(Update 1/9/2018: Interested in more about this ritual? Check out my more polished, fleshed-out writeup over on this page!)
A good friend and colleague of mine pointed out to me that the modern usage of the Calling of the Sevenths rite, otherwise known as the Heptagram Rite (as I’m sure you’re familiar with by now, dear reader) isn’t exactly old. We don’t see it used past twenty years ago, really, and…well, part of that is that the craze with Greco-Egyptian magic (from the Greek Magical Papyri to the Demotic Magical Papyri to Hebrew bowl magic and so forth) wasn’t nearly before then as it’s gotten in recent years. That it’s gotten as big as it has is amazing, and is definitely fueling a new push in magical techniques, but there’s a danger in that that’s evident from the PGM itself: reckless synthesis without clear attribution of sources.
So, my friend Julio Cesar Ody pointed out that the ritual we know as the Calling of the Sevenths has an origin. I’m not talking about the ancient origin of PGM XIII.824-841, either, but a much more recent origin. Let’s trace it back through three books:
- Michael Cecchetelli’s Book of Abrasax, published 2012
- Tony Mierzwicki’s Graeco-Egyptian Magic: Everyday Empowerment, published 2006
- Stephen Flowers’ Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris, originally published 1995 and republished 2009
Of the three, I got my hands on Cecchetelli’s book last. One of my biggest gripes about Cecchetelli’s book is that he doesn’t cite a damn thing. While synthesis and personal innovation is awesome, I would have loved to have references to the PGM, PDM, and other texts that Cecchetelli got his stuff from, and I end up having to dig through a variety of texts to get the original Greek or Coptic spellings out or to see how Cecchetelli may have innovated or adapted the ritual from its original. Happily, both Mierzwicki and Flowers provide those references, and they largely share the same core texts, and I’ve read over the PGM enough times to have a good feeling of where I might find a particular incantation.
Flowers is…well, it’s Flowers. He does a lot of straight lifting from the PGM (and only from the PGM, not even the PDM), and as much explanation of the magico-philosophical milieu that the PGM came from. Likewise, he combines as much actual extant theory with made-up fantasy, which makes his book not exactly a great one from an academic’s perspective. Still, there’s some good information in there nestled amongst the crazy bits, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without having come across it.
I got my hands on Mierzwicki’s books around the same time as Cecchetelli, and…well, it’s a good book, but I wasn’t impressed by it, and that fault is entirely mine; by the time I read Mierzwicki, I was already conversant with the PGM as a whole, and seeing his adaptation of the PGM was boring at that point. Still, it’s a text I highly, highly recommend to those who are getting started with PGM-style magic.
So, back to the Heptagram rite. My point here is that of the three texts, Flowers should probably be credited with bringing it back from the dusty pages of the PGM into modern usage. However, he also called it the Ritual of the Heptagram, which is basically the name the PGM gives this same ritual. Mierzwicki, on the other hand, calls it “Calling of the Sevenths”, which is also appropriate, and a name that Cecchetelli and other authors have lifted without attribution. It’s important to give credit where it’s due, and I’m glad my friend Mr. Ody told me about this; it’s given me a reason to take another good look at Mierzwicki’s work, and also to clarify a bit about our modern practice in our occulture.
Cite your work, my friends.