Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Orientation, Setting, Timing, and Lamen vs. Pentacle

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 how to arrange the altar and the circle in the temple room. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

The reason we needed to figure out how to arrange the altar and the circle in the temple room is because we need to know how to actually position the altar within the overall temple space itself. Agrippa says that the “table or altar” should be “set towards the east” (book IV, chapter 10), which implies that the altar should be placed against the eastern wall of the temple space. However, if we place the table against the wall, then we can’t really use Fr. RO’s method of including the altar in the circle because we can’t really reach the bounds of the room behind the altar in that way. However, I have a way around this, based on something I learned from one of my pagan friends years back; instead of tracing the circle with the tip of the wand on the ground, one traces a circle with the tip of the wand pointed upwards at the edges of the room where the walls meet the ceilings. This is good for consecrating a whole room as a temple space, and can incorporate an altar positioned against the wall if needed, since one cannot walk or continually trace a circle behind the altar on the ground in such a case.

However, that method of pointing-up is an inspiration of my own that also goes against the DSIC instructions of tracing the circle on the ground. In all fairness, it is more likely that the altar should be placed against a wall, and the easier reading of DSIC suggests the circle for the magician to be placed in front of the altar and not containing it. To use another inspiration of my own, this time from my espiritismo (Cuban-style Kardeckian spiritism) practice, we place the boveda (altar for spirit guides and ancestors) against a wall because the wall acts as a natural “gate” through which spirits can enter. Having the altar positioned in front of a wall would agree with that notion, as well. Again, it’s not from DSIC nor from any Solomonic text I’ve ever read, but it does make sense in that regard. However, I don’t think that consideration is necessarily one to have ourselves beholden to; if you prefer the conjuration altar to be in the middle of the room, it’s not like the spirits will have any more difficulty reaching the crystal there than if it were a only a few inches from a wall.

Now, Agrippa says that the altar should be set towards the east; we might interpret this as being placed against the eastern wall, but if we were to use another interpretation that isn’t unreasonable, we might also read this as Agrippa saying that the altar should be set such that the objects on it are arranged towards the east, whether or not the altar is put against a wall. In other words, we’d arrange the altar so that we’d stand to the west of the altar facing it towards the east. This is also reasonable, and would allow us to trace a circle around the altar as in Fr. RO’s method. So, again, there are different approaches here based on how you want to interpret Agrippa, and either way works, whether you put the altar up against the eastern wall of a room or have it set up such that you face east when you sit before the altar.  This also matches up with pretty standard Christian practice (pre-Vatican II in the West and Catholic world), where traditionally the whole church would be oriented towards the East, and the priest would stand on the western side of the altar facing the East to perform the Eucharist.

But does our ritual direction always have to be east? Agrippa says so, and after all, this is the direction of the sunrise, and is the direction that churches are supposed to be oriented towards, as the sunrise is the direction of Light entering the world, which has definite Christological overtones. But it doesn’t seem like this is the case when implemented by different authors, or at least, not always. Fr. RO in his old Modern Goetic Grimoire arranges the items on the altar in a way that doesn’t suggest the altar is set towards the east, but more like to the north or the south (and, I’d argue, towards the north):

Set up the Table of Practice on a surface you can sit in front of and comfortable gaze into the scrying medium. Place whatever you will be scrying in the center of the Triangle. Place the Wand to the East of the Table of Practice, and the Incense to the West.

Yet, in his White Work section quoted above, one should face east in the astral temple, which suggests that the altar itself is aligned towards the east. However, in another twist, in SS, the illustration he gives of the altar is very explicitly oriented towards the north, which is why he has the Table of Practice in SS set up with the archangel Gabriel at the “top” of the triangle, which he later replaced by Egyn the king of the North. This puts Michael/Oriens at the right of the Table of Practice to the East, which is where Fr. RO puts the wand at rest on the altar. This, combined with the odd order of planetary angels around the edge of the table, as noted before when we discussed the planetary stuff for the DSIC table, ties in with his understanding of the forces associated the four directions according to Agrippa’s Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7). That Fr. RO faces north as a rule for his conjurations might be surprising, but consider that his style of implementing DSIC involves a brief invocation and empowerment taken from the Headless Rite of the Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist (PGM V.96—172), which is a staple of Fr. RO’s general magical practice. The Headless Rite instructs the magician to face north, which is the old direction of eternity and immortality in old Egyptian belief (and which we discussed here, here, and here when we talked about the pole stars in PGM magic). For Fr. RO, this is the default magical direction above and beyond any other.

But instead of defaulting to either the east or the north, we might consider using the other directions for specific types of conjuration. Fr. AC in GTSC gives a different direction for each of the seven planetary angels, but some with directions I can’t figure out where he got them from. Stunningly, Fr. AC gives a URL to the Archangels and Angels website (AAA) in the book for “the most reliable correspondence charts concerning these angels”, but while the link he gives is deformed, I was able to find the proper page here. (Note that you would need to use the links at the top of the page which get you the angels of the planets, not to the planetary links to the bottom which get you different correspondences). These webpages do include directions for the angels, but they don’t cite any sources for what they have listed as information, nor do they match up with any other list I can find.

The Liber Juratus Honorii (LJH) gives a set of directions for the angels of the planets (image courtesy, of course, of the wonderful Joseph Peterson of Esoteric Archives):

In addition to that, the Heptameron gives directions (“winds”) for the angels of the air for each of the seven days of the week (i.e. the seven planets), and then there’s Fr. RO’s method of using the four cardinal directions for the four elements from Agrippa’s Scale of Four and how the seven planets are allocated to that (book II, chapter 7). Here’s a table showing the different sets of directions I’ve found for the seven planets and their corresponding angels:

Agrippa LHJ Heptameron AAA
Saturn North North Southwest North
Jupiter West Southeast South Southwest
Mars East South East South
Sun East East North West/South
Venus West Southwest West North
Mercury North Northwest Southwest Northeast
Moon South West West West

Still, even checking through texts like Stephen Skinner’s Complete Magician’s Tables and going through all the texts I can think of that might touch on this, I can’t find anything that matches up with the AAA/GTSC directions. It would honestly shock (and outright appall) me if Fr. AC just uncritically used what some website says without a grimoiric source to back it up, and I’m definitely going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this that there is a legitimate grimoiric or scriptural source for these directional correspondences and accept them as having validity and not just some new-age woo behind them. Still, if anyone knows where AAA got their source from for the directions for the planetary angels, please do let me know either by email or in the comments, and I’ll update this bit of the post if and when I find out; I’m stumped and don’t know where this set of directions came from.

Also, as it turns out, Aaron Leitch wrote a blog post of his own not too long ago about the planetary rulership of the winds and what directions they should be ascribed to, taking a look at the Heptameron and LJH and correcting them to better fit with astrological and zodiacal paradigms, which gives us even more food for thought.

In any case and at any rate, in the end, when it comes to setting up the altar, we can pick a particular direction to have the whole shebang face, such that we face that same direction when seated in front of the altar:

  • Orient the altar to always face east for all spirits (what Agrippa instructs, under a Christian influence).
  • Orient the altar to always face north for all spirits (what Fr. RO instructs, under a Hermetic-Egyptian influence).
  • Orient the altar to face a particular direction associated with the planet of the spirit being conjured. Which direction you face depends on the direction specified by whatever text or correspondence system you’re working with.

Honestly, any of these systems work; I can see reasons and rationales for each of them. Use what’s most comfortable and convenient for you based on your setup and the space you’re working in. I’ve used East for the vast majority of my conjurations, but I’ve also used West and South when I had my temple set up with my altar pushed up against the wall to the only direction I had space for it with equally good results. If you find the direction to face to be important, face the right direction; if not, don’t worry about it. It can help, to be sure, but for the purposes of DSIC, if you can’t manage it, don’t sweat it.

Now that we know what direction the altar should face, what needs to go on top of it? Not much, honestly: the table (if separate from the actual altar table itself) with the pedestal and crystal (or just the Table of Practice with the crystal, if you’re taking that approach) and the two “holy wax lights” i.e consecrated candles set in their candlesticks. That’s all that needs to be on the altar, if you want to take a strict DSIC interpretation, like what Fr. AC describes and has shown before on his blog.

In that approach, in which you’d (most likely) have the magician standing in a circle that does not include the altar, you’d have the vessel for incense placed (most likely, as Fr. AC says) placed between you and the crystal in the space between the circle and the altar. Everything else (the incense itself, wand, ring, lamen, Liber Spirituum, pen, paper, etc.) would be with you inside the circle. For this reason, Fr. AC recommends you have a little table or shelf with you in the circle to hold all these items so that they’re ready and within arm’s reach without simply being put on the floor. Fr. AC also recommends having a stool or chair with you so that you’re not just standing the entire time, which can double as a place to hold the various DSIC instruments, too.

Alternatively, if you take the approach of drawing the circle around the altar, like what Fr. RO suggests in RWC and SS, then the altar that has the table and crystal and the two candles itself may serve as a place to put the incense, wand, and the like. A simple layout, not quite what Fr. RO describes in SS but which builds off of the stuff in RWC, is one that I shared a while back, using a simple IKEA LACK sidetable as my altar, at which I kneeled facing the East, with my notebook and extra supplies (just barely visible) placed underneath the altar:

In any case, the altar for conjuration doesn’t need to have a lot of stuff on it, and in general, the fewer things on it, the better. I would recommend using an otherwise cleared-off space that doesn’t have any unnecessary tools, talismans, statues, or other items on it that aren’t directly related or pertinent to the conjuration to be performed.

However, it can sometimes be beneficial to augment the altar a bit by including things resonant with the planet or the spirit you’re trying to conjure. For instance, using an appropriately-colored altar cloth, placing images of the seals or characters of the planet or the geomantic sigils associated with that planet on the altar, surrounding the table with the crystal with candles (smaller than the “two holy wax lights”) in a number or color appropriate to that planet, flower petals or other paraphernalia to beautify the altar for the spirit, and the like is often a good choice that I can’t not recommend. Consider this simple arrangement I used for the angel Tzadqiel of Jupiter, with hand-drawn images for the geomantic figures Acquisitio and Laetitia as well as the planetary number square seal for the planet itself, along with my personal planetary talisman of Jupiter:

Towards the end of the post on purification and preparation, we mentioned how Agrippa says that, in all the days leading up to the ritual, we should enter into our temple space and pray before the altar that we’re to perform the conjuration at, keeping the lamen covered with clean, white linen, which we are to then remove on the day of the ritual itself (book IV, chapter 10). Now, granted that the DSIC method of conjuration doesn’t match up with this prayer-based theurgic communion with “good spirits”, we can take this approach as well:

  1. On the evening before we begin our preparatory/purification pre-ritual period (however long that might be according to what you can manage and the severity of the ritual), set up the altar for conjuration with everything we would need, including the lamen of the spirit to be conjured. Cover the crystal, pedestal and table (or combined Table of Practice), and lamen with a veil (ideally of white linen). If desired, the ring and wand may also be covered as well.
  2. On the first day of the preparatory period, light the candles and begin your fast.
  3. On each day of the preparatory period as well as the day of the ritual itself, ablute, and pray at the altar while burning incense. Keep candles lit on the altar this whole time, lighting new candles from the flames of the old if necessary.
  4. On the final day of the preparatory period as well as the day of the ritual itself, keep a stricter fast than before.
  5. On the day of the ritual itself, anoint yourself with holy oil on the forehead and the eyelids, pray as before, then lift the veil from the altar and perform the conjuration ritual.

Now, that’s the ideal procedure, based on Agrippa’s recommendations from his Fourth Book; nothing is said of preparation for ritual like this in DSIC proper, but it’s certainly a good practice. However, if you can’t manage having an altar set up like this throughout the preparatory and ritual period, then don’t; set up the altar when you need to immediately before the ritual. However, I do think the preparatory process of fasting, ablution, and prayer should still be done, and although it’s best if it’s done at the altar of conjuration itself, it doesn’t need to be. If you have another shrine or prayer table you use for your daily prayers, just use that instead, or just kneel anywhere is convenient, quiet, and private for you every day and perform your prayers that way. Do what you can.

Of course, knowing when and how long to engage in our preparatory period necessitates knowing when the ritual itself will take place. This is the most straightforward thing we’ve talked about yet: use the planetary hour of the planet associated with the spirit. I’ve already written about planetary hours before, and they’re a staple of Western magic and astrology by this point that most people are already aware of, and that there are guides and calculators and apps that calculate them for you for any date and location, so I won’t get into it here. Suffice it here to say that we need to time the ritual for an appropriate planetary hour. Note that I’m only saying “planetary hour”, not “planetary hour and day”; you don’t need to wait for an hour of the Moon on Monday to perform a conjuration of Gabriel of the Moon, because any hour of the Moon on any day of the week will be enough. It might be better to perform such a conjuration of the lunar angel on both the hour and the day of the Moon, but it’s not necessary, because the hour is more important than the day.

Why do we know that only the hour matters, and not the day? Because the end of DSIC gives a list of the ruling hours and planets of each hour of each day of the week without specifying the ruling planet of the day itself. Plus, the DSIC text only talks about the hour itself:

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…

(After noticing the exact hour of the day, and what angel rules that hour, thou shalt say:)…

More importantly, based on the way DSIC is written, the hour only matters for the actual conjuration prayer itself (the part starting “In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I do desire thee, thou strong mighty angel…”). This implies that we actually begin our prayers, setup, circle-tracing, and burning of incense in the hour leading up to the planetary hour we need for the conjuration, and the exact moment it becomes that planetary hour, we can issue the call for the appearance of the spirit. I don’t personally like this approach—I prefer to start the very first prayer of the DSIC ritual within the specific planetary hour we need—but, technically speaking, the moment that matters for the spirit we want is when we give the precise call to that spirit.

So long as you have the planetary hour correct, no other timing really matters. Of course, that’s not to say you don’t need to account for other factors that can increase the potency or efficacy of the ritual: planetary day, lunar phase and speed, retrograde motion of planets, declination of the Sun, planetary elections, eclipses, stars rising or culminating, and the like may all be taken into account as valid reasons to time a conjuration specifically to achieve a particular end. Heck, even taking into account the weather or the specific place you’re performing the conjuration can (and often will) make a difference. This is especially the case if you’re not just conjuring a spirit for the sake of communion and communication, but if you’re getting them to do something specific for you, such as consecrating/enlivening/ensouling a talisman or giving them a charge to take care of a particular task for you. However, in general, the planetary hour is the only thing you need to have right; everything else is a bonus, and while those bonuses can often be worth your while, they’re still just extra.

There is one last consideration, however, based on something we mentioned way back in the first post on the lamen design. We need to remember that the DSIC text says to put on “the pentacle”, not “the lamen” or “the holy table” like what the DSIC illustration says. Nobody has ever said or suggested anything else but that the pentacle refers to anything but the lamen, as even Joseph Peterson of Esoteric Archives says in his notes on the ritual that “the lamin [sic] is also referred to in the text as ‘the pentacle'”. This makes sense, as there’s no other mention of anything else that could be the lamen in the ritual text itself. However, we know that DSIC builds on earlier Solomonic literature like the Heptameron, which does clearly have a pentacle, as do other texts such as the Veritable Key of Solomon or the Lemegeton Goetia (both a hexagram and a pentagram, the hexagram to be saved until needed if spirits become disobedient and the pentagram to be put on the reverse side of the seal of the spirit to be conjured), as well as the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (which, paradoxically, does call it a lamen and has a distinctly different form than the others).

It could be that DSIC really isn’t referring to the lamen when it describes the pentacle to be worn in the ritual, but to an honest-to-God pentacle as used in other Solomonic literature. (Credit goes to the excellent Reverend Erik Arneson of Arnemancy and My Alchemical Bromance for raising this possibility to me.) In which case, we would need to get one of those and prepare it properly, made in a day and hour of Mercury (or those of the Sun or Moon, at least for the pentagram-formed pentacle of Solomon from the Lemegeton Goetia) with the Moon waxing (or, according to the Veritable Key of Solomon, when the Moon is at first quarter or last quarter), on new clean white paper or parchment (or, alternatively, on a square plate of silver, according to the literal instructions in DSIC itself), sprinkled with holy water and anointed with holy oil. When putting it on, one may recite the “Benediction of the Lamens” from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel over it.

But if that’s the case—that we’d need a proper Solomonic pentacle instead of an Agrippan-style lamen of the spirit to wear—where should the lamen of the spirit go? There are two options that I can reasonably see. The first is a synthetic approach: we still make and wear the lamen as normal, but we put the pentagram-formed pentacle of Solomon from the Lemegeton Goetia on the back of the lamen. The side for the spirit should be made in the day and hour of the planet for that spirit, but the pentagram on the reverse side should be made in a day and hour of the Sun, both sides made when the Moon is waxing in the same lunar month. Only once both sides are finished should the lamen be sprinkled with holy water, anointed, suffumigated, etc. to finish it off before it can be used in conjuration by being worn.

For the second approach, we make one of the hexagram-formed Solomonic pentacles as desired above and wear that at the appropriate step, but let’s follow Agrippa’s suggestion instead that the lamen for the spirit should be placed on the conjuration altar. Where on the conjuration altar should the lamen be placed? Considering how DSIC diverges from Agrippa on this point, there’s no one good answer; we could simply place the lamen on the altar in front of the crystal on the altar. However, something better comes to mind: put the lamen on the table under the crystal. If you’re using a pedestal, place the lamen for the spirit in the center of the triangle directly underneath the pedestal base; if you’re not using a pedestal but a Table of Practice instead, simply place the lamen underneath the crystal. The lamen, then, would not be made to be worn with a hole and strap put through it, but instead should be sized to fit cleanly within the triangle on the table (or Table of Practice). This way, the spirit to be conjured would not only be drawn into the crystal by the prayers and direction of the magician, but drawn further by its own name and seal down into the crystal in the triangle itself, acting as a symbolic magnet to draw the spirit down into the crystal from the celestial realms—or, alternatively, to draw it up from the chthonic realms into the crystal. This is actually a really neat idea, and one that makes total sense, providing a neat blend of both the usual Solomonic technique and technology of pentacles as well as the Agrippan method of using the lamen as a focus for conjuration and communion with the spirit themselves.

These options, of course, are nowhere discussed in DSIC, nor have I ever encountered anyone ever suggesting them. But they are valid alternatives that are still within the realm of reason and possibility for DSIC implementation, given the ambiguous wording of the ritual text itself and the historical and literary context from which it arose. It’s something to play with and experiment, to be sure.

On that note, I think we’re good for today. We’ve gotten up to this point, and now, having discussed all the tools and supplies and layouts and setups and preparations, we’re actually (finally) ready to discuss the prayers and structure of the actual conjuration of DSIC. We’ll do that next time.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Setting Up the Temple

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 how we would need to dress and how we need to prepare in the days leading up to the conjuration. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Alright, so!  We’ve got all our tools made and prepared; we’ve got our temple garments (or conjuration costume) ready; we’ve been fasting and abluting and praying like crazy for the sake of purifying ourselves. What we need to do next—which, if we wanted to go by Agrippa’s recommendation (book IV, chapter 10), we should have taken care of at the start of our purification process—is to actually set up our temple space and the altar of conjuration that we’ll need.  We’ll assume, for the sake of this post, the ideal situation of having a separate room in our house with a door that can be shut for privacy to serve as our temple; having a separate room, after all, to serve as our temple is the ideal for any magician or occultist, but this isn’t strictly necessary for the sake of our needs, and you can make do all the same. So long as, like Agrippa recommends, the place in question be “clean, pure, close, quiet, free from all manner of noise, and not subject to any strangers sight”, then you would be fine. Agrippa does recommend that “this place must first be exorcised and consecrated”, by which he means (based on the rest of the stuff in Agrippa’s Fourth Book) we would first sprinkle the place with holy water, suffumigate it with incense (frankincense is fine, church incense or a blend of frankincense with myrrh and benzoin would be better), and pray either Psalm 51:7 (as in the Heptameron) or 2 Chronicles 16:14-42 (as per Agrippa).

And yes, I do personally recommend that one should have a separate room set apart for their magical works; in this, I am entirely in line with Fr. AC when he says in GTSC that “a magical room should be a priority”. Having a separate room that is undefiled and unprofaned by mundane works or senseless chatter, or people walking in and out, or people or pets messing with your altars and shrines and tools really does make a difference. But I also know that not everyone has the space, means, or ability to set apart a whole separate room for magical works; moreover, I know many magicians, witches, and occultists who do positively phenomenal work without having a dedicated temple room, but instead who operate in hallways or kitchens or bedrooms. It’s far more often the case throughout human history, in every continent and culture and era, that people lived in simple one- or two-room dwellings, and simply didn’t have the luxury of a fully contained separate room for magical works like the upper-class echelons of magical society, and it’s not like they weren’t doing or couldn’t do magic in such circumstances, nor would they willingly let that stop them. If you have the means to do so, get a separate room for temple and magical stuff; if not, despite that Fr. AC “cannot condone this method”, I wouldn’t worry too much, since you’re in about 6000 years and six continents of good company. In the case where you don’t have a separate temple room, spend a bit of extra time purifying, sanctifying, and arranging everything in the space in which you’ll do temple stuff; you can still do DSIC-style conjurations and other magical practices all the same.

What comes to mind when I read this section of Agrippa is the Alchemist’s Laboratory woodcut from Heinrich Khunrath’s 1595 work Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae, or “Amphitheatre of Eternal Wisdom”. Note that the alchemist in question has a special oratory set aside in his laboratory at which he kneels before a table covered with a cloth and a baldachin, the latter denoting that this is specifically an altar, especially with the sanctuary lamp hanging inside. Note also how he kneels before an open book with magical circles; this could be an interpretation of a Liber Spirituum or some other text of devotional and occult focus.

Alternatively, for those who’d prefer a different approach, an oratory of the kind described in the Sacred Magic of Abramelin could also be used quite nicely. Although that text uses a completely different approach of conjuring spirits, and that only after one attains contact with their Holy Guardian Angel, book II, chapter 11 describes the nature and construction of such a place (which far exceeds the demands of what we need for DSIC, but which gives us many other good ideas to play with if possible):

He who commenceth this operation in solitude can elect a place according unto his pleasure; where there is a small wood, in the midst of which you shall make a small altar, and you shall cover the same with a hut (or shelter) of fine branches, so that the rain may not fall thereon and extinguish the lamp and the censer. Around the altar at the distance of seven paces you shall prepare a hedge of flowers, plants, and green shrubs, so that it may divide the entrance [path] into two parts; that is to say, the interior where the altar and tabernacle will be placed after the manner of a temple; and the part exterior, which with the rest of the place will be as a portico thereunto.

Now if you commence not this operation in the country, but perform it in a town, or in some dwelling place, I will show unto ye what shall be necessary herein.

Ye shall choose an apartment which hath a window, joined unto the which shall be an uncovered terrace (or balcony), and a lodge (or small room or hut) covered with a roof, but so that there may be on every side windows whence you may be able to see in every direction, and whence you may enter into the oratory. In the which place [terrace or balcony] the evil spirits shall be able to appear, since they cannot appear within the oratory itself. In the which place, beside the oratory towards the quarter of the North, you shall have a rooted or covered lodge, in the which and from whence one may be able to see the oratory. I myself also had two large windows made in my oratory, and at the time of the convocation of the spirits, I used to open them and remove both the shutters and the door, so that I could easily see on every side and constrain them [the spirits] to obey me.

The oratory should always be clear and clean swept, and the flooring should be of wood, of white pine; in fine, this place should be so well and carefully prepared, that one may judge it to be a place destined unto prayer.

The terrace and the contiguous lodge where we are to invoke the spirits we should cover with river sand to the depth of two fingers at the least…

The chamber [of the oratory itself] should be boarded with pine wood, and a [beautiful] lamp [of gold or silver] full of oil olive should be suspended therein, the which every time that ye shall have burned your perfume and finished your orison, ye shall extinguish. A handsome censer of bronze, or of silver if one hath the means, must be placed upon the altar, the which should in no wise be removed from its place until the operation be finished, if one performeth it in a dwelling-house; for in the open country one cannot do this. Thus in this point as in all the others, we should rule and govern ourselves according unto the means at our disposal.

Still, as I said above, you don’t need a separate room to act as your temple or oratory.  It would be ideal for any number of reasons, but it’s simply not necessary—arguably ideal, sure, but not strictly necessary. If you have your own bedroom with a door that can be shut for privacy, then you’ve already got all you need. If you don’t have even that much, however, then pick a time when there aren’t people at home for you to do your conjuration. You don’t want to be bothered or have people walk in on the middle of you standing in a magic circle, after all. Barring that, find somewhere desolate away from people, foot traffic, and attention where you can work, or borrow/rent a space somewhere you can do what you need to do.  Purify and prepare the space accordingly (which is something you’d do anyway, even if you had a dedicated temple room!).

Okay, so let’s now say you have your temple room (or at least a temple space within a room) set up. Now we need to build and set up the altar of conjuration; how should we make that? Honestly, it doesn’t matter, so long as it can support the implements of DSIC. Fr. AC has a sumptuous Altar of the Stars, described both on his blog and in GTSC, set up with the Grand Seal of Solomon for the table to be placed upon and circumscribed pentagrams for the candlesticks, edged with planetary characters and geomantic sigils, with the planetary glyphs on one side of the main pillar and (what he says but which very readily and apparently aren’t, perhaps inspired instead from the Complete Book of Magic Science by Hockley?) the “Armadel Olympic spirit sigils” on the other, zodiacal glyphs on the support pillars, and a circumscribed hexagram on the base under the main pillar (and thus connecting the table with the Earth itself)…

…but, let’s face it, this is entirely unnecessary and entirely fanciful. I adore Fr. AC’s inspiration and work here, as ever, but let’s be honest: nobody needs something like this. Fr. AC, after all, is well-known not just for going “by the book” when it comes to many grimoires, but also for going well above and beyond them in a beautiful, and sometimes overmuch, manner. This sort of thing falls into the category of what I call “ritual-specific furniture”; as opposed to ritual-specific tools, which I find reasonable enough to make and keep around (though I find good reason for making them general or syncretized enough to be general tools if necessary), ritual-specific furniture is something I internally rebel at and am repulsed by. Even I, with my large basement temple room with ample space to spare, still like keeping the furniture itself just plain furniture in case I need to reorganize, disassemble, combine, or the like. Unless you’re going to make DSIC the One Thing You Do Forever, you don’t need something like this that takes up so much space to be used for this one ritual. That said, there are a number of good reasons to make something like Fr. AC’s , but at least as many and as good reasons to not do so.

Instead of something like what Fr. AC has, you could use a Golden Dawn-/Thelema-style double cube altar, or the altar from Abramelin (same selection as before):

The altar should be erected in the midst of the oratory; and if anyone maketh his oratory in desert places, he should build it of stones which have never been worked or hewn, or even touched by the hammer…

The altar, which should be made of wood, ought to be hollow within after the manner of a cupboard, wherein you shall keep all the necessary things, such as the two robes, the crown or mitre, the wand, the holy oils, the girdle or belt, the perfume; and any other things which may be necessary.

Honestly? You don’t need a specific kind of altar for DSIC. That function is, after all, provided by the DSIC table (or the Table of Practice) itself; the DSIC table is what makes whatever it’s sitting on “an altar”, in a sense, but in reality, the DSIC table is the altar.  After all, it’s not called a “table” for nothing. Yes, the consecrated candles should go next to the DSIC table on either side and collectively may be thought of as “the altar” as a whole, but it’s really just the DSIC table itself that’s needed. Because of that, any table, altar, or clean horizontal surface will suffice to work for the ritual. It should be sturdy enough to not wobble around when things are put on it, when it’s bumped into, or when people walk with a heavy step around it.

Likewise, the altar should be tall enough to view the crystal on at a comfortable level, whether or not a pedestal is used—though, if a pedestal is used, the height of the altar upon which the DSIC table is placed should be considered and adjusted accordingly.  However, you may want to go with a shorter or higher altar depending on whether you prefer to stand during the ritual, sit on a stool or a chair, or kneel before it.  Your specific approach is up to you, but you don’t want to strain your back or neck because of an awkward height mismatch between your preferred posture and the crystal on the altar.  Be aware that conjurations can go on for quite some time, especially if you get more advanced in the work and endure multiple hours of ritual work in this way, so you’ll want something that can be used comfortably for an indefinite period of time.

Fundamentally, since it’s just a piece of supporting non-specific furniture, nothing about the altar table matters so long as it’s sturdy and tall enough without being too tall; I’ve used IKEA LACK sidetables and NORRÅKER bar tables just fine. I do think that the table should be washed with holy water and suffumigated with incense at minimum before its initial use, like with the temple garments and other miscellanea according to Agrippa, perhaps anointed with oil on its corners and legs, perhaps with a bit of extra prayer that it be clean and cleansed and fit for spiritual work, but that’s about it. Nothing more needs to be done with it to make it ready, since it’s a relatively minor consideration after all the actual tool making.

That being said, recall something we said earlier when we discussed the process and elements needed for constructing and consecrating all our DSIC implements about the table, that we could use either a separate piece of equipment for the table that has the proper design on it, or we could use an actual table surface instead, something like Fr. AC’s Altar of the Stars, but instead of having the pentacle from the Veritable Key of Solomon on it in the center, have the actual table design (or Table of Practice design) permanently emblazoned on it. This is also entirely a legitimate approach, as DSIC is not clear on whether “the table” refers to an actual table or to a smaller, more moveable piece of equipment that can be used as a base for the pedestal and/or crystal. I don’t like this latter approach of using an actual table with the design permanently put onto/into it (again, my revulsion at having permanently-designated ritual furniture instead of flexible altar tools), but you can take this approach as well if you want.

Now, how do we set up the altar in the temple space? This depends on whether you want to have your altar against a wall or standing apart from a wall, such that you can walk around it. And this is where we get into another major divergence in DSIC implementation between the DSIC styles of Fr. AC and Fr. RO, especially when you factor in the magic circle: should the altar be placed inside the magic circle or outside it? DSIC doesn’t explicitly say. Fr. Acher from Theomagica shows how his temple setup looks like for conjurations, putting his Table of Practice on top of a double-cube altar in the middle of the magic circle he uses:

This is the approach that basically Fr. RO uses, too, and which I’ve used in the past. That said, now that I think about it…I can’t find any specific reference to this approach in Fr. RO’s RWC or SS; he seems to be as unclear as DSIC is in his written works, but the closest I can find is in his old Modern Goetic Grimoire that says:

When you have the area and tools prepared, begin by casting a Circle. I stand in front of the setup [altar with all the items upon it], and pointing the wand to the East, I turn, tracing out a circle that encompasses the area I will be sitting in. I say “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I consecrate this ground for our defense.” It’s a traditional Christian Magician’s method that I lifted from the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals, I believe. It works, and it’s easy. If you’re not a Christian, feel free to substitute whatever names you are more comfortable using. IAO is particularly effective.

By Fr. RO saying to “stand in front of the setup, pointing the wand to the East”, this probably suggests that Fr. RO is directing us to have the altar outside the circle, assuming the altar itself is placed east of the magician performing the ritual, and by standing “in front of the setup”, he means to our front. It could mean that “in front of” means on the side opposite the altar, to the altar’s own East. I actually don’t know, now, where I got my approach of placing the altar inside the circle with me; it might have been based off Fr. Acher’s designs. However, going through the old Yahoo! Group messages for Fr. RO’s RWC, it seems that the consensus there, as well, was to have the altar inside the circle. There’s also the instructions he gives in his old Gates texts from his Green Work:

Take your wand and trace out a circle on the ground around you while you say: …

Then place the incense burner next to your Table of Practice and light the charcoal and sprinkle incense on it, or light the incense stick and say: …

And again from the (astral temple) conjuration done from Lesson 4 of the White Work course:

If you enter through the main doors, you will find your Astral temple all set up. There will be an altar with the elemental tools and planetary seals and everything you use in your daily ritual work, only represented more symbolically than the actual items you use in the “real” world.

Lift the wand and trace out a magic circle around the Temple. Do it the same way in your vision as you do when you conjured Michael and the Genius.

Return the wand to its proper place, and face the East in your Astral Temple…

Between the Gates text (which implies having the altar close enough to reach and manipulate the incense burner on it), the White Work description (which implies having a circle to cover the whole astral temple area including the altar, and then putting the wand back on the altar), and the consensus in the RWC Yahoo! group, plus my own dim recollection of associating this format with Fr. RO, I think there’s a good chance Fr. RO can be associated with this method. Plus, in my own recent personal talks with the man himself to confirm, this is in fact his approach: the circle is traced on the ground with the wand to encompass the whole ritual space, altar and magician both.

It’s important to recognize here what Fr. RO’s specific logic is for placing the altar inside the magician’s circle. In his style of implementing DSIC, he foregoes any formally-drawn circle of art like what we discussed before, and merely traces a circle out with the wand as a means of creating a sacred temple space, which ideally encompasses the whole room used for the ritual but which may be whittled down to just encompass the immediate ritual space. That’s it; the circle doesn’t physically exist by being drawn out in ink or chalk or coal, but by the very act of tracing it with the wand, it spiritually/astrally exists, which is all that matters for the consecration of the temple space. For Fr. RO, the physical circle is an unnecessary formality, and in fact, even drawing any circle with the wand is likewise unnecessary as well, because the actual circle that matters for the protection of the magician is that drawn on the DSIC table itself; the magicians themselves don’t need their own circle since one is already present. The circle that protects the magician is the circle on the Table of Practice itself, which serves to contain the spirit from the magician. For the Fr. RO approach, whether the magician stands inside a circle or whether the spirit does doesn’t matter, so long as there’s a separation at all, and that separation is provided by the Table of Practice as it is by its very design.

But, more than that, Fr. RO considers it helpful (especially in the elevation- and initiation-focused Gates rites in RWC and in SS generally) that we be put as close to the spirit as possible, in effect helping us to raise our own sphere (itself represented physically/astrally by the circle we draw) to the level of the planet whose angel we’re conjuring and seeking initiation from. After all, consider that there’s no magic circle used at all by Agrippa in his primary, prayer-based method of conjuring good spirits that involves the use of lamens (book IV, chapter 10); it’s only in his ecstatic whirling-dervish method that he uses for good spirits, as well as for the conjuration of evil spirits (book IV, chapter 12), that circles are described for the magician to stand in. Fr. RO adapts DSIC to forego any Solomonic-style, Heptameron-style, or DSIC-style formal circle of art for use with conjurations of angelic spirits (or “good spirits” generally) because, according to Agrippa, they’re simply not needed. Fr. RO does use the circle of art from the Lemegeton Goetia in his old Modern Goetic Grimoire, and as we discussed above, but that’s also because that text doesn’t conjure what Agrippa would call “good spirits”.

Anyhow, so much for Fr. RO’s approach for putting the altar inside the circle. Then there’s Fr. AC who prefers the method of putting the altar outside the circle. Though he is aware of the inside-the-circle altar approach and “considered this option at length”, which suggests that even Fr. AC gives this option a good amount of credibility, Fr. AC went with the outside-the-circle approach based on a specific phrasing of the placement of the incense vessel in the DSIC text:

Then place the vessel for the perfumes between thy circle and the holy table on which the crystal stands…

This could be interpreted in one of two ways:

  1. The magician has a circle within which both they and the altar are contained. The magician stands with the altar in front of them, and the vessel for incense behind the altar but still within the circle. Alternatively, the vessel may be placed on the altar itself but behind the crystal.
  2. The magician has a circle within which they stand, but outside of which stands the altar. The vessel for incense is placed outside the circle between the circle and the altar that has the crystal or, alternatively, on the altar itself before the crystal.

It’s that second approach that seems the most clear, even though it goes counter to Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10) which says to have “a Censer be set on the head of the altar, wherein you shall kindle the holy fire, and make a perfume every day that you shall pray”, but we know that DSIC is diverging from Agrippa here on the specifics of the conjuration and is using a combined good-spirit/bad-spirit approach. Besides, Fr. AC using the altar-outside-the-circle approach ties in well with other Solomonic literature, especially the famous Lemegeton Goetia, which places the Triangle of Art outside the circle.

More than that, though, there are two other reasons that I myself find this altar-outside-the-circle approach to be likely. The first is the phrasing of the circle from the DSIC image: “the magic Circle of a simple construction in which the operator must stand or sit when he uses the Chrystal”. Nothing is said about the table or crystal being inside the circle, just the magician. Granted, this isn’t a strong reason, but it does suggest that the circle is meant to hold the magician and only the magician, and not the conjuration apparatus of crystal, pedestal, and table.

The other reason, and a far more practical one, that I find that the altar-outside-the-circle approach is what’s meant. Consider that DSIC instructs us to “take your black ebony wand, with the gilt characters on it and trace the circle”. DSIC doesn’t tell us which hand, but we can assume the right hand which is the hand that wears the ring of Solomon (and is the dominant hand for most people, and in general is historically considered the “correct” hand for works like this). Moreover, he doesn’t tell us in which direction to draw the circle, whether clockwise or counterclockwise, but the general practice is to draw circles clockwise, at least when tracing them out. Now, picture these three scenarios in your mind, dear reader:

  1. If we’re drawing a relatively small circle, in which we can stand in one place and simply rotate in place with the wand on the ground, then we just need to turn our bodies clockwise.
  2. If we’re drawing a large circle, we need to walk forward clockwise around the circle with the wand in our right hand lowered to our left, arm crossing our path, which can be clunky.
  3. Alternatively, for a large circle, we need to walk backwards around the circle with the wand in our right hand lowered down to our right. This is even clunkier and less elegant than the second.

It’s far easier and more elegant to go with the first option, which assumes that (a) there’s nothing in the circle with you that would block you from just spinning in place with the wand extended outwards (b) the circle itself that you’re standing in isn’t very large to begin with. If you’re working in a large circle, then option #1 won’t be possible no matter what (as the bounds of the circle are too far away from the center to reach with the wand), and option #3 looks and feels both ridiculous and awkward. This makes #2 the arguably better choice for large circles, and especially those that have extra equipment (chairs, tables, supplies, people, etc.) inside them, but it can still be clunky. With a wand of sufficient length (recommended to be the length from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger), so long as you bend down a bit, you can make a circle of a pretty good size for yourself and trace it in the easy option of #1 without introducing the clunkiness of options #2 and #3. It’s this practical consideration, I think, that also suggests having the altar outside the circle, since it could not be done if there was anything big in our way.

There is the consideration, of course, of the danger that might be present in placing the altar containing the locus of manifestation in the circle with us; after all, if the whole purpose of a circle is to protect ourselves from the danger presented to us by spirits we conjure, why would we conjure that spirit inside the circle where we’re supposed to be protected by it? This is safe using the DSIC method, because the DSIC table itself is bounded by a circle of its own. According to the usual rules of spiritual geometry, just as spirits outside a circle cannot enter into it, spirits inside a circle cannot leave it. The triangle helps bring them to manifestation as well as binds them (as in Agrippa’s “evil spirit” methods), and the circle keeps them put; thus, even if the spirits we’re conjuring are inside the magician’s circle with us, the spirits themselves are in their own inner circle beyond which they cannot pass. In effect, the table design is its own “magic circle” that keeps the magician protected, whether or not we use a separate magic circle for ourselves—though, as mentioned before, it would be good to do so to cut ourselves off from the other influences and powers outside the ritual space we want to work within.

There’s also the consideration that some people have wondered about that having the altar for the manifestation of the spirit inside the magic circle weakens the spirit, or stifles the connection, or otherwise impedes the manifestation of the spirit. I don’t buy it; after all, if that were the case, then us standing in a circle outside the altar at all would likewise stifle our connection, perception, or communication with the spirit, whether or not they had their own locus or triangle or table or crystal. On top of that, if we consider DSIC equipment by the book, the spirits manifest in a crystal which is bounded by two circles, the first provided by the gold plate with names on the front and the back, and the second by the circles on the table itself upon which the pedestal stands. I don’t give this consideration any credence.

Honestly, either approach works, whether you place the altar for the table and crystal inside the circle with you (as Fr. RO does) or outside the circle (as Fr. AC does). The specific phrasing of DSIC could be read in a more Agrippa-style way (placing the vessel for incense between the crystal and the far edge of the circle, at the “head of the altar”) or in a more common-sense, Lemegeton Goetia way (placing the vessel for incense between you and the crystal in the gap between the circle and the altar). Either way works. Use what you feel most appropriate doing.

Now that we have that out of the way, there’s one more thing to consider: how do we actually set up the altar, and how do we orient it? Is there a specific direction we need to face for DSIC-style conjurations? We’ll talk about that next time.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Attire and Purificatory Preparations

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 all the considerations we’d need to make, create, obtain, and consecrate the tools called for by DSIC. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Okay, so we’ve got all the stuff that DSIC calls for, right? It’s been procured or made in some way or another, according to the outlines of consecration we’ve been able to pluck together from a variety of grimoires that more-or-less fall in line with what we’re doing. Now we can start setting up for the actual ritual, right? Well…we’re not quite done talking about equipment yet, as it turns out. We’ve covered all the designs, forms, functions, materials, and consecrations that we’d need to take care of for the DSIC equipment, but once we get ready to implement the DSIC ritual itself with all these tools and things we’ve now got, whether done by-the-book or made in with lenient or freewheeling substitutions, there are a few more things that we need to consider for the conjuration ritual.

As I mentioned last time, I took some things for granted in the list of materials you’d need for DSIC. I assume, for instance, that you have a resource to obtain or a method to create holy water, holy oil, basic incenses, consecrated chalk or charcoal, a stool or chair, a small table to act as an altar, and the like. This also assumes, of course, that you have things like lighters, candle snuffers, scissors or utility knives, spare candles and candle holders, extra fabric, extra pen and paper, and the like, just basic stuff that every temple should have or every magician should have on hand. But even beyond that, there are a few other things to consider for DSIC that aren’t explicitly discussed there but which we still need to here.

First up? Attire. This topic isn’t brought up by DSIC itself, so there’s nothing said about it, its material, or its consecrations in DSIC, but it’s important enough to talk about here. The three big suggestions for attire when it comes to rituals like this come from the Heptameron, Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10), and the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 6), respectively:

  1. “Let it be a priest’s garment, if it can be had, let it be of linen, and clean.”
  2. “You shall also have a long garment of white linen, close before and behinde, which may cover the whole body and the feet, and girt about you with a girdle. You shall also have a veil of pure clean linen, and in the fore-part thereof let there be fixed golden or gilded Lamens, with the inscription of the name Tetragrammaton; all which things are to be sanctified and consecrated in order…[and] with your feet naked.”
  3. “…ought to be of linen, as well as those which he weareth beneath them; and if he hath the means they should be of silk. If they be of linen the thread of which they are made should have been spun by a young maiden…shoes or boots should be made of white leather, on the which should be marked the signs and characters of art. These shoes should be made during the days of fast and abstinence, namely, during the nine days set apart before the beginning of the operation, during which the necessary instruments also should be prepared, polished, brightened, and cleaned.”

If you want to go the extra mile and be period-authentic by-the-book, then have at; it is technically what the grimoires themselves recommend. Do I recommend it? No. In my opinion, you do not need to wear a robe. You don’t. I don’t know what else to tell you. Unless you’re actually involved in a clerical or monastic order that wears robes, or unless you want to cosplay or LARP for your present-day ceremony with anachronistic garb that will waste more of your money and time than might give you spiritual or mental benefit, then there’s no need. We don’t live in the 1500s anymore when robes were actually a common sight and had cultural meaning beyond “weirdo”. You can get modern-day jalabiyyas, thobes, or similar garments worn by Muslims and Bedouins in north Africa, the Middle East, and southeast Asia if you want, but this is just simply not a priority or a concern for the vast majority of us.

Now, if you are in a priestly order? Wear priestly garments, if you wish and if you feel comfortable with it. If you’re in a monastic order? Well, chances are you’ll be wearing your habit anyway, because it’s just what you wear. But otherwise, don’t bother, don’t fret, and don’t worry about it. If you’re not a Christian priest or a Christian monk, or Christian at all, there’s no need to dress like one. Wear what befits your station and authority. I claim that the whole point of dressing in priestly garments in the grimoires, if you weren’t already a priest, was to get you in the mindset of being a representative of Divinity and taking on the authority and license as befits such a priest, and looking the part can trick the brain into believing it. But let’s be honest: most people wouldn’t be able to tell a proper priest’s garment from a discount Halloween costume from that one weird store in that shopping center across town, especially nowadays when there are fewer and fewer actual Christians who actually recognize what the priest actually is and stands for in the cosmos. If you’re not in that mindset, you don’t need to oblige yourself by forcing yourself into it.

Also, if you’re not in the Christian clergy of at least the level of a deacon? Do not wear a stole. This isn’t something to argue with or disagree with: do not wear a stole. I don’t care what Fr. AC says; you do not wear a stole unless you’ve actually taken holy orders in the Christian clergy. To do otherwise is disrespectful to the priesthood and makes you out to be something you’re not, just as if you were to wear Lukumí religious bead-jewelry reserved for initiates as a mark of their initiation, or a Plains Indian war bonnet when you haven’t earned the right to. You can wear something else instead of a stole, like a scarf or cape or sash or mantle or shawl or something, but wearing a proper stole is effectively appropriation of a legitimate emblem of a legitimate priesthood for the sake of LARPing; wearing a stole without having earned the right to do so in a ritual like this makes a mockery of those who have actually earned the right to wear it. Unless you’ve actually taken holy orders, do not wear a stole.

Now, should you have some sort of “temple garments”? Absolutely! Don’t get me wrong: I do think that wearing special clothing reserved for ceremonies, and ideally white clothing at that, is important, as is dressing modestly and in a way that covers most of the body for both protection and purity. I do certainly think having a set of clothes you put on for Doing Formal Magic is a highly recommended practice for getting you into the proper mindset. But does it need to be a full-body robe made of white linen? I like robes and I like linen, but no, it doesn’t. You can get a new white cotton hoodie and new white sweatpants, or get a new set of white scrubs, and those will work fine as standard all-around all-purpose temple/ritual wear. I know this might seem weird, if we’re spending so much time and money on the rest of DSIC/conjuration equipment, but I don’t consider the clothes we wear—which are necessarily products of the time and culture we’re living in, as opposed to the tools and names we’re using—to be nearly as important as the other things we discussed in the last post. But, like I said, if you want to go with full-blown robes (and I have my own set I do wear periodically for some rituals, consecrated according to the Key of Solomon, sacred signs and all), then by all means, have at! But this sort of sartiorial choice is about as far as it could get from being a priority in my opinion.

That said, if you want to, you can customize your look for specific rituals instead of donning your preferred default temple garments; in other words, dress for the part. This is something that Fr. RO uses to its max in SS: when interacting with a particular planet, dress for that planet. For Mars? Wear a set of camo BDUs or a martial arts uniform or similar “armor” or “battlegear”. For Jupiter? A three-piece business suit with cufflinks and a silk tie, the more expensive the better. For Venus? Luxurious clothing that makes you feel Good, something you could go to a high-class danceclub in. Et cetera, ad nauseam. I’ve used these outfits before, and I find it great for getting into the mindset of particular planets; it can certainly be a boon, especially if you’re trying to build up as much resonance as possible with the planet and its spirits that you’re about to interact with. Fr. AC, who prefers the LARP approach of wearing robes, says that wearing robes in the color of that planet can be an option, modern though it may be, but he would rather keep the robe white (which I don’t disagree with) and use a girdle (a loose belt) instead colored appropriately. I think that’s a pretty fair approach; our scrubs/sweatpants-and-hoodie approach might use a colored scarf, keffiyeh, sash, or other piece of fabric to do similarly. Either way, it’s up to you whether you pick the the full-costume approach, colored-robe approach, or white-garments-with-an-accent-color approach; I don’t consider it essential, but it can be helpful under the proper circumstances.

Whatever you select for your temple garments, whether scrubs or sweats or linen robes or priestly costume or whatever, keep them clean and in good condition, don’t wear them when not engaged in temple work, and don’t engage in any sort of ill-mannered, immodest behavior while wearing them (unless specifically called for by the ritual, but that’s not a concern for us with DSIC). If you want, you can consecrate your garments using the method from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 6), even going so far as stitching on the proper symbols and the like in red silk thread, but that’s still overkill for most people; unless you’re specifically working the Key of Solomon, then you can just throw them in the washing machine with some holy water and call it a day. You can keep this simple and modern based on what you can find accessible and appropriate.

When putting on your temple garments, there are prayers in Solomonic literature, ranging from the Heptameron to the Key of Solomon (same chapter as mentioned above) to the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, that you’ll say when putting on your clothing for your ritual; if you have a girdle (or scarf, sash, etc.) to wear in addition to your temple garments, then recite the blessing of the girdle from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel. You should be in a state of purity for putting on your temple garments, since you’re (a) about to literally clothe yourself with something made holy and pure (b) are about to engage in ritual work because you must have a need to put on temple garments.  Since DSIC doesn’t bring up any specific prayers or anything about clothing, we don’t need to bring up the specific prayers here, but you can use them (or not) as you wish or desire.

But that brings up an important topic on its own: how do we purify ourselves and otherwise spiritually prepare for the work to be done? There are basically three things that we need to do every day for a certain number of days leading up to a ritual of this nature, especially for the first time we contact a spirit or begin working with a planet that we’ve hitherto never formally contacted before:

  1. Fast.
  2. Ablute.
  3. Pray.

First, fasting. For this topic, I’ll just link to a post I wrote a bit ago on that topic extensively that I encourage you to read. You could simply do a water fast (i.e. abstaining from all food and only drinking pure water) or a water-and-bread fast; either of those are good if you wanted to be extreme about this part, or you could just abstain from meat and alcohol and keep the rest of your diet more-or-less the same. However you can limit your attachments, pleasures, indulgences, and addictions to worldly substances and behaviors, do it. This also typically and especially includes any and all sexual activity, whether performed alone or with anyone else in any number; not only do we want to fast from food, we also want to fast from all distracting, immodest, and mundane behaviors, for we are about to engage in a work of holiness and divinity, and need to sufficiently detach ourselves from the world in order to do so. Read my post on fasting, both for food and behaviors, and take it as food for thought.

Next, ablution. Abluting refers to the act of spiritually cleansing and washing yourself; if fasting is purifying yourself from the inside out, ablution is purifying yourself from the outside in. Just as we fast and abstain from worldly things and behaviors to make sure that we go in with clean hearts and minds into a ritual, we need to cleanse ourselves to make sure that we go in with clean hands and mouths, too. Spiritual hygiene mitigates the spiritual problems we encounter in the world, and reduces the influence they have when we engage in ritual. Not only that, but in this sort of ritual, we’re coming into direct contact with divinity in a sacred setting; tracking in worldly filth and spiritual garbage is disrespectful to the work we’re doing, the spirits we’re engaging with, and the God we’re calling upon.

And, last and best of all, prayer. This is essentially the warm-up exercise we do before we engage in the heavy lifting of ritual, and helps us get in tune with both God as well as the spirits we’re about to conjure. In effect, if we maintain a proper prayer practice and earnestly pray every day in the lead-up to the ritual, we’ve basically focused ourselves so much for so long, seeking to adapt ourselves to the work at hand, that by the time we even light the first candle, we’ve practically already put into the contact of the spirit, just not in any focused way. And that’s on top of the purificatory power of prayer, too! If fasting cleanses the body from the inside out and ablution from the outside in, then prayer cleanses not the body but the mind, spirit, and soul, which helps both our fasting practices and our ablution practices to be more efficacious all the while.

How long do we engage in these practices for? Different texts specify different lengths:

  • Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10): a full lunar month leading up to the ritual or, alternatively, forty days, increasing one’s strictness on the day of the ritual itself
  • Heptameron: nine days, increasing one’s strictness on the final three days
  • Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 4): nine days, increasing one’s strictness on the final three days, and increasing it even more on the day of the ritual itself
  • Secret Grimoire of Turiel: seven days

Personally, I think seven days of maintaining purifying practices is sufficient. If you want to go for longer, by all means have at! Keeping up such practices can certainly be worth the trouble, and I cannot argue with going longer if that’s what you can manage. Any less than seven days, well…personally, I consider that one should purify themselves for a bare minimum of three days, and that only if they honestly can’t manage longer than that for some reason—and, honestly, at that point, I’d be wondering what else is going on, because if it’s something that significant or major, then maybe it’s just not the best time to do that ritual. Only in cases of emergency should one skip the purifying phase of preparation, but the fact that it’s an emergency indicates that (a) you probably messed up somewhere along the line and should work it off in other ways than cheapening yourself and the ritual by skipping the purifying process (b) the purifying process is even more worthwhile and necessary than if it wasn’t an emergency.

Also, just as a note? I’m increasingly finding it important to maintain purification practices both before and after a ritual. So, in my recommendation, I’d suggest that you’d spend at least seven days purifying yourself and keeping yourself pure before the ritual, and at least a bare minimum of three days, preferably seven, afterwards as well. This helps you to better incorporate the effects from the ritual in a way without getting immediately tangled up in mundane, worldly, or fleshy matters again, and gives you time to ease back into living a normal life.

Just as different texts specify different lengths for pre-ritual purification, so too do they often offer specifics on the kinds of things to be done. Ablution, for instance, could just be bathing twice a day, or it could also be specifically washing yourself with holy water, or it might also include a daily anointing with holy oil after bathing proper. Fasting, as mentioned, isn’t just about food, but about our behaviors as well; as the Key of Solomon says in the aforementioned chapter:

…is absolutely necessary to ordain and to prescribe care and observation, to abstain from all things unlawful, and from every kind of impiety, impurity, wickedness, or immodesty, as well of body as of soul; as, for example, eating and drinking superabundantly, and all sorts of vain words, buffooneries, slanders, calumnies, and other useless discourse; but instead to do good deeds, speak honestly, keep a strict decency in all things, never lose sight of modesty in walking, in conversation, in eating and drinking, and in all things…

As for the kind of prayer we should cite? This could be something as easy as just partaking in Mass every day during this period, if you’re Christian, or it could be through the recitation of a particular prayer once a day, or once in the morning and twice in the evening, and the like. The prayer from the Arbatel (aphorism II.14) is a wonderful choice for this, but the Key of Solomon prayer from the same aforementioned chapter plus the confession and subsequent prayer from book I, chapter 4 are also excellent, as is the First Morning Prayer from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel or the orison from book II, chapter 12 from the Sacred Magic of Abramelin. No matter which prayer you consider, the basic things we pray for that tend to be common across grimoires are include, but are not limited to:

  • recognizing, admitting to ourselves, and regretting the errors we make by doing the wrong things or doing things wrongly
  • seeking help in assistance in our lives generally to lead better lives and to make the world better
  • seeking help through holy works specifically to lead better lives and to make the world better
  • seeking the assistance of the particular spirit we wish to conjure, that God will permit us to contact the spirit and the spirit to be allowed to be present for us and communicate with us
  • recognizing our place in the world, both as base creatures of flesh and blood as well as spiritual creatures made in the image of God
  • recognizing the place and power of God

I don’t think it’s all that important which prayer you use, or whether you use any pre-written prayers instead of praying from the heart, so long as you pray appropriately. At least, of course, if you’re using DSIC, because no preliminary or preparatory work is specified. If we were working a grimoire or other text that specifies a prayer to use, then we’d be using that, but for DSIC, I’d recommend something along the lines of either the Arbatel prayer or the First Morning Prayer from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel.

Given that these grimoires generally, and DSIC specifically, were written within a predominantly Christian context, the prayers we use are essentially Christian prayers (or Abrahamic generally in the case of the Key of Solomon or the Abramelin). That being said, prayers and process work no matter what religion you practice; the only thing I wouldn’t recommend is if you partake in the Holy Eucharist of Mass if you’re not baptized in the church. However, I do recognize that many people aren’t comfortable with Christian prayers or calling upon Jesus—and, after all, one of the whole reasons for my writing this series of posts to begin with is to analyze the DSIC ritual to both flesh it out as well as have a firm foundation in what it’s specifically doing so I can make my own less-Christian more-Hermetic approach for my own purposes that more closely aligns with my general practices. If you’re not comfortable with these prayers as given by DSIC and other grimoires in the Western magical tradition, then I think Fr. AC’s advice in GTSC is solid here: sit with the ritual (like I am now), and compose your own prayers that match the wording and intent of the original as closely as possible ahead of time. Fr. RO does this in RWC and SS, and I’ve seen a few other variants over the years (mostly privately shared) to make them less Jesus-y and more Hermetic-y or Hellenic-y. This is an acceptable variation and, if done right, won’t have an impact on the effect of the ritual.

Though, that said, I personally question the logic of conjuring angels who by definition are subject to God and who are not the various gods or goddesses or divinities of other pantheons without also having at least some token or intellectual acceptance of the existence of God. I find a belief in God, whether you want to conceive of the God of Abraham or the Nous of Hermēs Trismegistus or the One of Plato or the philosophical Zeus Pantokrator of other Hellenic philosophers and theurges, to be more than simply useful in these sorts of rituals. I can’t tell you how to live your life, nor can I tell you what you ought to believe, but while the wording of the prayers can be changed in DSIC, the fundamental cosmology it taps into with God, the One, the Summum Bonum at the top isn’t so flexible. There is a notion of a divine hierarchy and ultimate power upon whom we call, can enter into, and serve as divine ambassadors of authority and True Will that’s part of Hermetic practice that I cannot divest my perspectives, practices, or DSIC from. While I don’t doubt that there are ways around this, I can’t think of any that would make sense to me at the moment, so I won’t try to come up with them. I will be taking a monistic approach to divinity for the sake of the later DSIC posts; whether you want to interpret this as monotheistic (as in Abrahamic traditions), monolatric (worshiping only one god without denying the existence of others), or polytheism with a single central authority (as is common in many of the PGM texts and other Hermetic or proto-Hermetic works) is up to you.  We’ll return to the notion of a de-Christianized DSIC later on in this series.

Anyway, back to the topic of prayer. Though I don’t think the extreme length of a lunar month or of 40 days is necessary, I do like Agrippa’s method best here for how we go about the daily prayer (book IV, chapter 10). Basically, we first set up our temple space, including exorcising and cleansing it, and set up the altar for the conjuration, but keeping the necessary things covered with a clean white linen cloth. Every day, we purify ourselves, get changed into our temple garments, burn sacred lights (which ideally shouldn’t go out during the preparatory period, changing them out as necessary), burn sacred incense, and pray at the altar as we need. On the day of the ritual, we cleanse ourselves one last time, anoint ourselves with oil, and pray (which effectively consecrates us for the ritual, too!), then we uncover the consecrated objects on the altar and perform the conjuration.

But this all assumes we know how to set up the temple space generally and the altar of conjuration specifically, and we haven’t touched on that yet. We will next time.

Summer update: Jailbreak the Sacred, the Salem Summer Symposium, and more!

I hope everyone’s been enjoying the Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration posts that have been going up lately!  There are still a few more to go, but in the meantime, I didn’t want you all to think that I was just relaxing taking a vacation (as much as I might want or need to).  Rather, things have been as busy as ever, between commuting and working and Working and writing and Writing and this and that and the other, and I wanted to take a quick moment to fill you guys in on some of the things that have been happening lately.

First, a few updates about the website structure.  I decided to go through my blog archives and make things a bit easier to navigate for some of the more fun or interesting posts I’ve made, and while there’s too much to outright do a whole highlight reel of posts, I have made a few new pages for ease of navigability and readability, including adding a few goodies to the Rituals pages from old posts that discussed some rituals I apparently forgot about.

  • The About page has been updated with links to all the different categories of posts (which are also accessible on the right side of the blog page, at least while using the desktop view of the website blog).
  • Several new pages have been added to the top navbar:
    • About → Geomancy Posts: an index of all the important posts I’ve done about geomancy, geomantic divination, geomantic magic, geomantic spirituality, and divination generally.
    • About → Post Series: an index of all the different multipart series of posts I’ve written about over the years, with a summary of each series and links to each of the individual posts in each series.
    • Rituals → Candle Blitzkrieg Blessing: a ritual that utterly fills a house or dwelling with divine light for the sake of blessing it.
    • Rituals → Dream Divination Ritual: a ritual to be done while the Moon is in your ninth house for dream divination, lucid dreaming, or other forms of dreamwork.
    • Rituals → Uncrossing of the Mouth: a ritual to uncross, unbind, and free the mouth from any maleficia, cross, or curse that has settled upon it so that you can speak freely and easily once again.
  • The page Rituals → Classical Hermetic Rituals → The Headless Rite has been (finally) updated, with much of the Greek being corrected, a full transcription of the Greek provided, and more information provided on carrying out the ritual itself.

Second, I was on another podcast!  The wonderful, amazing, and handsome astrologer Nate Craddock of Soul Friend Astrology started a podcast earlier this year, Jailbreak the Sacred, where he sits down to talk with leaders, thinkers, practitioners, and activists about the intersection of mainstream religion and alternative spirituality.  After all, as he says, “spirituality in the 21st century is only getting weirder from here on out, and there’s no better time to team up with people who have walked that path before”.  It’s a wonderful and refreshing thing to listen to, and there are some great speakers already in the lineup, and it’s an honor for me to be included among them!  We spent a good hour and more talking about the intersection of my magical and religious practices, what it’s like being an orisha priest in the Afro-Cuban tradition of La Regla de Ocha Lukumí, and how that impacts my philosophy, ethics, and morality in how I approach my life and Work.  Head on over to JTS and take a listen!  And, if you use iTunes, be sure to subscribe to JTS through that platform, too!

Also, for his patrons over on Patreon, there’s an extra bonus episode of Nate and I talking about geomancy, where I give a very rough-and-fast explanation of the origins of geomancy, and I read for Nate on the air and give a full explanation of what a geomancy reading with me is like on the spot.  You’ll also be able to listen in on a special prayer I’ve written for divination, what I call the Praise of the Lord of the Unseen, which has hitherto not been published anywhere (yet).  If you’re interested, help Nate with his podcast, pitch in $10 a month, and get access to this and all sorts of other goodies and bonuses Nate has for his subscribers!

Third, I’m really super excited to announce that I will be in Salem, Massachusetts in early-mid August this year to attend, present, do readings, and generally have fun at the Salem Summer Symposium!  This is the first major event of its kind hosted by the good folk at the Cauldron Black, with the main show of events lasting from August 7 through August 11, but with other activities occurring around the city of Salem as early as August 3.  I’ll be teaming up with the wonderful Dr Al Cummins for a Double Trouble Geomancy Power Hour on Friday, August 9 from 10am to 12pm, and later on that day I’ll be presenting on my own about my recent development in geomancy-centered theurgical practices from 4pm to 6pm.  Tickets are still available, and I heartily encourage those who are able to attend to do so; there’s a massive list of fascinating talks, presentations, workshops, and other delights for the eyes and heart and mind to partake in, and that’s besides just the social fun to be had in a spot of great renown in old New England!

Last but not least, I mentioned a bit ago that the Russian occult website Teurgia.Org is working on translating some of my writings and works into the Russian language.  They’ve done it again, this time translating my old post on Ancient Words of Power for the Directions (April 2013) into Russian on their website.  If you’re a speaker of Russian, go check it out!

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say for now.  I hope the weather is treating you all well, and that the upcoming summer solstice (or winter solstice for those in the Southern Hemisphere) is blessed and prosperous for us all!  And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Making What We Need

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 the actual supplies and materials needed to make everything we’d need for the ritual.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Since DSIC doesn’t offer a lot in terms of how to actually make, prepare, or consecrate, we need to take some initiative on our own to figure out how not only physically construct the things, but under what magical or astrological conditions and what consecrations need to be performed on each.  For this, we can look to the Heptameron, the Liber Juratus Honorii, the Key of Solomon (especially book II which gives plenty of consecrations for a variety of tools and supplies) and its other variants/sisters/antecedents like the Veritable Key of Solomon, the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (and its near-identical sister text, A Complete Book of Magic Science by Frederick Hockley), the Lemegeton, and elsewhere as needed, in addition to what Agrippa says about consecrations generally like we discussed last time (book IV, chapter 8).  What follows is my recommendations for procuring, making, and consecrating the tools and supplies called for by DSIC.

Note that I’m going to prescribe the same supplies and materials that DSIC does, but if you can’t access them due to scarcity or lack of affordability, either do what you can or make do with what you can.  Likewise, I’m going to focus on the DSIC-style tools, including the pedestal and table; if you want to substitute or use alternatives, try to take the same logic I’m using and apply it as best you can.  Also, I assume some things for granted, that you have (or know how to make or otherwise procure) some basic elements of the Western magical tradition, including holy water, holy oil, church incense, and the basic stuff that isn’t explicitly called for by DSIC but which are such basic, fundamental staples that we all end up using anyway.

Lamens
Based on Agrippa and other texts, we know that all spirits have a planetary affinity, and it’s this planetary affinity that we make use of when designing lamens by putting the name and seal of that planet or the angel presiding over that planet into the central hexagram.  Since the whole design of the lamen comes from Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10), which provides the design and process for making them, we should use that method: make the lamen in the day and hour of that planet when the Moon is increasing (between New and Full).  The lamen can be made of a metal associated with that planet, in fresh unused wax mixed with herbs or oils or dyes appropriate to that planet, or of clean new paper colored appropriately for that planet.  The overall shape of the lamen may be circular or made in a polygon whose number of sides corresponds to the number of that planet.

However, DSIC gives the option to have this always made on a “square plate of silver” in addition to paper; silver makes sense, since silver is the metal of the Moon, and the Moon may be used as a substitute for any other planet since the Moon is the lowest of the planets closest to Earth, receiving and sending all the rays of all the other planets; four makes sense, as well, as it’s the number of four directions and four elements of the world.  However, even if one makes a lamen for any planet in this way, I would still recommend that the planetary day and hour appropriate to the planet of the spirit be used, and not of the Moon, unless the spirit for whom the lamen is made is a lunar spirit.

No matter what, however, the lamen must be made so that it can be worn, hung from the neck so that the lamen itself covers the middle of the chest (about the area of the sternum).  The size should be large enough to be able to both clearly read and write all the names and symbols on it; 3″ or 4″ in diameter, depending on the size of the elements, should be sufficient.  The lamen should either be made to fit in a frame that can be worn as a pendant, or the lamen itself should have a hole or loop at the top for a string, strap, thong, chain, necklace, or other material that can allow it to be worn as such.  Though not required, I recommend the string/chain/etc. be washed in a small amount of holy water at minimum to at least cleanse and purify it.

Either way, create the lamen in the day and hour of the planet that is aligned with the spirit to be conjured while the Moon is increasing; as a rule, and this goes for everything else, if you don’t finish it in the same hour, you can either continue working on it (using the moment of starting the project as the major concern) or set it aside to continue (and maybe finish) for the next possible hour(s) that fulfills the same condition (keeping the whole creation from start to finish locked within the same planetary influences).

No consecration is given for the lamens in DSIC; they’re just to be put on immediately before tracing the circle.  Fr. AC references the Benediction of the Lamen found in the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, but properly speaking, that lamen in that text isn’t the same kind of lamen that we’re using for DSIC; if you want to apply it, go ahead, but I don’t think it’s necessary.  Considering that these lamens are effectively talismans of spirits in and of themselves, in order to properly consecrate them in the usual way, we’d need to first conjure the spirit—but that’s precisely the point of making the lamen in the first place!  This is a chicken-or-the-egg problem here, but Agrippa says that the lamens should be consecrated according to the same principles he usually gives: sprinkle with holy water, anoint with oil, suffumigate with incense, etc.  In that case, in the same timeframe as one makes the lamen, I would do just that: sprinkle it with holy water, anoint it with an appropriate kind of oil for the spirit or planet, suffumigate it in a bit of incense appropriate to that spirit or planet, and offer a prayer to God that the lamen be given the virtues and resonance of that spirit and planet for conjuration, that sort of thing.

Wand
The wand should be made out of ebony, and have written upon it in gold ink (whether directly on the surface or engraved and then filled in) the required names and symbols.  I recommend a custom length of the distance between one’s elbow and tip of the middle finger, but any convenient size (but ideally around 18″) may be used.  The thickness of the wand, according to Fr. AC, should be about the width of your index finger at it’s widest point; I don’t disagree, but use what you can, so long as it feels natural and not too clunky to hold or use.  Although a plain cylindrical rod is shown in DSIC and is the format used by Fr. AC for his wands, I like shaping mine so that there’s a “tip” at one end, either due to the shape of the wand or by attaching some sort of crystal point to it; this is up to you and your tastes, of course.

I can’t find any specific planetary affinity for ebony; it’s a wonderful wood that works with all powers powerfully, but its planetary affinity could be argued in different ways.  Since the wand is the tool of Hermēs, one could argue for an affinity with Mercury; as a scepter, Jupiter; as a replacement for the Solomonic sword, Mars; as a replacement for the Solomonic black-handled knife, and in alignment with its dark and hard properties, Saturn; considering the gold used for inscribing on the wand, the Sun.  Fr. AC suggests Mercury the most, given that the wand is the symbol of the magician and of Hermēs, and how ebony compounds all these natures into a single material; I agree with him, especially as well given that the wand and staff from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 8) recommends the first day and hour of Mercury for its making.  In that light, while any planetary time may be used for the creation of the wand, I would be most in agreement with using days and hours of Mercury.

No consecration of this tool is present in DSIC or Agrippa, though as Barrett says for the Heptameron sword in The Magus, and in agreement with general principles from Agrippa, there should be a prayer of consecration said over it.  To this end, I would recommend sprinkling the wand with holy water, anointing it with holy oil (if you’re gilding the wand with gold leaf, you could mix this into the size oil used as adhesive as well), suffumigating it with holy incense (church incense works, or incense compounded of frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, and dragon’s blood).  For such a prayer, we might turn to those of the staff/wand or the sword from the Key of Solomon as mentioned above (again, remember that the DSIC wand is a combination of the Solomonic wand and Solomonic sword!), or another or original such prayer might be recited instead.  For that reason, one might as well use the prayer for the Consecration of the Sword from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel.

Crystal
DSIC only says to “procure of a lapidary” such a crystal, and since most people aren’t expected to have access to raw quartz (or beryl) and the tools to shape and polish it, this makes sense.  However, there’s nothing stopping you if you do.

Given the crystal’s lunar nature, at least according to Agrippa (book I, chapter 7), it would make the most sense to either craft yourself or purchase (and ideally have brought home) the crystal in a day and hour of the Moon while the Moon is increasing.  Increasing, here, would be useful because, as the title of DSIC says, we want to “draw spirits into crystals”, so having a waxing Moon would be helpful for the overall vibe of the crystal.

If desired, as Fr. AC recommends in GTSC, the crystal may be washed ahead of time with a fluid condenser, herbal wash, oil, or other suitably appropriate material conducive to visions and manifestations.  A lunar fluid condenser (wash, etc.) may be used for all rituals, but when dealing with specifically non-lunar or Moon-unaffiliated spirits, substances appropriate to the planet of the spirit may be used instead and washed off after the end of the ritual, preferably with holy water and other mild cleansing substances.

No prior consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the plate, but instead, the crystal is consecrated on-the-fly in the course of the actual DSIC ritual; in addition to this, however, I would also recommend at least an sprinkling of holy water before using it in any way for the first time.

Plate
The plate is to be made of pure gold, if possible.  If pure gold is not available, then use what you can: gold-filled metal, gold leaf, gold paint, shiny brass, or something similar that gives a similar-enough effect, even if not ideal, would still be appropriate.  It being a plate, it should be made as thin as possible without losing stability or strength so as to properly support the weight of the crystal (which, being small, should not be too heavy), but thin enough to allow the crystal to almost completely protrude from both sides.

Due to the solar nature of gold, the plate should be made/purchased and engraved appropriately in a day and hour of the Sun when the Moon is increasing.  Even if you don’t use gold and replace this with something else (engraving the pedestal and applying gold foil, using wood, etc.), this should still be done at such a solar time.

However, because this is of a fundamentally different planetary nature than the (lunar) crystal, I would not recommend setting the crystal into the plate on a day and hour of the Sun necessarily.  Either a day of the Moon and hour of the Sun or a day of the Sun and hour of the Moon while the Moon is increasing would be better, in my mind, or (even more preferred) at the moment of syzygy between the Sun and the Moon (i.e. a New Moon, but not if it’s a solar eclipse).  Doing so would most harmoniously link the illuminating power of the Sun and the materializing power of the Moon.

However, if the crystal is being made to be kept separate from the pedestal, i.e. something disassembled, or using a different format of such tools entirely (e.g. using a different kind of horizontal stand or base for the crystal instead of supporting it vertically), then I would recommend the stand, &c. be made in the day and hour of the Sun with a waxing Moon all the same, and the crystal placed onto the stand at the start of the ritual process itself.

No consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the plate.  However, as the plate is not used separately from the pedestal, I would recommend conscerating this with the pedestal (if at all) once it’s set into place.

Pedestal
The pedestal is to be made from either ebony or ivory, if possible.  As noted in the earlier post, because the crystal size is specified to be pretty small, and given the DSIC illustration, the main face of the pedestal does not need to be large, either.  It should be just large enough to securely hold the plate with the crystal in place.  Following the DSIC illustration, the pedestal plate may be made in the churchhouse-type monstrance shape (as Fr. AC prefers to make them) with the hexagram with central Yod above the crystal, or one may take the Hockley approach from Occult Spells: A Nineteenth Century Grimoire for the more round, sunburst-type monstrance shape.  The pedestal does not need to be elaborate, just something sturdy enough to hold the plate with the crystal aloft.

How high should the pedestal be made?  High enough for the magician and/or scryer to comfortably look at it.  Fr. AC doesn’t seem to make them very tall, but the Hockley illustration seems to make it much taller, probably about 7″ or 8″ from base to top of the plate (including the small cross at the top), assuming a 1.5″ crystal.

As noted before with the wand, ebony’s best choice of planetary affinity may well be Mercury, and the only other instance of ivory I can find on Esoteric Archives besides DSIC is the Clavicle of Solomon, where it’s prescribed as the material for the handle of the white-handled knife (book II, chapter 8), which itself is to be made in the day and hour of Mercury while the Moon is increasing, so whether the pedestal is to be made out of ebony or ivory (or another material entirely), a day and hour of Mercury while the Moon is increasing is a good time to make it.  Alternatively, like when combining the crystal and the plate, one might use a combination of the days and hours of the Sun and Moon, as both these planets rule over the two eyes by which we see, which is the whole purpose of the pedestal.  In addition to those times, I would also recommend making this while the Sun is above the horizon during the daytime; I would argue, further to make this while the Sun is setting (hours 7 through 12) to signify the “drawing down” of spirits into the crystal and triangle.

No consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the pedestal, nor do I personally think one is needed.  However, given the pedestal’s role as a DSIC-equivalent to the Catholic monstrance, one might use the Blessing of a Monstrance or Ostensorium from the Rituale Romanum as a basis for saying such prayers of consecration, in addition to washing it with holy water, anointing it with oil (especially on the engravings on the plate), and suffumigating it with holy incenses like frankincense.  This might be done as one sets the crystal into the plate, if it wasn’t done before the plate was set into the pedestal.

Table
DSIC only tells us what needs to go on the table and the general organization for arranging them, and nothing about its material or size.  Honestly, use whatever material you find comfortable and useful for this: some good sturdy wood is always a good choice (Fr. AC recommends oak, but I don’t think it matters), but polished stone, pure unused wax, clean unused paper or parchment, or any other material will work.  You could even just draw this out in chalk or charcoal if you wanted, but taking inspiration from the Liber Juratus Honorii for the Sigillum Dei Aemeth as well as the use of wax tables from the Ars Almadel of the Lemegeton, wax might be the most ideal and traditional material, but it’s honestly up to you.  I just recommend whatever good, sturdy wood you can find.  Ebony might be ideal to match the ebony pedestal and ebony wand, but it’s not necessary; the most important part of the table is the actual design itself.

As for the size, the table should be made big enough to accommodate all the things that need to be written upon it clearly and neatly, and such that the base of the pedestal (or other stand) for the crystal can fit comfortably within the inner triangle of the table without crossing the lines of the triangle; we want to keep the physical contact of the thing holding the crystal, i.e. the temporary body/vessel of the spirit, as confined as possible within the physical bounds of the triangle.  Plan accordingly based on your pedestal or other stand for the crystal.

As an alternative to making the table using a round piece of wood (or stone, or wax, or whatever), consider that DSIC only ever calls this piece of equipment “the table on which the crystal stands”.  There’s nothing saying that this cannot be an actual table’s surface, such that, if you wanted, you could take an actual table (side table, coffee table, bar table, dinner table, shelf, etc.) and engrave/paint/write the necessary elements directly into/onto that surface.  This is up to you, whether you have the space to dedicate for a permanent DSIC altar or whether you want something smaller, more flexible, and more manageable to move around onto different surfaces as needed.  Because I don’t like the idea of having large pieces of furniture that are hard to move and store and not in constant, active use, I prefer the portable table method, but this is up to you.

Additionally, nothing is said about how permanent the markings need to be.  While it would be best to go the high-quality option of engraving, woodburning, painting, inlaying, or gilding the design onto the table material (whether a portable disc or an actual tabletop’s surface), you could make a temporary one on-the-fly with consecrated chalk or coal.  Heck, if you were in a rush, there’s nothing saying you couldn’t just print out a table onto paper and use that for on-the-fly, gotta-do-this-now conjurations.  It’s not ideal, but it is absolutely an option.

Due to the multiplanetary nature of the table, I don’t think it needs to be made in any one kind of time or day or hour or anything like that, nor can I find any sort of recommended time for other similar devices like the Sigillum Dei Aemeth or the Table of Practice from the Ars Paulina, though the Ars Almadel recommends the days and hours of the Sun.  I don’t think that’s necessary, honestly, but it’s not a bad idea.  Likewise, given that the purpose of the table is to bind spirits given the triangle, one might use days and hours of Saturn (which is also placed over all the other planets) instead.  All that said, regardless of when you might make the table, I do like making things in general while the Moon is waxing, and having the Moon waxing would help to “draw spirits into crystals” just as said before.

No consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the table, nor do I personally think one is needed.  If nothing else, I think a preliminary sprinkling with holy water and a light amount of suffumigation with holy incense of the table would be more than sufficient.

All the same considerations for the table apply if you choose to eschew the separate pedestal and table approach for a combined Table of Practice approach.

Ring of Solomon
Following the example of both the Lemegeton Goetia as well as Barrett’s earlier illustration of magic tools for use with the Heptameron, the ring should be made out of silver and sized appropriately for the little finger of the right hand.  The ring should have on the front (whether the band itself, a bevel, or a gemstone) a hexagram with either a central dot in the center of it (🔯, the classic Seal of Solomon) or, following the inspiration of the DSIC symbols, a central Yod in it. If a gemstone is used, anything of a solar or fiery nature would be ideal, with carnelian or sunstone being most preferred.

The ring should be made while the Moon is increasing, preferably in hours and days of the Sun, or at a suitably appropriate solar election.

Taking the Lemegeton influence a bit further, and in agreement with Fr. AC, if one wishes to have further inscriptions on the ring, then either “Tetragrammaton” or יהוה should be engraved on the inside of the band, with “Michael” and “Anaphexeton” on the outside of the band (or, in Hebrew interpreting “Anaphexeton” as “Tzabaoth”, מיכאל and צבאות).

No consecration is given for the ring in most texts, but if we look at some of older texts (e.g. Testament of Solomon, Veritable Key of Solomon, etc.) as well as what Agrippa says about rings generally, it might be best to consecrate the ring by sprinkling it with holy water, anointing it with holy oil, suffumigating it with frankincense and other solar incenses all in the day and hour of the Sun with the Moon waxing.  The prayer before the exorcism of Astaroth from the Veritable Key of Solomon could be used here for this (translation by Stephen Skinner):

O Lord God who created everything out of nothing, and foresaw them before they existed, and crowned us with honor and glory and set us over the works of your hands, and subjected all things under our feet, all sheep and oxen, and over this most sacred word may you always be blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

Alternatively, the various prayers from the different versions of the Hygromanteia might be used for consecrating the ring, although the rings from that line of Solomonic texts are of a different nature and style.  However, in general, it seems that the ring is consecrated automatically by construction, so beyond sprinkling/anointing/suffumigating, anything more would be up to you.

Incense
DSIC says nothing about the types of incenses to be used, so we can default to whatever blends we want that are in agreement with the planet of the spirit we’re calling upon.  Fr. AC gives a bunch of such lists in GTSC, but you can use whatever you want.  In general, frankincense is always a recommended default if you can’t get anything more specific than that.  Whether you want to use self-igniting incense like sticks or cones, loose incense on self-igniting charcoal, or loose incense on a burning flame is up to you and not really important to the practice of DSIC.

The incense is consecrated on-the-fly in the course of the ritual.  However, I would recommend sprinkling the incense with a very small flick of holy water immediately before reciting their consecration.

Vessel for Incense
Although the DSIC illustration gives a depiction of a stake-like “tripod” that may be held or thrust into the ground, which agrees with the designs given in Turiel and Complete Book of Magic Science, this (a) is unwieldy as most people aren’t going to do many conjurations outside anymore unless you have a specific need for it (b) can’t be put safely on a stable or solid floor (c) is awkward and tiring to hold (d) assumes you’re going to be using loose incense to be burnt on a source of sufficiently high heat enough to melt and burn them.  None of these assumptions are great to make anymore as a necessity, given the types of incense we have easily available to us nowadays and given the fact we tend to do conjurations inside on hard floors, so a different kind of brazier or incense vessel might be better instead.  Use whatever you have that’s convenient: a tripod with fireproof bowl (like what Fr. AC uses), a simple incense brazier, a stick holder, whatever.

No consecration of these is given in DSIC or any related text; incense is consecrated on-the-fly in many Solomonic texts, but that doesn’t seem to apply to the incense.  If the vessel is one made of iron or steel, you could use the consecration of the needle or other iron instruments from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 19) in a day and hour of Venus (?!) (or of Jupiter, when the Key of Solomon says to begin making the instruments but not finish them, or of Mercury instead of Venus according to one manuscript) or, more simply than that, a day and hour of Mars.  Mars might be good in general, since the purpose of the incense vessel is to support some sort of combustion to consume the incense.  More generally, you could just sprinkle the vessel with holy water before its initial use.

Candles
DSIC says to use “two holy wax lights”, which mandates two candles over any other source of flame-based illumination (like oil lamps).  Since most people nowadays use candles anyway with oil lamps being far rarer, this is fine and acceptable for modern practice (and is an indication of the relative modernity of DSIC).  If you wanted to be fancy about it, like Fr. AC suggests, you could use pure beeswax for them, but any wax would be fine, so long as the wax was new and fresh and the candles not previously burned for any prior work or need.  I personally recommend white or uncolored plain wax for this for general workings, as it also ties in well with the silver candle holders that are prescribed for their use, with white being both a color of the Moon and appropriate for all works for all planets.  Regardless, two candles should be used and prepared accordingly.

However, as Fr. AC says, you could switch them out for other candles colored appropriately for the planet aligned with the spirit to be conjured, if you want.  Frater AC also suggests that the candles, if to be used specifically for a particular planet, may also be anointed with an appropriate planetary or angelic fluid condenser, or oil, or some other substance to further align the candles to the spirit to be called in the conjuration.  I don’t like that approach, personally, and would rather add a number of smaller candles to surround the table and crystal in a number and color appropriate to that planet, both for extra light and as offerings, and anointing those instead.

Because DSIC says that the candles should be “holy”, this is where consecration for them is mandated, but no consecration is given.  The Key of Solomon gives a reasonable consecration of candles (book II, chapter 12), which is what I base my own consecration method on, to be done in the day and hour of Mercury while the Moon is waxing.

Candle Holders
The holders for the candles should be made of silver or otherwise silver-plated metal; barring that, any similarly high-polish, reflective, smooth candlesticks of a similar appearance would work fine, so long as they can hold the candles upright in a stable and fireproof way.  That’s basically it.

However, the Secret Grimoire of Turiel and Complete Book of Magic Science show similar candlesticks, much taller in height, one of which has the Tetragrammaton engraved on the base in Hebrew (יהוה), the other the name “Saday” in Latin script.  These same names in any combination of script (יהוה and שדי, Tetragrammaton and Shadai, etc.) may be used.

No consecration of these is given in DSIC, Turiel, Hockley, Heptameron, or other Solomonic texts.  However, an initial washing or sprinkling with holy water is recommended before their initial use.

Book of Spirits (Liber Spirituum), Pen, and Ink
We already discussed the nature of the Liber Spirituum, so between the physical description given in DSIC of it being made about 7″ and from pure white, unused, new paper (or vellum, or parchment, or whatever), I would most recommend the consecration process given as the first option by Agrippa (book IV, chapter 9).  Fr. AC gives a more thorough description of this in GTSC, in which he also references the Veritable Key of Solomon and other Solomonica.  Follow those instructions; I don’t need to explain them here, besides that they should be followed.

With such a consecrated Liber Spirituum, it would be ideal to have an appropriately-consecrated pen and ink.  For this, the Key of Solomon once again provides a wonderful consecration, whether to use on its own or use as a base for a derived consecration (book II, chapter 14).  The ink may also be consecrated appropriately, and may either be made general for use with all spirits, or may be made in special ways for each of the seven planets (such that you’d have a Mars ink, a Saturn ink, a Jupiter ink, etc.).  Recipes for these may be found elsewhere.

But, if you’re taking the simpler approach more of a Commentarium Spirituum, a record of conjurations rather than a proper Book of Spirits, then it can just be as simple as a new, unused notebook, or as fancy as a unique custom-bound journal.  Sprinkle it with holy water and flip the pages through some frankincense, if you want.  As for the pen, I recommend that you just use a new ballpoint pen of your liking; you can use the aforementioned Key of Solomon-style consecration if you want, or just do the same sprinkling/suffumigation with incense and be done with it.  Both the notebook and pen would most reasonably be consecrated in days and hours of Mercury while the Moon is increasing, just as the Key of Solomon instructs.  However, even with so little done for them, both this notebook and ballpoint pen are still considered consecrated, so they shouldn’t be used for mundane purposes after they’re consecrated.

Either way, Liber or Commentarium, keep it safe and free from inspection by the eyes of other people that you don’t explicitly trust.

Circle
DSIC doesn’t say what the circle should be drawn upon, with what it should be drawn, or how big it should be drawn.  Obviously, the circle should be on the ground somehow, but depending on your approach and the environment in which you’re working (outside, inside, hard floor, carpet, etc.), you might take a different approach.  You could use a tarp that you paint the circle upon, perhaps using extra bits to temporarily cover the empty quadrant for the spirit information, or paint it on in temporary/washable paint or ink that can later be washed out.

However, if you’re doing this on a hardwood floor or otherwise firm surface, and have the space and means to do so, then according to Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10), you would draw the circle directly on the ground in consecrated coal, though chalk would work as well.  Consecrating writing materials of this sort could be as simple as just sprinkling them with holy water and suffumigating them in frankincense or church incense, though I have my own method of consecrating chalk based on Key of Solomon consecrations for ink and pens that I’d prefer to use.  If you’re doing this outside on soil, then you’d inscribe the circle; given how we don’t have a dagger here for that purpose like what we’d use in the Key of Solomon or other Solomonica, the next best choice available to us if we don’t want to introduce a dagger into the ceremony would be using the wand itself.  This makes sense, especially as the wand is the DSIC replacement for the Solomonic sword, and given how Agrippa says to use the sword to inscribe pentagrams or triangles on the ground, and given how the wand is supposed to at least trace the DSIC circle, this is a natural use for the wand.  If you didn’t want to use the wand, however, then we might introduce a dagger into our DSIC methods, such as that from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel or the black-handled knife from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 8).

There are different diameters given in different grimoires; some say 9′ in diameter, others say 9′ in radius (meaning 18′ in diameter!), whatever.  Make the circle large enough for you and your needs, taking into account how much space you have available, whether you have a scryer with you, whether you need a table in the circle with you for supplies, whether you plan on spinning or lying down, etc.

The circle is consecrated in the process of the DSIC ritual by tracing it with the wand with the right hand, presumably (but not explicitly) clockwise, while reciting a short prayer.  Unlike the process described in the Heptameron or in Agrippa, DSIC does not say that one should sprinkle the space with holy water before entering it; I personally like adding in this approach, though it’s not strictly necessary according to DSIC, but one may also sprinkle the whole of the ritual area (both inside the circle and outside it) as a single whole temple space before even the first proper prayer of DSIC is said, reciting either Psalm 51:7 (as in the Heptameron) or 2 Chronicles 16:14-42 (as per Agrippa).


Oof.  I don’t like to make single posts this long (clocking in at around 5900 words!), but I figured this was the best way to get all this out at once in one fell swoop.  We’ll pick up next time on some other concerns leading up to implementing the DSIC ritual.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: On Constructions and Consecrations

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 the form and function of the magic circle and its likely Heptameron-based origins.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

I honestly didn’t mean to make this long, or this wordy, of a series of posts; what I thought I could simply discuss in a single post has (so far!) become eleven posts with about 40,000 words (more like 44,000 if you include all the quotations).  And we haven’t even gotten to the actual ritual part yet of DSIC; we’ve just covered the tools and implements of the ritual!  Holy yikes.  Still, before we get on to the ritual itself, there is one more tool-related thing I wanted to discuss: how to actually create and consecrate (where needed) all the implements of DSIC.

So, at this point, we know what we need, right?  According to DSIC, we need the following tools, supplies, and general bits of equipment:

These are all the implements we need according to the text of DSIC.  However, unlike other texts such as the Key of Solomon or Lemegeton, instructions for preparing all the above are badly specified: where specifications are given at all, some are extremely sparse while others are pretty detailed.  We did touch on some of the designs, specifications, and constructions of the above in our earlier DSIC posts, but before we get onto how to actually use all these things, this would be a good time to actually specify what we can, backed up with other sources like what’s in Agrippa’s Fourth Book or other texts.

Okay, so, what do we know from DSIC about the size, materials, and processes used to make everything?  First, let’s remind ourselves once more of our old friend, the DSIC illustration:

We’ve already gone over the designs, inscriptions, and the like for everything in earlier posts, so we can ignore those for this post.  Let’s focus instead on the materials and overall form of the materials as DSIC gives them.  Where I say “engraved” below, this may also be interpreted as “written”, “gilded”, or “inscribed”, depending on the materials to be used.

  • Crystal: quartz, about 1.5″ diameter, spherical, as clear as possible.
  • Plate: pure gold, size not stated (but likely about 2.3″ diameter based on image), circular (according to image), engraved on the front and back with divine names and symbols.
  • Pedestal: ebony or ivory, size not stated,  shaped and engraved like in image.
  • Table: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated.
  • Ring: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated (but likely that from The Magus‘ earlier illustration).
  • Wand: black ebony, size not stated, shaped and engraved as in image.
  • Lamen: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated, engraved as in image.
  • Circle: materials not stated, size not stated, shaped and engraved as in image.
  • Candles: wax, size not stated, must be “holy”
  • Candlesticks: silver, size not stated, shaped as in or approximated by image.
  • Brazier: materials not stated (though must be fireproof), size not stated, shaped as in image.
  • Liber Spirituum: pure white new/unused, vellum or paper, about 7″ long, shape not stated.
  • Pen: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated.
  • Ink: materials not stated.
  • Incense: materials not stated.

We don’t have a lot to go on here; DSIC leaves so many of these objects badly specified, if at all, but just says that we need them.  As a result, many people will have different interpretations of what needs to be done and now much work or style needs to go into all these things, as well as taking into consideration availability and cost of some of these tools and implements.  This goes doubly for other things that we might expect to see, based on other Western grimoires or Solomonic literature: robes, crowns, specific types of incense, and the like.  We just don’t have a lot.  We could bring in more things, though it wouldn’t necessarily be “strictly DSIC”, or we could use variants of the things, like using the actual tripod-style vessel for incense that Fr. AC uses instead of the stake-shaped one from the DSIC illustration, , or substituting the specific pedestal from the DSIC illustration with the one we saw from Frederick Hockley’s Occult Spells: A Nineteenth Century Grimoire.

Still, we know enough to get started.  Knowing what the ritual text of DSIC prescribes to use as tools, implements, and supplies is all well and good, but because this is a ritual text we’re discussing, and one that falls more-or-less within the Western grimoire and Solomonic traditions, we can’t talk about tool construction without discussing tool consecration; we can only get but so far if we discuss the purely physical materials involved without discussing how to not just make them but prepare them in a way appropriate for our needs.  Granted, not everything necessarily needs to be made in a magical or spiritual way, but it sure helps if it does.  This is the essence of consecration.

First, what do we mean by consecration?  The word itself literally means “make or declare sacred”, which seems straightforward enough, but how is this thought of from an occult standpoint?  Agrippa goes on at length in his Fourth Book on the topic (book IV, chapter 8), which is pretty well-phrased, in my opinion, so let me just offer a summary of what he says here so as to spare everyone the bother of an unnecessarily long quote:

  • All instruments and things used for magic should be consecrated.
  • Consecration is achieved through the power of the person performing the consecration and the virtue of the prayer used for consecration.
  • The person performing the consecration must live their life in a holy way and must possess the power of sanctification (i.e. consecration), both of which are achieved through “dignification and initiation”, and must also have a strong faith in both.
  • The prayer used for consecration must be suitably holy for the purpose, and such holiness may be derived in one of three ways:
    • From one’s own divine inspiration
    • From the power transferred to such a prayer by initiation or ordination into a spiritual tradition
    • From the sanctification and sanctity of calling upon, remembering, or referring to other things that are holy or done in a holy way, and may be related to the thing presently being consecrated.
      • For water: how God placed the Firmament in the “midst of the waters”, how God placed the font of water in Paradise from which came the four holy rivers to water the whole Earth, how God sent forth the flood to destroy the Nephilim, how God manipulated the waters of the Red Sea during the Exodus of the Jews, how Moses drew forth water from a stone, etc.
      • For fire: how God made Fire to be an instrument to execute justice and punishment and vengeance and expiation of sins, how God will command a conflagration to precede him when he judges the world, how God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, etc.
      • For oils and perfumes: how God decreed that the holy anointing oil be made and kept and used, how the name “Christ” itself indicates anointing, how the two divine olive trees produce oil for the lamps that burn continually before the face of God, etc.
      • For candles and lamps: how the altar of God contains a sacred fire for sacrifice, how there are seven lamps that burn before the face of God, etc.
      • For a circle or place: the sanctification of the Throne of God, Mount Sinai, the Tabernacle, of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies, the Temple of Jerusalem, Mount Golgotha, the Temple of Christ, Mount Tabor, etc.
      • For swords: how a sword was divinely and miraculously sent to Judah of the Maccabees, etc.
      • For books, drawings, writings, etc.: how God sanctified the Tablets of the Ten Commandments, how God sanctified the Old and New Testaments, the sanctification of the Law and of Prophets and of Scriptures, the Testament/Book/Knowledge/Wisdom of God, etc.
  • Some consecrations make use of divine names, holy seals, sacramentals of the Church, and other apparati of divinity to lead to a general effect of sanctification and atonement.
  • Every consecration should make use primarily of consecrated water, oil, fire, and incense.
  • Every consecration should be performed in the presence of some source of light, preferably from one or more consecrated candles (literally “holy wax-lights”, note the phrasing!) or lamps.
  • Every consecration of things that are profane, polluted, or defiled in any way should be preceded first by an exorcism and atonement in order to make them sufficiently pure so as to better receive the virtue of consecration.
  • Every consecration should be followed by a blessing upon the object, with the breath passing the lips (i.e. either spoken aloud or silently so long as breath is flowing).
  • Every consecration should be performed with one’s own holiness, authority, license, and need in mind, all performed earnestly and intently.

So much for the general ideas and notions.  In addition to the things to be remembered for a variety of consecrations, Agrippa also gives a few specific rules, too:

  • When consecrating a circle or other ritual space, the Prayer of Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 6:14-42) should be recited while sprinkling the area with holy water and burning sacred incense.
  • When consecrating instruments and “all other things whatsoever that are serviceable to this Art”, they are to be sprinkled with holy water, suffumigated in sacred incense, anointed with holy oil, sealed “with some holy Sigil”, and blessed with prayer, after having commemorated things that were made or done in a holy way as noted above.

And, moreover, he describes two other methods of consecration in addition to the processes and methods given above:

  • “Superstitious” consecration, by which the rite and act of consecration or collection of any sacrament in the Church is transferred to that thing which we would consecrate.
    • This is a little unclear to me, but it seems like when an object either comes in contact with something that has been duly consecrated by someone with the power to do so (e.g. touching a ritual knife with a consecrated Host of the Eucharist).
    • Alternatively, this could be when something is consecrated “by virtue of” some sacrament (e.g. “by the virtue of my baptism, may this dagger be baptized and made holy and fit for divine works”).
  • Vows, oblations, and sacrifice also produce a kind of consecration, given that they are representative of a pact or exchange of power and resource between the one who gives and the one who receives.
    • Whenever we dedicate something with intent and purpose, the thing becomes consecrated.
    • Examples include both physical things like incense, oils, rings, and talismans, as well as immaterial things like sigils, prayers, enchantments, pictures, and so forth.

Agrippa mentions at the end of this section in his Fourth Book that many of these topics about consecration are those “of which we have largely spoken in our third book of Occult Philosophy”, and it’s true; book III, chapter 62 basically touches all of the above, but pretty much everything from chapter 54 (“Of cleanness, and how to be observed”) to chapter 64 (“Of certain religious observations, ceremonies, and rites of perfumings, unctions, and the like”) are useful to read here for more information on how to perform these types of ceremonies and works.

But, on top of all that we get from Agrippa’s books (which is good at a high-level but poor for specific implementation), we also can build upon the vast majority of Solomonic and other Western grimoiric/magical literature which contains specific rites, prayers, exorcisms, and benedictions to be used for a variety of the tools called for in DSIC.  In addition to scouring for whatever we could get from the rest of Francis Barrett’s The Magus, of special note to us would be those of the Heptameron, the Liber Juratus Honorii, the Key of Solomon (especially book II which gives plenty of consecrations for a variety of tools and supplies), the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, and to a lesser extent, the Lemegeton, but I’m sure that there are various other texts that we could draw on for what we would need.

That being said, DSIC doesn’t really prescribe consecrations for many of the things that we need in the ritual, or when they do (especially the “two holy wax lights”), no consecration is given.  The way I think of it, there are three reasons for this:

  1. Some things are consecrated ahead of time, and DSIC just doesn’t specify them (e.g. the candles).
  2. Some things are consecrated “on the fly” in the process of the ritual itself (e.g. the crystal and the circle).
  3. Some things are consecrated “automatically”, whether by the natural virtues of the substances and materials from which they are made, or in the process of constructing them by virtue of the things (especially holy names, holy sigils, seals of spirits, etc.) written, inscribed, or engraved upon them.

And, when it comes to your approach to consecration, there are three ways you can go about it:

  1. Strict approach: if the text doesn’t say to do something, don’t do it.  Conversely, if the text says to do something, do it.
  2. Lenient approach: if the text doesn’t say to do something, you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, but you can bring in influences from other texts if desired.  But, if the text definitely says to do something, do it, at least as best as you can.
  3. Free approach: like the lenient approach (if the doesn’t doesn’t specify something, you can do something if you want to anyway), but if the text does say to do something specifically, you can take it or leave it, or substitute with another method or construction instead.

The thing about the free approach, even though the way I phrased it might raise some hackles or elicit some sort of immediate “ugh, newbs” response, is that it’s probably the most common approach by far, at least in some cases, because of how bad a job DSIC does at specifying most things.  Consider the pedestal: most people just omit it and fold the design elements of it into the table to produce a Table of Practice, which doesn’t properly match up with DSIC anyway, but which works all the same, as well as the fact that most people don’t bother with a Liber Spirituum or ring of Solomon.  Additionally, though DSIC (and all its predecessors and contemporaries) was written in a heavily Christian or Abrahamic occcultural sphere, many people tend to omit some of the phrasing or change it so that it’s least starkly Christian, or they’ll replace certain names with others to make more Hermetic or qabbalistic sense (e.g. using the divine name Shaddai El Chai in the conjuration itself instead of “blessed and holy Tetragrammaton” when calling upon spirits of the Moon, since that divine name is used for the sephirah Yesod, associated with the Moon).

If one were to take a grimoire-fundamentalist or grimoire-purist approach, then DSIC might be a disappointing text, because it leaves so much unspecified that goes against so much of what we’re used to in a complete grimoire.  For that reason, the strict approach becomes the least satisfying option to take, with the lenient approach becoming something more like what we see Fr. AC taking in GTSC.  For instance, Fr. AC anoints his crystal with an appropriate fluid condenser, references the “benediction of the lamen” and the invocations for the days of the week from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (specifically from Frederick Hockley’s A Complete Book of Magic Science) as well as using the weekday prayers from the Heptameron as the oaths for the seven planetary angels,  and gives plenty of tips on preparation, purification, and the like—none of which are found in DSIC, but which Fr. AC finds it beneficial to do regardless so as to fill in the gaps left behind by DSIC.  In this “lenient” approach (“lenient” only in the sense of bringing in more things to DSIC than are strictly present), we’d want to do more consecrations ahead of time than simply relying on on-the-fly consecrations for the few things that are made that way, or than by relying on automatic consecrations alone.

In all fairness, I don’t think the strict approach to DSIC is actually feasible, because DSIC is so high-level and bare-bones of a ritual implementation of conjuration that it really needs outside information and practices to make it more complete.  Yes, you could get by with doing what the ritual text describes and no more or less, but that’d be like reading some of the entries in the Greek Magical Papyri and thinking that those would be complete, too.  Consider the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios (PGM IV.1596—1715), which is my ritual implementation of what the PGM gives, which is only a prayer and nothing else; heck, anywhere we see “add/do/perform the usual” means that there are necessarily gaps that would need to be filled in.  I consider the DSIC in a similar light: it’s a great ritual framework for performing conjurations, but it’s a framework and structure that only has some specifications, not all the ones we’d need to have a fully fleshed-out ritual.  That’s where texts like Fr. AC’s GTSC and Fr. RO’s SS come into play, because they offer (more or less) full implementations of DSIC, complete with scripts, descriptions, instructions, processes, and the like.  However, because DSIC specifies so little, any two magician’s implementations of DSIC will most likely differ in some of the details, keeping only what DSIC actually specifies in common between them.

Okay, so, that being said, let’s take a look at the few consecrations provides us.  Of the tools and supplies that the DSIC text prescribes, only three things are to be consecrated on the fly, viz. in the order they appear in the ritual: the crystal used for conjuring the spirit, the magic circle, and the incense.  The crystal is consecrated by laying your hand upon it and praying over it, the circle is consecrated by tracing its boundaries with the wand, and the incense is consecrated by praying over them after it’s been ignited.  That’s pretty much it; we can get into the specific wording of these prayers in a later post, but suffice it here to say that this is all that DSIC provides us.  But, as far as these specific prayers are concerned, it’s clear that the author of DSIC basically took the exorcism/consecration/blessing of the incense from the Heptameron, but the Heptameron differs in the process a bit for the incense, and doesn’t use the same consecration of the circle at all, nor does Heptameron include a consecration for the crystal since the Heptameron doesn’t make use of any scrying medium.  The conjuration of the Ars Paulina from the Lemegeton includes a bit about the crystal, but though there are some similarities between this and what’s in DSIC, it’s not all that comparable.

That DSIC makes use of Heptameron prayers isn’t surprising; after all, we saw how clearly the Heptameron influenced DSIC at least as far as its magic circle design, and as we’ll eventually see, the overall process of the Heptameron can kinda be seen in DSIC, too.  However, it is surprising that DSIC, despite being indebted to Agrippa on so many other accounts, seems to almost ignore Agrippa’s prescriptions and methods of consecration, not even going as far as what the Heptameron does for the magic circle in sprinkling the magic circle or incense with holy water before blessing them.  And, considering that there are some similarities between the stuff in the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (aka Hockley’s A Complete Book of Magic Science), which is most likely roughly contemporaneous with DSIC, there’s plenty of stuff in there that might be considered parallel works, too, especially as Hockley was likely in touch with people who did both DSIC and Turiel stuff.

We don’t have a lot to work on with how little DSIC provides us, whether in terms of construction or consecration.  But we have enough to get started, and we’ll talk about actually making everything next time, and making it all fit for use.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Magic Circle and its Heptameron Origins

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 talked about the Liber Spirituum, the Book of Spirits, and how it might or might not be recommended for DSIC works if all you need is just a notebook to take notes.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

This time, let’s talk about the last big design element from the DSIC text: the magic circle itself.  Like the wand, the DSIC text doesn’t actually prescribe a design or list of elements to go onto the magic circle, it just says that we need to use one.  However, also like the wand, the illustration gives us the design information we need, so let’s pull up the DSIC illustration once more from Barret’s book:

It’s the middle circle in the whole thing, captioned as “the magic Circle of a simple construction in which the operator must stand or sit when he uses the Chrystal”.  Let’s analyze the design; what do we see?  We see another double circle design, with the space between the outer and inner circles containing the following symbols:

  • Four hexagrams, each aligned to one of the four directions of the circle (top, bottom, left, right)
  • The divine name “Tetragrammaton” (cursive typeface) in the upper left quadrant, written from the inside of the circles
  • The divine name “Elohim” (print typeface) in the lower left quadrant, written from the outside of the circles
  • The divine name “ADONAI” (print typeface, all caps) in the lower right quadrant, written from the outside of the circles
  • The symbol for the Sun and the seal of the angel Michael of the Sun in the upper right quadrant, written form the inside of the circles

I can’t explain the use of different typefaces and styles used for the three divine names on the circle; I don’t want to just outright say that they’re meaningless and just up to the whimsy of the illustrator, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case.  Additionally, the shift in direction from the upper two quadrants (names/seals written from the perspective of inside the circle) and the lower two quadrants (written from the perspective of outside the circle) almost certainly seems like an error to me; in almost every kind of magic circle I can think of in which the magician stands within, any contents in the design of the circle are written from the perspective of the magician inside not the spirits outside.  Fr. AC likewise seems to agree with me, and though he embellishes his circle from the DSIC illustration basis, he keeps the basic divine names written in the same typeface (he likes using blackletter) and all written from the perspective of the magician inside the circle.

For the three quadrants with divine names, he has three elements each:

  • The divine name written in Latin script
  • The same name written in Hebrew square script
  • The same name written in paleo-Sinitic/Phoenician script

In GTSC, he admits that “this was an inspirational modification on my part, but one that seemed appropriate to fill the space of the circle”.  I’ll also note that he uses YHVH in Hebrew/Phoenician scripts for transliterating Tetragrammaton, because, well, the Tetragrammaton is literally just that.  As usual, props to Fr. AC for aesthetics and balance (though my eyes rebel and revolt at the sight of blackletter).

However, there are others, like Fr. FC and Jason Augustus Newcomb, who use the DSIC illustration orientation, with Newcomb literally just basically using a gigantic printout of the circle, typefaces and all.  Fr. FC, on the other hand, redrew it, but also kept the typefaces relatively the same.

I don’t care for this approach, personally, but that’s just me.  I’d rather have all the names written in the same typeface and facing the same direction.

Then there’s the case of that last quadrant.  The DSIC illustration, since the text is focused on using Michael of the Sun as the exemplar, fills this last quadrant with two things: the glyph of the Sun closer to the top, and the seal of the angel Michael clockwise from it towards the right.  This suggests that this quadrant needs two things: the glyph of the planet and the seal of the angel.  That’s it.  Of course, if you wanted to add to it, you could; Fr. AC does just that, and adds the name of the angel (in both Latin script and Hebrew square script) and the signs of the zodiac that planet rules to this segment.  As with his additions to the other three quadrants, he says that he does “not think this is necessary for the strength of the circle, but it felt appropriate for the design”.

Now, how does one go about customizing the circle for different planets?  Some people draw out the circle in chalk or erasable/washable paint or some other nonpermanent material every time for each individual conjuration, while others like to have something more fixed, like a circle painted on canvas or carpet.  So how might one customize the quadrant for the angel-specific stuff?  The general approach is to make the base of the circle blank on that part, and make “covers” or “layovers” made of the same material to temporarily fix onto the circle to cover the blankness with the necessary information, or something transparent laid on top likewise to fill it in.  Other people use large firm boards that fit together, like flooring tiles, using one board for each quadrant, and just swap out the board for the angelic quadrant for each angel.

While I get the practical reasons for making disassembling/overwritten circles, and while the ingenuity delights me…it kinda weirds me out, to be honest.  We use circles because they provide an unbroken boundary, while most times, using objects such as disassembling boards or pinned-on quadrant segments causes a natural break to form.  I would rather just draw the circle out in chalk or have multiple circles painted on canvas carpets, but I also admit that neither are the most feasible of approaches for many people.  Do what you can; I would recommend most having a canvas with a complete circle painted on and a blank quadrant here, with thin pieces of fabric that can be pinned on securely and flatly that fill only the space between the inner and outer circle without breaking them or overwriting them.

Why would we use this sort of method of making custom circles for different conjurations?  The way I see it, the custom circle helps link us more to the spirit we’re trying to conjure, in a way that reinforces the connection that we make also by wearing the lamen of that same spirit.  Plus, in case things (for some reason) go awry, building such a circle that’s already aligned with the spirit can help deflect, ameliorate, or appease any harm they might cause or bring, in a sort of roundabout “hair of the dog that bit you” kind of way.

How big should the magic circle be?  Neither Agrippa nor DSIC says.  For yourself, make it big enough to do what you need to do; I’d recommend making the diameter as tall as you are plus about half a foot on either side.  So, for me, since I’m about 6’3″ tall, I’d ideally make my circle about 7′ wide.  That way, I have enough space to walk, sit, stand, and lie down in with ease without having to cross the boundary at all, with enough space to have another person in the circle with me as well as to have a small table for supplies and the like at hand.  Of course, for space constraints, you could just have it be a smaller circle that’s literally just a few feet wide, big enough for you to stand or sit in for the duration of that conjuration.  Not a big deal, I suppose; if you want to give numerological meaning to the size of the circle, you’re free to do so, but so long as it’s big enough for you to handle the task at hand, whatever size will be fine.

How should the circle be oriented?  While one might associate different names of God with the different directions (as I did in my own Circle of Art tarp project a few years back), there’s nothing in DSIC that suggests how to actually orient it, though a natural suggestion of aligning the four hexagrams with the four directions makes sense.  However, Fr. AC in GTSC says that, rather than aligning the hexagrams to the four directions, one aligns the circle such that the quadrant with the planet and seal of the angel lies directly between the magician (in the center of the circle) and the crystal.  I like this idea quite a lot, actually; with that, there’s this three-fold presence of the spirit in the ritual: once in the crystal, once upon the circle between crystal and magician, and once upon the magician’s own breast in the form of the lamen, all in a single straight line.  Plus, with the planet and seal of the angel positioned closest to the crystal, it would help facilitate their presence anyway in the crystal itself.  (This is, of course, assuming that the crystal and the rest of that set of equipment is placed outside the magic circle itself, following Fr. AC’s method.  This is the expected reading, but Fr. RO and Fr. Acher use a different setup, which we’ll discuss in a later post.)

So is that it?  This seems to be it.  Magic circle, done and figured out, right?

Of course not.

At this point, we should remind ourselves: fundamentally, what is the magic circle for?  Circles are for protection, especially from the harmful influences of demons and other malignant spirits; as the preface to the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano appended to Agrippa’s Fourth Book says,  “the greatest power is attributed to the Circles; For they are certain fortresses to defend the operators safe from the evil Spirits”.  But, as we touched on at the end of the last post, DSIC seems to be far more geared towards the conjuration of angels (even though it doesn’t necessitate that it only be used as such), which would suggest that we use more of Agrippa’s “good spirit” methods in his Fourth Book, which appear more theurgical and akin to the Arbatel.  Yet, parts of DSIC (the wand and the ring, the Liber Spirituum, and now the circle) are things that fall more into Agrippa’s “evil spirit” methods, which is far more Solomonic in nature.  If we’re working with “good spirits” like angels, then such a tool of impelling and such measures of protection would be unnecessary (and probably outright useless if push came to shove) when working with such spirits.  If we’re working with good spirits, then by using these things, we’re insulating ourselves from ambient malignant spirits or preparing ourselves just in case for a deceptive evil spirit to steal the place of the good spirit we’re calling.

Yet, DSIC is comparatively unprepared when it comes to “what to do if a spirit is stubborn”, so I don’t think the “just in case” reason above makes a lot of sense, nor does “general protection from ambient malignant spirits”; after all, it’s not like we’re necessarily more vulnerable in a conjuration, so why not always wear a ring of Solomon for the protection it would provide?  Moreover, why would Agrippa, who is otherwise pretty descriptive with his methods in the Fourth Book, say nothing about spiritual protection when working with good spirits?  If the spirits are as good as they say they are, especially if you’re working with angels, and even more the planetary or archangels themselves, then there’s nothing to fear since the angels themselves will defend and protect you, kicking out any deception or deceiving spirit in the process, no circle or ring needed.

Again, this ties into the weirdness of DSIC plainly being a mashup of both Solomonic and non-Solomonic techniques of working with spirits, sometimes conflating the methods described by Agrippa as some being for “good spirits” and others being for “evil spirits”; whatever texts the author of DSIC was referencing, Agrippa was only one of them.  This can also be evidenced in the weird phrasing of that caption, “of a simple construction”, which bothers me.  Unlike the specifications of the pedestal, table, wand, lamen, and the like, this part of DSIC would appear to give us some leeway in how the circle is designed.  Since most of the DSIC toolset and structure is heavily indebted to Agrippa’s Fourth Book, we can turn to there to see what Agrippa says about the circle design, just like we did for the lamen…except there’s not so much written about it as there is about the lamen.  Book IV, chapter 10 has “another Rite more easie to perform for calling forth spirits” that isn’t really connected to the parts that would use lamens or the other DSIC technique that the Fourth Book would anticipate, but this segment has a bit about it:

Then a place being prepared pure and clean, and covered everywhere with white linen, on the Lord’s Day in the new of the Moon let him enter into that place, clothed with clean white garments; and let him exorcise the place, and bless it, and make a Circle therein with a sanctified coal; and let there be written in the uttermost part of the Circle the names of the Angels, and in the inner part thereof let there be written the mighty names of God: and let him place within the Circle, at the four angles of the world, the Censers for the perfumes…

Later on, in chapter 12 on “calling forth evil spirits to a magic circle”, Agrippa gives a different design to be used for evil spirits as opposed to good spirits:

These things being considered, let there be a Circle framed in the place elected, as much for the defense of the Invocant as for the confirmation of the Spirit. And in the Circle it self there are to be written the divine general names, and those things which do yield defense unto us; and with them, those divine names which do rule this Planet, and the Offices of the Spirit himself; there shall also be written therein, the names of the good Spirits which bear rule, and are able to bind and constrain that Spirit which we intend to call. And if we will any more fortify and strengthen our Circle, we may add Characters and Pentacles agreeing to the work; then also if we will, we may either within or without the Circle, frame an angular figure, with the inscription of such convenient numbers, as are congruent amongst themselves to our work; which are also to be known, according to manner of numbers and figures: of which in the second book of Occult Philosophy it is sufficiently spoken.

And, later in chapter 13, a modification that some magicians make:

And therefore some use to make a Gate in the Circle, whereby they may go in and out, which they open and shut as they please, and fortify it with holy Names and Pentacles.

It doesn’t seem like that last bit about the gate influenced the DSIC circle any, so we can probably ignore it.  But the first two sections quoted seem more important, and if we were to combine the two into a single circle format, then we can gather up the following design instructions from them:

  • The circle should be written in consecrated/blessed/sanctified coal on the ground in a clean and pure place on a Sunday on a new Moon (or as soon afterwards as possible)
  • Four censers for incense should be placed at the four angles of the circle (north, south, east, west) (recall our earlier talk about the brazier and incense vessel)
  • The names of the angels (to be conjured? angels generally?) are to be written in the “uttermost” part of the circle
  • Divine names should be written in the “inner part” of the circle, including and especially those that rule or are connected to the planet associated with the spirit as well as the general names (as said before from the first part of our lamen discussion)
  • The names and characters of the spirit to be conjured
  • The names of the “good spirits” that rule over and can bind/thwart the spirit being conjured (especially if an “evil spirit”)
  • Any characters, pentacles, names, etc. as desired to further empower the circle
  • “Angular figures” according to the number of the planet of the spirit (consider how there are four hexagrams in the DSIC circle, hexagrams having six points, six being the qabbalistic number of the Sun)

In other words, it seems like Agrippa is giving us some huge leeway, indeed, when it comes to how we want to draw the circle, and though he gives so many options as to be vague, the DSIC illustration…doesn’t have a lot of this, nor does it clearly match up with what Agrippa describes.  So I’m not entirely sure that DSIC is actually drawing strictly from Agrippa here.

If the DSIC caption is describing its circle as being “of a simple construction”, then the logical question to ask is “simple compared to what?”  And that’s where I think it’s helpful to take a step back and consider what else the author and illustrator of DSIC might be drawing on.  We know that Agrippa’s Fourth Book is huge, of course, but when the Fourth Book was published, it wasn’t published alone.  One of the other texts in the volume that contains the Fourth Book is the well-praised and famous Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, which is a classic of the Solomonic tradition and has earlier origins, too, including an entry in the Munich Manual that I’ve translated from Latin and is extant in a few other texts that predate the Fourth Book, though not by a lot.  One of the most fascinating parts of this work is the complex magic circle design that the Heptameron says to make:

  • Four circles, with three rings of names
  • The innermost ring has the four divine names Tetragrammaton, Adonay, Eloy, and Agla
  • The outermost ring has the name of the “Angel of the Air” and their ministers that correspond to the planet of the spirit being conjured
  • The middle ring has the name and seal of the angel of the planet being conjured, the angels of that day, the sacred name of the season in which the conjuration takes place; the sacred names of the angels, head of the sign, Earth, Sun, and Moon that all pertain to that season; and the sacred name of the hour in which the conjuration is to take place
  • The inside of the innermost ring has the phrase “Alpha et Ω” (Alpha and Ōmega) written, with “Alpha” at the top and “et Ω” at the bottom
  • The two innermost circles have two lines running through them at a right angle aligned to the four directions

The classic example given in the text is the following circle, to be performed on a Sunday at the first hour of the day in springtime:

Granted that we can see some similarities between this method and what Agrippa describes, this is certainly not a simple circle, especially as the outermost and middle rings will completely change based on the season, hour, and day in which the conjuration is to be performed.  However, the Heptameron method seems to fix the angels/planetary spirits to be conjured to the day itself, so it would seem like it would discourage performing a conjuration of the spirits of the Moon in an hour of the Moon on a Sunday, even though the Heptameron also gives a list of hours of the days of the week and their presiding planets/angels, so I’m not sure on that specific point; if the Heptameron method does allow such a thing, then the angelic name, seal, and likely the other angels of the planet would also change.

All the same, take a close look at the innermost ring: three of the four names (Tetragrammaton, Adonay, and Eloy) are basically the same as those used in the DSIC circle (Tetragrammaton, Adonai, Elohim), with Agla (which is Hebrew acronym for the Hebrew phrase “atah gibor le-olam Adonai”, or “You, my Lord, are mighty forever”, itself treated as a divine name in many grimoires) being dropped in favor of having the planetary glyph and angelic seal.  It seems to me like the DSIC circle is a vastly simplified form of the Heptameron circle, keeping only most of the innermost circle, replacing one of the divine names with the planetary/angelic stuff, and replacing the crosses with hexagrams.  Whether the hexagrams are supposed to be specifically solar symbols (having six points, per Agrippa’s instructions) or are just meant as general holy symbols can’t be inferred from the DSIC text; everyone seems to take them as being general, and I’m not opposed to that approach, but if you wanted to take an Agrippan approach, you might use heptagrams for Venus circles, octograms for Mercury circles, triangles for Saturn circles, and the like.  Besides, it’s clear that the DSIC author/illustrator has a thing for hexagrams given their presence elsewhere on its ritual tools, so I think that hexagrams should be used in general here.

However, consider that the four outside pentagrams are aligned to the cross-quarters.  If we consider Fr. AC’s suggestion above that the quadrant of the circle containing the planet and seal of the spirit to be conjured is aligned to the crystal, then that would place the hexagrams in the DSIC circle at the cross-quarters, which would match with the Heptameron stars here.  And, if we consider that the innermost “Alpha et ω” was removed from the circle, it might be possible that the DSIC author removed this and put it on the back of the wand (“Ego Alpha et Omega”), so that the same element was present, just on a different item.  It’s not that much of a stretch.

Personally, I’m very confident in saying that the DSIC circle is a simplified form of the Heptameron circle, because there’s so much in DSIC that takes directly from the Heptameron in terms of the specific prayers and exorcisms that are used in both, especially when you hone in on the phrasing of certain things.   Plus there’s the use of the same angels and, at least as far as Michael of the Sun is concerned, the same seals for those angels as in the Heptameron.  And we know it’s specifically the Heptameron and not other extant closely-related texts like the Munich Manual because we see an association of Michael with the Sun, which is present in the Heptameron as published with Agrippa’s Fourth Book, yet Agrippa himself in the various Scales chapters of his book II gives Michael to Mercury and Raphael to the Sun—as did nearly every earlier and contemporaneous text up until the publication of this version of the Heptameron, it’d seem.  And that’s a really convincing point for me, too, although Trithemius did give Michael to the Sun and Raphael to Mercury in his own writings, such as in the Steganographia and De Septem Secundeis.  Odd, then, that Agrippa, himself a student of Trithemius, would revert to the earlier form, perhaps based on older and more common sources than what his teacher had provided him; perhaps there were too many differences in angels generally, as Trithemius also gave Saturn to the angel Orifiel and Jupiter to Zachariel, which don’t match up with the Heptameron angels or Agrippa’s angels.

To be fair, many of the things to be said according to the Heptameron closely follow a variety of other Solomonic texts, many of which tend to rely ultimately on the famous Liber Juratus Honorii, or the Sworn Book of Honorius (LJH).  This places DSIC in that same line of literature lineage, albeit in a much reduced and simplified form.  For a comparable text, probably one of the closest contemporaneous texts to DSIC-qua-Solomonica could well be the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (SGT), which itself is given in Frederick Hockley’s version of A Complete Book of Magic Science (CBMS).  Though it’s not exactly clear when this text arose, it’s clear that it’s not that old, and Fr. AC references this text in bringing in a few extra consecrations and blessings, such as for the lamen, which makes a good fit in general due to how closely related in time and content this is with DSIC.  Plus, there’s also a number of other strong parallels between SGT/CBMS and DSIC in some of the tools as far as the candlesticks and wand are concerned.  SGT/CMBS is a lot more in-depth and Christian in tone and approach than DSIC (ironic, considering how DSIC is attributed to a Christian abbot), and it’s probably from a different lineage of Solomonica than the DSIC and Heptameron are (probably more from a Key of Solomon line and which incorporates the Arbatel?), but it’s a good secondary text to reference for fleshing out and understanding DSIC more.

What makes DSIC fascinating to me is that it appears to blend LHJ-descended Heptameron-style (maybe with echoes of the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, itself from a more Grimorium Verum line?) Solomonica with Agrippa’s Three Books and Fourth Book, that latter which, although Agrippa was surely aware of Solomonic literature and practices when he wrote them (whether or not he was the actual author of the Fourth Book), isn’t directly tied into it.  And it presents such a simplified form of angelic conjuration compared to earlier texts that one might even call it dumbed-down; I’m reminded of some of the modern debates about whether to take the Fr. RO approach versus the Fr. AC approach, with some railing against Fr. RO’s RWC-/SS-style DSIC format, when the text itself is essentially a heavily-reduced mishmash of earlier texts.  I can quite easily and realistically imagine that, when Barrett published The Magus, the hardliners then would have the same complaints about DSIC then as hardliners today might have about SS.  Of course, is simplicity a bad thing?  Not by my standard, so long as it works.  Does DSIC work?  Yup, and that’s the important bit.  And the same could be said of Fr. RO’s style of DSIC, too; I can certainly claim to that.

At this point, we’ve basically covered all the physical implements of DSIC: the crystal, the pedestal for the crystal and the table to support that (or the combined Table of Practice if you want to take a simpler route), the lamens, the wand and book and candles and censer, and now the magic circle.  With all of the physical implements of DSIC finally described, what about making, consecrating, and using them?  This is where we start to both incorporate DSIC itself while departing from DSIC proper to flesh it all out as desired, and we’ll pick up on that next time.