Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do for Non-Angelic Spirits

Where were we?  We’re in the middle of discussing the early modern conjuration ritual The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC), attributed to the good abbot of Spanheim, Johannes Trithemius, but which was more likely invented or plagiarized from another more recent source by Francis Barrett in his 1801 work The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer.  Many who are familiar with it either read it directly from Esoteric Archives, came by it through Fr. Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) in either his Red Work series of courses (RWC) or his book Seven Spheres (SS), or came by it through Fr. Ashen Chassan in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (Fr. AC and GTSC, respectively).  I’ve been reviewing the tools, techniques, and technology of DSIC for my own purposes as well as to ascertain the general use and style used by other magician in the real world today, and today we can move on to other topics  Last time, we discussed what to do once the spirit has shown up in the conjuration ritual and temple space.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

The conjuration ritual of DSIC, it would seem, has been used chiefly for conjuring and working with angelic spirits, specifically those of the seven planets (regardless of what names you call them by depending on the specific source you’re working from).  This is both how Fr. RO uses his version of DSIC in the Gates texts of the Green Work section of RWC as well as in the subsequent SS book he put out, and is also the focus of GTSC by Fr. AC.  The DSIC text itself suggests that working with the planetary angels is its primary purpose, as it gives a list of planetary hours and their associated seven planetary angels at the end, and the ritual script of DSIC is written to use Michael of the Sun as the main example, using Michael’s name in the conjuration as well as a lamen of Michael of the Sun and a magic circle to be used with the seal of Michael of the Sun.  It also says, towards the start of the ritual text (my own emphasis in bold text):

And forasmuch as thy servant here standing before thee, oh, Lord! desires neither evil treasures, nor injury to his neighbour, nor hurt to any living creature, grant him the power of descrying those celestial spirits or intelligences, that may appear in this crystal

In what time thou wouldest deal with the spirits by the table and crystal, thou must observe the planetary hour; and whatever planet rules in that hour, the angel governing the planet thou shalt call in the manner following

for all celestial operations, the more pure and unmixed they are, the more they are agreable to the celestial spirits

Yet, the ritual text also suggests that spirits other than angels can be called upon in the ritual, too (again, my emphasis in bold text):

…and thou, oh inanimate creature of God, be sanctified and consecrated, and blessed to this purpose, that no evil phantasy may appear in thee; or, if they do gain ingress into this creature, they may be constrained to speak intelligibly, and truly, and without the least ambiguity, for Christ’s sake…

…that forthwith thou cast away every phantasm from thee, that no hurt whatsoever shall be done in any thing…

In the name of the blessed Trinity, I consecrate this piece of ground for our defence; so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here

Now, this being done in the order prescribed, take out thy little book, which must be made about seven inches long, of pure white virgin vellum or paper, likewise pen and ink must be ready to write down the name, character, and office, likewise the seal or image of whatever spirit may appear

Now the most pure and simple way of calling the spirits or spirit is by a short oration to the spirit himself…

“In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I do desire thee, thou strong mighty angel, Michael, [Or any other angel or spirit] …

There’s also the fact that the text consistently refers to the thing being conjured is almost always “spirit”, far more rarely “angel”, even in the title of the text itself (“The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals”).  It is true that, yes, angels are definitely a kind of spirit, and the words “spirit” and “angel” can be used interchangeably when discussing an angelic text—but not all spirits are angels.  And although some of the references to “evil phantasms” or “evil spirits” above should properly be considered exorcisms to ensure the purity, sanctity, and protection of both the implements, elements, and participants in the ritual, it does suggest that DSIC can flirt more with “evil spirits” (as Agrippa might call them in his Fourth Book, as opposed to “good spirits” like angels or other celestial entities) than might be readily apparent.

The usual approach to using DSIC is to work with angels—usually the planetary angels from Agrippa or the Heptameron, as Fr. RO and Fr. AC do, but even including the Olympic Spirits from the Arbatel as I’ve often seen done, especially but not only by Fr. Acher in his Arbatel essays on Theomagica.  In this sense, DSIC can be considered a way to flesh out Agrippa’s conjuration method of “good spirits” (book IV, chapter 10), but DSIC doesn’t strictly implement what Agrippa says there.  Instead, DSIC seems to be an amalgam of Agrippa’s methods of working with both “good spirits” as well as “evil spirits” (book IV, chapters 12 and following), and in that light, further fleshes out what Agrippa says with the techniques and tools of the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano.  It’s also interesting to note that, in the 1655 English translation by Robert Turner, there’s an introduction to this entry that was included with Agrippa’s Fourth Book et al. that says that the Heptameron was specifically included to flesh out what Agrippa had written about such conjurations:

In the former book, which is the fourth book of Agrippa, it is sufficiently spoken concerning Magical Ceremonies, and Initiations.

But because he seems to have written to the learned and well-experienced in this art, because he does not specially treat of the Ceremonies but rather speaks of them in general, it was therefore thought good to add hereunto the Magical Elements of Peter de Abano: that those who are hitherto ignorant and have not tasted of Magical Superstitions may have them in readiness [and] how they may exercise themselves therein…

As we’ve shown at multiple points throughout this series of posts, DSIC is very much a combination of theurgic invocation and communion with “good spirits” as much as it is a Solomonic conjuration of “evil spirits”.  In that light, DSIC should be able to work with “evil spirits”—demons from various goetic texts, non-angelic entities like genii locorum, and the like—as much as it works with “good spirits”.  And there’s nothing, strictly speaking, that says you can’t do just that, or that DSIC as written would be insufficient for such works with them.  After all, we pointed out in the actual ritual script that some descriptors, adjectives, keywords, and names can be changed to suit not just any angel of any planetary or stellar sphere, but to chthonic, terrestrial, or other spirits, as well.  However, as DSIC says, “the most pure and simple way of calling the spirits or spirit is by a short oration to the spirit himself”, and though the prayer used in the Conjuration of the Spirit from DSIC is written in a sufficiently general way to be used for all spirits, we can replace this with prayers that are specifically geared to specific spirits.

First, a note about those prayers for conjuration.  The DSIC text uses three prayers to conjure a spirit, which we had as follows from our script writeup:

In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I desire you, o strong mighty angel Gabriel, that if it be the divine Will of Him who is called Tetragrammaton … the Holy God, the Father, that you take upon yourself some shape as best becomes your celestial nature, and appear to me visibly here in this crystal, and answer my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine Mercy and Goodness by requesting unlawful knowledge, but that you graciously show me what things are most profitable for me to know and do, to the glory and honor of His divine Majesty, He who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

Lord, your Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Make clean my heart within me, and take not Your holy Spirit from me.

O Lord, by Your Name have I called Gabriel; suffer him to administer unto me, and that all things may work together for Your honor and glory, to whom with You the Son and the Holy Spirit be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

Fr. AC in GTSC breaks these out into three separate prayers, with only the first one required no matter what, the second one to be used if the spirit does not immediately show after saying the first, and the third one to be used if the spirit still does not show up after saying the second.  These effectively “spur the spirit to arrive to your altar quicker”, and does fall in line with many Solomonic texts that give subsequent calls for the spirit to arrive if they delay, tarry, or otherwise don’t show up at first.  I can see Fr. AC’s logic in separating these prayers out this way, but I prefer to treat them all as a single “unit” of prayer.  The main thing that keeps me from agreeing with Fr. AC’s approach of these prayers as subsequent “spurs” to the spirit is that, typically, Solomonic rituals typically increase these subsequent prayers with stronger language, threats, intimidation, and acts such as revealing pentacles, holding knives in fire, and the like.  In other words, we first ask nicely, but we drop niceness in favor of business, cordial then serious then mafia-style rough, as we need to make sure we get our way.  DSIC does nothing of the sort here, and I don’t read or interpret that last part of the conjuration prayer as any more threatening or intimidating than the first.  I recommend all three be read as a unit.

So, let’s say we want to vary the prayer for specific spirits.  Let’s start with one that’s dear to my heart: the natal genius.  This is a spirit—generally considered angelic and typically of a solar order given its association with one’s life though not necessarily solar in and of itself—who I consider to be the spirit that represents the “idea” of our incarnation in the world, the angel (or a spirit close enough to one) into whose lap we fall into as their ward in the process of our birth.  Agrippa describes this as one entity of the “threefold keeper of man” (book III, chapter 22), and whose name can be derived in any number of ways, though I prefer the method described later on (book III, chapter 26) of deriving the name from the letters associated with the degrees of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Part of Fortune, and Prenatal Syzygy points of one’s natal horoscope.  Contact with this spirit is great for learning more about one’s proper place and work in life, and though I don’t consider it equivalent to one’s holy guardian angel or supernatural assistant, they can share some of the same functions.  When I work with this spirit, especially for the first formal conjuration, I use the following prayer instead of the DSIC generic conjuration prayer after the circle is traced and the incense is set to burn:

O spirit NN., I conjure you in the holy name of YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath, in the name of the Logos, in the name of the Holy Guardian Angel!  Come now to this place and appear before me, speak with me, commune with me that I may have the benefit of your direct guidance.

O NN., you who were one with the Logos at the dawn of time, you who are Logos to me now, you who created Heaven and Earth for me, you who has watched over me from the moment of my birth, you who has called me to perform this ritual here and now!  I conjure you to appear before me.  I am XX., child of YY.  You have called me and I am here.  You have led me to this place and brought about all that has transpired in my life to be here calling to you now.  Come now and appear before me in the name of YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath.  I conjure you, o NN.; appear before me here and now!

In this prayer, “NN.” is the name of the natal genius, “XX.” is your own name, and “YY.” is your mother’s name (I like using matronyms in magic operations of this nature).  Note that we’re calling on the spirit specifically in the name of “YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath”, a qabbalistic name associated with Tiphereth and thus of the Sun.  Also, I want to say that I got this prayer from Fr. RO’s RWC, but I cannot for the life of me find it in any of the texts no matter how hard I try.  It might have come from his blog, one of the posts in the mailing list for RWC, or another source of his, but I swear that I didn’t come up with this prayer out of the ether.  (If anyone familiar with his sources, or related ones, can point me in the right direction as to where I got this prayer from, I’d be deeply appreciative.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t write this prayer myself.)

However, there’s another specific conjuration prayer that I do know Fr. RO gave earlier in the Black Work part of RWC, and that’s a conjuration of a genius loci, the spirit of a particular place, especially those centered or linked to a particular river, stone, tree, mountain, home, or the like.  From the third Black Work lesson, Fr. RO describes a much pared-down conjuration ritual, foregoing the usual formalities of candles, circles, and incense, and skipping ahead directly to the conjuration itself, incorporating a libation and offering of food and drink to be poured out and scattered at the specific points indicated in the prayer.  At this point, having brought the genius loci into the crystal with the offerings laid out, you’d then engage in communion with the spirit as usual, learning about the spirit, its name, seal, and so forth.  At the end, a pared-down license to depart is used, using the name of the genius formally for the first time, based only loosely on that of DSIC:

O spirit of [land, tree, river, community, &c.], come to me!  I call upon you by the four angels of the corners of the world, by Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel!  I call upon you by the four kings of the world, by Oriens, Egyn, Paimon, and Amaymon!  Come now and receive this offering of [drink].  Come now and receive this offering of [food].  Come now and appear before me in this crystal, that we may speak and understand each other.

NN., I thank you for coming.  Return to me when I call you by name and by seal, come quickly from wherever you may be, and let there be mutual peace and prosperity between us until the end of our days.

Though Agrippa would probably take issue with Fr. RO’s approach, Agrippa would also probably take issue with DSIC itself.  Just as DSIC plays pretty loose and fast with what Agrippa describes in the Fourth Book, so too is Fr. RO playing loose and fast with DSIC.  Yet—as I can myself attest—this method of working with genii locorum can and does work!  In retrospect, however, I would recommend going through a more formal process that more closely resembles Agrippa’s method of working with “evil spirits” (circle, incense, no triangle or crystal), or eschew it all in favor of a more direct, diplomatic approach of approaching the spirit of a place without any conjuration at all, but just making devotional offerings and getting to know the spirit on their own terms.  Fr. RO, as I interpret it, was introducing people who were brand new to the notion of working with spirits using simple tools and spirits nearby them without them doing a full conjuration yet, but working up towards it later.

Then there’s Fr. RO’s other text, Modern Goetic Grimoire, which he (like the rest of his ebooks) no longer sells but (unlike the rest of his ebooks) I neither share nor bring up at length, especially because the man is heading towards publishing it formally in a new and revised version.  In his (earlier?) approach to goetia, Fr. RO used a hybrid approach that combined some of the tools and techniques from the Lemegeton Goetia with DSIC, replacing the DSIC magic circle with the one from the Lemegeton, incorporating the pentagram-style pentacle of Solomon to be on the reverse of the seal of the spirit (made in the Lemegeton-style instead of the Agrippa-style lamen), and using a generally DSIC approach to setting up the conjuration ritual but replacing the actual prayer of conjuration with one styled heavily after the first conjuration of the Lemegeton Goetia (the one using the names Beralanensis, Baldachiensis, Paumachia, and Apologia Sedes).  Because the Lemegeton Goetia and Heptameron are both Solomonic texts that share very closely-related forms of this prayer, and because the DSIC is itself a derivative of the Heptameron, one could easily use the Heptameron prayer (either as it is or in an altered form) to conjure “evil spirits” in the sense of demons like those found in goetic texts.  While I won’t share Fr. RO’s version of the prayer, this is one that I think follows a little more closely with the Heptameron while still being true to the DSIC format.  Using NN. for the name of the spirit to be conjured:

In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, by Beralanens and Baldachiens and Paumachia and the seats of Apologia, by the most mighty kings and powers, by the mightiest kings and strongest powers, by the most powerful princes, by the Spirit of Liachida, o you minister of the Tartarean seat!  Hear me, o NN.!

O chief prince of the seat of Apologia in the ninth legion, I desire you and call upon you, o NN., by the power of Almighty God, by the will of Him who is called Tetragrammaton … the holy God, the Father, He to whom all creatures fall obedient, that you come forth here to this place and now to this time, taking your place to appear visibly before me in this crystal, taking upon yourself a peaceful, visible, affable, and comely form.

Come forth, o NN., in the name of God whose mighty and true Name—YHVH—being resounded makes the elements to be overthrown, the winds to shake, the sea to recede, the fire to be quenched, the earth to tremble, and all spirits above the Earth, upon the Earth, and under the Earth cower in fear and confusion!

Come forth, o NN., without delay, quickly, quickly, immediately, immediately, from wherever you may be, from any part of the world, from whatever form or nature you take, in the name of the true and living God—Helioren—that you might manifest and reveal to me that which I desire, answering my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine Mercy and Goodness by requesting unlawful knowledge.

Come forth, o NN., and stay not where you are, delay not for any cause, doing nothing but coming to me to assist me in my desires and needs, in the name of the Lord God—Bachac rushing upon Abrac, Abeor over Aberor—all for the glory and honor of His divine Majesty, He who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

Lord, your Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Make clean my heart within me, and take not Your holy Spirit from me.

O Lord, by Your Name have I called NN.; suffer him to administer unto me, that no iniquity be done and all harm flee from me, so that all things in Heaven and on Earth may work together for Your honor and glory, to whom with You the Son and the Holy Spirit be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

This is my own mishmash of the Heptameron conjuration prayers of such spirits—with my own modifications to structure and grammar—put into the same overall framework as the DSIC conjuration prayer.  Of course, incorporating such prayers for such spirits might be a bit too much for a pure-DSIC approach to handle, so I would still recommend that either you use the the pentacle of Solomon (either hexagram-style or pentagram-style, though I would recommend using the hexagram-style) on the reverse of the lamen of the spirit to be called in this way, as well as having offensive incenses compounded of peppers and sulfur and the like.  Just in case things go wrong.

Now, I don’t mean to limit DSIC to working with just angels, demons, or spirits of the land; the format of DSIC is solid enough, grounded in Agrippa-style theurgy and Solomonic-style conjuration (though sometimes coming across as confused as to which it wants to be or do more of), to be used for truly any kind of spirit.  While the specific conjuration prayer used by DSIC is phrased generally enough to be used for any kind of spirit, we can play around a bit with modifying it or replacing it with other prayers that are specifically geared to specific kinds of spirit or even to specific spirits themselves.  In doing so, we begin a process of reincorporating DSIC into a more traditionally-Solomonic milieu or take it further away into a more animist, theurgic, or other style of approaching and working with spirits.  The above examples show that DSIC can be altered in just such a way—but they are only just a few examples that show what can be done, not to indicate the limits of what could be done.  Other spirits that don’t fall into the categories above should have their own prayers written specifically for them; heck, even specific angels themselves could have their own specific prayers used to conjure them, if one so chooses.

I mentioned at the end of the goetic-style DSIC conjuration prayer that maybe we should include a few other things in the ritual, like proper pentacles and offensive incenses and whatnot, just in case things go wrong or when a stronger arm is needed than might otherwise be desired.  Hopefully it doesn’t have to come to this, but…well, what if they do?  DSIC doesn’t tell you what to do for backup plans or contingencies, nor does it give you any “plan B” for when things don’t go as you expect.  We’ll talk about that next time.

4 responses

  1. Pingback: Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do When Things Go Wrong « The Digital Ambler

  2. Pingback: Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Recap, Summary, Variations « The Digital Ambler

  3. I have studied how to perform and vary Trithemius’ DSIC from every angle I can find, and my one and only question is: how does one vary the magic circle itself for a non-angelic spirit? What I mean is that the “fill-in-the-blank” part of the circle that usually contains the sigil and Hebrew name of the archangel of one of the seven spheres, what goes there during the conjuration of the goetic spirits, for example?

    • Don’t forget that that specific type of magic circle is derived from the Heptameron family of grimoires. On the one hand, you could just swap out the corresponding stuff for any spirit (the name and the seal); simple and straightforward. On the other, you could also just use a different magical circle, since DSIC is itself a combination of several families of Solomonic techniques. Or, if you wanted, you could use the magical circle for the angel of the time you’re working within, and use that as a barrier/protective spirit as you call on whatever other demonic or goetic spirit you like. Remember that the Heptameron family of grimoires certainly works with a whole lot else besides angels, so take a closer look at that text and its related family members to see how that works there.

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