Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: A Postscript from Francis Barrett Himself

So I didn’t intend on writing a postscript so soon to my Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration series of posts, the recap post (with index of posts and my own observations) to which went up literally earlier this week. But, you know, as expansive and detailed as my series may have gone, I didn’t intend for it to be the final word; I fully expected there to be more to find out. Turns out, a bit of further direction came out from mukyo65 when they commented on the Four Kings post, directing me (and all of us) to Francis X. King’s 1992 work The Flying Sorcerer, “being the magical and aeronautical adventures of Francis Barrett, author of The Magus“. It’s a pleasantly short read, but what draws our attention today is Appendix A, “Barrett’s Hitherto Unpublished Skrying Manuscript”.

First, let’s just clarify what we’re talking about: this is a follow-up to our earlier discussions on 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).

In this “hitherto unpublished” text that mukyo65 directed me to, Barrett gives a whole bunch of extra technical advice and guidance on how to conjure spirits using DSIC that weren’t mentioned in the DSIC text itself. His writing style is erratic and weirdly punctuated at times, so when I quote Barrett, especially for the prayers he mentions, I’ll update it for both modern diction as well as punctuation and style rules, keeping as close to the original as otherwise possible.

Astrological Considerations:

  • The time of conjurations should be chosen through the rules of electional astrology, not just according to planetary hour. However, once the spirit is contacted, we may ask them for what seasons and times are best to contact them in beyond electional dates or planetary hours.
  • Thus, the planet associated with the spirit should “be in an Angle and strong”, i.e. the planet associated with that spirit should be in houses I, IV, VII, or X and dignified, or at the least not afflicted by an ill aspect or other ill accident.
  • Your own significator should not “be under the Earth but in as fortunate a part of heaven as can be convenient”. In this case, according to King, this should be interpreted that the planet of the sign rising in your own natal horoscope should be above the horizon (i.e. in houses VII through XII) when the conjuration is performed and dignified. An alternative approach would be to either use your almuten rather than your lord of the ascendant as your significator, or to use the planet ruling the sign rising at the moment of the conjuration be considered as your own significator, all situated according to the same rules above.
  • The Moon should be waxing at the time of the conjuration.
  • The Moon should not be combust when you work. According to the English astrologer William Lilly, this is when the Moon is within 8°30′ of the Sun in the same sign as the Sun or within 12° of the Sun regardless of sign. To be safe, I would interpret this as saying that one should not perform a conjuration starting 24 hours before the moment of the New Moon and until 24 hours after the moment of the New Moon.

Considerations of Place:

  • Barrett recommends performing the conjuration “in some retired place at a distance from your house, rather than in your own chamber”, but he also says that it doesn’t really matter. He notes that spirits are “sooner attracted to an unfrequented place than to appear in a house”.
  • According to Barrett, success in conjuration of the spirit depends on a number of factors, especially those related to the spirit and planet that rule over the place in which you do the conjuration. Thus, not only should the planets of the spirit you’re conjuring and of your own natal horoscope be dignified, but so too should that of the place of conjuration itself. On top of that, the planets of your own natal horoscope and of the place of conjuration itself should be in a good relationship to each other, either by essential nature or by accidental relationship according to the horoscope at the moment of conjuration.
  • We should set everything up as best we can according to the the planet and the spirit of the place wherein the conjuration is to take place. This includes the choice of suffumigations and the spirit we’re to conjure itself; we shouldn’t conjure a spirit of Mars in a place ruled by the Moon, for instance, if Mars and the Moon are in a bad aspect to each other.
  • Likewise, we should choose places that agree with us in terms of our own ruling planets. King explains this point succinctly: “[Barrett] seems to have been suggesting that if a city was ruled by a particular zodiacal sign the magus should not carry out invocations therein unless his significator, the planet ruling the ascendant of his nativity, was strong or exalted in that sign.”

Considerations of Preparation:

  • Barrett first says that one should consume no “animal food” (presumably meat) for 24 hours before the conjuration, and likewise no alcohol whatever until after sunset, “and then only sufficient to clear nature and refresh thy Body”.
  • Barrett later says that the conjuration should be preceded by seven days of fasting and abstinence, specifically from “all heavy rich and strong drink”, eating nothing between sunrise and sunset each day but breaking fast on bread and water after sunset.
  • A preparatory prayer should be recited seven times on the day of the conjuration before the ritual itself. This same prayer may also be recited every morning for the seven days preceding the conjuration.

Other Considerations:

  • Put a “new clean linnen cloth on the table under the Chrystal”. Basically, use an altarcloth, but drape it so that it covers the table itself upon which the pedestal is placed; the table should not be exposed.
  • The smoke of the incense should be “strong and plenty”. (I doubt most people would have an issue with this.)
  • Barrett says that you should have “some clean white paper or Virgin parchment to write down the name of the Spirit, his Planet Sign and character which he may shew you”. Nothing is said or mentioned of a Liber Spirituum.
  • Keep the character and name of the spirit free from all profanity and pollution (or, in other words, keep the lamen of the spirit protected, safe, and untouched by any unless they’re in a state of purity).
  • Do not touch the crystal with your hands after placing it on the table. (This seems to go directly against the DSIC instruction for consecrating the crystal; perhaps one should instead hold their hand above or over the crystal rather than directly on it?)
  • Do not engage with the spirit you’re conjuring longer than an hour. After an hour has passed, give the license to depart to the spirit.
  • The conjuration medium may be a (presumably quartz) crystal, a “smooth shining steel Mirror” (steel?!), or a (crystal of) beryl. Barrett treats all three of these mediums as interchangeable and as equally sufficient for conjuration; beryl wasn’t surprising to us earlier, given Frederick Hockley’s mention of it as well as Agrippa’s description of it being as lunar as quartz is, as well as the historical fact that beryl was used to make early eyeglasses with when glass could not be made sufficiently clear. Using steel for the mirror, however, comes across as a shock, as steel is a variant of iron, which tends to be inimical to most spirits.
  • If you do not succeed in conjuration of one spirit, try another spirit. Barrett gives the example of “if you try the first time under Jupiter let your next work be under Mars or Venus or Mercury or the Moon”.
  • The prayer of conjuration in the ritual itself should be recited not once but seven times.

What we can tell from the above is that Barrett placed a huge emphasis on astrology, specifically electional astrology, in determining specific times to perform conjuration. While most people nowadays (and arguably many earlier Solomonic magicians besides) content themselves with just following the planetary hours and days, Barrett seems to make a point of making sure that the planet associated with the spirit should be as strong as could be reasonably attained according to celestial position and accidents. This also included astrologically understanding the very place of where we conjure the spirit itself, which is a consideration most people likely wouldn’t consider to be as important, yet Barrett himself clearly did. Barrett also takes a staunchly Christian approach to make sure that the magician performing the conjuration is as worthy as possible for the work, not unlike many of the admonitions of the Arbatel.

Barrett also gives a little instruction that makes things interesting:

Meditate Day and night on what you desire to know, have ready Pen and Ink—perfumes—the Virgin parchment—2 wax candles and 2 clean candlesticks, and a small earthen dish with lighted charcoal, likewise the Pentacle of Solomon which you ought to draw out as describ’d in the Magus upon a piece of Virgin Parchment likewise the Name Tetragrammaton wrote upon a piece of Vellum fastened round your Forehead like a wreath.

The bit about the pentacle of Solomon ties in with what we mentioned before when we discussed setting up the altar, and the latter about the wreath agrees with Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10) in his description of the ecstatic method of contacting good spirits: “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” and “that always as often as he enters into the Circle, he have upon his forehead a golden Lamen, upon which there must be written the name Tetragrammaton“. This means that the “pentacle” described in DSIC may well not have been referring to the lamen of the spirit to be conjured at all, but an actual pentacle of Solomon. Plus we should be using a Tetragrammaton-engraved crown, which ties this ritual in more with the usual Solomonic practices.

But Barrett has even more surprises in store for us. He gives us this instruction regarding one of the supplies and processes for preparing ourselves and our equipment for conjuration:

Have ready a small new phial filled with clear Oil—olive with which you must anoint your eyelids and palms of both hands—and when all is ready make a small cross upon the flat side of the Chrystal where the Characters are and turn the convex side towards thy face—let it be placed between the two lights…

Okay, so we need a new bottle of clear, pure olive oil, with which we anoint our eyelids and palms of our hands before the conjuration; easy enough. But then he goes on to describe that the crystal itself should be anointed with the same oil, but note how he describes it: there’s a flat side to the crystal, so Barrett here seems to suggest that the crystal should be round on one side and flat on the other, i.e. a hemisphere. The flat side should be put on the side with “the Characters” (i.e. the hexagram with central Yod, the pentagram, the cross, and the name Tetragrammaton); this would make the round side put on the side that has the names of the four archangels. We are then to have the crystal oriented such that the round side facing the magician.

This goes against what we decided earlier in our DSIC discussions in several ways. DSIC says that the crystal is to be “globular or round each way alike”, i.e. a total sphere, round on all sides. While the pedestal design itself doesn’t change in terms of what names and characters need to be engraved on it, it does kinda throw in our idea of having Michael on top, Gabriel on the right, Raphael on the bottom, and Uriel on the left into disarray; I earlier decided on this because that’s how the DSIC illustration itself shows the plate, and if we were to face this side away from us, Gabriel would be technically on our left and Uriel on our right when facing away from us, which would put Gabriel in the North and Uriel in the South, in agreement with the directional associations given by Agrippa’s Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7). That reasoning falls apart, however, if that’s the side that we’re supposed to face toward us instead of away from us, which is incredibly obnoxious. We could just flip Gabriel and Uriel so that Gabriel would be engraved on the left of the plate holding the crystal and Uriel on the right if we wanted to preserve those directional associations, I suppose; I don’t think it fundamentally matters since, after all, the order in which the names are presented in the DSIC text don’t match up with the order in which they’re displayed on the DSIC plate. I suppose we might have just been reading too much into the DSIC design, neat though it was.

Still, Barrett’s notes here clearly state that the side with the angels should face the magician and not away from them, yet it also says that the crystal should have a flat side, too, which doesn’t match up with what DSIC says at all, which is that it should be totally spherical and round on all sides. If we assume that DSIC was written by Barrett, then this suggests either that Barrett changed his approach or used a variation of the tools proposed in DSIC itself, but this could also be a major sign that Barrett himself wasn’t the original author of DSIC (despite all suggestions that he did). This also means that the crystal should be exposed on both sides, the round side so that we can gaze into it and the flat side so that we can anoint it, and not covered with gold leaf on one side. This throws out our whole parabolic/spherical mirror idea for the candlelight to enter into the exposed front of the crystal and bounce off the gilded and round rear of it, at least in terms of Barrett’s application of the ritual—though the crystal being exposed on both sides does match up with pretty much everyone who’s ever applied DSIC, either in terms of using a crystal ball without a pedestal at all (for those in the Fr. RO camp) or those who use a pedestal with the crystal exposed on both sides (for those in the Fr. AC camp).

But this isn’t even the most surprising part of what Barrett says about the DSIC tools; of all the notes that Barrett provides, it’s this that I found most gobsmacking and flabbergasting:

You may omit the table on which the/chrystal is placed mentioned in the Magus with the wand which I never use—but instead sett the instruments upon the holy Bible saying [the] Consecration of the Place whereon the bible and Chrystal is sett…

Like…is he for real? The table—that contentious contraption that we spent multiple posts discussing—can just outright be omitted and replaced with a Bible? This lends some credence to the idea I had way back when that we could just use a monstrance and put it on top of a Triangle of Art from the Lemegeton Goetia, but this goes even beyond that. Then there’s also his remark that he never even uses the wand! For all the hassle of designing, creating, and consecrating the damn thing, for Barrett to say that “I never use” the wand should come as a massive shock to many DSIC-using magicians. If anything, I want to interpret this as using the wand as a tool of intimidation and force, in the same vein as a Solomonic sword—again, more evidence against Fr. AC’s argument that it’s not such a tool at all. It’s also in line with Fr. RO’s suggestion that the wand simply isn’t necessary, but it does raise the question of what Barrett would use to trace the circle out with—if he ever did at all, or if he ever even used a circle at all, which he doesn’t describe in this text (he mentions a circle only once in passing, and that with no further explanation). It also recalls that Agrippa never used a circle in his primary means of contacting “good spirits” (book IV, chapter 10).

Back to the bit about replacing the table with a Bible. Note that I don’t think this approach would be preferred if one were using a Table of Practice, i.e. a platform for the crystal that contains the design elements of both the pedestal and the crystal, but so long as one had the pedestal that held the crystal, one could replace the table entirely with a Bible. This means that—if Barrett himself was adapting the ritual for his own ends—then the table itself is nonessential, so long as the pedestal/crystal was put on something holy. It could be the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, it could be a Bible, it could be John Dee’s version of the Sigillum or his own square Table of Practice, an almadel from the Ars Almadel, or the Table of Practice of the Ars Paulina, whatever! I’ll note here, though, that in this case, the only names of four entities present on the tools then are those of the four archangels—and not the four kings. We know that the four kings (Oriens, Paimon, Egyn, Amaymon) are what the DSIC text (most likely) mean when it comes to the design of the table, that’s absolutely true, but let’s be honest: it’s evident, with ten years of modern practice being extant plus Barrett’s own notes included, that it doesn’t matter either way whether you focus on the four directional/elemental entities being angelic or demonic. To me, this is a strong piece of evidence that four entities of some sort (whether demonic or angelic) are necessary for the materialization or manifestation of the spirit in the crystal, and that the four archangels perform this function just fine on their own just as the four usual kings would.

Going back to the manuscript, Barrett gives the following consecration to be said above the Bible upon which the pedestal and crystal are placed:

In the name of the Holy and Blessed Trinity, I consecrate this Table by virtue of the Holy Bible that contains the Word of the Eternal Wisdom, and by the Holy Tables of the Law given unto Moses upon Mount Sinai, so that no evil thing may enter herein to die, hurt, or prejudice anyone. Bless, o Lord, all these instruments and experiments for the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Although we didn’t have a prayer or consecration process for the table earlier in our talk when we discussed making everything, this prayer could easily be amended to be used for consecrating the table, which might indeed be useful (and reflects Barrett’s repeated injunctions for everything to be consecrated before use). Barrett also provides several other prayers to be used which differ slightly from those in DSIC proper, such as the prayer of conjuration itself, which should be recited seven times (note his reference to using the Bible instead of a table as described by DSIC):

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost do I conjure you, o you spirit NN., by him who spoke the Word and it was done; by him who is the beginning and the end, the first and the last; by the Creation of the World and by the Last Judgment; that you, o NN., appear to me visibly in this crystal. By the virtue of the Holy Bible on which it is placed, give me true answers concerning those things which I desire to know and be informed of; instruct me truly and show us our desire without any guile or craft. This I do conjure you quickly to do by the virtue of God who shall come to judge the living and the dead and the World by Fire. Amen.

I conjure and exorcise you, o NN., by the Sacrament of Christ’s Body, by his Miracles, by the Sea, by the Earth, by all the things above and under the Earth and all their virtues, by the seven planets, by the seven spirits which stand before the face of God, by the great name of God Tetragrammaton El-Ousin Agla, by all the names of God holy and blessed and all their virtues, by the Circumcision and Baptism and Passion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ the Blessed Lord and Redeemer at whose name the devils tremble, by his name Emmanuel Messias, by all the good and holy names of the blessed Trinity in Unity! I invoke you, o NN., that you quickly appear in this crystal visibly and with a plain and intelligible voice; show me those things which are proven for me to know, and answer and inform me of these things that I may propose to you through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Note the godnames “Tetragrammaton El-Ousin Agla”. This is almost what we see on the wand, which is “Tetragrammaton On Agla”, but with “On” replaced by “El-Ousin”. As I discussed in my Wand of Art writeup when I made my own wand, “On” is a Greek word meaning “being” or “existing thing”, i.e. The Existent or The One. “Ousin”, in this case, is another Greek word, which should probably better be written as “Ousia”, a term meaning “substance” or “essence” or “the primary substratum underlying reality”. “El-Ousin” (or “El-Ousia”) combines this term with the Hebrew term for God; this then could be interpreted as “The Divine Essence Itself”. To my mind, “On” and “El-Ousin” are equivalent and interchangeable.

The prayer above for the conjuration is followed in King’s Appendix A by a prayer for a license to depart, after reciting which one is to “repeat the Prayer in the Magus returning thanks to God with any additional prayers or Psalms thou mayest think proper”:

God has appointed you a place; go in his name to wherever you belong, and be ready to come when I call you in his name to whom every knee in Heaven, upon the Earth, and under the Earth bows. I give you license to depart in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

There’s also a lengthy prayer included by King in the notes to this appendix, which “was used, or intended to be used, at the beginning of a rite for the invocation of a Saturnian and/or Martial spirit—or so I suppose from the fact that the ‘perfumes’ for the rite included sulphur, hellebore and euphorbium and that the operation was intended to take place in the planetary hour dedicated to Mars”, but which is written in a confused and rambling way. This prayer (the “preparatory prayer” mentioned in the considerations earlier in this post) is what Barrett says should be recited seven times before the conjuration ritual itself and which may be recited every morning in the seven days leading up to the conjuration. King says that the original prayer was written with such random and erratic punctuation that he tried reforming it to what he presumes to be its original; I’ve modified it further to make it make a little more sense, myself, both for punctuation and slight wording.

Almighty and most merciful Lord God, I am your poor, humble, and unworthy Servant, being an admirer of Wisdom, a votary of Science, and student of Knowledge of the Creator, desirous of true spiritual light, although a Worm subject to the frailties, wickedness, temptations, and casualties of the flesh. Grant, o great Jehovah, that I may this night see by thy divine Will and wonderful Power those spirits that may inform me of of those things, good and wholesome for my soul, that may be beneficial to me in my mortal and corruptible state. Grant these things, o most beneficent Being, to me, being desirous of holy things and willing to pursue the paths of Knowledge and true Wisdom.

O Lord, I beseech you to forgive my sins and mercifully incline your heavenly ear to my petition, which I now with my whole heart, soul, and mind offer to you and beseech you to take away the cloud of sensuality and dullness that I may clearly behold the spirit I invoke this day; this I earnestly pray, thinking nothing better for a man in this world than to be informed of things above corruption and to enjoy the sublime benefit of seeing spiritually and conversing with your blessed intelligence. But this I know myself unworthy of, as I am a fleshly creature. But, o God, as your Son, Jesus Christ, says: “whatsoever ye ask, that shall ye receive”; so, most mighty God, I, being one man, ask to receive divine illumination by the ministry of your spirit, a pure spirit, with whom I desire to see openly and fully to converse this day, o God. Grant, great Jehovah, that I may be taught Wisdom by this said spirit this day and that no evil spirit whatsoever may have power to come in the name of the good spirits to deceive me to the ruin of the health of my soul. O most mighty God, I beseech you to pardon this my imbecility in thinking myself capable of making myself heard; but, as I ask, let me receive as my intentions are. So let me be answered!

I know my own unworthiness, o Lord; great are my sins and iniquity; they are more than the hairs upon my head. But, o Lord God Almighty, if I have found any favor in your sight, if my anxious longing after Knowledge and true Wisdom or my anxious endeavors to acquire it be pleasing to you, o Fountain of Life and Light and Wisdom, then let one of your spirits descend and make known to me what course I should pursue. O almighty and merciful Jehovah, I wish through the medium of a gross and earthly body to exert that spark of your divine Essence which I believe you did formerly breathe into our nostrils with the Breath of Life; enable me, o God Almighty, to conquer those bad passions which every day rise in my heart. Let the Blood of Christ be an atonement for my sins, and grant that I, o Lord, who am a disciple of Wisdom, should attain knowledge and destroy those seeds sown by our human nature.

O God, grant I may be rapt up in the divine Vision of your holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, who sacrificed precious and immortal Blood upon the Cross. Enable me, o Most High, to immediately become a servant of your Will and an instrument curing the sick and the diseased, of relieving the distressed and fortifying the afflicted, doing all the good that may be made. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, I earnestly beseech you to intercede with the Father on my behalf. Be pleased, o most merciful God, Ruler of all things visible and invisible, to grant my petitions and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Let him descend this day and make known those things I desire, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Honestly, I wish I had read this text sooner, or at least had known about it before I wrote many of my earlier DSIC posts. There’s plenty of stuff that Barrett has written for us that we can easily (or not-so-easily) incorporate into our earlier discussions as extra guidance and advice, but there’s also a lot of stuff here that doesn’t match up. I don’t think that what Barrett says above invalidates any of our earlier practices, but I also can’t really say that Barrett is wrong, since Barrett is the source (in one way or another) of DSIC at all, and we’re getting Barrett’s own insights on how to use DSIC. Frustrating as it might be, the wrenches that Barrett throws into our earlier discussions are still enlightening; if nothing else, what we discussed earlier could be considered a “purer” form of DSIC practice, or at least another variant of it, if we assume that Barrett indeed didn’t create DSIC to include in The Magus. It certainly gives us all more food for thought in how we approach DSIC and how far we want to take it in terms of either its Agrippan influences or its Solomonic ones.

I think I was successful when I set out to write my DSIC posts to answer many of the questions surrounding this ritual text, although I know I also left some questions that remain to be answered. The process of research isn’t always linear, and the discovery and review of Francis King’s work about Francis Barrett shows just that; this text answers many questions, including some that I thought were sufficiently answered before, but it also raises just as many other questions, including calling into question some of my own conclusions. If nothing else, this should help other magicians get involved and try out different designs, approaches, and uses for DSIC, whether they incorporate Barrett’s own notes or not.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do Now That the Spirit Is Here

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 ritual itself (finally).  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

At this point, dear reader, you might be wondering “what the hell does this guy have left to talk about?”  I mean, after seventeen posts, you’d think I’d be running out of steam.  And you would be wrong.  Yes, it is true that we’ve talked about a lot—far more, really, than I ever anticipated talking about.  We’ve discussed the designs of all the implements needed for the DSIC ritual, how to make them regarding both physical components and spiritual influences, how to set up our temple and the altar, and we (finally) got to the actual ritual of DSIC, outlining all the individual steps, motions, gestures, and prayers to make in the course of the conjuration ritual attributed to the good Abbot Johannes Trithemius of Spanheim.  So, really, what else is there to talk about?

What we talk about next is the stuff that DSIC doesn’t talk about but necessitates thinking about.  It’s true that you could, dear reader, stop reading this series of posts at the last one, make all your tools to spec (or as close as an incomplete, mishmash text like DSIC can permit such specs), and be on your merry way with conjuration.  And many people have done just that with Fr. RO’s RWC and SS as well as Fr. AC’s GTSC, and yet, I still get questions on “what do I do next?”.  There are a number of gaps in DSIC, and what we’ll talk about in these last few posts is the stuff that DSIC wouldn’t, couldn’t, or just didn’t discuss.

First up?  What to actually do with a spirit once you’ve conjured it.  Let’s say you’ve gotten all your tools together, put your temple and altar together, and launched into a conjuration of a spirit.  Surprise surprise, the spirit shows up, and it passes your questions of authentication and gives its oath to you.  In the time you have allotted with the spirit…what do you even do?  Well, I’m not you, dear reader, so I can’t tell you what to do.  You obviously must have had some reason to go through the trouble of putting everything together, memorizing all those prayers, and saying them at the right time so as to bother one of the spiritual executives of the corporation that is the cosmos to show up to your humble rock-based abode.  I’m not here to tell you what to do, nor how to go about it; I presume, if you’ve gotten this far, that you generally have a notion of what you’re doing.  Unless I’m your official mentor or godparent, I won’t assume that I can take the role of one, and so I can’t tell you what to do.

But I can tell you what you could do.

However, before we get there, let’s start off with some general advice first on conjurations generally:

First: be polite.  You’re engaging with some of the highest, biggest, strongest, oldest, smartest powers in the cosmos, entities that have existed long before the first human ever was and will be long after the last human ceases to be.  They see more, know more, do more, and are more than you know or could ever possibly know.  The vast majority of these entities we typically conjure are not human, nor have ever been human, and are thus fundamentally of a different essence and nature than you have any frame of reference for.  It’s a lot like Wittgenstein once said “If a lion could speak, we couldn’t understand him”—and many of these entities have many more and much sharper teeth than any lion.  Be humble, polite, grateful, reverent, honest, and straightforward.  Don’t try to be sly, cunning, wicked, deceptive, or trifling.  You have the full attention of a massive shard of Divinity Itself, present literally right before you and with you; act accordingly.  They came because you are a child of Divinity yourself, and if you carry yourself with dignity and authority that is your birthright as a human being, they will be willing to work with you and not against you, but do not think to abuse or misuse them.  And if you haven’t read my two posts on what to do when God says “no”, then read them here and here before continuing.

Second: always take notes.  If you can, have someone scribe for you; otherwise, once the angel is present and there’s no need to be intimidating or controlling of the situation, put down the wand and pick up the pen.  Record everything, the questions you ask as well as the answers they give, whether in the form of words or images or sensations.  Write down not just the date and circumstances and spirit of conjuration, but write down whatever they tell you or reveal to you.  If you can, go into the conjuration with a list of questions with blank spaces ready to go to fill in.  If your writing is shit, bring a laptop to type notes on, or get a voice recorder and record yourself—and be sure that you say aloud whatever it is you say, and repeat whatever it is they tell you.  Communication works best when you actually communicate: let breath and voice actually cross your lips.  The spirits, after all, are truly, physically present with you in one sense or another; treat communication with them as you would someone across a (very formal) dinner table from you.

Third: before you close out the conjuration, ask a simple question: “is there anything you would have me know, learn, or do at this point in time and at this point in my life?”  I find this to be an extraordinarily helpful thing to be the last thing you do, at least when it comes to the cosmic entities (like planetary or elemental angels).  It’s often the case that there are many things that we want to know, do, or become, but we, as finite, ignorant, dim, short-sighted mortals don’t have the foresight or mental acuity to think of or be aware of.  By giving the spirit we conjure an open-ended question like this, we open the field up to them and allow them, in their wisdom and awareness that far exceeds our own, to fill in ours when we don’t know what needs filling in.  Further, based on that, whatever it is they tell you (or not) can open things up for other questions or requests that you might make of them that you weren’t aware you should have asked before this point, or it can give you things to work on and call upon them for when you need their help outside of conjuration.

Fourth: by receiving their oath at the beginning of the conjuration, whether or not it’s your first time conjuring into them, you have effectively received their help for good.  This is especially the case after the end of the first conjuration, for when you give them the license to depart, you also get their oath to return to you “when [you] call [them] in His name to whom every knee bows down”—and that’s whether or not you call them in the context of a conjuration.  Just as you shouldn’t call them down in vain or discuss things vainly with them while they’re present with you, do not call them in vain, even as a joke from then on.  They will come when you call them.  If the bond you form is strong enough, dedicated enough, and sincere enough, then you may only ever need to do one formal conjuration of them, with everything else being relatively informal without nearly as much rigamarole or hullabaloo—but confirm this with the spirits before they go to make sure that they agree to that, or whether they prefer you to call on them formally.

Fifth: sometimes, the spirits we call upon by name and seal might not like that specific name and seal that you use.  Sometimes the spirit might find the names and seals in the grimoires to be distasteful or inappropriate, sometimes they just don’t like them, sometimes they see that you have a specific need for a specific name and seal in your own specific lifetime.  If a spirit gives you a different name or seal to use, use it from then on; that’s your own personal connection to the spirit, and not to be shared with others.  Use what they give you from the moment they give it to you, or as directed to use it by them.  If you want, clarify with the spirit why you’re receiving this specific name and seal, what the limitations of its use are (time? function? place?) and what purpose it would serve for you instead of the name and seal that you were already using.  Afterwards, make a new lamen with that name and seal, using the usual magical timing and consecration methods as desired.

Sixth: sometimes a spirit doesn’t have a seal that we can use.  For instance, when conjuring the four elemental angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, we need to remember that, even though the names might be the same for some of these spirits, their office is not (e.g. Michael of the Sun vs. Michael of Fire), and for all intents and purposes, these should be treated as different spirits (even if they are fundamentally “the same” spirit).  If you don’t have a seal for the spirit, use a sigil instead; use the Rose Cross sigil generator, use a planetary magic number square sigilization method, use the AIQ BKR method, or just combine the individual letters of a name into a single glyph.  Something is better than nothing, and the spirit will still respond to it—but they will give you something that they’ll respond to better, if you but ask.  If you can’t figure out how to make a sigil out of a name, you can go in with a lamen that just has a name on it, but it’s better to go in with something rather than nothing.

Seventh: don’t stress about the conjuration.  You don’t need to force yourself to imagine the presence of a spirit; if it’s there, it’ll make itself known.  If you have a hard time perceiving the spirit (and it always helps to practice spiritual perception through psychometry training), ask for its help in opening up your eyes, ears, mind, and all your senses of perception to better attune yourself to it and it to you.  In doing so, you’ll be able to bring yourself more into alignment with the spirit, “get” it better, and receive whatever you can from it with better grace and dignity and ability to process it all.  Don’t worry if you can’t get a strong connection yet; keep trying, and you’ll build that power up over time.  You don’t need to aim for full-on physical manifestation on your first go; whether or not that’s an aim of yours, we all need to start somewhere.  And learn how to interpret information in any sense you get: if all you feel are changes in pressure, changes in temperature, sensations of motion, or weird tastes on the tongue, go with it and “translate” it as best you can into a sensation or perception that you can actually plumb.  Learn how to speak the language of the spirits themselves using whatever tongue you have—whether or not it’s the one in your mouth.

Eighth: spend time afterwards integrating the experiences of the conjuration. There are times when interacting with a spirit—learning from them, receiving initiations from them, bringing their presence and blessing into our lives, and so on—can induce nontrivial changes in our own human sphere of existence and reality, and it can be drastic at times.  Spend at least a few days (a week, a month even) after the conjuration noting what’s different, if anything, and certain patterns that may arise that weren’t there before.  Take care of yourself, because some of these changes can be harsh on you, ranging from problems with your health, romance, interpersonal communication, or emotional stability.  It’ll level out over time, but just be aware that some of these interactions can linger.  And take care to cleanse yourself of negative influences, but at the same time, you don’t necessarily want to banish all the influences together, lest you throw the baby out with the bathwater and undo the work that you need to be doing!

Beyond those bits of advice, the rest is just learning how to handle conjurations and interactions with spirit.  No two spirits are the same, and even spirits from the same sphere may interact with you in wildly different ways according to their specific nature, desires, function, goals, and needs.  It helps to study as much about the sphere you’re about to interact with generally and the spirit you’re about to conjure generally (if at all possible) in the days leading up to the conjuration so as to have at least a surface-level knowledge about the spirit, just the same way as you’d do well to learn about a company’s business audience, habits, and important executive names before you go into a job interview with them.  Agrippa’s Scales tables (book II, chapter 4 through chapter 14) are fantastic for getting a start on this.

Now, what about the stuff that you can do with spirits in conjurations?  Honestly, the sky’s (quite literally) the limit; unless you start asking for unreasonable or ungrantable things or unless you start to push up against the natures of the spirits you’re working with, there’s really nothing you can’t do with the spirit.  As for my suggestions, well, they’re only just suggestions; this should not be interpreted to be a sort of guide, course outline, model of progression, or anything of the sort, but just things I’ve done, have read about being done, or have seen or heard done with spirits in conjuration of this sort.  Some of this stuff may apply to you, some of it may not, so take it all with a grain of salt, but don’t be afraid to experiment, learn, and grow from your conjurations.  See what’s possible, and then see what’s possible because of that.

Soak in the energy of the sphere of the spirit. Assuming you’ve called on a presiding, governing, or otherwise high-up ruling spirit of a particular sphere or planet (or, even if it’s just a minor or subordinate spirit, the realm of that particular spirit as a fragment of a larger whole), this is a fantastic time to just sit and soak in the energies of that sphere.  By praising, lauding, and greeting the forces of that sphere, we enter into its good graces and can passively soak up the blessings of it, leeching out what ails us and encouraging our growth within it.  Ask the spirit to fill the temple space with the light, winds, sounds, songs, smells, airs, and presence of that sphere; sing the Orphic Hymns for that planet, pour out a libation (wine, whiskey, clean water, etc.), burn special incense for that sphere (whether the same incense you chose for that conjuration or above and beyond what you used), play music that can be associated with that sphere (Fr. RO is fond of using Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” series of orchestral pieces), and otherwise just get to feel that planetary force in abundance right then and there in the conjuration.  This can be thought of like a “sound bath” or “spiritual wash of the soul”, and is often a good thing to do if we’re calling upon that sphere for the first time.

Receive induction.  Previously I would have called this “initiation”, but that word can be confusing and can lead to some people getting the wrong idea about what’s going on, so rather, I’ll call this “induction”, being “led into” something by the spirit, as well as having the spirit “induce” changes in you.  This is effectively what Fr. RO does in his old Gates texts as part of the Green Work portion of the RWC, and also what he teaches in SS.  On top of just soaking in the blessing of that sphere as a whole, we ask the spirit to “open the gate” to lead us deeper into the mysteries and realm of that sphere, letting us enter into the power of that sphere so that the power of that sphere can enter into us.  By doing this, we receive a type of “spiritual initiation” (again, hesitant to use that phrase) directly from the spirit themselves, setting us on a path to allow us induce more of that planetary power in ourselves and allowing us to manipulate it within and without ourselves.  Combined with what’s essentially pathworking—consider this basically being taken by the hand to be led into the crystal where the spirit itself is—we scry not just the spirit from our perspective as a magician in a circle, but we scry the whole realm of the spirit from the perspective as a wanderer in a new land, and in effect, we essentially flip the conjuration on its head: we called down the spirit into the crystal from its realm, but we let the spirit take us through the crystal back into their realm.  In this case, the crystal serves as the physical gate, and the spirit opens the spiritual gate for us.

Make requests.  Requesting that the gate of the sphere be opened for us is just one type of many, many possible things that you can request from spirits, and let’s be honest: we call on spirits to get help in our lives with this or with that.  This is pretty straightforward: when a spirit is down whom you know you want or need help from, ask them for what you need, and specify what it is you need done, how you would want it done, under what conditions, and so forth.  Depending on the nature of the spirit and how you want to go about it, you probably won’t be able to issue commands, but you can make requests.  When you do so, be specific with what you’re asking for, and always expect that there’ll be something on your end you’ll need to fulfill as well.  If they say “no”, ask why; if they need something from you, see if it’s reasonable and in line with what you’re asking.  Sometimes you’ll need to offer payment of some sort, sometimes you’ll need to keep a promise or maintain a particular style of living, sometimes you won’t need to do anything at all.

Consecrate talismans.  You’re already likely working within a planetary hour (and, just as likely, within a planetary day) for a ritual, so why not use it for all possible purposes and take home a souvenir after the conjuration?  With the spirit called down, direct them to consecrate a particular talisman for you.  Work out with the spirit the purpose of the talisman, how it’ll be used, how it should be treated or maintained, what needs to be done with it, how it should be decommissioned and under what circumstances, and, if all is worked out, get to it: present the talisman, give the spirit the charge , sprinkle it with holy water, anoint it with a relevant oil, and suffumigate it with incense, letting the spirit fill it with whatever power it needs.  Of course, when it comes to planetary angels, this is often best done with the help of the planetary intelligence and spirit as well, and if they’re not present for the consecration, then we’d need some way to get them present, which leads to…

Chained summoning.  While we discussed how to fill in lamens for getting a number of specific spirits under their president or governor or ruler earlier, that’s not the only way to get subordinate spirits present to the circle.  So long as the primary spirit you’ve conjured has the authority to do so, once they’re present, ask them to bring other spirits as you might need.  What we’re doing is plying the hierarchy of spirits to bring along other spirits as we need to the conjuration so that we have as much support as we might need for the purpose of the conjuration.  This is where knowing your spirits and godnames from Agrippa and other qabbalistic references can help, and helps give a well-rounded power to your consecrations and works with spirits, because each spirit has a particular benefit or function to play.  For instance, in the planetary framework I work within, while you can do what you need to consecrate a Saturn talisman with just the presiding angel of a planet (Tzaphqiel of Saturn), it also immensely helps to have the intelligence there (Agiel of Saturn) in order to properly guide and instruct/construct/form the channels by which the talisman can be spiritually built up, as well as the spirit there (Zazel of Saturn) to actually provide the raw power and force of that planet.  Conceiving of the spirit as being under the authority and guidance of the intelligence, and the intelligence under the angel, and the angel under God, as well as understanding that spirits we conjure aren’t necessarily bound by the laws of locality like we are (i.e. they can be in multiple places at once), we can issue a series of requests within a hierarchical framework to bring the whole party together without necessarily letting the spirits depart until we give the license to depart at the end of the conjuration (just remember to give the license to depart to all the spirits you bring together in the conjuration in this manner):

In the name of God, YHVH Elohim, o Tzaphqiel, bring forth Agiel, the intelligence of Saturn, and Zazel, the spirit of Saturn, here to this place and now at this time!

In the name of YHVH Elohim and by the authority of Tzaphiel, the angel of Saturn who presides over you, do I call upon you, Agiel, o intelligence of Saturn, to be with me, here at this place and now at this time!

In the name of YHVH Elohim and by the authority of Tzaphqiel, the angel of Saturn, and the guidance of Agiel, the intelligence of Saturn, who preside over you, do I call upon you, Zazel, o spirit of Saturn, to be with me, here at this place and now at this time!

Ask for a familiar spirit to be assigned to you from that sphere.  While we can simply work with the big names from the grimoires—the planetary angels and intelligences and spirits, the elemental angels and the kings and the princes, and so on and so forth—there are an uncountably infinite number of spirits out there, and we can learn more about some of them by asking to be put into contact with them.  Something I’ve found to be extremely worthwhile is, when you have the presiding/governing/ruling spirit of a particular sphere called down, is to ask the presiding/governing/ruling spirit of a sphere to go forth and bring forward a lesser, subordinate spirit from that sphere to act as your own personal familiar of that sphere, a spirit who can help, assist, guide, and empower you in the ways that are specifically proper and best for you in your life for the work you need to do.  Issue a chained summoning request as above, and when that familiar spirit is presented to you, get to know them as you would any other spirit: get their name, get their seal, get their image, get their oath to come when you call, get to know when you can call upon them (making it more convenient for you than otherwise), and get to know them, what they like, what they can do, what their functions and purposes are, and the like.

Receive feedback.  As finite, short-sighted, and mortal as we are, we are not always the best judges of ourselves when it comes to our own spiritual development—but the spirits certainly can be.  So long as the spirit is of a high-enough station and elevation to do so, ask them about your place in their sphere (because, even if we’re primarily earth-bound in this material plane of reality, we all have some presence and share in all the spheres above us): ask about how the force of that sphere is working within you, how well you’re integrating it in you life, what your blockages are, what your problems are, what you’re doing well with, what you’re not doing poorly with.  Get their guidance on how you can improve yourself in your life and in your world, and how you can better facilitate the powers of that sphere in your own life and in the world generally.  Listen to the spirits.  Get their guidance and feedback, get their support, and see what you can do both with them there present in the conjuration as well as outside the conjuration in your magical and spiritual life generally to improve on what needs improving, further what needs furthering, and maintaining what needs maintaining.

Now, all the ideas above are just that, ideas and suggestions for you to consider when you engage in conjuration of many of these entities that many people use with DSIC, whether you take Fr. RO’s approach through RWC or SS, Fr. AC’s approach through GTSC, or some other approach entirely.  I don’t mean to imply that the above is all you can do, and far from it!  What you do in conjurations of spirits is up to you, what you need out of the conjuration, and what you want out of the spirits.

Thing is, much of what we’ve been discussing up until this point has been focusing on a particular kind of spirit; most people that use DSIC focus on conjuration of the angels, whether planetary or elemental or stellar or natal or some other sort.  However, because DSIC isn’t strictly an angelic text, and because the text suggests that we can conjure other spirits, we should consider how we might go about that that and tweaking some of our prayers to accomplish it.  We’ll pick up on that next week.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Actual Ritual Itself

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 orient the altar, what needs to go on it, and how to time the conjuration ritual itself.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

I’ve now written sixteen posts so far in this series, with about 67,000 words, quotes and images and all, with this being the seventeenth one.  And, just now, we’re finally—finally—getting to the actual ritual portion of DSIC.  To be fair, we did have quite a lot to talk about to get up to this point: what the actual tools and implements specifically called for by DSIC looked like, how to make them, what other stuff we needed, how to prepare ourselves, how to set up our temple space, how to set up the altar of conjuration, and how to time the ritual.  With all that out of the way, we’re now actually ready to discuss the actual ritual format of DSIC.  The format given below is my own personal take on the ritual choreography of DSIC, accounting for magicians, scryers, assistants, and all the things everyone should be doing, how, and when so as to build up to a harmonized performance of the ritual.  Much of this is based on my own experience, with some of it coming from the directions or witnessed implementations of similar Solomonic rituals.

So, let’s get into it.  By this point, we’ve undertaken our preparatory purification period of fasting, abluting, and prayer, our altar has been fully set up with all our supplies and tools at hand, and the awaited day and hour has come.  We will assume the following for the purposes of this post:

  • The conjuration is to call upon the angel Gabriel of the Moon.
  • The conjuration is being performed in an hour of the Moon, with the first prayer begun at the start of that hour of the Moon.
  • The orientation point (the direction the altar is set and to which we face for the conjuration), based on Agrippa’s correspondences from the Scale of Four, will be to the south.
  • The scrying medium to be used is a crystal.
  • The ring, lamen, and wand are all initially placed on the altar of conjuration itself.
  • The right hand will be used for wearing the ring and using the wand.
  • The vessel for incense is placed in a way that may easily be reached from the position of the magician within arm’s length.
  • A book for notes and observations for the conjuration should be present, but kept inside the circle along with pen and ink.
  • We are not using a scryer or any number of other assistants in this conjuration; you, as the magician will be operating alone (but we will make mention of their roles and functions when necessary).
  • We will be taking a full-on formal approach that covers all the necessary instructions, setups, procedures, and the like according to DSIC, Agrippa, and Solomonic literature, not skipping any steps or being casual with any part of the process.

For this post, we’ll be using the actual DSIC text itself and all its Christian prayers, and not any of the variants floating around out there, with only the spelling, punctuation, and phrasing updated for modern English without using the old-style thou/thee/thine/thy pronouns.  Parts that may change in reference to the spirit’s name, nature, related godnames, etc. as well as other changeable aspects of the ritual like the specific scrying medium used, etc. and the like will be in underlined text.  We’ll go over how to adapt the DSIC prayers in non-Christian frameworks in a later post, but for now, let’s stick to the basic DSIC text as written (though updated for readability).

Note that these prayers and instructions are written so as to accommodate any variation on the following, should you choose to depart from the setups and designs and approaches discussed in earlier posts:

  • Having the circle include the altar or exclude it
  • Using an actual table with the table design engraved or written onto it, or a separate piece of equipment that has the design put on top of another surface
  • Having the lamen be a Solomonic pentacle instead of the lamen of the spirit, having the lamen for the spirit with a Solomonic pentacle on the reverse, or wearing a Solomonic pentacle and placing the lamen for the spirit underneath the crystal
  • Using a pedestal to support the crystal on the table or whether the crystal is placed directly on a Table of Practice
  • Any specific design choices made for the pedestal, table, lamens, or wand
  • Placing the vessel for incense on the ground before the altar, off to the side on top of the altar, or behind the crystal on the altar or on the ground, so long as it is easily accessible and reachable
  • Using a proper Liber Spirituum or a regular notebook

Any variation of these above considerations is acceptable for use in this conjuration ritual, as are many other variations besides, I’m sure.

One further note before we get on with the ritual itself: it is absolutely best-practice, recommended, suggested, and urged that the magician learn all these prayers by heart.  They may read off of a script if necessary, and having a copy of such a script is good just in case the magician forgets or slips up on the wording or purpose of something, but it is absolutely the best possible approach for the magician to learn each of these prayers, steps, and routine by heart, forwards and backwards.  The magician should spend as much time as necessary, especially in the preparatory period leading up to the ritual, to review, memorize, and practice the ritual script so that they may execute it easily, correctly, and gracefully without relying on a script.

Pre-Ritual Setup
Begin by performing your usual devotions, supplications, confessions, and any other prayers you routinely or habitually use, or those that you have been reciting every day during the preparatory period; if you’ve been reciting these these while kneeling either in front of the conjuration altar, then do those here, too.  If you’re operating with any assistants, including a scryer, they should recite their own prayers as well.  You, as the magician, should be directly in front of the altar; if operating with a scryer, they should be on your immediate right in front of the altar, and any other assistants should be kneeling behind you.

All those present should have abluted themselves with holy water; if this has not yet been done, do this now.  You as the magician and the scryer, if one is present, should anoint themselves on the forehead and eyelids with holy oil at this point; the assistants, if any are present, may anoint themselves similarly if desired by the magician.  Both the ablution and anointing should be accompanied by appropriate prayers.

Recite any other prayers appropriate to the ritual as desired at this point, including supplications for enhanced visionary skills, protection in the undertaking, invocations of the planet ruling the hour, invocations to the angel of the hour or the genius loci of the time and place the ritual is to be performed, or invocations to one’s holy guardian angel, agathodaimōn, tutelary divinity, or supernatural assistant at this time.

Once any other preliminary prayers have been recited, if any, stand up straight before the altar.  If you’re operating with a scryer, they should remain kneeling on your right, and any other assistants present should remain kneeling where they are behind you.  At this point, if you’re operating with any assistants, only you as the magician should be reciting any prayers aloud, with assistants and scryers staying reverently silent unless directed or bidden to speak.

There should either be self-igniting incense, charcoal, or other fuel present in the incense vessel; if not yet, place it there now but do not light it.

The two candles on the altar should already have been lit from the preparatory period, but if not, light them now.

The altar should additionally contain the lamen, ring, wand, and other implements of conjuration, placed conveniently and respectfully on the altar.

If a veil is present on the altar covering the tools and implements of conjuration, remove it now and put it aside.

Consecration of the Scryer
If you’re operating alone, you may hold the arms out in the orans gesture (basically up and out to the sides with the palms facing upwards or forwards towards the altar), or, better, raise up the left arm in the orans gesture but place the right hand over your heart.  If operating with a scryer, place your right hand either above them or lightly upon their head or back, and your left hand upon your heart.  Recite the following prayer:

O God, You who are the author of all good things!  I beseech You, strengthen this Your poor servant, that he may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  I beseech You, o Lord, enlighten the dark understanding of Your creature, that his spiritual eye may be opened to see and know Your angelic spirits descending here into this crystal.

Note that the words and pronouns used here to refer to the magician (in underlined text) should be modified to account for both (a) whether the magician is operating alone or with a scryer and (b) the gender of the scryer, if present, or the gender of the magician, if a scryer is not present.  This prayer should be used primarily to consecrate the scryer and his/her/their “spiritual eye”, but both the magician and scryer should be similarly consecrated.  Consider the above prayer to be for when the magician operates alone and is male; as an alternative, if the magician operates alone and is female, use the following:

O God, You who are the author of all good things!  I beseech You, strengthen this Your poor servant, that she may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  I beseech You, o Lord, enlighten the dark understanding of Your creature, that her spiritual eye may be opened to see and know Your angelic spirits descending here into this crystal.

If the magician operates with a scryer, the following prayer instead should be used:

O God, You who are the author of all good things!  I beseech You, strengthen these Your poor servants, that we may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  I beseech You, o Lord, enlighten the dark understanding of Your creatures, that our spiritual eyes may be opened to see and know Your angelic spirits descending here into this crystal.

Note that the word “angelic” here may be changed to reflect the nature of the spirit if it’s not angelic, e.g. “demonic” if a demon, “terrestrial” if a spirit of nature or a genius loci, etc.

Note that the word “crystal” may be changed to reflect the actual scrying medium being used if not a crystal (mirror, vessel of water, etc.).

Consecration of the Crystal
Place your right hand upon the surface of the scrying medium (crystal or whatever else is being used for the ritual) and recite the following prayer:

O inanimate creature of God, be sanctified and consecrated and blessed to this purpose: that no evil phantasy may appear in you, or, if one should gain ingress into you, that they be constrained to speak intelligibly, truly, and without the least ambiguity, for Christ’s sake.  Amen.

Remove your right hand from the scrying medium, lift your arms up in the orans gesture, and recite the next part of the prayer:

As Your servant standing here before You, o Lord, who desires neither evil treasures, nor injury to his neighbor, nor hurt to any living creature; grant him the power of descrying those celestial spirits and intelligences that may appear in this crystal, and whatever good gifts—whether the power of healing infirmities, or of imbibing wisdom, or discovering any evil likely to afflict any person or family, or any other good gift—You might be pleased to bestow on me.  Enable me, by Your Wisdom and Mercy, to use whatever I may receive to the honor of Your holy Name. Grant this for the sake of Christ, your Son.  Amen.

Note that the word “crystal” may be changed to reflect the actual scrying medium being used if not a crystal (mirror, vessel of water, etc.).

Note that the word “celestial” here may be changed to reflect the nature of the spirit if it’s not celestial, e.g. “angelic” if a true divine archangel above any planet or heaven, “terrestrial” if a spirit of nature or a genius loci, “chthonic” if a subterrestrial or demonic entity, etc.

Consecration of the Circle
Put your ring of Solomon on the little finger of your right hand.

Pick up the lamen/pentacle from the altar and wear it around your neck so that the design of it faces outward and hangs at about mid-chest-height above the sternum or heart.

If there are any extra candles around the scrying medium on the altar to be given as offerings or decoration, light them now.

Pick up the wand with the right hand, proceed to orientation point of the circle, and place the point of the wand on the outermost edge of the circle being used for the conjuration.  The scryer and assistants, if any are present, should move to the innermost part of the circle out of your way.  Trace the circle clockwise starting from the orientation point, and while tracing it, recite the following:

In the name of the blessed Trinity, I consecrate this piece of ground for our defense, so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Consecration of the Incense
Proceed in front of the altar and light the incense in its vessel.  The incense to be used should be of an appropriate nature for the spirit or to its corresponding planet, or frankincense may be used generally for all spirits if no specific incense is to be used.  If the incense is self-igniting, light that directly but let the flame burn.  If you’re using loose incense, light the charcoal or flame, and let it complete its process of ignition.  Hold the wand in the right hand, point the wand at the flame, and recite the following:

I conjure you, o creature of fire, by Him who created all things, both in Heaven and Earth and the Sea and in every other place whatsoever, that you cast away every phantasm from you, so that no hurt whatsoever shall be done in any thing.

If you’re using self-igniting incense, blow the flame out now; if you’re using loose incense on a brazier with a flame or charcoal, throw that onto the flame.  Once the smoke of the incense begins to rise, whether the incense is self-igniting or otherwise, hold the wand in the right hand, point the wand at the incense issuing smoke, and recite the following:

Bless, o Lord, this creature of fire, and sanctify it that it may be blessed, and that your blessing may fill up the power and virtue of its odors, so that neither the enemy nor any false imagination may enter into them, through our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Note that, up until this point, only the first-person singular pronouns (I, my, me) are used in the prayers.  After the consecration of incense in the ritual, continue to use the first-person singular pronouns if you are operating alone, or the first-person plural pronouns (we, us, our) if you are operating in tandem with a scryer or other assistant.  The following prayers after this point assume that you’re operating alone as the magician.  The pronouns that are to be changed, if operating with a scryer or other assistants, will be in bold text in the following prayers.

Conjuration of the Spirit
At this point, check one last time to confirm that the hour is correct for conjuring the desired angel, e.g. that it is indeed the hour of the Moon when conjuring Gabriel of the Moon.  If so, continue the operation.  If it is too early, spend time in further prayer and meditation until the proper time arrives without leaving the circle, continuing to keep further incense burning (with or without reciting the blessing over it, as desired).  Otherwise, if it is too late, abort, as the hour is now wrong for the operation unless you can manage to swap out lamens and any other desired paraphernalia for the spirit in accordance with the proper hour.

If the hour is proper for conjuring the desired spirit, hold the wand in the right hand, point the wand at the scrying medium, and recite the following:

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

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

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

Note that the divine name “Tetragrammaton” is underlined here, as is the ellipsis that follows it.  Any set of divine names, titles, or references of God may be used here, such as the general and specific names of God as referenced earlier in the first post on the design of the lamen.  Saying “Tetragrammaton” here is sufficient for all general purposes, but one may use a different name specific to the spirit being conjured, or a set of names to ensure the compliance and presence of the spirit.  For example one may use any of the appropriate sets of following names following from Agrippa’s general names and the specific ones (book II, chapter 22), the various qabbalistic names of God for the corresponding sephiroth, or the Islamic names of God associated with the planets from the Shams al-Ma`ārif:

Agrippa Qabbalistic Shams al-Ma`ārif
General El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi
Saturn Yah
YHVH
YHVH Elohim al-Bā`ith (the Raiser)
aṣ-Ṣādiq (the Truthful)
Mawlā al-Mawāli (the Lord of Lords)
Jupiter Heh
Abba
Ehi
Ab
El al-Quddūs (the Holy)
al-Mannān (the Benfactor)
ar-Raqīb (the Vigilant)
Mars Yod
Gibor
Heh
Elohim Gibor al-`Azīz (the Powerful)
al-Qāhir (the Victorious)
al-Jabbār (the Strong)
Sun Yod Eloah v’Da`at an-Nūr (the Light)
an-Nāfi` (the Propitious)
al-Fāṭir (the Creator)
Venus Heh
Aha
YHVH Tzabaoth ar-Raḥīm (the Merciful)
al-Ḥayy (the Living)
al-Ḥasīb (the Reckoner)
Mercury Vav
Azbogah
Din
Doni
Elohim Tzabaoth al-Khabīr (the All-Aware)
al-Wāsi` (the All-Pervading)
al-Ākhir (the Infinite Last)
Moon Heh
Hod
Elim
Shaddai El Ḥai al-Ḥalīm (the Forebearing)
al-Amān (the Safety)
al-`Alīm (the All-Knowing)

Note that the word “celestial” here may be changed to reflect the nature of the spirit if it’s not celestial, e.g. “angelic” if a true divine archangel above any planet or heaven, “terrestrial” if a spirit of nature or a genius loci, “chthonic” if a subterrestrial or demonic entity, etc. However, even for celestial entities such as planetary angels, while “celestial” works for any spirit that is associated with or drawn from any celestial sphere, this word may be replaced with a more exact adjective, e.g. “lunar” for Gabriel, “mercurial” for Raphael, “saturnine” for Cassiel, “stellar” for Raziel or the angel of any zodiac sign or lunar mansion, and so forth.

Note that the word “crystal” may be changed to reflect the actual scrying medium being used if not a crystal (mirror, vessel of water, etc.).

Note that this conjuration prayers is not necessarily appropriate for all types of spirits.  It is, however, appropriate for most kinds of spirits, especially those of an angelic or celestial nature.  We’ll discuss alternative conjuration prayers for less-than-angelic entities in a future post.

Once these prayers of conjuration have been said, await the presence of the spirit you have called; they should appear more-or-less immediately.  If a scryer is present, the spirit may appear visible to either the magician or the scryer or to both.  So long as the spirit is visible to the magician (if operating alone) or either one or both of the magician or the scryer (if operating with a scryer), then proceed to the Authentication and Oath of the Spirit.  If desired, you may wish to ask “is there a spirit present here?” softly but firmly to confirm; if you feel, perceive, or otherwise receive an affirmative signal, proceed on to the authentication.

If, after a little while, nobody present can see, hear, or in any way sense the presence of the spirit, repeat these sets of conjuration prayers, and wait again.  If, after three times you’ve said these prayers of conjuration and nobody has gotten any signal nor connection nor sign of the presence of the spirit, skip ahead to the Dismissal of the Spirit and proceed from there.

Authentication and Oath of the Spirit
Once the presence of a spirit (not necessarily the one you want!) is there, proclaim your thanks for the presence and the ability to perceive it:

O Lord!  I give to You my hearty and sincere thanks for the hearing of my prayer, and I thank You for having permitted Your spirit Gabriel to appear unto me, whom I, by Your Mercy, will interrogate to my further instruction, through Christ.  Amen.

At this point, the magician is to ask the spirit present four questions of authentication to ascertain the true character and nature of the spirit that you have conjured.  Holding the wand in the right hand pointed at the scrying medium, ask the following four questions one-by-one:

  1. In the name of the holy and undefiled Spirit, the Father, the begotten Son, and Holy Ghost who proceeds from both, what is your true name?
  2. What is your office?
  3. What is your true mark that I know you by?
  4. What are the times most agreeable to your nature to hold conference with me?

For Gabriel of the Moon, we would expect answers that are more-or-less in accordance with the following:

  1. “My name is Gabriel, the Strength of God.”
  2. “I am the angel who presides over the sphere of the Moon in the first heaven, Shamayim.”
  3. “This is my seal by which you may know me and call upon me:” (the spirit should visually or perceptibly reveal the same glyph that is used on the lamen)
  4. “The hours in which I may be called are those in which the Moon holds silver sway.”

If the spirit passes those above four questions of authentication, make one final question to confirm the nature of the spirit and receive their oath:

Do you swear by the blood and righteousness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you are truly the spirit as you say you are and that you come to help me as I have called you?

Note that “the spirit” here may be replaced with the specific name of the spirit we expect, e.g. “…that you are truly Gabriel as you say you are”.

If the spirit swears affirmatively, then all the above answers to the questions of authentication should be written down in your book.  Once this is complete, continue on to the Communion with the Spirit.

It is possible that the spirit may give a different answer to #3 (the question about the seal of the spirit) than what is used on the lamen.  If so, then make a note of what that seal is, but immediately proceed to another question, “Do you also respond to the seal shown here?” while holding up or pointing towards the lamen.  If the spirit responds affirmatively, then they pass that question, and you may proceed onto question #4.

It is also possible, as Fr. AC says in GTSC, that the spirit may give lengthy, winding, symbolic, metaphorical, or poetic answers.  So long as they say, show, or reveal something that is in agreement with what you expect to be reasonable, they should be considered acceptable; you may not receive verbal responses!

We’ll discuss in a later post what to do if the spirit turns out to not be the one called upon by failing the expected answers to the questions of authentication, or fails to swear to the magician their honest presence and assistance.  Regardless, suffice it here to say that, should the spirit present not be the one desired or fail to swear to the magician, skip ahead to the Dismissal of the Spirit, but if time and energy permits, instead of continuing to Closing the Ritual, resume the process of conjuration of the spirit once more, starting with the Conjuration of the Spirit; otherwise, proceed to the Closing of the Ritual after the Dismissal of the Spirit.

Communion with the Spirit
At this point, the spirit you’ve conjured is present and the field is open to communing and communicating with them.  Chat with them, learn from them, ask for their help, consecrate talismans, receive initiation or empowerment, and whatever else you wish to do with them at this point.  We’ll go over what you can do here in a later post, but all things done with the spirit should be related or pertinent to the spirit in some way, with nothing unnecessary discussed or engaged in.  If desired, the wand may be put down now at this point where convenient inside the circle.

If operating with a scryer, the scryer should communicate to the magician and assistants whatever it is the spirit says, shows, or does while present.  Only the magician should be asking questions or otherwise directing the spirit; the magician is the one in charge of the ritual, and nothing is to be done unless they consent to it.  If anyone else, including the scryer, has a suggestion or recommendation, they should first respectfully ask the magician whether it may or should be done, and, should they consent to it, the magician will facilitate it with the spirit, with the scryer giving the response.

Notes should be taken throughout this process in your book, including of the spirit’s replies, any visions, any confirmations or denials, and the like.  This should be the job of an assistant, if any are present; otherwise, you as the magician should do this.

If possible, keep incense burning throughout this process, adding more incense as necessary.  Subsequent recitations of the prayer of the Consecration of the Incense may be performed if desired, but it is not necessary to do so.  This should be the job of an assistant, if any are present, but not the scryer, whose attention should be given to the crystal; otherwise, the magician should do this.

Technically, this may go on for as long as desired or needed, but we’ll take the Arbatel’s instruction from aphorism III.21 here: do not detain them past the end of the (planetary) hour in which you’ve conjured them unless they agree to stay or are otherwise sworn or bound to you.  If using self-igniting incense, so long as the incense isn’t particularly short-lived, this may be used as a sort of “clock” by which you may measure the length of the conjuration; once the self-igniting incense burns out, bring the ritual to an end.

Dismissal of the Spirit
Once you’ve finished communing with the spirit, take up the wand again in the right hand, point the wand at the scrying medium, and recite the following:

O great and mighty spirit Gabriel, inasmuch as you came in peace and in the name of the ever-blessed and righteous Trinity, so too in this name you may depart, and return to me when I call you in His name to whom every knee bows down.  Farewell, o Gabriel!  May peace be between us, through our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The spirit should depart the scrying medium, and their presence should no longer perceptibly be felt.  It is normal for some residual resonance or energy to linger, but the spirit should no longer be actively present in the scrying medium or the ritual area anymore at this point.  We will discuss what to do if they choose to not leave in a later post, but for now, we’ll assume that they leave.

Closing the Ritual
Take up the wand with the right hand, proceed to orientation point of the circle, and place the point of the wand on the outermost edge of the circle being used for the conjuration.  Any assistants or scryers should proceed to the innermost part of the circle out of your way.  Trace the circle counterclockwise starting from the orientation point.

Place the wand on the altar as it was at the beginning of the ritual.  Remove the lamen and the ring, then place them back on the altar as they were at the beginning of the ritual.

Proceed directly in front of the altar and kneel before it as you did at the beginning of the ritual; the scryer and assistants, if any are present, should likewise resume their original place and kneel as at the beginning of the ritual.

Lift your arms up in the orans gesture, and recite the following:

To God, the Father, the eternal Spirit, the fountain of Light; the Son; and the Holy Ghost be all honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

The ritual is officially complete.  All may arise from kneeling at this point, or continue in further prayer and meditation if desired.

Post-Ritual Breakdown
The two consecrated candles on the altar may be left to burn out completely or they may be snuffed out with a candle-snuffer; any other candles burnt to augment the conjuration should be left to burn out completely, as should the incense.

Perform any final cleanup, notetaking, and other finishing tasks as necessary, including disassembling the altar of conjuration if desired, then leave the temple space when all else has been finished.

If you operated alone during the ritual, spend some time in intellectual contemplation and review of the communion and conversation with the spirit in silence, including reviewing any notes that were written down earlier.  If you operated with other people, such as a scryer or assistants, engage in conversation with them about the ritual in a similar way.  Other notes may be taken at this time as well, as desired.  It is good to do this while getting a bite to eat and something to drink to help the body relax and ground down at this time.


Whew. We finally did it, guys; we’ve finally discussed, at length, all the particulars of the actual DSIC ritual itself! But, even if we’ve gotten this far, we still have so much more to talk about.  As mentioned at various places above, there are several other topics to discuss, and we’ll start to tackle those next.

When God Says No: On God and the Angels

Yes, another post from Curious Cat.  It’s honestly a great way for people to reach out to me, and it gives me a ready store of ideas for posts to write about.  (I’ve been asking for comments on my website, Facebook, and Twitter for ages for when people would like to ask questions, but people either just don’t do that or don’t generally trigger a post-writing reaction.)  Plus, according to Human Design (which my blessed sister studies and practices), I’m a so-called “manifesting generator” type, who responds well to being asked questions in order to produce and effect wonderful things.  But unlike other posts about things that come from questions on Curious Cat, this post is gonna be a little different; we’re going to discuss a common thread that ties together several different questions that were asked, all largely pertaining to angels, their role in the cosmos, how we interact with them, how we’re permitted to interact with them, and what their relationship is to God.  To give a brief summary of the questions asked and my replies to them:

  • Where do angels come from, and what are they?  God made them to carry out his will in infinitesimal slices of divine presence, made discrete and distinct to govern over specific things, entities, events, or phenomena of the cosmos.  Angels have no free will; by definition, their will is the will of God and vice versa, so that they act strictly and solely in accordance with, for, by, and to God.
  • If angels have no free will, then when we invoke or conjure an angel and commission it with a request, it can only fulfill this request if God wills it? Yes!  All the conjurations we do in the Western Hermetic and Solomonic tradition of higher entities, if we’re not taking the rather old-school approach of assuming divine power ourselves and browbeating the cosmos into complying with our (temporarily-assumed) divine will, is to supplicate God through prayer to reveal that he send his angels to us in his name for his honor and glory.  Thus, when we call on an angel, we’re essentially asking God to graciously give his permission for the angel to be sent to us, because God’s will and God’s will alone is what allows all things to happen; how much more this is the case, then, for entities whose sole purpose is to perfectly and only fulfill the will of God!
  • What sort of behavior do angels hate?  It depends on what they’re the angel of, but in general, angels don’t really “hate” because they don’t really do emotion, since they’re the embodiments of and agents for the will of God.  In that sense, angels “hate” anything that goes contrary to the will, design, aims, and goals of God—and, by extension, all that we do that goes against our True Will, which is nothing more or less than the will of God that is right and proper for us to will and accomplish in our lifetimes.
  • How can we discover our True Will if we’re unaware of it?  This is nothing short of the first half of the Great Work; the second half is fulfilling it.  And there is nothing harder or higher than to know and do what it is what we truly Will.  This is exactly the same thing as knowing the purpose God has established for us in life.
  • Why do angels hate emotion, then? Angels don’t hate emotion; they just don’t have it, or at least in any meaningful way that we might recognize as emotion.  We might perceive or interpret them to be acting emotionally, but that’s only because we ourselves are human and thus emotive creatures, while angels are utterly devoid of humanity and completely above and beyond our level, at least or especially where emotions are concerned.  Angels don’t have free will; they don’t even roll or blink their (innumerable) eyes without God willing it.
  • If an angel is being difficult, how do we complain to its manager?  If an angel is being difficult, it’s not because the angel is acting wily or being a punk for the sake of being a punk.  If an angel declines to do something, it’s because God declines to permit that thing from occurring; it’s not that the angels decide against it, but God decides against it.  That’s why, when we pray in conjuration for an angel to appear, we pray that God grant that it should happen (see above).  If something doesn’t happen, then there’s a reason for it; we either must work towards it so that we’re ready and proper for it in the eyes of God, or we must pray for the right thing to occur, whether it involves the conjuration and commissioning of an angel to do something or whether we should do something else entirely that would be better for us to do.
  • If God is unwilling to help us, would intervention from other deities from other traditions or pantheons help instead? Maybe, but if God’s decided against it, then there’s probably a good reason for that. It could be that you should look elsewhere for help, such as from another god or using another set of spirits or practices entirely to get the same thing done rather than by directly appealing to the Highest, but it could also be that you’re asking for the wrong thing entirely or that it’s not meant for you, whether now or at all. That’s where divination is crucial for magicians: it helps us plan out what we can do, but more than that, whether we should do something. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, and if you shouldn’t, you should learn the reasons why. In other words, don’t go shopping around for a second opinion when you already got The One Opinion To Rule Them All. Keep to the principle of “move, or move me”.
  • But when it comes to other gods, don’t they also share power over our reality as well?  Absolutely!  But for all their greatness and grandness and power, they’re not as great or grand or powerful as the cosmocrator God behind them all. And that’s okay, because they don’t need to be, and it’s often better to work with them directly if you’re in such a tradition than to work with the behind-the-scenes all-ruling One, because they’re more accessible. But there are limits in place that even they can’t argue with, because they’re not in charge of literally everything like God is.

All this ended up with me saying this from that last question in the series, which I want to specifically quote with a special emphasis on one particular line:

God (and I use that term in a very general, very high-and-behind-the-scenes way as in Hermetic theology/philosophy), more often than not, doesn’t really established hard and fixed prohibitions so long as something fits (or is, at least, tolerated and permissible) within the grander scheme of things.  Even the biggest events and problems in our lives are less than specks of dust compared to the grandness of all creation, and accordingly, there’s not too much that really conflicts with the overall overarching design of God; there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But when God says “no” through the creation of the cosmos, there’s no angel, demon, ghost, or god that will say “yes”. If God says “no”, then you should find out why that might be the case and act accordingly, because more often than not, it’s with your own best interests in mind. Again, this is where divination is important, because it will tell you what’s going on, whether you can do something, and whether you should do something.

Now, there’s a lot to unpack in all of this, because I didn’t necessarily summarize everything, and Curious Cat, for all its usefulness, isn’t great for truly nuanced discussions, what with its 3000 character limit on replies, and it’s easy to get some parts of the above misunderstood.  Plus, there are things that I’m hinting at in some of my replies that really need to be said explicitly, but just couldn’t fit reasonably in the above replies within the constraints of Curious Cat.  First, let me preface this by saying that I’m coming from a position that’s largely Hermetic and Neoplatonic and fundamentally emanationist-monist within a polytheistic framework, and I recognize that not all systems of theology, cosmology, or philosophy operate on these principles—but there are still quite a number that do.  Since I’m the one being asked these questions for my opinions, and since this is my own blog, these are my thoughts on all of this.

At the core of it all, the theme of all these questions is what role God has to play in our Work, whether or not we’re monotheistic or monist, and how we relate to God in that sense.

First, what exactly is this God we’re talking about?  Coming from a Hermetic standpoint, God is the ultimate underlying authority and entity that created and creates the whole cosmos.  Without getting into the nitty-gritty of Hermetic philosophy (I did a good-enough job of that in my 49 Days of Definitions blog series from 2013 regarding the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”), God is both the end result of spiritual development and the ultimate source of all things that exist, don’t exist, might exist, etc.  Everything else that exists does so within God as part of God.  It may be said that God is fullness itself; instead of merely saying that all things exist within God, it can also be said that all things are God, and since God is all things, God is All.  However, since God is still one divinely simple entity, God is also One, and thus All is One.  God is the Platonic Good, the summum bonum of the philosophers, the object of highest knowledge and importance that is the forerunner and producer of all other objects.  God is also the Monad, the One, that which is alone in itself, made by itself endlessly (i.e. unmade), making all things, coming first; it is the one Source of all things, creating all things within itself yet never being made from anything besides itself, never taking away from itself into less nor multiplying itself into more.  God, further, encompasses all things; not only is God fully immanent in all of creation, but God also transcends all of creation, too.  Everything is permeated with divine essence, but everything is also intrinsically connected to each other and to God by it as well.

Where does that put us, as human beings?  All beings, human and otherwise that are not God are finite; they are not infinite, unending, immovable, or the like, since these are qualities that belong only to God.  Something that is finite has an end; it is defined, or set in by boundaries.  The maximum extent of these boundaries can be called something’s capacity, and nothing that is finite can exceed its own capacity.  Thus, everything that exists that is not God has a certain way of existing up to a certain point, whether it be in quantity or quality or good or evil; these things cannot act outside or beyond that point, because then it would exceed its own capacity.  A being’s capacity is, essentially, its destiny; a being does what its nature is designed to do, which is to fulfill its own capacity, but which it cannot exceed, because that would be going past what its destiny necessitates.  This is essentially our power: to fulfill our capacity, to fulfill our fate, and we have the choice of doing good or evil in a Hermetic sense, to fulfill our fate or to not fulfill it.  And that’s huge!  But, despite all this power we’re entitled to have, we’re not omnipotent; for example, our nature as humans is to die; we are mortal, after all, and the nature of things with material bodies is to die eventually.

What about other entities that aren’t human beings, such as angels or gods that are distinct from capital-G God?  They’re entities in their own rights, to be sure, and have their own capacities, natures, and roles to play.  But they’re still finite, no matter how much power they have.  Whatever something is according to its nature, that is going to be how it will be for that being.  These entities still have power, but they still exist as finite entities within creation; thus, they are still not God.  Rather, it’s God who establishes their natures and capacities, and it’s the role of those entities to fulfill them however they so choose.  Being higher than us and made of more subtle stuff and without the distractions and darkness of incarnate bodies, they also see more and know more than we do, and are necessarily closer to God than we are down here.  All the same, however, they cannot exceed their own capacities, either.

Now, I know that this might seem a little…appropriative, as if I’m trying to fit every possible tradition or religion into a single monist framework.  In a sense, yeah, because that’s what Hermeticism is, and it’s fundamentally one of the ways that Neoplatonic philosophy regards the hierarchy and workings of the cosmos.  To be sure, there isn’t just one Neoplatonism, and I’ll admit that my own philosophical background is amateurish, but it’s a thing I’ve seen and considered time and again and, simply, the framework works.  While I believe in God, I also believe in a plurality of many other gods; they’re all real, and often with varying powers, domains, personalities, temperaments, preferences, and the like.  And yet, they exist as part of creation just like I do, which is why approaching them works.  Yet, as a Hermeticist, I also recognize the existence (such as it is) of a God of gods, a God behind all creation, both within and without.  This is effectively the same God as that of Abraham or Muḥammad as well as of Hermēs Trismegistus, as well as Olodumare of the Yòrubá and Lukumí, as well as the God of the gnostics and the Good of the philosophers.  One can still be a monist without being a monotheist or monolatrist.  Even if you disagree with that approach to divinity and divinities (and I know of at least several who would with very good reasons!), accept the premise of it for the purposes of this post.

When it comes to angels, the word itself literally means “messenger” in Greek (ἄγγελος ángelos), and the notion of it in Abrahamic religions comes from the Hebrew מלאך mal’ākh meaning, again, “messenger”.  More than just being a bearer of the messages of God, however, angels are more like ambassadors, emissaries, or functionaries of God: they accomplish the will of God in every possible way, fulfilling it by governing, ruling, directing, and instructing different parts of the cosmos, essentially acting as the limbs of God and extensions of the will of God.  If we want to take the “messenger” idea a bit further in a way that comports with both Hermeticism and Christianity, consider the role of the Word; after all, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word is God”.  The “Word” of Christianity does refer to Jesus Christ, sure, but it’s also the Logos of the Hermeticists, the rational and intelligible principle that allows God (as the Nous, or Mind) to allow the cosmos to function.  In that sense, angels are messengers of the Word of God; where they bear the Word, they fulfill the will of God.

The thing about angels is that they are still only messengers; they speak the Word of God, but that is all they can speak, for that is their capacity and nature.  Angels, as extensions of the will of God, have no free will of their own; their whole purpose is to effect the will of God in the creation God made.  Whatever an angel “wants” to do is identical with what God wills; their will is inherently God’s will.  That’s why, among many other things, we can’t command an angel to do anything, because that’s equivalent to commanding God to do something, which is so far outside our finite and human capacity and capabilities that it’s laughable.  Angels cannot and do not do anything that God does not command them to do, but “command”, though a familiar concept to us coming from a Jewish, Christian, or Islamic background, isn’t really what’s happening between God and the angels; rather, God speaks his Word, and the angels bear that Word to wherever they’re going to accomplish whatever that Word is.  Angels are almost machine-like in that sense; they exist for the sole purpose of “serving God” by fulfilling the will of God.

In terms more suited to Renaissance Hermeticism, angels are “intelligences”, spiritual entities under the rule of God that guide and direct the manifestation of the forces of the cosmos.  Every force, entity, place, planet, and thing in the cosmos has its own presiding or governing angel, which can be worked with through devotional, magical, or some other kind of spiritual means.  Thus, consider Tzaphqiel, the angel of Saturn; this angel is the “governor” of that planet, and serves to establish the power, roles, functions, motions, and works of Saturn in all things in the cosmos.  Tzaphqiel, as an angel, bears the Word of God in a way that focuses on the Logos as it pertains to Saturn.  If we want to bring more Saturn power into our lives or throttle it back from our lives, we can work with Tzaphqiel to do just that.  But what if Tzaphqiel says “no”?

This is basically what a lot of these questions on Curious Cat are getting at.  Let’s step aside for a bit and consider something else for the moment: where does the nature of angels in relation to God leave us in angelic magic, whether through prayers or conjurations?  It cannot be denied that working with angels is often incredibly effective for any number of ends, and is a staple of European folk religion and folk magic as well as Hermetic, Solomonic, and other kinds of magic generally in both the West and the East.  Obviously, we don’t worship angels—that’d be idolatry, and an insult to both the angel and God—but we do venerate them and honor them, especially when thanking them or calling upon them.  But the thing is that, when we call upon them, there’s something that’s really common in much of Western magical literature that we need to carefully consider: we don’t command the angels to appear, but we ask for them to appear.  Moreover, we don’t ask the angel to appear, but we ask God that the angel appear for us.  And there are very good reasons for that.

Consider the specific conjuration prayer from Johann Trithemius’ Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals.  For clarity, let me use my own slightly reworded version, and note the specific phrasing of the prayer in the emphasized sections:

In the name of the blessed Tetragrammaton, I call upon you, you strong and mighty angel Michael, if it be the divine will of the most holy God that you take the shape that best shows your celestial nature, and appear to me visibly here in this crystal, and answer my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine mercy by requesting unlawful knowledge, and that you graciously show me what things are most profitable for me to know and do, to the glory and honor of his divine majesty, who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

Lord, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Make clean my heart within me, and take not your holy spirit from me.

O Lord, by your name I have called Michael; suffer him to administer unto me, and that all things may work together for your honor and glory, and that to you be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

O Lord, I thank you for the hearing of my prayer, and I thank you for having permitted your spirit to appear unto me.  Amen.

For another example, consider the orison from book II, chapter 12 of the Book of Abramelin:

O Lord God of Mercy … Sanctify me also with the oil of thy sanctification, wherewith thou hast sanctified all thy prophets; and purify in me therewith all that appertains unto me, so that I may become worthy of the conversation of thy holy angels and of thy divine wisdom, and grant unto me the power which thou hast given unto thy prophets over all the evil spirits. Amen, amen.

Another example, the prayer from septenary II, aphorism 14 from the Arbatel of Magic:

O Lord of heaven and earth, Creator and Maker of all things visible and invisible; I, though unworthy, by thy assistance call upon thee, through thy only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord, that thou wilt give unto me thy holy Spirit, to direct me in thy truth unto all good. Amen.

Because I earnestly desire perfectly to know the Arts of this life and such things as are necessary for us, which are so overwhelmed in darkness, and polluted with infinite humane opinions, that I of my own power can attain to no knowledge in them, unless thou teach it me. Grant me, therefore, one of thy spirits, who may teach me those things which thou would have me to know and learn, to thy praise and glory, and the profit of our neighbor…

Then again, the invocation to call forth angels from the Ars Almadel (language cleaned up to be made more readable for modern readers):

O you great, mighty, and blessed angel of God, NN. … I, the servant of the same your God entreat and humbly beseech you to come and show unto me all the things that I desire of you, so far as in office you can or are capable to perform if God permit to the same.  O you servant of Mercy, NN., I entreat you and humbly beseech you … to inform and rightly instruct me in my ignorant and depraved intellect, judgment, and understanding, and to assist me both in both this and in all other truths that the almighty Adonai, the King of Kings and the Giver of all good gifts, shall in his bountiful and fatherly Mercy be graciously pleased to bestow upon me.  Thus, o you blessed angel NN., be friendly unto me and work for me, so far as God has given you power in office to perform, whereunto I move you in power and presence to appear that I may sing with his holy angels: o mappa la man, hallelujah!  Amen.

I think the message I’m getting across is clear here.  Granted, not all grimoires in the Solomonic or Hermetic tradition use this kind of phrasing, especially when we’re dealing in a more goetic fashion where instead of pleading for God to grant his permission of such-and-such a phenomenon happening, we simply assume that God has given us his authority to make things happen, thus all the perilous threats that Solomonic magicians are known to use.  But how do we actually know or make sure we have that authority, or how do we know whether God will grant us permission?  Consider the very first line of the Key of Solomon (book I, chapter 1): “Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel, hath said that the beginning of our Key is to fear God, to adore him, to honor him with contrition of heart, to invoke him in all matters which we wish to undertake, and to operate with very great devotion, for thus God will lead us in the right way.”

Heck, I think the Key of Solomon is an excellent text to discuss here.  Julio Cesar Ody (of famous occult-lampooning fame), if I recall correctly (and I hope he corrects me if I’m wrong!) has remarked before that people treat the Key of Solomon as something to pilfer and take extracts from, rather than treating it like a full initiatory system of magic unto itself.  And when you look at it…yeah.  It really is far more than just a collection of works and talismans to be made with good prayers to be used for consecrating three dozen and more tools and pentacles.  Consider that the recitation of psalms is a huge part of they Key of Solomon; why would that be the case?  Because the Psalms are fundamentally songs that are used to praise God for his power and  beneficence, creation of the world, and miracles and favors done for mankind generally and for the sake of Israel specifically.  They can take the form of laments, thanksgiving, praisegiving, celebration, or pleas for help, and their study and recitation is common in Judaism and Christianity for imparting wisdom and cultivating grace and an elevated spirituality in accordance with the will and command of God.  Yes, the specific psalms used in the rituals of the Key of Solomon do bear relation to the things being consecrated at times, but it’s a constant practice of keeping ourselves spiritually in line with the will of God, which, when used with the actual prayers of the rituals themselves, produce an all-around feat of holy work.  Consider the first prayer from book I, chapter 5:

O Lord God, holy Father, Almighty and Merciful One who has created all things, who know all things and can do all things, from whom nothing is hidden, to whom nothing is impossible!  You who know that we do not perform these ceremonies to tempt your power, but that we may penetrate into the knowledge of hidden things.  We pray to you, by your sacred Mercy, to cause and to permit that we may arrive at this understanding of secret things of whatever nature they may be by your aid, o most holy ADONAI, whose Kingdom and Power shall have no end unto the Ages of the Ages. Amen.

Fundamentally, working divine magic is just prayer, just supplications to the Divine—to God—that certain things happen, not for the simple reason that we want it to happen, but that it be capital-G Good and ordained by God that it should happen.  That’s really all there is to it.  You might want to use so many words as all the excerpts above show, perhaps to inflame yourself with prayer to reach a more powerful or ecstatic state of working, or you might use less, if you can manage to get as much intent and focus out from fewer words.  Either way, this sort of magic is just prayer.

In this light, what happens when we pray for something and it doesn’t happen?  There could be several explanations:

  • What we’re praying for isn’t permissible within the design of God. It could be that what you’re asking for just isn’t possible, realistic, or appropriate for the world that God has established.  God could look at you and say “you’re being unreasonable here, focus on what’s realistic”.  I could pray to grow wings so that I can fly around the skies, but it’s not going to happen according to the laws of human physiology and basic physics in this world, which were designed according to the will and plan of God.  It could happen on other planes where one’s form isn’t so rigidly fixed, but it’s not going to happen here.  Likewise, if you pray for the consecration of a particular talisman for a particular end and it doesn’t end up consecrated, it’s because God sees that what you’re asking for isn’t permissible within the overall scheme of things that God has set up for us, perhaps due to the nature of what you’re asking (e.g. a talisman to shoot fireballs out of our hands) or due to the ramifications it might have (e.g. it could set off a chain reaction that would end up butting up harshly against things God already has in store for the cosmos).
  • What we’re praying for isn’t for us to receive. It could be that what you’re asking for is good, noble, and proper, but you’re not the right person to request it or have it.  God could look at you and say “this is a good idea, but it’s not for you to work on, so ask for  something else”.  Not everyone is going to be good at everything; I’m no fighter or doctor, so while I might pray for skill in battle or for success in a lucrative medical career, these things aren’t in my life path.  Trying to force them, so long as it doesn’t go against the will of God for me, could get some success, but it could also just as easily happen that trying to go down those paths would end up with me being stymied, frustrated, and blocked at every turn.  These are signs from the cosmos itself that I’m not on the right path and that I’m barking up the wrong tree.  Instead, I should learn what my path truly entails and focus on that; it might not be easy (it rarely is!), but it will be successful in a way that would go far beyond things that I’m not meant to do.  Thus, if you’re praying for something to happen and it doesn’t happen, it’s could be because that thing isn’t for you to have in your life because it won’t help you and could easily harm you.
  • What we’re praying for is something that we can receive eventually but which we’re not ready to receive now. It could be that what you’re asking for is good, noble, and proper, and it’s proper for you to have those things, but you’re not ready to have it yet.  God could look at you and say “you’ve got the potential, but you aren’t at the right state of development for it right now, so keep working at it”.  In other words, you’re on the right track, but it’s above your station; one day, if you keep on the right track, you’ll get there.  Consider the notion of knowledge and conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel; coming in contact with this divine spirit often involves an ordeal because it’s a direct link to God, and quite simply, not everyone is ready for it.  They all have their own guardian angels, to be sure, but they might not be able to truly comprehend the power and, thus, the accompanying responsibility of the conscious company of that spirit yet.  They need to refine themselves through cultivating virtue and abandoning vice until they reach a certain stage of spiritual development.  Receiving those things we pray for earlier than when it’s appropriate for us could very easily cause us and those around us harm at worst or just distractions and delays at best.

How do we know whether a prayer of ours will be granted?  This is where divination comes into play.  Divination is important for magicians of all kinds, not just because it’s a useful and profitable skill to bring in clients and to spy on people, but because it shows us the way for our own Work.  By divination, we can figure out what’s going on and what the appropriate ways are to handle it; as part of that, we can see not just whether we can do a particular ritual for a particular end, but whether we should do it (or, in the words of the good and most reverend Bishop Lainie Petersen, whether it’s wise for us to do it).  If a reading indicates that we can do something but that we should not do it, then it’s within our power to do the thing but it’s not the best use of our power to do it.  If a reading indicates that we can not do something but that we should do it, then it’s not within our power yet to do the thing and that we need to focus on cultivating that power however necessary in order to do it.  And, if a reading indicates that we can not do something and that we also should not do it, then it’s neither in our power nor our best interests to do the thing.  The answer to can-or-can’t ultimately lies with us, but the answer to should-or-shouldn’t lies with God.

We’ll pick up on this tomorrow when we get more into the notion of what “should” really means here, because this is touching on what role the will of God plays for us in our lives.

On Banishing, and an Angelic Banishing Ritual

I have to say, Curious Cat is a blast, you guys.  While I’ve been on Twitter since I graduated college in 2010, and though it’s always fun (and sometimes hilariously aggravating) to interact with people on there, there’s not a lot of room for anonymity, and you can’t always send people direct messages if you don’t follow them or if someone’s turned DMs off.  Enter Curious Cat, a platform that syncs up with Twitter and Facebook to let you ask people questions, even (and especially) anonymously.  Since I started using it, I’ve been fielding a lot more questions, ranging from the utterly surreal to bawdily sexual and everything in-between.  Given my focus on magic and the occult, a lot of people ask me questions pertaining to, well, magic and the occult, and it’s been great!  Sometimes I can’t answer due to things that just can’t or shouldn’t be discussed publicly, and other times I can’t answer because I simply don’t know enough about a given topic to give an answer, but at least I can say as much.  Sometimes, though, I might have too much of an answer, and there’s a 3000 character limit for my replies.

One of the recent common things I’ve been asked is on the topic of banishing.  Banishing as a ritual unto itself is a mainstay of many forms of Western magic, especially due to the influence of the Golden Dawn and its Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, and its Thelemic variant the Star Ruby.  Quoth Chic and Tabitha Cicero in their Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition:

This simple yet powerful cleansing ritual can be used as a protection against the impure magnetism of others.  It is also a way to rid oneself of obsessing or disturbing thoughts … we feel that the Neophyte needs to concentrate solely on the banishing form, since s/he has a tendency to light up on the astral and unknowingly attract all manner of Elementals at this early stage of the Work. It is far more important for the Neophyte to know how to banish rather than to invoke. Anyone can attract an Elemental or an energy. Getting rid of the same can be more difficult.

And that’s really what banishing’s about, isn’t it?  It’s a kind of ritual-centric cleansing that gets rid of bad spiritual stuff.  Consider the etymology of the word “banish”:

banish (v.)
late 14c., banischen, “to condemn (someone) by proclamation or edict to leave the country, to outlaw by political or judicial authority,” from banniss-, extended stem of Old French banir “announce, proclaim; levy; forbid; banish, proclaim an outlaw” (12c., Modern French bannir), from a Germanic source (perhaps Frankish *bannjan “to order or prohibit under penalty”), from Proto-Germanic *bannan (see ban (v.)). The French word might be by way of Medieval Latin bannire, also from Germanic (compare bandit). The general sense of “send or drive away, expel” is from c. 1400. Related: Banished; banishing.

To banish is, literally, to put out of a community or country by ban or civil interdict, and indicates a complete removal out of sight, perhaps to a distance. To exile is simply to cause to leave one’s place or country, and is often used reflexively: it emphasizes the idea of leaving home, while banish emphasizes rather that of being forced by some authority to leave it …. [Century Dictionary]

When we banish, we purge a person (e.g. ourselves), an object (e.g. a magical tool or supply), or a space (e.g. a temple or a bedroom) from all malevolent, harmful, or otherwise unwanted spiritual influences, whether they’re entities in their own right (e.g. obsessive spirits or spiritual leeches), spiritual energies that aren’t necessarily conscious on their own (e.g. pollution or miasma), or maleficia that’s been cast upon you (e.g. curses or hexes).  Thus, a banishing ritual is a type of spiritual cleansing or purification that gets rid of all this, or at least helps loosen it to make getting rid of it easier.

The thing about banishing rituals is just that: they’re a ritual, and more often than not, they’re explicitly and only rituals.  They use ritual gestures and words to induce this effect, often without the use of physical cleansing supplies such as holy water, incense, or the like.  Yes, many banishing rituals can incorporate these things, but it might be more helpful to think of banishing rituals as a subset of cleansing practices more generally.  Cleansing can take many forms: ablution with lustral water (e.g. khernimma), taking a spiritual bath (e.g. my Penitential Psalms Bath, bathing in a sacred spring or river, or any other number of spiritual bath mixes like the white bath or another kind of herb bath), “cleaning off” with holy water or Florida Water or eggshell chalk or some other physical substance known to have spiritually purifying properties, suffumigating with incense (or smudging, if you do that sort of thing respectfully), and the like.  Sometimes these processes have ritual involved with prayers or specific motions, and sometimes not, where you just wipe yourself down and call it a day.  In the end, though, all these practices serve fundamentally the same purpose: to get rid of bad spiritual stuff.

What we commonly see in the Western ceremonial magic scene is less of a reliance on physical aids to purification and more of a reliance on ritual approaches to the same that often don’t use physical aids, where we use ritual and ritual alone to cleanse ourselves.  This is especially notable for those who are influenced by the Golden Dawn in one form or another, where the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP, or as my godfather fondly calls it, Le Burp) has spawned any number of variations for any number of pantheons and practices.  However, that doesn’t mean that the LBRP is the only such possible banishing trick we have; there are simpler ones out there, such as Fr. Osiris’ AL-KT Banishing that I’ve incorporated into some of my own works.  Still, the idea is the same: rather than abluting, suffumigating, or other physical approaches to spiritual purification, there are also ritual approaches that don’t use physical means to achieve the same thing.

I agree fully and readily that banishing rituals are useful, because I think spiritual purification is important and necessary for our work as mages and spiritually-inclined people.  When we’re spiritually filthy, it’s harder to think clearly, harder to work well, and harder to keep ourselves hale and whole, while it also makes it easier for us to get distracted, get caught up by life’s problems, and get things messed up easily.  Though spiritual purification, we remove obstacles in our paths or make it easier for us to remove them, but that’s far from being the only benefit!  Purification also prepares us spiritually to become something better and different than we already are, because in purifying ourselves, we not only remove negative spiritual influences that have an external source, but also negative spiritual influences that come from ourselves internally.  In dealing with those, we make ourselves fit and meet to work better and more effectively, sure, but we also prepare ourselves to better accept the powers and blessings of the entities we’re working with.  Purification can be thought of as an aspect of the albedo part of alchemy, where we reduce ourselves to our core essence through removal of all impurities so that we can begin the process of integration from a fresh, clean start.  In this, purification—and thus banishing—are crucial for our work as mages.

But here’s the thing: I don’t like a ritual-focused approach to purification.  Banishing absolutely has its place, but I also claim that physical methods to purity has its place, too.  After all, for all the spiritual stuff we do as magicians and priests and diviners, we’re also incarnate human beings with physical bodies and physical problems.  If we start with the body and work spiritually, we fix the problems we have in the here and now and also loosen and dissolve the problems we have upstream, so to speak.  Not only that, but I find that there are some things that a banishing ritual doesn’t work well to resolve, but which cleansing works done physically do.  And, of course, the reverse applies, too: there are some things that cleansing works done physically don’t resolve, but which banishing rituals do.  Both are needed.  And, moreover, you can do both at the same time, working physical elements into a banishing ritual or ritualizing a cleansing done physically.  You don’t have to do one then the other separately, unless that’s what you want to do.

Personally?  I cleanse (meaning I use physical means to spiritually purify myself, as opposed to “clean”, which is just physical cleaning without a spiritual component) far more often than I banish.  There are times when I will do a proper banishing, sure, but it’s less and less common than a simple dusting with cascarilla or washing myself with holy water, which I do pretty much daily.  Let’s face it: I’m out in the world, dealing with people and their demons, wandering hither and fro through any number of clouds of miasma, and pick up more stuff when I’m out physically in the world than I do in my temple, where, through the protections I have and the safeguards I take, there’s far less that I pick up except that which I try to let in.  I’m not saying I’m impervious to spiritual stuff I attract through the aether, far from it, but I am saying that there’s a lot more that I pick up from just being out in the physical world.  For that reason, I find myself physically cleansing myself far more often than I ritually cleanse myself.  If I were less guarded and less protections up, I’d be banishing more than I am.  But, again, that isn’t to say that I don’t banish.  After all, there’s that whole “purification to readily accept better blessings and good influences” bit I mentioned above, which is one of the reasons why the LBRP is such a mainstay of Golden Dawn practices: it not only keeps you pure, but it prepares you in some pretty profound ways that are utterly necessary for progression within their system of magic.  Those who don’t work Golden Dawn magic or who aren’t in the Golden Dawn system don’t benefit from that, but they can still use it all the same for their own purification needs.

I’m not a Golden Dawn magician, and I’ve never really cared for the LBRP.  While I could use it and get what I needed out of it, it’s not really a thing that I need to do.  Instead, what I use, when I do need a ritual purification that doesn’t rely on physical methods, is something I learned from Fr. Rufus Opus.  Back in the day when he was still teaching his Red Work series of courses (which he’s long since stopped, partially because of his joining the A∴A∴ and partially because he condensed the Green Work section into his book, Seven Spheres), in the very first lesson of the first part of the courses, he introduces a banishing ritual that’s basically a heavily pared-down and modified Trithemian conjuration ritual.  Yes, Johann Trithemius’ Drawing Spirits Into Crystals, that one!  The format is basically the same with many of the same prayers, and calls on the seven planetary angels and the four elemental princes of the world to purify yourself.

I also want to make a note about just that last bit, too.  Fr. RO introduced this ritual as a way to help the beginner purify their sphere, sure, which is great, but he’s using fundamentally the same ritual to banish as we do to conjure the spirits themselves.  More than that, we’re half-conjuring the spirits that are later called upon in the Red Work series of courses to purify the sphere of the magician.  By the use of this ritual, Fr. RO is doing the same thing for his Red Work students as the Golden Dawn did for their initiates with the LBRP: we’re getting used to the fundamental ritual tech that we’ll eventually be expanding upon, and we’re getting slowly acquainted and in tune with the very same angels and spirits that we’ll be working with heavily once we get to that point.  This banishing ritual cleanses the sphere of the magician, sure, but it also prepares the magician for when they start actually working.  Fr. RO never said all this in Black Work 1, nor did he need to; those who would never progress further would still get something useful, and those who would progress further would be slowly prepared for bigger and better results later on far beyond mere purification.

Now, I’m not going to replicate Fr. RO’s original ritual.  Instead, I’m going to share my variant, which I developed slowly over my studies in his Red Work courses years back, and which better matches my own ritual practices; plus, not that there’s anything wrong with this, but the original ritual uses some Christian imagery and language that I don’t much care for anymore, and which I’ve replaced with equivalent deist, Solomonic, or Hermetic language instead.  I’ve also added some visualizations that, though they appeared naturally for me (especially once my spiritual perception became refined and which made sense later on in the course), they can be helpful for those who want them; they’re not necessary, but they can still be useful, especially for beginners.  The only two extra things that might be desired for this ritual are holy water and a wand; both are good to have, but neither are strictly necessary.  The holy water can be used as a preliminary ablution, while the wand is good for tracing a circle and conjuring the presence of the angels generally, but the holy water can be omitted if desired and the wand can be replaced by using the index finger (or the index and middle finger together, if desired) of the dominant hand.  Incense of a purifying and uplifting nature, especially frankincense, may be burned, but it’s absolutely not required for this.  This ritual may be done at any time as necessary or desired, and though it can be done anywhere, it’s best done in a quiet and safe place.

  1. Take a moment to relax and breathe deeply a few times.
  2. Stand to face the East.
  3. If desired, cleanse yourself with some holy water.  You can wipe your forehead and hands, you can make the small three Signs of the Cross on the forehead and lips and heart with the thumb, or you can make one large Sign of the Cross with the thumb and index finger and middle finger on your head, heart, and both shoulders (left to right or right to left, depending on whether you want to go with a Catholic Christian approach, or an Orthodox Christian or qabbalistic approach).
  4. Recite:

    You have cleansed me with hyssop, o Lord; you have washed me whiter than snow.

    O God, author of all good things!  Strengthen me that I may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  Enlighten me, oh Lord, so that my spiritual eye may be opened to see and know the works of your hand.

  5. Holding a wand in your dominant hand, or otherwise using the index finger of the dominant hand, trace a circle on the ground around you clockwise starting in the East.  While doing so, recite:

    In the name of God, the Holy, the Almighty, the Light, I consecrate this piece of ground for my defense, so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here.  Amen.

  6. Conjure the seven planetary angels.  Recite:

    In the name of God, the Holy, the Almighty, the Light!  From the seven heavens above I conjure you, you strong and mighty angels of the seven planets.  Come forth, here to this place and now at this time: Tzaphqiel of Saturn, Tzadqiel of Jupiter, Kamael of Mars, Michael of the Sun, Haniel of Venus, Raphael of Mercury, and Gabriel of the Moon.  Come forth in answer to my call; be with me here, and fill this place with your presence!

    As you do so, visualize the presence of the angels appear around you or the symbols of their planets, starting from behind you to your right and appearing counter-clockwise, with Michael directly in front of you to the East.

  7. Conjure the four elemental angels.  Recite:

    In the name of God, the Holy, the Almighty, the Light!  From the four corners of the Earth I conjure you, you strong and mighty angels of the four elements.  Come forth, here to this place and now at this time: Michael of Fire, Uriel of Earth, Raphael of Air, and Gabriel of Water.  Come forth in answer to my call; be with me here, and fill this place with your presence!

    As you do so, visualize the presence of the angels appear around you or the symbols of their elements, starting in front of you and appearing clockwise, with Michael in the East in front of you, Uriel in the South to your right, Raphael in the West behind you, and Gabriel in the North to your left.  Visualize them a little closer to you and a little below the planetary angels, who stand behind them and a little above them.

  8. Recite:

    Tzaphqiel!  Tzadqiel!  Kamael!  Michael!  Haniel!  Raphael!  Gabriel!
    Michael!  Uriel!  Raphael!  Gabriel!

    Oh you blessed angels gathered, let no spirit nor ill intent nor any scourge of man bring harm to me.  Cleanse now the sphere of this magician; cleanse my body, my soul, my spirit, and my mind of all defilement, all impurity, and all filth.  Let no evil spirit nor pollution nor leech nor any unclean thing here remain.

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

    Amen.

  9. Let yourself become purified with the power and presence of the angels conjured around you.  Feel them washing you with their light and their power, permeating you and passing through you in all directions to remove from you all pollution, harm, and any and every baneful influence.  Stay in this state as long as desired.
  10. Release the spirits. Recite:

    O Lord, I thank you for the hearing of my prayer, and I thank you for having permitted your angels to appear unto me.

    O you angels of the seven planets and you angels of the four elements, I thank you for your presence.  You have come as I have called, and you have aided me as I have asked.  As you have come in peace, so now go in power.

    Amen.

  11. If desired, untrace the circle drawn on the ground with the same implement as before (wand or finger) in a counterclockwise direction, again starting in the East.  Whether or not the circle is untraced, when ready to leave, simply step out of the circle, preferably stepping forward towards the East.

With that specific arrangement of angels of the planets and elements around you, what you’re doing is essentially recreating the arrangement of angels on the Table of Practice used in the Rufus Opus-specific variant of the Trithemian conjuration ritual.  In this case, the angels present aren’t being used to set up a conjuration of the self or anything like that, but rather instead used as a kind of cosmological arrangement of powers upon the magician and their sphere.  It’s a subtle thing, but an important one; again, this ties into the subtle conditioning of banishing to prepare the magician for bigger and better things to come, as well as training the magician in the tools, arrangements, organization, and ultimate cosmology of the practices they’ll later engage in.

So, that’s it.  A simple and straightforward approach to using the planetary and elemental angels for purifying the sphere of the magician with all their powers at once in a balanced, efficient, and effective way.  Are there variants?  Of course!  For instance, the original format of the ritual called on the four elemental kings of the Earth itself: Oriens of the East, Paimon of the West, Egyn of the North, and Amaymon of the South.  If you’re comfortable working with these entities, then by all means, use them!  For those who prefer an angel-only approach, use the four archangel names instead.  There’s good logic for calling on the kings rather than the archangels, especially in that they’re a lot closer to us as incarnate beings than the angels are or ever have been, and so can be called on instead for a better and more incarnation-specific way to purge the sphere of unhelpful or harmful influences.  However, I still prefer to call on the angels for my own reasons.

In addition to calling on the seven planetary angels and the four elemental angels (or kings), you can also call on the twelve zodiacal angels as well: Malkhidael of Aries, Asmodel of Taurus, Ambriel of Gemini, Muriel of Cancer, Verkhiel of Leo, Hamaliel of Virgo, Zuriel of Libra, Barbiel of Scorpio, Adnokhiel of Sagittarius, Hanael of Capricorn, Kambriel of Aquarius, and Barkhiel of Pisces.  This, again, is a cosmological influence from my own, bigger Table of Practice that I personally use nowadays; you’d arrange them so that Malkhidael is aligned to the East, along with Michael of the Sun and Michael (or Oriens) of Fire, and go counterclockwise from there.  You’d conjure them before the planetary angels, using similar language.  However, this is overkill, in my opinion; what’s really necessary are the seven planetary angels and the four elemental archangels/kings.
And there you have it!  A clean ritual for a clean spirit.  What about you?  What sorts of banishing rituals do you use, dear reader?  Do you stick to more physical cleansings and baths, do you take a ritual-centric approach to ritual and spiritual purity, or do you use both?  What techniques, tips, or tricks might you be willing to share?  Feel free to share in the comments!

On Fitting Rituals Together

Most of the posts I write are written in one fell swoop, more or less, but on occasion, I’ll save something as a draft to finish later, especially if I feel like I don’t have enough information yet or if an idea hasn’t come through clearly.  The thing about these drafts is that they’ll either be finished in a few days after some more research and thinking it through, or it’ll get shelved indefinitely until I remember that I have drafts backed up waiting for another look.  I have more than a few such drafts from my blog-quiet Year in White, and a few more from before that, that I never really bothered to complete or, if they were complete, publish for one reason or another.

Recently, I went through my drafts and found a post on a PGM conjuration ritual, PGM IV.930—1114, which had a bunch of notes and comments ready for review, that I hadn’t previously touched since June 2014 (jeez).  I decided to pick that one to see where I was, and while it was mostly complete, it had plenty of room for expansion.  I decided to finish out that post, take a deeper look at the source material with a slightly more trained eye than I had before, and finally put it up; seeing how I’ve been on a roll with taking all the old prayers and rituals I’ve posted over the years and putting them into finalized, polished, published pages on this blog (which you can view using the updated navbar at the top of the site), I decided to forego the post and just put out the page.  Thus, if you’re interested, take a look at my write-up on PGM IV.930—1114, the Conjuration of Light under Darkness (under Occult → Classical Hermetic Rituals, with the rest of the PGM/PDM/Coptic stuff).

It’s a pretty nifty ritual, if I do say so myself; it’s a straight-up conjuration of the god Horus Harpocrates, and it bears a huge number of parallels to a proper conjuration ritual in the Solomonic tradition that arose after the PGM period, including prayers of compulsion and formal ritual closings.  One of the more fascinating parts of it is that, instead of performing the ritual on an altar, it uses a sort of anti-altar: a lamp held above the ground on the intersection of two ropes suspended from the ceiling of a room.  Reading deeper into the ritual and Betz’s notes on the source text, the ritual as recorded in the PGM is actually a combination of several earlier rituals: a prayer for divine alliance with a deity, a lamp divination ritual, and a conjuration of a god.  The fact that there are some parts of the ritual that seem duplicated or don’t read as a single flow of a ritual written in one go indicates that it is, indeed, cobbled together, but it also feels somehow familiar to later texts like the Key of Solomon in that same not-quite-jarring, not-quite-disharmonic sense.  It still works, though you can clearly see the distinct parts that make up the whole.

A few days back, Scott Stenwick over at Augoeides wrote a post titled The Template Works for Everything, which I encourage you to read.  He starts out by packing quite the punch:

One of the best things about modular ritual templates is how versatile and effective they are for all different kinds of workings. If there’s a “magical secret” out there, how to put the various rituals and forms together into a coherent operation is probably it. Many published books on magick include instructions on how to do the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Some include the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram. Some include the Middle Pillar. And so forth. But there’s little instruction on what to do with them aside from recommendations that you practice them daily. …

At any rate, what I found when I published Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy is that nobody else publishes that stuff, either. I was told time and again how useful my book was because it laid out the whole structure of a ceremonial operation including the basic components that go into actually getting stuff done. I’ve gone ahead and published the whole magical and mystical series here on Augoiedes for precisely that reason. We really don’t need any more occult books that teach the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and then don’t really even tell you what it’s for or what it’s supposed to do.

Stenwick talks a lot more about his operant field theory of magic over on his blog, which should be damn-near mandatory for anyone in a Thelemic or Golden Dawn system of magic to read.  Suffice it here to say that Stenwick puts into no uncertain terms that there are certain components for ritual magic—for any kind of magic within a coherent system—that plug into each other in a modular fashion, and by swapping out certain parts as needed according to a particular template of ritual, you can get anywhere you need to go.

The fact that he put this idea into such bald, direct terms shocked me, because it makes so much sense and I wish I had written about it sooner myself.  He’s absolutely right: every tradition of magic has its own kind of template, and builds rituals up according to that template from smaller actions and rituals.  No matter what it is you’re trying to do, no matter what system you’re using, every complete ritual is a machine built from parts that fit together in a more-or-less cohesive whole, and by swapping those parts out as needed, you get a different ritual as needed.  If it seems like there’s something missing, it’s because there is, and you’re not using all the parts you should.

Yes, rituals that are complete unto themselves from the PGM or any number of grimoires of your choosing are a dime a dozen, but consider: those are snapshots, isolated incidents from within a tradition.  If you actually study the tradition from which such an instance of ritual comes, you’d get a more complete view of the preliminary stuff that would be expected to happen before it, the concluding stuff that would be expected to happen after it, how that ritual can be used as a part of an even larger ritual, and (if you’re exceptionally skilled, and for particular rituals) how to break down a ritual into its constituent parts and repurposed for other rituals.

As an example, consider Rufus Opus‘ now-discontinued Red Work series of courses.  I used to half-joke that he was a one-trick pony and that the only proper ritual he taught in his courses was his version of the Trithemian conjuration ritual, because he did.  Heck, he even wrote a whole book on planetary magic, Seven Spheres, with that being the only real ritual.  It’s true, but that’s the whole point of the system of magic he teaches.  His angelic banishing ritual he teaches, the first actual ritual in the text that isn’t making holy water or learning how to meditate, is just a Trithemian conjuration ritual that substitutes a full charge of conjuration with a half-charge that invokes the angels only so far as they banish one’s sphere; his conjuration of a genius loci is a pared-down version of the Trithemian ritual with a charge of conjuration modified specifically for a spirit of the land; his conjuration of one’s natal genius is almost identical to any other angelic use of the Trithemian ritual with the exception of a heavily-modified charge of conjuration; all the conjurations of the elemental and planetary angels are virtually identical except for the time of conjuration, the name of God used in the charge of conjuration, and the name of the angel being conjured.  Rufus Opus got the modularization of the Trithemian ritual down to a science well beyond its original purpose for conjuring the seven planetary angels, even down to adapting parts of it for his own take on goetic conjurations of demons.  When viewed from a naive perspective, sure, Rufus Opus may only have taught one ritual, but what he was really teaching was a framework, a template, a process of ritual and how to adapt that process to any particular need, just not in explicit terms.

On the other end of the spectrum, consider a text like the Arbatel.  This is a text that teaches about a system of magic, including some of the major spirits and types thereof in the system and what they do, but the text gives you next to nothing in the way of a ritual template; while it provides some prayers and suggestions for working with the spirits it discusses in its aphorisms, the text largely assumes either that you already have a framework of ritual you’re comfortable with, or that you’re spiritually developed enough and suited to the work that one will be revealed unto you.  Those who can read between the lines can divine something resembling a framework, vague as it might be, like I have on this blog before, but it’s just as likely (and just as well) that an experienced magician can take the information of the Arbatel, look at a framework of ritual they already know works, and plug in the few parts that the Arbatel provides to get as much out of it as one can get out of a fully detailed text like the Key of Solomon or Grimoirium Verum.

Now take a look again at PGM IV.930—1114.  It’s apparent that this ritual is composed of parts that were, at some point by some author, cobbled together from earlier rituals written by earlier authors that just so happened to fill the needs of that later author for a coherent purpose, combining the prayers, tools, and processes from each into a single whole ritual.  That magician had a good grasp of what he needed, and tried to keep as true as he could to the parts of the ritual without sacrificing any one benefit for the whole thing.  He had a framework for ritual that would match with that of any Renaissance Solomonic conjurer, and he used whatever parts at his disposal to come up with a complete whole.  Can the ritual be augmented with other preliminary work, or concluded or continued with other rituals?  You bet!  The author even included a part for further extending one aspect of the ritual, which is unfortunately lost in the source material, but not only is the possibility there, it’s a certainty that it’s there.

This is why it’s important for magicians to study the small, routine stuff like simple energy work, basic prayers, attunement and banishing acts, and other simple rituals.  While they all have importance on their own for their own sake, it’s not always said how profoundly important they really are as framing rituals or other ritual components in a wider system of magic.  These small building blocks are used to build larger rituals, and without having a solid grasp of the small parts, it makes having a solid grasp of the larger whole all the more difficult.  It’s not just that the smaller stuff produces a firmer foundation than might otherwise be achieved for later works, but it’s that each part must be able to be carried out smoothly and powerfully so that when they’re incorporated as parts in a larger ritual, the whole shebang is smooth and powerful in a way that treating it as a single unit unto itself wouldn’t be able to achieve.  Every ritual isn’t a single note, it’s a harmonic symphony unto itself, and each part is a movement that must flow from one to the next.

Every tradition has its process and framework, from Russian Orthodox ceremonies to Cuban Orisha ceremonies, and if you pay attention, you can easily pick up on the structure of how things flow, what should come next, what can be changed, what should stay the same, what can be considered an indivisible part, what can be broken down into smaller parts, what can be modified or tweaked to come up with a whole new part, and how to put parts together.  Every system of ritual work has a template, and as Stenwick says, “the template works”.

On True Praying (also, a thank you!)

After my recent post about why simplicity in prayer is not only a good thing but the only real thing there is in praying, one of my oldest friends commented on my Facebook page about how it inspired her that she can pray in her own way and still be heard in her prayers.  She was worried that if she didn’t use anything obviously deep or meaningful or profound that was written centuries or millennia ago that she wasn’t doing it right, but the words of Hermes Trismegistus helped calm her worries and reminded her of the right path of prayer.  That’s an important realization that I know I’ve had to have multiple times, and I know many others are being reminded of it, some for the first time, some for the eleventy-first.

Prayer is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity”, and ultimately comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *prek meaning “to ask, request, or entreat”.  Throughout countless millennia, ever since humanity has been aware of the presence of divinity in our world or in any other, prayer has been the central vehicle for communion with the divine, with or without sacrifice.  It is this unique act that we, as humans, are capable of in a way unlike any other living entity on Earth that allows us to seek communication and communion with higher entities than us through the use of our own higher faculties.  Heck, even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (part IV, section 1) defines prayer as “the vital and personal relationship with the living and true God”, and that it is “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God”.  When all other things are taken out of the equation, all religious action we undertake all boils down to a single essence: prayer.

Due to its importance in all religious work we undertake, humanity has been compiling and transmitting their knowledge of prayers to any number of divinities and entities from one generation to the next, whether by word of mouth or by the written word.  In my own work, I use prayers that have been in use for literal centuries or millennia, either in its original language or in a faithful translation into my own, from such varied sources as the PGM, exoteric and esoteric early Judaism, Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions, Hermetic wisdom texts, Hellenic religious cults, and even some of my own original writings; you can see a small selection of what I have written down in my personal prayerbook over in the Prayers section of pages.  I sing songs passed down to me through multiple generations of slaves and migrants in languages I can scarce understand, and I recite scriptures from lineages and faiths that are literally in my ancestral and living blood.  All these prayers serve to open doors both in my mind and in the world around me, and I would be much poorer off if I had no knowledge of them.

It goes without saying that there is power in all these ancient prayers that come from before my time.  After being recited time and again by thousands or millions of people across countless cultures, lands, and eras, the combined faith and spiritual force that has been put into many of these prayers is overwhelming.  Even those that I’ve written have been used regularly, sometimes even daily, for years, and hold great importance and power even for myself and others.  Of course, the ones I’ve written barely hold a candle to those that have been passed down from one generation to the next of priests, magicians, and other religious people, especially those prayers that have been composed by sages and mystics far wiser and holier than I am, and those who actually knew what they were doing.

Using these prayers that both look and feel Powerfully Old has value for its own sake.  In many cases, such prayers were devised for a purpose, the wording exactly and precisely chosen to cause certain effects in ourselves and the world around us because of what they seek, express, and ask for.  In such cases, these “purposeful” prayers are indistinguishable from spells or conjurations; indeed, many spells and conjurations I use are identical in form, structure, and diction to what you might find used in the Roman Ritual or in a modern church service.  Simply by reciting these prayers with a true need and a sincere heart, even just once and that quietly, can produce powerful and wondrous effects in your life, and it helps to have an index of them handy just in case for a variety of services or needs; this is one of the reason why I maintain and carry with me everywhere my own enchiridion, my own handbook of prayers and rituals, just in case I need something specific for a particular purpose.

Even still, all that being said, reciting prayers that have been recorded and presented to you isn’t all there is to prayer.  After a certain point, the same prayers recited over and over, even if it starts out meaningful, can sometimes become meaningless, soulless, and empty; some people, after settling into a routine for the sake of routine, end up praying the same empty words as a routine.  This drains the efficacy and power of prayer, because all you’re doing is saying the words for the sake of saying the words because you’re used to saying them.  Other people like to keep “enhancing” their prayers by introducing longer and more elaborate phrases, in an attempt to keep the air flowing and trying to reclaim some of that initial wonder through more of the same, but this often misses the entire point of prayer.  This is pointless; as Jesus said in Matthew 6 (despite the context-appropriate disdain for “pagans”), “when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words; do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. 

You don’t need to keep saying the same things over and over louder and louder to be heard.  Words alone are not the only part of the vehicle of prayer, no matter how old those words are, who said them first, or how many you use.  If your heart isn’t in the prayer, you’re just giving a soliloquy to be heard by yourself and nobody and nothing else; if you pray without heart, you’re not praying. 

In the end, all true prayer comes from the heart.  It’s that personal divine spark that sets off the holy fire that enflames us in prayer, within which we can become consumed and by which we can become refined into a holier state of being.  All these recorded prayers that we have at our disposal are meant to gather up the flames of the heart into a holy bonfire that reaches to Heaven and illumines our entire world; that’s why we have them, and why we use them.  We recite these old prayers with the intent that our hearts become a spiritual muscle, becoming stronger with each use, and which we use to elevate ourselves and our minds to the Divine; to recite them by rote without actually using the spiritual muscle of our heart is nothing more than going through the motions, which at best does nothing to make us stronger than we already are, and at worst leads us into the atrophy of despair, depression, and faithlessness.

So what are we to do, if the practice of reciting prayers eventually breaks down?  Simple: we don’t let it break down in the first place, because the intent of prayer should be fresh, pure, and strong each and every time you even reach for your cheatsheet or enchiridion of prayers.  Each word you say should be as if you’re saying it for the first time, each divine thought should be like fresh, clean, unused water splashed across your face and body.  Prayer is a vehicle, but our hearts and souls provide the fuel that keeps it going to our ultimate destination.  However, after a time, you’ll find that the vehicles you’re used to aren’t critical to the process; the fuel you provide through your heart and soul in prayer is the real power in the whole process that will eventually get you to where you need to be by virtue of themselves.  This fuel will self-ignite, and not only propel you further in your Work, but ends up consuming your entire self as fuel for the flames.  This is what I mean by “enflaming yourself in prayer”, and this is the true means of prayer, whether or not you recite something written down thousands of years ago or said anew for the very first time.  In the end, the two are indistinguishable.

The door to true communion with the Divine can only be opened by true, personal, intimate, private prayer, and the key to that door never looks the same twice.  The notion of spontaneous prayer here is key: it’s what simply comes out through the mouth from the heart, and is in many cases the seed from which all recorded prayers are grown. It is a genuine, in-the-moment expression of prayer that is not dictated by any rule or rhyme, but which simply happens.  It may be guided by frameworks of prayer instilled in the head through routine and habit, but it is intimately, completely personal how it comes out and becomes expressed.  If the old prayers handed down from time immemorial are elaborate carvings and breathtaking works of art made by the great masters of wordsmithing of ages past, this spontaneous prayer said in the moment is like a cluster of wildflowers bursting through the earth on the first morning of spring to bask in the Sun: it might look small and delicate, but it is a raw, unstoppable force of nature in its own right, and beautiful in its own pristine, unrestrained way.

Heck, at a certain point, even spoken or thought words stop being useful, and the real prayer starts becoming the rarefied, ideal thoughts behind any possible words of prayer that only the heart can wordlessly utter.  This is the idea behind the Hymns of Silence, which I describe as the highest kind of prayer humans can make.  These are the hymns and songs of prayer that even the angels sing unto God in praise, admiration, and gratitude, and which lie behind any and all prayer we can earnestly make.  Strip down true prayer to its core, and what you have are the Hymns of Silence: wordless, unspeakable, ineffable Love and Thanks for the Creator.

Of course, getting to the stage where knowing what the Hymns of Silence are, what they “sound” like, and how to “sing” them takes effort, just as any muscle requires training and time to develop.  I got a kickstart on that process through my planetary conjurations that culminated in the conjuration of the angel of the fixed stars, where even the usual physical tools and implements of magic stop being of use to us in a true astral realm.  However, whether you ascend through conjuration of the spheres or by climbing the ladder of prayer from Down Here to Up There, the result is the same: an outpouring from the heart of true communion with the Divine.  This is the real goal of true prayer, through which any desire can be effected, any hope expressed, any wish granted, any request made to the Divine.

Even for me, especially after being out of a prayer or spiritual routine for so long, recalling the ability to sing the Hymns of Silence and make true prayer is difficult.  Like I said, it’s like a muscle, and that muscle needs to constantly be used and strengthened in order to be of any use.  Still, I use the means at my disposal to open those doors again.  For myself in my own practice?  My own prayer routine looks like this:

  1. Wake up in the morning, and wash my face and hands in cold water (if I don’t take a full shower at this point).  Basically, a simplified form of ablution with khernips or other lustral water, and reminiscent of the process of wuḍū` for Muslims.
  2. Light a simple candle and recite a blessing over it.  I typically use the Trithemian Rite consecration of fire from this, but you can say whatever you like to consecrate the fire for the sake of holiness and divine presence and protection.
  3. Meditate for at least 10 minutes, if only to quiet the mind.
  4. Recite the Prayer of Hermes Trismegistus.
  5. Recite the Prayer of the Itinerant.
  6. Recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
  7. Recite a personal Prayer of the Geomancer.
  8. At this point, my heart and mind are focused and empowered enough to say a spontaneous prayer, which can take any form: gratitude for the days I’ve been given, hope for the day I’m about to face, seeking help to power me through my fears, or whatever else rises from the flame of my heart in prayer.

Eventually, the flame of my heart takes over, and begins burning of its own accord without being ignited by spoken prayers; this flame rises to my mind and sets off a conflagration of looking upwards to Heaven and simply Being in Prayer; this is the beginning to the Hymns of Silence, which (if I have enough time to spend) can go on indefinitely until the flame weakens and I begin to look back down to Earth and myself.  I know it sounds corny or mysterious, but I don’t have a much better way of describing how it feels.  It’s almost a trance state, uplifting in the same automatic way that the heat from a fire sends purified white ash upwards through convection.

Over time, these muscles of the heart become stronger, and it becomes easier to start the fire of prayer, going from a rousing, raging, holy blaze into a still, silent, sacred Light.  I’m working on that process day by day, and I hope to keep working on it to get even farther than I ever was, even when I was in a regular dedicated routine.  Like in anything else, dedication and resilience make for the best guides in the Work, and it helps make prayer truly effective like it does anything and everything else.


Also, dear reader, you may have noticed that there’ve been more changes to this website recently.  Thanks to all your generous support through donations, purchasing my ebooks and materia magica, and obtaining my divination and consultation services, I was finally able to secure the funds for a professional WordPress account!  Not only does this mean I finally got a proper domain name for the blog (https://digitalambler.com/, but you don’t need to update your bookmarks to use it!), but I got an even nicer site layout, all those invasive ads are gone, and a few other cosmetic tweaks have been made throughout the site to make it easier to read and navigate.  One of the really nice things is that it’s allowed me to revamp my Services page to actually look and feel useful, too, so if you’re interested in commissioning me for divination, consultation, ritual work, or other needs, go on over and take a look!

Plus, with the recent blog redesign, I consolidated and changed some of the Occult and Prayer resources through the top menu.  In addition, I also added a whole new page on the Headless Rite, which is more fully fleshed out and offers a full Greek original text, as well as a whole section of prayers from the Corpus Hermeticum, condensed from other posts around this blog for ease of reference.  Putting these out is a pleasure of mine, since I hope to make these resources more easily accessible for all who visit my blog.

Of course, keeping this website as functional and clean as it is (to say nothing of keeping my projects active to continue providing new and awesome content for my readers) will continue to take money, so please help continue supporting the Digital Ambler!  You can do this through any number of ways: checking out my Etsy store for my ebooks and materia magica, checking out my Services page for my divination and ritual comissions, or just buying me a coffee through Ko-fi!  Also, don’t forget my 20% off sale on all my divination services through Etsy through the end of January 2018!  All your support will help me keep my website beautiful, awesome, and helpful to myself, you, and the occult community as a whole!

Do you have any suggestions for improving or augmenting my services, supply of goods, crafts, or ideas for posts?  Is there anything glaringly awful about this website you’d love for me to fix, or anything you’d wish me to include for reference and ease of access?  Do you just want to send me a note of encouragement to keep up the Work, or want to say how my own Work has helped you in yours?  Feel free to send me an email through the Contact page and let me know!

With all my heart, thank you!