price increase to make ends meet) instead of my stable software engineering job, that I just can’t do this kind of work at this rate, and that I need to both throttle the work I do as well as get better at scheduling it.  In the future, I plan to limit myself to 10 to 12 divination readings, consultations, or other client tasks a week, depending on what else is going on, compared to the 16 or more I was doing this past month.  There is a possibility that this may increase wait times for some clients, but I already specify an up-to-two-week turnaround time for my services, which I was (somehow) able to keep up with this month (and January is my absolute busiest month for divination readings), so I think that this possibility is fairly small in reality.

Something else I’ve learned is that, as it turns out, I do a lot of typing.  (Surprising, I know.)  In the past month, I’ve banged out about 80 divination reports on top of all the other notetaking, programming, and writing I do, and that adds up to about 160,000 words—far more than even what I typed out for my Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration thesis-length blog project last summer (only about 100,000 words).  My arms, wrists, and hands are tired, y’all, and I’m starting to feel the pains of work and pangs of age the more I do this, especially since my full-time job is already so heavily typing-based.  I’ve been using a standard 104-key mechanical keyboard this whole time, a sturdy and lovely thing, but it was getting to the point where I had to take more breaks than ever between typing/divination sessions, and that only slowed me down further.  With the proceeds from all these divinations, I splurged and got myself a nice split-keyboard for ergonomic and power-computing use; although it’s taken me some getting used to using it, typing feels so much better and more relaxing, which is only a good thing for me. For those who are interested, it’s the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, which some of my more technologically-inclined friends might have seen ads for online on various social media platforms.  This is, hands down, the most elegant, amazing, and productive bit of computer input technology I have ever had the pleasure of using, and though it costs a pretty penny (especially with some of the add-ons which are still in development), I am super, super happy that I got this thing.  Not only does typing no longer hurt, but I can do so much more right from the (eminently and easily customizable) keyboard that I couldn’t do with my old keyboard.  (I do miss having a separate numpad, and I’ve been having a hell of a time replacing that, but I can still just use extra inputs on this “60%” keyboard as it is without it just fine, even though that too takes getting used to.)  If you’re interested in one of the finest and well-made keyboards out there, whether or not you need it for ergonomic reasons, then this is the keyboard to use.  (Also, despite my love for the clacky-style Blue mechanical switches, I decided to go with Brown switches for this keyboard.  It turns out that, even though I love the sound and feel of banging out words like several machine guns going off at once, it’s somewhat more annoying for my coworkers, clients, and interviewers who have to listen to it on phone calls or recordings.  Brown switches still feel nice, at least, and have a much calmer sound.)

Switching gears from logistic and physical concerns, there were a bunch of other spiritual realizations that I made, too, during this month that affects or enhances my divination practice.  Probably the best lead-in to this is how truly fundamental daily practice is for me.  Yes, I’ve harped on it before for years now, as have countless other magicians, Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery among them, but having a daily practice really is the bedrock of a magical and spiritual life, and if you don’t have that, then you’re building on sand.  For me, my daily practice is my anchor-point for the day, and I have a rule about it: if I don’t do my daily practice, I cannot do anything else spiritual for the day.  I mean, consider: if I skip my daily practice because I’m so fatigued or so unwell to not be able to do 40 to 60 minutes of meditation and prayer, then I necessarily don’t have the energy or health to do anything else, right?  And if I don’t have time to do my daily practice, then I must likewise not have time to do anything else on top of that that day.  Otherwise, if I have the energy and if I have the time, then I have no reason to not do my daily practice, and if I can’t manage my daily practice out of sheer laziness, then I have no business trying to claim anything else that day, because I don’t feel appropriate working for others if I don’t do the work I need to do for my own well-being and spiritual maintenance.  My daily practice is essential for everything else I do, and even if I use some of the same prayers in divination readings as I do in my daily practice, my divination readings are not part of my daily practice, yet still build on it.  I feel like this is a good rule to have for those who need to stick to a daily practice and have other things planned, like divination readings, consultations, conjurations, or the like, and it’s one I force my students to keep, too.

Related to prayers, doing all these divination readings day after day has been a wonder for three other things:

  • Memorizing prayers.  I have a particular ritual process that uses several prayers that I precede and conclude divination with, and though some of them I’ve memorized, there were others that I was struggling to for the longest time.  Doing this same ritual day after day after day, saying the same prayers day after day after day, has finally helped me to memorize them without dedicating extra time just for memorization, because I’m still engaging in repetition of the same prayers.
  • Hygiene.  As part of that ritual process, I precede everything with ablution, which for me is flossing/brushing my teeth, saying a prayer, washing my hands and arms and face and feet, and then concluding with another prayer.  I like going into spiritual work cleaned from physical concerns or worldly “dust”, since this helps me focus better on the work to be done.  Yes, I start every day with a thorough ablution (i.e. a shower), but if it’s been more than a trivial amount of time between that and doing divination or other ritual work, or if I’ve had to get significantly involved in worldly or decidedly non-spiritual stuff, I perform a lesser ablution as above to reset and refresh myself.  More than that, though, doing divination for so many people in succession is itself…I don’t want to say dirtying or sullying, but such frequent ablution helps keep me going without getting too dragged down in a spiritual morass.  I did, of course, also finish up the month with a full spiritual bath on top of ablution to really reset myself, and I probably should have been taking weekly baths during the month to keep myself cleaner and fresher than I was, so I’ll make a note of that for future times when I’m swamped with divination work.  All that said, my teeth have never been so clean, and my dentist would be proud.  However, I was guided by my HGA to focus especially on my eyes and mouth when doing pre-divination ablution for the obvious spiritual symbolism: clarity of vision to see, purity of speech to communicate.  Ablutions, too, can be tweaked for broader spiritual purposes.
  • Anointing with oil.  Though it’s not an essential part of my divinatory ritual process, I do like anointing myself with a special oil prior to engaging in divination.  Though I could certainly just use holy oil, I rather prefer to use Quadrivium Oil‘s special Vision oil, currently only available as an alcohol-based spray.  Quadrivium is one of my oldest colleagues in the Work, and her oils have been a mainstay of parts of my practices for years, and her Vision blend (which I helped test for her back in the day!) is a wonder for me.  While it’s not necessary for me to use it, I greatly enjoy doing so and enjoy the boost it gives me.  Also, it turns out that anointing myself with this oil day after day after day, combining it with my usual anointing prayers, doesn’t just help me with divination skills, but has also had rather interesting effects on the quality, frequency, and semantic content of my dreams, too.  That was a side effect I hadn’t anticipated, but which I’m happy about all the same.

Something I want to remind people about when it comes to yearly readings specifically, and all forecast-type readings generally, is that forecasts are just that: forecasts, descriptions of high-level trends that cover some specified length of time.  While super big things that are planned to happen during that timeframe can likely be described or accounted for in forecasts, in general, it’s not a good idea to read too much into forecasts, especially long forecasts that extend over a month, and definitely like those that go on for a year or more.  A number of clients this year had super-specific queries that they wanted investigated in the yearly chart, and I had to remind some of them that a yearly forecast only reliable describes high-level, long-term influences that describe the year as a whole, and trying to read specific things into that is clumsy and misguided at times.  This isn’t to say that I can’t and don’t get super-specific with these forecasts, as many of my clients can attest, but the specificity of abstract trends is not the same thing as the specificity of concrete events.  When in doubt, if you’ve got something actually specific to ask, it’s better to get a separate reading to investigate that.  That goes not only for forecast-type readings, but for any other reading, too, depending on how many things you want to know.  I know that some geomancers, especially of an Arabic or Persianate bent, feel confident in reading all sorts of unrelated queries from a single querent within the one and same chart, but that’s not an approach I feel comfortable doing, not because I can’t, but because I find that there’s just too much crosstalk in a chart that’s put to too many queries at once.  Rather than having to sift through the crosstalk, I find it easier and cleaner to just do one chart per query, which also increases the reliabilty of the readings, in my opinion.  I do try to work with the querent to reframe and rephrase their queries so that it covers everything they want to know as much as is possible, given the mechanics and techniques of geomancy at my disposal, but sometimes, some queries are just so unrelated that they’re best broken out into separate charts.

Along those same lines, I want to also emphasize that it’s so often important for us as diviners to understand the context of the query, not just what the querent is asking with their communicated words, but how and why they’re communicating it, as well.  While some diviners make a point of having the querent not ask their query as a proof of the diviner’s own psychic ability (or ability to read between the lines along with body language), I don’t make the claim that I’m outright psychic.  (I mean, I reasonably could, but I don’t.)  So much of the divination I do is done online by email or over Zoom or Skype, and it’s hard to get a good read on the immediate energetic feel for people without spending a lot more time and energy than I want to to tune in; I find it easier to rely on the words themselves, especially because geomancy is such a literal oracle: as opposed to other divination systems that answer the query you should be asking, whether or not you phrased it that way, geomancy answers exactly the query you ask, no more and no less.  Although there are some styles of divination where you let the oracle speak for itself as it answers a query only it knows, I don’t find geomancy to be one of those oracles, and I find it helpful for us geomancers to have a reasonably complete understanding of the query, not only so that we know exactly what the querent wants to know, but also so that we know what techniques to use and what to look for in the chart going into the divination.  Besides, there was one time earlier this past month (not using geomancy, I might add, and trying to use a more context-free form of divination) where I got burned by not really spending as much time as I otherwise have done with the querent in understanding what was going on leading up to the reading.  The reading was still eminently helpful, but my manner of delivery was shit and ended up hurting more than I wanted it to.  It was all sorted out in the end, but I still feel bad about that.  Knowing more of the context and reading more between the lines would have prevented that, and it’s a lesson I won’t soon forget.

And that leads to perhaps my biggest and most important realization about divination: divination is an act of intimacy.  In fact, I consider it one of the most interpersonally intimate things we can do as human beings with spiritual capacity.  Normally we consider physical sex to be the height of physical intimacy—the nudity and literally baring it all before someone else, letting them feel you from the inside, letting them know what makes you tick and pulse—but consider that divination goes so much further beyond that.  With divination, a querent lets me see their past, their present, and their future; with divination, a querent lets me see their hopes and dreams, their fears and anxieties, their envies and jealousies; with divination, a querent lets me see them more fully, even through a glass darkly, more than any parent, any doctor, any lover ever could.  It’s because of this intimacy that both diviner and querent need to take care, the diviner to keep a good measure of distance to avoid bias as well as spiritual pollution or contamination from the querent, and the querent to find a diviner they trust with finding out anything (or everything) about them.  This is why it’s so important for diviners to learn to keep readings confidential, just as lovers wouldn’t blab about the kinks of their partners or the lushness of their genitals, just as doctors wouldn’t gossip about the hilarious or depressing health problems their patients get into, just as parents wouldn’t air the dirty laundry of their children to the world.  Divination is intimate, and I’m somewhat embarrassed I’m only just now realizing the full import of how this intimacy truly takes form.  In that light, I want to extend my deepest appreciation and thanks to each and every one of my querents and clients for allowing me to divine for them, for trusting me to take care of them when and how they need care.  Thank you.

Alright, that’s enough for one night; it’s time to relax, especially after two separate out-of-town trips and another online lecture taken care of this past weekend.  Haha, just kidding; I’ve got plenty more to take care of this week, but at least things are going to ease up a bit, and I’m going to do my best to make sure things stay good and proper for me as much as it is my clients.  But I am definitely going to call out one day soon for a well-deserved trip to the local Korean spa and bathhouse.

A Hermetic Praise Prayer from Book V of the Corpus Hermeticum

What with my recent Christmas haul (including a good number of books I got for myself), I’ve been going through and rereading my Corpus Hermeticum again.  There’s nothing quite like it for those of a Hermetic practice—as the core texts of our religious and spiritual approach, it’s the equivalent of a Bible for us—but something caught my eye when I was going through my copy recently.  In book V, Hermēs Trismegistos dedicates a particular discourse to his son Tat, and opens up with the following (according to the Copenhaver translation):

This discourse I shall also deliver to you in full, O Tat, lest you go uninitiated in the mysteries of the god who is greater than any name.
You must understand how something that seems invisible to the multitude will become entirely visible to you. Actually, if it were (not) invisible, it would not (always) be. Everything seen has been begotten because at some point it came to be seen. But the invisible always is, and, because it always is, it does not need to come to be seen. Also, while remaining invisible because it always is, it makes all other things visible. The very entity that makes visibility does not make itself visible; what (begets) is not itself begotten; what presents images of everything (is not) present to the imagination. For there is imagination only of things begotten. Coming to be is nothing but imagination.

Clearly, the one who alone is unbegotten is also unimagined and invisible, but in presenting images of all things he is seen through all of them and in all of them; he is seen especially by those whom he wished to see him. You then, Tat, my child, pray pray first to the lord, the father, the only, who is not one but from whom the one comes; ask him the grace to enable you to understand so great a god, to permit even one ray of his to illuminate your thinking. …

The rest of book V is basically Hermēs going on to Tat about all the ways God (the One, the Father, the Creator, the Good, etc.) is visible, though God itself is invisible.  Such a series of praises isn’t foreign or unusual in the Corpus Hermeticum or other Hermetic texts, but what struck me is that so much of the book is itself written as if it were a prayer, as if Hermēs was telling Tat not only to pray but also what to pray.  Between rhetorical questions about the creation and creating of God and points where Hermēs himself goes on about how and why even he might pray, book V is basically a prayer unto itself, a praisegiving for Tat to make to God, the God who is invisible and also entirely visible.

This notion of turning the bulk of book V into a prayer struck me as something that might be useful, perhaps for my own practice and perhaps for others.  After all, actual examples of pure classical Hermetic practice that stand out to the mind as being distinctly Hermetic aren’t all that easy to come by, and the Corpus Hermeticum doesn’t have that many prayers; while there are a few true prayers embedded within Hermetic texts (like the Prayer of Hermēs Trismegistos from book I, the Initiatory Hymn of Silence from book XIII, the Prayer of Thanksgiving from the Asclepius, and the Hymn to the Eighth and the Ninth from the Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth), there aren’t a lot of other “true” prayers that we might associate with the practices of the Corpus Hermeticum.  But book V gives us basically a sermon, a prayer unto itself that we might be able to use, and that’s what caught my attention.

After a bit of reworking the original text to make it flow a bit better as a prayer to be recited, plus a bit of extra backup from other books in the Corpus Hermeticum, I ended up with the following, what I’m calling (at least for the nonce) the “Praise of the Invisible and Visible God”, a prayer of praise and adoration to God in the Hermetic sense, a highly panenthiestic prayer that recognizes that God is both transcendent of creation while being immanent within it, and that even though God itself is invisible and unable to be seen by the eyes, all that exists (and all that doesn’t!) is a part of and testament to God.

It is to you that I pray,
o Lord, o Father, o Only and Single, o One Alone,
you from whom the One itself comes.
Grant me, o God, your understanding and the understanding of you.
Grant me even but a single ray of illumination to shine forth in my mind,
all for the sake of understanding you.
Unbegotten, unimagined, and invisible are you,
and you are in every begetting, in every image, in every vision,
by all, though all, in all, to all!
You, o God, are generous, not grudging with your bounty.
You, o God, are seen by those whom you wish to see you.
You, o God, are seen throughout the entirety of the cosmos.

All that is in Heaven bows and submits themselves to the Sun,
greater than Earth and Sea, greatest of all the gods in Heaven,
yet allows smaller stars than him to circle above him and around him
all according to your order and design for itself and all else,
for the Sun itself bows and submits itself to you
in reverence, in deference, in awe, in fear.
It is you, o God, who keeps the order of the passage of the Sun and Moon and Stars.
It is you, o God, who rules over the Bear that turns all of Heaven around the Pole.
It is you, o God, who set the boundary to the sea and who set the Earth in its place.
It is you, o God, you who are the maker and master of all this and all else.

Order is made by you, o God, by place and number and measure,
and without you, neither place nor number nor measure could be preserved.
You order all the cosmos, everything within it, and everything without it.
All things created with place and number and measure
are ruled by you in the order you have given it;
all things uncreated without place or number or measure
are ruled by you in the order you have not given it.
You have created the order of the cosmos,
you have created the cosmos of order:
the firmness of earth and the fluidity of sea,
the streaming of rivers and the flowing of air,
the piercing of fire and the coursing of stars,
all sped round about the celestial pole.
This is the Unmoving being moved, the Unmanifest being made manifest;
to see all this poised between Earth and Heaven,
this is your holy vision of beauty and joy!

It is you, o God, who made the beautiful form of humanity,
made in the womb of mortals, made in the image of immortality.
Who else could trace the line around the eyes?
Who else could pierce the holes for nostrils and ears?
Who else could open up the mouth?
Who else could stretch out and fasten together the sinews?
Who else could make channels for the veins of blood?
Who else could strengthen and harden the bones?
Who else could cover the flesh with skin drawn taught?
Who else could part the fingers for each hand?
Who else could flatten and widen the soles of the feet?
Who else could bore holes for the passages of the body?
Who else could stretch out the spleen?
Who else could make the heart into the shape of a temple?
Who else could join and fix the ribs together?
Who else could hollow out the lungs?
Who else could make spacious the belly for nourishment?
Who else could set the honorable parts of the body to be visible and praised?
Who else could hide away the unseemly parts of the body for private discretion?

All that is in Heaven and all that is on Earth,
all placed, all numbered, all measured,
all beautiful and yet all different:
what father, what mother, what crafter, what artist could have made all this?
So many different skills upon a single substance,
so many different labors within a single work!
God, the God unmanifest beyond manifestation,
who created all creation by his own will,
whose greatness is beyond any name,
whose work alone is to create all creation!

All things are within you, o God,
creating all that is in Heaven and all that is on Earth,
in the skies and in the seas, in the depths and in the heights,
in every part of the cosmos you have created!
There is nothing in the cosmos that you are not,
but you are all things in the cosmos and all things outside it.
Utterly unmanifest, you can be perceived by the mind,
yet most manifest, you can be perceived by the eyes.
O God invisible, o God entirely visible!
O God of no body, o God of all bodies!
O God of no names, o God of all names!
O Father of all!

How even shall I praise you, o God?
To those who act on your behalf? With those who act according to your purpose?
For whomever I turn to, I turn to you; should I turn within, still I turn to you!
For I and all others are within you and part of you,
and you are all that is, being praised from within yourself to yourself.

Where even shall I look to praise you, o God?
To the East or the West? To the North or the South?
Above or below? Within or without?
There is no direction, no place, no space, no being apart from you.

What even shall I bring to praise you, o God?
What could I give that you do not already have?
What sacrifice could I make that is not already yours?
All is within you, and all comes from you.
You give everything, and you take nothing.
You have all, and there is nothing that you do not have.

When even shall I praise you, o God?
In what time or season, what day or hour could we find you?
You cannot be found in any time, for you are within and beyond all time.
You are eternal, immortal, unbegotten,
who neither can nor ever could have come to be,
who always is, who always was, who always will be.

What even shall I hymn as praise to you, o God?
For what you have made? For what you have not made?
For what you have revealed? For what you have hidden?
You are everything, o God:
all that is and all that is not, all that is revealed and all that is hidden,
all that has come to be and all that has not come to be.

Why even shall I praise you, o God?
For that which is a part of me? For that which makes me what I am?
For that which is apart and separate from myself?
You are whatever I am and all that I am,
you are whatever I make and all that I make,
you are whatever I say and all that I say,
I and all else that is or is not.

You are that which understands,
you are that which is understood,
you are the Creator who creates,
you are the God who acts,
you are the Good who are the cause of all.

For the finest part of matter is air,
and the finest part of air is soul,
and the finest part of soul is reason,
and the finest part of reason is mind,
and the finest part of mind is God.

While there are definitely other praises to God in the Corpus Hermeticum, which can and should probably also be repurposed as prayers much like the above, the above from Book V is probably one of the longest and most notable that comes to my mind.  Although simply reading book V itself would suffice for meditation and contemplation (and this is something all Hermeticists should periodically do with such the Hermetic texts), I feel like making it slightly more poetic is beneficial for routine religious practice for fellow Hermeticists, as well.  If I like it once I take another look at this in a few days, I’ll go ahead and add it to the Prayers pages.

2020 Forecast Geomancy Reading Special!

Happy New Year!  Now that we’re done with it, I hope your 2019 went well!  And, now that we’re here, it’s also time to start thinking about how 2020 will go.  Are you excited?  Anxious?  Worried?  Hopeful?  Let me help with figuring out what plans need to be made, what can be improved on, and what should be focused on in this coming year!  For the limited time of the next two weeks only (from now through Wednesday, January 15, 2020), I’m offering a discounted special on 2020 Forecast Divination readings for 25% off the usual price of my Full Geomancy readings, only US$33, available exclusively through my Etsy store!  When this offer is gone, it’s gone, so be sure to get yours booked soon!

This divination reading will be for an overview of your life for 2020. While I will attempt to provide a thorough analysis of the chart for the major points of one’s life—career, family, romance, finances, health, spirituality, and so forth—I can also take a deeper (though limited) look at specific areas in your life for fleshing out specific concerns, upon request.  Considering how in-depth I go for my geomancy readings and how far I go to make sure you’ve got the edge you need, $33 is a steal.

Interested in getting your 2020 Forecast?
Head on over to my Etsy now and get your reading booked!