On Repurposing Ritual Parts for New Practices

This PGM train won’t stop, at least, not yet.  I hope you’re not bored of this talk of the Greek Magical Papyri, dear reader, because there’s so many awesome things about it, not least for its historical value in understanding some of the origins and foundations of Western magical practice as we know it today and how their rediscovery continues to shape it in modern occulture, but because of all the wonderful techniques they contain.  And just think: what we have in Betz’s famous translation is still only a fraction of what’s still out there, both discovered and undiscovered, translated and untranslated.

So, I meant to have this post out shortly after the ritual writeup of the Royal Ring of Abrasax was put up, but then the last post happened where I also introduced it, so…whoopsie.  Anyway, this ritual, PGM XII.201—269, describes the consecration of a kind of ring of power, “useful for every magical operation and for success”, which it claims is constantly sought after by kings and other types of rulers.  In a sense, this particular ring can act as a general phylactery or protective charm against spirits in magical works and conjurations as well as a charm for success, victory, and fortune in all of one’s endeavors.  In some sense, it can be considered something resembling a conceptual forerunner of the Ring of Solomon known to later magicians; this isn’t to say that PGM XII.201—269 is an ancestor of the Ring of Solomon, but it indicates a transition of magical rings and how they evolved from simple empowerment and fortune charms into phylacteries and guarantors of magical success.  If you haven’t seen my write-up and analysis yet, it’s up under the Occult → Classical Hermetic Rituals menu.  Take a look!  It’s a fine example of a solid Graeco-Egyptian consecration ritual which can be seen as a kind of forerunner to later Hermetic and Solomonic ones.

The reason why I’ve been looking over this ritual is because Gordon White over at Rune Soup used this ritual as his (only) group exercise for his recent 2018 Q2 course on the PGM.  It’s an excellent course, as I’ve mentioned before, especially as it focuses less on the actual rituals present in the PGM and more about the background, context, development, and general methodology behind them.  Of course, it’s not like Gordon only wanted to just talk about them, but he wanted to get people up and running with them in a sensible way that involves some measure of rigor and spiritual connection.  For that purpose, Gordon set up a group exercise for those participating in the course to recite a portion of PGM XII.201—269 as a kind of semi-self-initiation before other PGM work.  As to how, specifically, Gordon accomplishes this, I recommend you head over to Rune Soup to check out the members section and go through his course material.  It’s worth the small cost of admission, I claim.  Just because the course is finished doesn’t mean you can’t perform the self-initiation ritual at any time you want or need, especially now that a current-connection has already been established in the same way by quite a number of other magicians.

Gordon explains his reasoning for adapting this ritual for this purpose at the end of the first module of the course.  Essentially, the author (or compiler) of these parts of the PGM texts was, in all likelihood, an actual Egyptian initiated priest who moonlighted as a magician-for-hire.  Because of his initiated status, he had access and license to work with the gods and spirits found in the PGM in such a way that we never can at this point, or at least, not in the same way; those initiations and lineages are long since vanished, and there’s no way to achieve the exact same status as our original author friend; as I’ve discussed before, lineage can make a world of difference when it comes to starting out at the same point of power based on initiation and lineage or the lack thereof.  To that end, Gordon set up a specially-modified form of PGM XII.201—269 as a sort of quick self-initiation into the powers and currents of the PGM to make our future PGM work that much more effective, serving as an introduction to the PGM powers.  Without performing such a self-initiation, it’s possible that we can get some results out of doing PGM work, but not necessarily to the same extent without a formal introduction, for which Gordon’s modified PGM XII.201—269 serves decently enough for any beginner to PGM-style magic.  Plus, it benefits from the fact that it’s a comparatively simple ritual (at least in Gordon’s modified form) without onerous barbarous names of power, which can be terrifying for those new to the PGM.

The Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual is not a particularly complex or difficult ritual to do; sure, there’s a bit of animal sacrifice involved, but that’s nothing that we can’t work with, either by actually bleeding the required birds or by making a sincere and appropriate substitution (I go over one such method in my write-up for those who are unable or unwilling to perform such a sacrifice, and for more information, check out my last post).  The main hymn of it is rather beautiful, but it also struck me as familiar, and I wasn’t entirely sure why that was the case.  It was some of the footnotes from Betz that tipped me off; part of the hymn was annotated with a reference to PGM XIII.734—1077, which titles itself the Tenth Book of Moses, from which the Heptagram Rite comes (along with its smaller variant the Calling of the Sevenths, aka Heptasphere).  The preliminary invocation of the Heptagram Rite (at least in its Major form that I’ve written about) is basically the entirety of the main hymn of the Royal Ring of Abrasax, just fleshed out with more barbarous names of power, including close variants of the same barbarous name that the Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual centers around.  This was fantastic to discover on its own, that these two PGM sections from different papyri could be tied together in this way, but there was another part to discover; the end of the Tenth Book of Moses (after the Heptagram Rite is discussed) introduces a consecration for a particular kind of phylactery that, itself, bears many parallels to the consecration ritual of the Royal Ring of Abrasax.  So, not only do we have a near-identical prayer in these two PGM sections, but we even have a rough match of a consecration for a charm of power and protection!  Finding two such similar rituals in close proximity within the same PGM would be one thing (a la the Eighth Book of Moses from PGM XIII.1—343, 343—646, and 646—734), but this is an even more important realization.  It either indicates that both papyri were compiled or written by the same author, or that two separate authors had the same source for almost the same procedures; I’m not sure which is more likely, but both are exciting things.

However, the parallel parts between PGM XII.201—269 and PGM XIII.734—1077 are separated by quite a lot of content, and what’s present in one is not used in the same way as it’s used in the other.  The near-identical hymn that’s present in both is used for two radically different rituals: in PGM XII.201—269, it’s used as part of a consecration of a charm, and in PGM XIII.734—1077, it’s used as part of (what is essentially) a theurgic ritual.  It’s an interesting example of using the same ritual act or performance for different ends, especially because it’s in the source text of the PGM which we all admire and love.  What this indicates to me is that there’s an implicit acknowledgment that certain things can be used in different ways, a kind of magical upcycling or repurposing of techniques.  This isn’t particularly uncommon; after all, consider the PGM-style framing rite I put out a few days ago.  The vast majority of that is slapped together from a variety of PGM sources, picking and choosing this and that to come up with a more-or-less unified whole.  Heck, one of the sources I picked some techniques from, PGM IV.930—1114 (the Conjuration of Light under Darkness ritual) itself has the markers of being slapped together from two different rituals for different purposes brought into a more-or-less unified whole.  What I did to come up with my framing rite may not sit well with PGM-focused grimoire purists, but it’s solidly within the same tradition and following the same meta-methodology that’s present within the PGM itself.

Consider our modern use of PGM V.96—172, the Headless Rite.  Originally, it was intended as a simple exorcism, but thanks to the innovations of Aleister Crowley, it was adapted into a theurgic self-empowerment and self-elevation ritual, and the way he did it allows for further customizations to be made.  Where Crowley changed “deliver NN. from the demon that restrains him” to “hear me and make all spirits subject unto me” (a reuse of one of the last lines of the ritual), other adaptations can be made to the Headless Rite that can turn it from an exorcism ritual into a banishing, empowering, or theurgic ritual:

  • Exorcism: “Deliver NN. from the demon that restrains him!”
    • Here, NN. is the name of the person to be exorcised.
    • This is the original “rubric” as used in the PGM version of the text, since this was originally intended as an exorcism ritual.
  • Banishing: “Deliver me, NN., from any and all demons, death, defilement, illness, impurity, infirmity, pain, plague, or poison that restrains me!”
    • Here, NN. is your own name.
  • Empowering: “Subject to me all spirits so that every spirit whether heavenly or ethereal, upon the earth or under the earth, on dry land or in the water, of whirling air or rushing fire, and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient to me!”
    • This is the version used in Liber Samekh, which is just a more fleshed-out version of the charge used for donning the coronet, as discussed below.
  • K&CHGA: “Send to me my neverborn friend and guardian, my supernatural assistant, my agathodaimon, my holy guardian angel!  Send to me the spirit NN. whose duty it is to guide, lead, assist, and protect me through this and all lives!”
    • Here, NN. in this case refers to the name of the guardian angel, if known.  Otherwise, omit the use of a name entirely and refer to the guardian angel generally.

Consider also our modern use of the Orphic Hymns, especially those for the planets.  One of my good colleagues suggests that the original use of the Orphic Hymns were that they were to all be sung in succession as a kind of diagnostic theurgic rite so as to call out specific divinities that might be affecting someone at a given time, and not necessarily that individual hymns were to be used on their own.  Yet, magicians have been using them for centuries as individual prayers for individual entities outside their original contexts; consider what Cornelius Agrippa has to say about them in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (book I, chapter 71):

Besides, with the divers sorts of the names of the Stars, they command us to call upon them by the names of the Intelligencies, ruling over the Stars themselves, of which we shall speak more at large in their proper place. They that desire further examples of these, let them search into the hymns of Orpheus, then which nothing is more efficatious in naturall Magick, if they together with their circumstances, which wise men know, be used according to a due harmony, with all attention.

After all, most people in the modern Hermetic/astrological magic scene (especially those who work outside the Golden Dawn and similar systems) are familiar with the use of the Orphic Hymns for the planets and use them in their rituals, whether as a kind of daily adoration of the ruling planet of the day or as part of a chant for the consecration of a planetary talisman during an election of that planet or for other purposes.  For instance, as a gesture of worship to Hermēs, I recite his Orphic Hymn whenever I enter a post office, no matter the day or time; this is certainly a modern adaptation of the use of such a prayer, and one that wouldn’t fit into any classical scheme except the broadest notions of “general worship”, but it goes to show that bits and pieces of ritual and religious texts can be used in ways that may not have been anticipated by their original authors, yet work well all the same for their new purpose.

In a similar vein, consider the use of the Psalms of the Old Testament.  These were originally devised as songs for worship, celebration, and religious meditation, yet parts of them have been in use in a variety of religious rituals and ceremonies; consider the Asperges Me, a few lines of Psalm 51 that’s recited in some Catholic Masses as well as in folk ceremonies of purification.  Heck, consider the wide and deep practice of psalm-based magic, where particular psalms are recited, either on their own or accompanying other ritual acts such as dressing and lighting candles.  A good example of a similar type of Old Testament-based magic is that of Draja Mickaharic’s Magical Spells of the Minor Prophets, where Mickaharic describes how to use individual verses of the minor prophetical books from the Old Testament for a variety of magical ends, including one chapter where every verse from an entire book can be used magically.  This is definitely magical repurposing on a whole new level, and yet is so firmly grounded and founded in classical magical meta-methodology that it’s hard to see how deep these foundations have been dug.

The trick when repurposing bits and pieces of extant ritual and texts, as always, is to be smart about it.  Cherry-picking without care or caution can get you into a lot of trouble real quickly, because not all individual parts of rituals can be extracted or extrapolated for different use.  For instance, the Conjuration of Light under Darkness is absolutely a conjuration ritual, combined from a lamp divination spell and a theophanic ritual.  However, at a large scale, the Conjuration as a whole cannot be adapted to the conjuration of other entities generally, like how the Trithemian rite of conjuration I use can be used for angels, natal genii, genii loci, and so forth with the right adaptations; instead, it’s pretty specifically geared to the conjuration and communion of one entity.  However, particular parts of this ritual may be used outside of it; I chose the Light-Retaining Charm and the Dismissal of Light, specifically, which kind of come as a set, since if you use one, you need the other.  My whole dismissal prayer I use is cobbled together from two different PGM sources (PGM I.262—347 and PGM VII.930—1114) which work well when mixed together due to overlap of particular phrases, and the fact that they do the same thing.

The compatibility and extensibility of particular techniques, and at what level and for what purpose, is important to consider when trying to pick and pull things together.  This can be difficult with PGM stuff, given the use of barbarous names of power; in general, we don’t know what they mean, and so we don’t know if we’re calling on something generally by their use in a given situation or if we’re calling on something particularly specific for a specific function.  Moreover, we don’t know whether what we’re calling is compatible only with its original context and not with the repurposed one we’re putting it to.  What makes things dicey is that we can’t just omit the barbarous names of power, either; consider Zoroaster’s injunction #155 from the Chaldaean Oracles, “change not the barbarous Names of Evocation for-there are sacred Names in every language which are given by God, having in the Sacred Rites a Power Ineffable”.  The words have power, which is why we say them; to remove the words is to remove the power, and to change the words is to change the power.  Better to use them than not, where present, unless you know precisely what you’re doing and how to get around it.  That’s why one of the reasons it took me so long to cobble together a PGM-style framing rite from off-the-shelf PGM pieces, because I needed to make sure that they were either naturally general enough to be used, or could safely be made general while still being effective as well as compatible with the other parts I was using.

The reuse of the hymn to the Agathos Daimōn between the Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual and the Major Heptagram Rite presents us with a unique opportunity, then, to see how one particular magical technique can be repurposed and even reworded; note that the Royal Ring of Abrasax version of the hymn contains far fewer barbarous names, indicating that—perhaps—not all of those are needed here for this purpose, or their use would have been more appropriate to a theurgic ritual rather than a consecration ritual, or that their use was not needed at all for the sake of praising and honoring the Agathos Daimōn.  Noting how the same prayer can be used in different rituals, it’s also easy (and, I’d argue, fruitful) to think how the prayer can be used in other contexts, such as in a daily prayer routine alongside other PGM-derived prayers like PGM IV.1115—1167 (the Hymn of the Hidden Stele, which has no purpose stated either as a header or as part of this section of the PGM) or PGM IV.1167—1226 (the Stele of Aiōn, which works as both a powerful prayer generally as well as being “useful for all things; it even delivers from death”).

When going about cobbling together from parts of other rituals (PGM or otherwise), I would recommend to a few questions to bear in mind to make sure you’re on the right track:

  1. Have you studied or, even better, performed the original ritual you’re choosing parts from to get an intimate understanding of what it does, both as a collection of ritual parts and as a unified whole?
  2. What is the nature of the original rituals, both as a whole and as parts, and how does it compare with the goal of the new ritual, both as a whole and as parts?
  3. What entities are being called upon in the original ritual, and do they conflict with other entities from other original rituals?
  4. Does the part of the original ritual being chosen require something else to be done with it, or can it stand alone on its own?
  5. Can the part being chosen from the original ritual be picked up and used as it is, or does it require modifications to wording or performance?
  6. Does the original ritual use barbarous or divine names of power?  Does the intent behind them in the context of the original ritual work for a different use?
  7. Can the charge or purpose of the part being chosen from the original ritual be modified or generalized while still keeping true to the power of the original ritual?
  8. Is taking a part from an original ritual really needed?  Is that part serving an actual use or function within the cosmological and methodological understanding of the new ritual?
  9. Is a new ritual being put together from parts of original rituals necessary, or will an original ritual suffice, either with or without modifications to charges, commands, or ritual implements?

There is value in knowing and understanding the dozens, hundreds of rituals in the PGM, or in any system or tradition or collection of magical works, and accomplished magicians can pull any ritual they need from their handbooks or private collections to accomplish anything they need or want.  However, there is at least as much value in being able to understand the parts of those same rituals, know what works, know what can be extended or abridged or adapted, and being able to whip something up (big or small) from parts off the shelf that’s at least as effective because they know how to plug certain ritual actions into each other.  The trick is being smart about it and knowing what can—and should—plug into what.

A PGM List of Nighttime Hour Rulers

One of my favorite things about the Greek Magical Papyri is that, if some technique or concept exists in modern magic, chances are extraordinarily high there’s a parallel, variant, or outright origin of the thing in the PGM.  In some cases, the stuff we find in the PGM is in the same league as the direct ancestors of what we do today; it may not be the great-great-great-great-grandfather of a particular thing, but his brother or adopted sister that he grew up with.  This makes sense, given the naturally syncretic and eclectic collection of texts present in the PGM and PDM, representing a…not a cacophony, but a callophony of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indian, Babylonian, Persian, Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, messianic, apocalyptic, theurgic, goetic, mantic, prophetic, and other influences that collectively laid the foundations for Hermetic practice.  Of course, it’d be folly to read the PGM and similar texts as a single grimoire; this is not a cohesive selection of texts from a single author, magician, tradition, or practice, but a collection of texts from a variety of authors, magicians, traditions, and practices that spanned several centuries.  It’s important to bear that in mind, because not all the texts agree with each other in terms of doctrine or practice, and some don’t even agree within themselves.

On occasion, I’ll find something great in the PGM that, even though it’s great, strikes me as being incomplete for something I want to accomplish.  Case in point: the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios ritual from PGM IV.1596—1715 gives an incredibly useful list of names, specifically the twelve “faces” of the Sun as he traverses the skies in the twelve hours of the day.  Though these are essentially transformations of Hēlios into different forms, they do describe different temporal realms and, therefore, can be used as a way to refer to the hours of the day in a magical sense, much like how the Heptameron or the Ars Paulina of the Lemegeton give names for the hours or their rulers.  The frustrating thing about the Twelve Faces of Hēlios ritual is that it only gives the names of the twelve hour rulers for the day; it gives nothing for the twelve hours of the night, and as far as I’m aware, there’s no list in the PGM that gives a list of 24 such names.

Recently, however, I think I found something that’d be perfect for what I’d need.

Behold PGM VII.862—918, “Lunar spell of Claudianus and [the ritual] of Heaven and the North Star over lunar offerings”.  According to the text, this “papyrus itself, the personal property of the Twelve Gods, was found in Aphroditopolis [beside] the greatest goddess, Aphroditē Ourania, who embraces the universe”.  Aphroditopolis, in this instance, could refer to one of two ancient Egyptian cities, Tpyhwt (modern Atfih) or Per Hathor (modern Gebelein), with the latter being more likely.  This text associates Aphroditē Ourania (Heavenly Aphroditē) with Selēnē, the Moon.  The ritual is phrased as a love-binding spell, where one calls upon Selēnē to cause a particular person to fall madly in love with the magician by means of sending dreams and images, but dreams of other types may be sent to whomever to accomplish whatever it is you want by them.

The ritual is done by first preparing a special clay statue according to a particular scheme (which is missing in the text, but likely resembles Hathor) and consecrating her in a shrine of olive wood without letting her ever come in contact with sunlight:

  1. Make a shrine of olive wood, being sure to keep it in a place that sunlight does not touch.  (I imagine this is essentially a cabinet with a door that can close.)
  2. Prepare the statue of “Mistress Selēnē the Egyptian…in the form of the Universe” from “clay from a potter’s wheel” mixed with sulfur and the blood of a dappled goat.  (There exist extant images of Isis-Aphroditē which is often also associated with Hathor-Aphroditē, such as examples here, here, and here.)
  3. Dedicate the statue with “the ritual that works for everything”.
  4. Anoint the statue with “lunar ointment” and wreathe it.
  5. Stow the statue away in the shrine in advance of the ritual itself.

In the fifth hour of the night, the magician is to make a “lunar offering” and anointing oneself with “lunar anointment”, face the image of Selēnē, and recite the following invocation:

I call upon you, Mistress of the entire world, ruler of the entire cosmic system, greatly powerful goddess, gracious daimōn, lady of night, who travels through the air, ΦΕΡΟΦΟΡΗ ΑΝΑΘΡΑ…ΟΥΘΡΑ.  Heed your sacred symbols and give a rustling sound, and give a sacred angel or a holy assistant who serves this very night, in this very hour, ΠΡΟΚΥΝΗ ΒΑΥΒΩ ΦΟΒΕΙΟΥΣ ΜΗΕ, and order the angel to go off to her, NN., to draw her by her hair, by her feet; may she, in fear, seeing phantoms, sleepless because of her passion for me and her love for me, NN., come to my consecrated bedroom.

The charge for the angel can likely be replaced with whatever one might need or wish.  At this point, the magician should see the divine statue of Selēnē turning red, which indicates that “she is now attracting”.  The magician is then to continue the invocation:

Mistress, send forth your angel from among those who assist you, one who is leader of night, because I adjure you by your great names, because of which no aerial or infernal daimōn can ignore you, ΜΕΣΟΥΡΦΑΒΑΒΟΡ ΒΡΑΛ ΙΗΩ ΙΣΙ Η!  Come to me, as I summon you, ΟΡΘΩ ΒΑΥΒΩ ΝΟΗΡΕ ΚΟΔΗΡΕ ΣΟΙΡΕ ΣΟΙΡΕ ΕΡΕΣΧΙΓΑΛ ΣΑΓΚΙΣΤΗ ΔΩΔΕΚΑΚΙΣΤΗ ΑΚΡΟΥΡΟΒΟΡΕ ΚΟΔΗΡΕ ΣΑΜΨΕΙ!

Hear my words and send forth your angel who is appointed over the first hour, ΜΕΝΕΒΑΙΝ
and the one over the second hour, ΝΕΒΟΥΝ
and the one over the third hour, ΛΗΜΝΕΙ
and the one over the fourth hour, ΜΟΡΜΟΘ
and the one over the fifth hour, ΝΟΥΦΙΗΡ
and the one over the sixth hour, ΧΟΡΒΟΡΒΑΘ
and the one over the seventh hour, ΟΡΒΕΗΘ
and the one over the eighth hour, ΠΑΝΜΩΘ
and the one over the ninth hour, ΘΥΜΕΝΦΡΙ
and the one over the tenth hour, ΣΑΡΝΟΧΟΙΒΑΛ
and the one over the eleventh hour, ΒΑΘΙΑΒΗΛ
and the one over the twelfth hour, ΑΡΒΡΑΘΙΑΒΡΙ
so that you may do this for me, that you may attract, that you may tame on this very night, so that she, NN. (or “he, NN.”) be unable to have success until coming to me, NN.!  May she remain fully satisfied, loving, desiring me, NN., and may she be unable to have intercourse with another man, except with me alone.

As a personal observation, I like the casual inclusion of “or he” towards the end of the ritual.  I guess it doesn’t just work on women, which pleases me greatly.

Anyway, this second invocation is to be recited many times, and “it will attract and bind, and she will love you for all the time of your life”.  However, after you two meet and have sex, the sacred image of Selēnē is to be stowed away “giving her magical material”; so long as the image of Selēnē is kept from sunlight, your success in the matter will continue.

At any rate, look at what we have here: a list of names for the twelve hours, but focusing on the messengers/angels (in a sense, rulers) under Selēnē!  What’s fascinating about this is that we have, as far as I can tell, the only list of hours of the night in the PGM.  Other instances of hour-name lists focus on the twelve hours of the day, but now we have a matching one for the night.  In addition to that, but this one pairs quite nicely with the Twelve Faces of Hēlios list; while that has a list of explicitly solar daytime hours, here we now have a list of explicitly nocturnal lunar hours.  The only conceptual difference between the two is that the former are all different aspects of the same celestial entity, while the latter are all subordinate spirits who rule in the name of another celestial entity.  In effect, however, the idea is the same: we have a list of names that correspond to the ruling celestial power according to the time in which we call them.

The only issue I can think of is that, because lists of hours for the night are so uncommon while lists of hours for the day are more common, it could be thought instead that the list in the ritual above actually correspond to the twelve hours of the day; after all, Stephen Skinner in his Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic gives the above list as “angels for each hour of the day”.  However, given that everything in this ritual is oriented towards the night and to nocturnal darkness, from keeping the image of Selēnē away from the sun to the ritual being done at night and how Selēnē is explicitly hailed as “leader of night” or “lady of night”, it makes more sense to me that these names are for the nocturnal hours rather than the diurnal hours.

To that end, I present this table of PGM-style hour ruler names, in both Greek script and Roman transcription for use and experimentation:

 Hour Diurnal Nocturnal
I ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ
PHARAKŪNĒTH
ΜΕΝΕΒΑΙΝ
MENEBAIN
II ΣΟΥΦΙ
SŪPHI
ΝΕΒΟΥΝ
NEBŪN
III ΑΜΕΚΡΑΝΕΒΕΧΕΟ ΘΩΥΘ
AMEKRANEBEKHEO THŌUTH
ΛΗΜΝΕΙ
LĒMNEI
IV ΣΕΝΘΕΝΙΨ
SENTHENIPS
ΜΟΡΜΟΘ
MORMOTH
V ΕΝΦΑΝΧΟΥΦ
ENPHANKHŪPH
ΝΟΥΦΙΗΡ
NŪPHIĒR
VI ΒΑΙ ΣΟΛΒΑΙ
BAI SOLBAI
ΧΟΡΒΟΡΒΑΘ
KHORBORBATH
VII ΟΥΜΕΣΘΩΘ
ŪMESTHŌTH
ΟΡΒΕΗΘ
ORBEĒTH
VIII ΔΙΑΤΙΦΗ
DIATIPHĒ
ΠΑΝΜΩΘ
PANMŌTH
IX ΦΗΟΥΣ ΦΩΟΥΘ
PHĒŪS PHŌŪTH
ΘΥΜΕΝΦΡΙ
THYMENPHRI
X ΒΕΣΒΥΚΙ
BESBYKI
ΣΑΡΝΟΧΟΙΒΑΛ
SARNOKHOIBAL
XI ΜΟΥ ΡΩΦ
MŪ RŌPH
ΒΑΘΙΑΒΗΛ
BATHIABĒL
XII ΑΕΡΘΟΗ
AERTHOĒ
ΑΡΒΡΑΘΙΑΒΡΙ
ARBRATHIABRI

Bearing this in mind, how might we invoke these names of the rulers of the hours outside their original rituals?  Because of the difference in nature between the solar-diurnal hour names and the lunar-nocturnal hour names, I hesitate to give a general invocation, though something short and sweet can easily be made, especially given a line from PDM xiv.1—92.  For instance, for the first hour of the day and the night, I might recommend these short invocations:

  1. Solar-diurnal hour: “Bright face of Hēlios, ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ, you whose hand is this moment, who belongs to this first hour of the day, bring your light to me!”
  2. Lunar-nocturnal hour: “Bright angel of Selēnē, ΜΕΝΕΒΑΙΝ, you whose hand is this moment, who belongs to this first hour of the night, bring your light to me!”

Of course, fuller invocations can be developed based on the original rituals to more properly call upon the ruler of the hour.  For example, I would suggest these abbreviations of those rituals as a solar invocation of the face of the diurnal hour:

Greatest god, eternal lord, world ruler, who are over the world and under the world, mighty ruler of the sea, rising at dawn, shining from the east for the whole world, setting in the west!  You are the great Serpent, leader of all the gods, who control the beginning of Egypt and the end of the whole inhabited world, who mate in the ocean, ΨΟΙ ΦΝΟΥΘΙ ΝΙΝΘΗΡ!  In the first hour, your name is ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ!  Hear my words and aid me in this your time!

And a lunar invocation of the angel of the nocturnal hour:

Mistress of the entire world, ruler of the entire cosmic system, greatly powerful goddess, gracious daimōn, lady of night, who travels through the air, send forth your angel from among those who assist you, the one who is leader of night, because I adjure you by your great names, because of which no aerial or infernal daimōn can ignore you, ΜΕΣΟΥΡΦΑΒΑΒΟΡ ΒΡΑΛ ΙΗΩ ΙΣΙ Η!  Hear my words and send forth your angel who is appointed over the first hour, ΜΕΝΕΒΑΙΝ!

As I noted before in my discussion on the angels of the hours of the Ars Paulina, working with these names and at least making a perfunctory gesture to recognize the ruler of the current time can be huge for ensuring success and smoothness in magical workings.  Just as how the Ars Paulina invokes the angels of the hours instead of the angels of the planets because the former “closer” to us on the ladder of manifestation than the latter, especially in a temporal sense, we can recognize these specific emanations of the Sun and Moon as genii temporum, “spirits of the times”, much like how we recognize genii locorum, “spirits of the places”, when recognizing, appeasing, and working with the spirits of the place where we work.  Except, with this combined system, we now have a full PGM parallel to accommodate such a need.

With that, I’m gonna try experimenting with these names as lords of the hours.  And maybe give the Lunar Spell of Klaudianos a try at some point, too.

Search Term Shoot Back, October 2015

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of October 2015.

“can we change our physical gender by occultism” — First, a clarification: sex and gender are two separate things.  Sex is physical and involves the organs, bone structure, and hormones that your body has and produces; generally, this is male or female, but there are cases where someone is born intersexed with a mixture of the two sexual types.  Gender is a mental and social construct, and is a fluid gradient between masculine, feminine, agendered, and other genderqueer (hence the use of third person singular gender-neutral pronouns, i.e. neither “he/his/him” nor “she/her/her”).  Second, magic doesn’t work this way, not like how you asked.  I can no more change myself from a physical man into a woman any more than I can shoot fire from my palms or cause earthquakes by hitting the ground with my staff.  That’s the stuff of the gods and of myth.  Magic is a spiritual influence, not a physical one, and although it has physical effects, it goes through spiritual means to do so.  The Harry Potter stuff is just fantasy, and no more.  Now, you can certainly use magic to make transgender transition easier or more obtainable (easier access to hormone therapy, increased finances for physical reconstruction/plastic surgery, glamor to convince people easier that you’re a particular gender, persuasion to make bigots accept you easier, safety when alone at night or with friends), but there’s no ritual that will just up and change a man into a woman or a woman into a man.

“kybalion santeria” — Ugh. Ew. No. The two should never mix.  The Kybalion is New Thought trash; I know that many occultists read it as one of their first books, which acts as a gateway to bigger and better stuff.  I know.  I get it.  I do.  But the Kybalion is trash that causes more harm than good, and the fact that a lot of people read it doesn’t make it a good book.  It’s not Hermetic, certainly; heck, the name of the text itself is made up and supposed to recall “qabbalah”.  And, all that said, trying to mix the Kybalion with Santeria is…unpalatable.  Heck, Santeria is closer to actual Hermetic theurgy (complete with emanationist cosmogony and ensoulment of things) than the Kybalion could ever hope to be, and Santeria is a religion from slaves.  Slaves who had nothing but their ancestors and their gods and a crafty way of calling on them by a number of names unfamiliar to them.  Anyway….yeah, no.  Don’t mix the two, kiddo.

“how to consecrate a ring with the power of the sun” — Consecration of jewelry or talismans generally is an important part of my work.  How does one consecrate stuff?  Well, it depends on the force or god you’re consecrating it to.  With the planets, it depends on what tradition you want to work with, since there are dozens of cultures that have some sort of planetary magic, and hundreds or thousands of rituals between them all.  Originally, I got my start with a Christian-Hermetic angelic approach, which is still what I’ll pull out for really heavy-duty long-term projects, but I’ve experimented with many others.  For the Sun, specifically, I’d strongly recommend a ritual I recently came across from the PGM, which I’ve entitled the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Helios.  Tweak it accordingly to receive the powers you want.

“is it cultural appropriation for magicians to work with saints” — No.  Spirits call whom they call; it’s not up to meatsuits to tell you “no, you can’t work with spirit X because you’re white”.  I’m very much of the opinion that when a god comes to you, regardless of where they come from, you pay attention.  I have no Greek ancestry, yet the Greek gods welcome me and Hermes especially calls to me; I have Jewish ancestry, but I feel less Jewish than a pig farmer in an oyster bar on Yom Kippur.  I’m getting involved with the ATR community, who’ve taken me in and with whom I hope to serve and pitch in as much as any black Cuban.  I’m not baptized, but the Christian saints have helped me out and continue to do so regularly.  Why is this?  Because spirits recognize color and ancestry and culture but (in general) they don’t care.  If you want to work with them, if you learn about them, if you encounter them how they ask and prefer to be encountered, if you fulfill your vows and keep your word to them, if you remember them and respect them, if you do your best to be a decent fucking human being, then you’re probably going to do better than many who are just “born into the culture” and don’t see it as any more than a thing their grandparents do.  However, respect is the key; that’s the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.  There can and should be a two-way exchange between cultures, and we should never be binned into a box just because we were born into it.  That said, we shouldn’t loot, disrespect, or forget the origins of those whom we call on, and we shouldn’t transgress boundaries that even people of a particular culture wouldn’t transgress.  Consecrating elekes with your Wiccan pentacle or setting up an “Elegua protection altar” with hematite skulls and candy is not how you respect the gods.  You don’t just read a book written with half-assed, half-correct information by gods-only-know-what-hack and think you’re good to go as some sort of divine initiate.  Lineaged initiations, for instance, cultural mores, and purity laws are things to be respected.  For instance, even though I’m not Christian, I go to Catholic mass all the same when I need to get in touch more with a saint; that said, because I’m not baptized, I won’t take part in the Eucharist and receive communion.  Why?  Because I’m doing it for the same Power that the saint lived and died for.  It’s respect, and I apply that to all my spirits, be they gods, theoi, orisha, saints, angels, ancestors, kami, demons, or whatnot.

“the true table of practice” — There is no “true” Table of Practice, no more than there’s a “true” wand or “true” Triangle of Art.  Tables of Practice are tools used in conjuration as a basis for summoning a spirit, and there are different types of Tables used: there’s the one from the Ars Paulina, the one from Trithemius, the one from Dee, and I’m sure there are yet others that exist in the Western Hermetic tradition.  The Table you use is dependent on what text or tradition of magic you’re working with.  If it exists, by which I mean if you have a tangible version of it you can use in a ritual, regardless whether it’s gilded stone or engraved wood or Sharpie on a cereal box, then it’s true enough to work.

“cyprian of antioch vs st michael” — Why “versus” at all?  Cyprian of Antioch is a saint, and so honors God through His angels, including Michael the Archangel, the Prince of the Heavenly Host.  They work together, although Cyprian might prefer to call on a number of other powers before calling on Michael.  Now, while I strongly recommend developing a relationship with both Cyprian and Michael, and while they both tend to achieve the same end result when it comes to spiritual work, they achieve them in different ways.  Saint Michael the Archangel is the one who conquers and subdues wicked spirits, demons, and devils; think of the usual image of him where he’s impaled the Devil with his sword or spear and has him chained and underfoot; Michael helps you command the spirits as your servants.  Saint Cyprian of Antioch, on the other hand, is the one who ennobles and elevates wicked spirits, making them genteel and dignified so that one may work with them on an equal footing; Cyprian helps you collaborate with the spirits as your partners.  Sometimes it’s better to go with Michael than Cyprian, sometimes the other way, sometimes either way.  It depends on your style of interaction with the spirits, whether you prefer to be harsh or soft and whether you prefer slaves or partners, and it depends on the specific circumstances you’re working with spirits.  Sometimes you need force, and sometimes you need nobility.

“how to do things with quartz crystal” — Yes.  You do the things with the crystal by using it.  You might need to hold it differently or make sure it’s smooth enough for some particular means; you may not want those ridges on a Lemurian crystal (snerk) chafing your anus or vagina.  Not all crystals work as soup ladles.  Crystals generally do not work well as shampoo.  Horses tend to get you from place to place on the streets in rural Pennsylvania better than crystals.  One cannot make good coffee or tea with quartz crystals (or, for that matter, the crystallized powder of dehydrated coffee).  Smoothed crystals work well as back massagers.  Most crystals, except for the tiny ones, can help keep papers on your desk in the case of an unexpected tornado.  So many things!

“scorpio planetary hours” — There’s a bit of a semantic mismatch here.  Scorpio is a sign of the Zodiac, a 30° segment of the ecliptic in the eighth sphere of the fixed stars, beyond the spheres of the planets.  Planetary hours are segments of daytime or nighttime that are associated with the individual planets.  Scorpio is not a planet, and thus receives no planetary hour.  However, Scorpio is associated with the planet Mars in its negative/passive/feminine aspect, so we can say that certain hours of Mars (such as those at nighttime or during the waning Moon) can be associated with Scorpio, as I’ve experimented with before.  However, as my results from said experiment have indicated, there’s no real need to use planetary hours for the zodiac; rather, you’d want to time stuff so that the sign in question is rising (at the eastern horizon) or culminating (at the zenith/midheaven).

“witchcraft entity children summoning conjuration rituals” — I…what?  Are you wondering what spells witches use to summon children?  Is Hansel and Gretel a cautionary tale of “don’t let your children get bewitched”?  Do you think that those Satanic witches summon children to their stoops so that they can dismember them and use them in sacrifices to the Devil?  Pah!  Smart witches understand that one should use the most mundane, innocuous methods and stock up when children are in abundance.  On that note, have fun trick-or-treating this weekend, kids!

“angelic runes chart”, “planetary runes combinations” — Funnily enough, these are not what triggered my recent post on term clarification for different types of symbols, but it was a Reddit post on /r/occult.  Anyway, neither angels nor planets have runes (pace anonymous author of the Liber Runarum).  The word “rune” refers specifically to the letters of the alphabets used for Germanic and Scandinavian languages prior to the introduction of the Roman script in northwestern and northern Europe.  There are runiform scripts out there, like Old Hungarian and Old Turkish, which look kinda-sorta like futhark/futhorc runes, but they’re not themselves runes.  Angels have seals or sigils (such as those given in the Magical Calendar or the Heptameron or Agrippa), and planets just have glyphs.  In general, it’s better to just use the generic word “symbol” to refer to things.

“cassiel ritual for separation of lovers” — Cassiel is the angel associated with the planet Saturn, and is otherwise known as Castiel, Caffriel, Tzaphqiel, or some other mangled form of its original Hebrew name.  Saturn is not exactly the most emotional or sweetest of planets, and is also associated with the metal lead.  You know the story of Cupid?  He has two sets of arrows: gold-tipped ones to cause people to fall in love, and lead-tipped ones to cause people to fall in hate.  I don’t have a ritual handy under the angelic powers of Saturn to cause people to spurn each other, but it’s not hard to see how this might be done.  For instance, if I were to make up such a ritual…get a fishing weight made of lead and hammer it out into a flat disc.  Engrave one person’s name on the left of the disc and the other person’s name on the right, with the symbol of Saturn written three times down the middle of the disc.  On a Saturday night in the hour of Saturn, preferably with the Moon waning and placed antagonistically towards the planet, call on the angel of Saturn with myrrh and asafoetida incense.  Proclaim the love of so-and-so with thus-and-such null and void, that the powers of Saturn sullen and ensorrow their relationship, and that the two lovers be no more; break the disc down the three symbols of Saturn into two, such that the two names are no longer together on the same piece of lead.  Suffumigate the pieces in the incense and set a black candle to burn on each such that the black wax covers the two pieces of lead.  In the morning, instead of using the bathroom as normal, piss on the two pieces of wax-covered lead, and bury each piece where the person will step over it (so-and-so’s piece where so-and-so walks, thus-and-such’s piece where thus-and-such walks).  You’re done!  Go take a shower and enjoy your chaos.

“how to consecrate a 7 day candle”, “burning candle rituals in psalms”, “candle burning rituals psalms”, “burning candle rituals use of psalms”, “florida water and white candle rituals”, “psalms 23 white candle magic”, “how to burn candle to pray with psalm”, “candle burning ritual using the psalms”, “can you use florida water to consecrate a candle” — I’m not sure if I noticed it before or if it’s actually weird this month, but it seems like I’ve gotten a higher-than-normal rate of candle/psalm-related searches.  Chances are these are variants of something a single person was using and kept getting turned back to my blog, and given the inclusion of Florida water in a few of the searches, I’m going to guess they’re looking for something more American in style, like hoodoo or rootworking uses.  Honestly, while the usual all-purpose candle consecration ritual I use comes from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 12), that’s generally overkill for something like this.  Washing a candle off in fresh, clean water or holy water is more than enough; Florida water may make it a little “brighter” than you want, but it’s a good spiritual cleanser all the same.  You can anoint candles with olive oil that’s been prayed over or with a specific magical oil, but it’s not strictly needed unless you think it’ll help with your specific need better.  There’re whole books and styles of setting lights and burning candles, especially with Psalm magic, far more than I can describe here, but use candles in ways that make sense, generate spiritual power from the flame, and demonstrate through ritual motion of moving and placing candles according to the specific psalm and purpose of the ritual.

“can i invite pomba gira into my dreams” — Ahahahaha a̴͔͓̰͕̩h̸͙͙̱̲̝a̜̝̦͈̤̦ͅh̕a̝͍̟̯̹̠h̺à̙̖͕h̻̻͚͍͔̼͙a̖͔h͇͟a̛̬̗̥̞̦h̡̠ H̷̹̣̘͈͎̭͔͟À̵̲̖͍̪̱̘H̢͚͈Á̘̳̠̭̰ͅH̥̼̳͎̞̻̖̲A̵̳̗̜̫͍̬̬H̜͇̰̟̜͜A̵̸̳̙H̡̙̯̩͉̼̼̹̳̰̕A̫̬̻͇͖̝̫͜ͅH͖̞͡A̞̳͇̫̕ͅ H͔̞̜̣̟̀͟͟͢A̭̯̹̥̼͙̪̤̩̤͔͟͢͠Ḫ̸̶̢̨̲͉͇̙̫͍̹̥͓̝͈̺̯͟Á̷̟̠̤̼̝̪̙͙͕͕̭̲͉̭̀͜͢H̸̵̴̖͓̪͙̬̹͕̣͔̰̟̥͈̭́͝A̧͙̟̘̞̠̼͍͠H̶̨̡̻͈͈̮͖̬̙̯̳̺̻͉̬̼̗̰̗̣͉̀͢A̴̵̦͖̲̠̯͚̲̜̬͔̪͇̙͈̺̦̺͚ͅH̴͇̟̦̙̦̺̖̭̰̦͕͔́͟Ą̸̪̲̝̯̥̤̲͖̪̥̲͖̗̗̕͜H̞͇̱͉̜̠͖͔̹͓̜̟͈̕͢ͅA̶̕҉̡̤̫͉̦̗̤A̴҉̡͎͈̰͎̘͈̭͙͟A͜҉̖̬͍͚̩̦̬̲̯A͘҉̤̗̭͉̪͇̠Ạ̸̛̛̫̝͈̰͍͉͖̻̝̞̺̭̼̹̣̠̀͢Ą̡̱͓̝̦̼͖̯̞̟̞̻̱̙̠̦̰͠ͅA̷̢͇̹̫̘̥͙̻͙̼̝͍̠̼͡ͅͅA̴҉̴͈͔̬̫͎͙̹̲̰͍͙̕͟ͅͅÁ̴̶̱̘͉͍͈͘A̗̻̯̲̪̟̯͚̠̠̭̥̬͓̻̙̙͢͝ͅ y͖̜o̷͘͏̺̮̭̮͇̪̰ù̧̩̖̪͖̬̀ͅ ̵͖̠̘̯̲͎̙̳͘f̘̮͖͙͝o̗̪̺͉̺̫̣͕o̥̖̳̹͢ĺ͉̥͍̥͇̥̹͞ 

 

And now, since I figure I may as well rejoice in it, here’s the list of all phallus-related searches from this month.  Because people obviously come to read the Digital Ambler for two things, magic and dicks, and I’m not sure which is more popular anymore.

  • anal sex with big black cocks
  • dick big kongo
  • black huge dicks
  • use method large cock
  • egypt massive dick man image
  • pompeii penis depictions
  • ebony dicks
  • huge dick

Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Helios

(Update 1/9/2018: Interested in more about this ritual?  Check out my more polished, fleshed-out writeup over on this page!)

As I mentioned last time in that post detailing a list of neat shit I found for use in my own magic, there’s one particular ritual that I hadn’t used before or included in my original enchiridion, but that I thought would be worth it to include.  This is a ritual from the Greek Magical Papyri, that awesome Dead Sea Scrolls collection of magic, and specifically comes from PGM IV.1596—1715, under the title This is the consecration for all purposes; Spell to Helios.  It’s a somewhat lengthy incantation, and doesn’t provide any ritual instructions nor does it seem immediately connected to any other ritual found close to it in the PGM, but it’s a fascinating method of consecration of a charm, stone, ring, phylactery, or other object for power under Helios, the sun god of the Greeks.

However, it being the PGM, its’s not that straightforward.  Besides the usual barbarous words of power, this ritual has several fascinating aspects to it.  For one, the ritual associates Helios with the Αγαθος Δαιμον, the Good Spirit or Genius, with heavy references to a Serpent God and even an explicit one to Serapis, none of which is too surprising given the PGM context in which we find this ritual.  More fascinating than this, however, this ritual has Helios with twelve forms and twelve names, each form and name for each of the twelve hours of the day.  This is much like the names of the hours of the Heptameron, and has corollaries to the names of angels from the Key of Solomon; however, the practice of giving names and gods to the individual hours of the day is old and definitely has its origins in ancient Egyptian practice.  There is another ritual, PGM III.494, which provides a partial list of the gods of the hours, but it’s incomplete, making PGM IV.1596 the only complete one in the text.  For reference, the names (in Greek along with their isopsephic values) and forms of Helios in the twelve hours are listed below, along with the hieroglyph for each animal (as close as I can ascertain, for reasons which will soon become clear):

Hour Name Animal
1 ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ
1159 (ΩΨΝΘ)
Cat Hieroglyph for "Cat"
2 ΣΟΥΦΙ
1180 (ΩΤΠ)
Dog Hieroglyph for "Dog"
3 ΑΜΕΚΡΑΝΕΒΕΧΕΟ ΘΩΥΘ
2122 (ΩΨΧΚΒ)
Serpent Hieroglyph for "Snake"
4 ΣΕΝΘΕΝΙΨ
1029 (ΩΣΚΘ)
Scarab Hieroglyph for "Dung beetle"
5 ΕΝΦΑΝΧΟΥΦ
2176 (ΩΨΧΟΕΑ)
Donkey Hieroglyph for "Donkey"
6 ΒΑΙ ΣΟΛΒΑΙ
326 (ΤΚΕΑ)
Lion Hieroglyph for "Lion"
7 ΟΥΜΕΣΘΩΘ
1533 (ΩΨΛG)
Goat Hieroglyph for "Ibex"
8 ΔΙΑΤΙΦΗ
833 (ΩΛΓ)
Bull Hieroglyph for "Bull"
9 ΦΗΟΥΣ ΦΩΟΥΘ
2957 (ΩΨΧΦΤΝΖ)
Falcon Hieroglyph for "Falcon"
10 ΒΕΣΒΥΚΙ
639 (ΧΛΘ)
Baboon Hieroglyph for "Sacred baboon"
11 ΜΟΥ ΡΩΦ
1910 (ΩΨΥΙ)
Ibis Hieroglyph for "Crested ibis"
12 ΑΕΡΘΟΗ
193 (ΡΠΓ)
Crocodile Hieroglyph for "Crocodile"

There’s a small bit written about the forms of the Helios, mostly in German, and I don’t propose to get into it too deeply here.  However, I did mention above that there is another list of names and forms of the Sun through the hours earlier in the PGM, but it’s incomplete; Stephen Flowers in his Hermetic Magic attempts a reconstruction, but…well, suffice to say that I’m not particularly sanguine about his work.  Mind you, this is focusing on the twelve hours of the day, since Helios (in the Egyptian reckoning) dies and goes into the underworld during the nighttime.  Some of the faces of Helios have small descriptions appended to them, such as that of the ninth face ΦΗΟΥΣ ΦΩΟΥΘ as “the lotus emerged from the abyss”, of which the lotus is a traditional throne of Harpokrates, also known as Horus, given the animal form of a falcon.  It might be that the Sun was thought of by the author as an ultimate, monistic god that took on multiple forms, especially given his laudation of the Sun as “the great Serpent, leader of all the gods, who control the beginning of Egypt and the end of the whole inhabited world” and other praises.  Other notably Egyptian names can be found amidst the other barbarous words in this ritual.

Now, while the ritual as given in the PGM is well-preserved, there are two main issues, as I see it.  For one, each one of the twelve hours has an associated benediction for the phylactery or charm to be consecrated except for the tenth and twelfth hours; Betz notes that it’s likely a copyist omission that left out the consecration for the these hours.  Moreover, the bigger issue we have is that we don’t know exactly how to employ the ritual, as no framework for the ritual was given.  To that end, here are some of my thoughts on setting up such a ritual employing this consecration:

  • When it comes to timing, I think it’d be good for us modern Hermetic magi to stick to a time powerful for the Sun, such as during a day and hour of the Sun, during a good astrological election of the Sun, or using the day when the Sun hits his exaltation at 18° Aries (which, barring unusual circumstances, only happens once a year sometime around April 7).  As this is a consecration, choosing a day when the Moon is waxing or full would be preferred.  The wording of the text suggests that the Sun, at the time of uttering the spell, has already set, meaning that the ritual would have been done at nighttime, leading to a peculiar necromantic-solar vibe.  However, there’s room for fleshing this out, and I think doing it in the daytime could be done just as well.
  • No offerings are mentioned, but strong red wine would be a safe bet.
  • Ritual setup could involve six candles (six being the Qabbalistic number of the Sun), but I think it’d be better to have twelve candles, one each for the twelve faces of Helios.  Alternatively, oil lamps would work equally well.
  • Frankincense would be an obvious choice for a suffumigation, but if you wanted to go fancier, you could make a more complicated and delectable solar blend.  If you wanted to go old-school, perhaps kyphi would also work.
  • The usual solar decorations of gold, yellow, bay laurel, and the like would be nice, perhaps substituting the number 6 for 12 (such as using a duodecadon or a double hexagon instead of a single hexagon).
  • Even though the ritual text lacks benedictions for the tenth and twelfth hours, it’s not terribly hard to fill in the blanks with related ones.

So, with all that in mind, here’s what I have planned for the full ritual of the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of .  For the full ritual, it will take place over the course of a full day from the moment of sunrise to the moment of sunset, with thirteen total invocations to be done, but later on I’ll also describe a one-fell-swoop approach to doing the whole ritual.

Preparation
Prepare the following supplies:

  • Thirteen white, ivory, yellow, or gold candles that burn for at least 12 hours, or thirteen clean oil lamps that have not been painted red filled with enough oil to burn for at least 12 hours
  • A bottle of red wine
  • Twelve small cups and one large bowl, if the ritual is done inside
  • Non-red (preferably white or yellow) chalk, paint, or ink, if the ritual is done inside and/or upon some sort of writable ground or surface
  • Incense, either purely of frankincense or compounded of equal parts frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, and cinnamon
  • Oil, either pure olive oil or some sort of blessing/magical oil
  • An object to be consecrated, henceforth known as the “charm” (but change the word in the instructions and ritual text as necessary to “ring”, “phylactery”, &c.)

The ritual will take place at thirteen different points in time throughout the same day: at the first hour of the day (moment of sunrise), at the second, third…twelfth, and at the thirteenth hour of the day (moment of sunset).  Be sure to calculate these specific times for the ritual in the same way as you’d calculate planetary hours, focusing only on the diurnal hours plus the first nocturnal hour (sunset).  One is to strictly fast from all food, all drinks except water, all sexual activity, and all impurity from the moment the ritual begins until it is concluded after sunset.

Prepare the ritual area:

  1. Clean, purify, and banish the ritual area from all impurity before setting anything up.  Using natron as a purifying agent is suggested, but not required.
  2. Arrange twelve of the candles in a large semicircle, so that the open side faces the north. The twelve candles may be spaced so that the first candle is oriented due east and the last candle due west, or they may be spaced so that the first candle is oriented towards the exact direction of sunrise and the last candle towards the exact direction of the Sun’s position in its twelfth hour of the day.
  3. If done inside or in such an area as to permit a writable surface, write out the name of the twelve faces of Helios between the object to be consecrated and each of the candles, so that ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ is written between the object and towards the easternmost candle, ΣΟΥΦΙ towards the next one just to the south, and so forth.  If space is tight, use the isopsephic value of each name instead, written either in Arabic or Greek numerals.  Outside the semicircle beside each candle, write the Egyptian hieroglyph for the animal associated with that candle’s hour and name.  Additionally, write the hieroglyph for the Sun in the focal point of the semicircle.
    Hieroglyph for "Sun"
  4. If the ritual is done inside, place the bowl at the focal point of the semicircle, then put the charm inside the bowl.  If outside, place the charm at the focal point on the ground.
  5. If the ritual is done inside, set a small cup just beyond each candle (either on or beyond the hieroglyph if on a writable surface).
  6. Place the censer for the incense behind the focal point, a little bit away from the charm towards the north.
  7. If desired, write the names of the four guardians of the directions ΕΡΒΗΘ to the east, ΛΕΡΘΕΞΑΝΑΞ to the south, ΑΒΛΑΝΑΘΑΝΑΛΒΑ to the west, and ΣΕΣΕΓΓΕΝΒΑΡΦΑΡΑΓΓΗΣ to the north around the whole ritual area.  I’ve found these names of power to represent the entities guarding the stations of the Sun as he progresses through the heavens and hells, but it’s optional.  Likewise, if desired and if space permits, you may also want to “close off” the area by drawing a second semicircle to the north so as to make a more-or-less complete circle.

The resulting layout for the ritual, assuming we use the due-east/due-west orientation of the candles with all the extra things and large enough to walk within, would look like this:

Daytime Consecration to the 12 Faces of Helios Arrangement

Ritual
Before sunrise on the day of the ritual, prepare the temple space so that it is clean, banished, and prepared accordingly. Just before sunrise, invoke the four guardians of the directions, if desired, or other watchtower-type entities. At sunrise, the ritual fast and actions begin; light the thirteenth candle (henceforth referred to as the Sun candle) that has not been set out in the semicircle.  Light the incense, then take the Sun candle in in the left hand, salute the rising Sun with the right, and begin the preliminary invocation (state your name or whoever’s the beneficiary of the charm wherever “NN.” is used):

I invoke you, the greatest god, eternal lord, world ruler, I who are over the world and under the world, mighty ruler of the sea, rising at dawn, shining from the east for the whole world, setting in the west. Come to me, you who rises from the four winds, joyous Agathos Daimon, for whom heaven has become the processional way. I call upon your holy and great and hidden names which you rejoice to hear.  The earth flourished when you shone forth; the plants became fruitful when you laughed; the animals begat their young when you permitted.  Give glory and honor and favor and fortune and power to this charm which I consecrate today for NN.

I invoke you, the greatest in heaven, ΗΙ ΛΑΝΧΥΧ ΑΚΑΡΗΝ ΒΑΛ ΜΙΣΘΡΗΝ ΜΑΡΤΑ ΜΑΘΑΘ ΛΑΙΛΑΜ ΜΟΥΣΟΥΘΙ ΣΙΕΘΩ ΒΑΘΑΒΑΘΙ ΙΑΤΜΩΝ ΑΛΕΙ ΙΑΒΑΘ ΑΒΑΩΘ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΑΔΩΝΑΙ, the great god, ΟΡΣΕΝΟΦΡΗ ΟΡΓΕΑΤΗΣ ΤΟΘΟΡΝΑΤΗΣΑ ΚΡΙΘΙ ΒΙΩΘΙ ΙΑΔΜΩ ΙΑΤΜΩΜΙ ΜΕΘΙΗΙ ΛΟΝΧΟΩ ΑΚΑΡΗ ΒΑΛ ΜΙΝΘΡΗ ΒΑΝΕ ΒΑΙΝΧΧΥΧΧ ΟΥΦΡΙ ΝΟΘΕΟΥΣΙ ΘΡΑΙ ΑΡΣΙΟΥΘ ΕΡΩΝΕΡΘΕΡ, the shining Helios, giving light throughout the whole world.  You are the great Serpent, leader of all the gods, who control the beginning of Egypt and the end of the whole inhabited world, who mate in the ocean, ΨΟΙ ΦΝΟΥΘΙ ΝΙΝΘΗΡ.  You are he who becomes visible each day and sets in the northwest of heaven, and rises in the southeast.

Proceed to the first candle in the semicircle and light it with the Sun candle; if the circle is large enough to walk in, stand on top of the name of the face for the first hour and face the candle, but otherwise stand behind the charm towards the north and facing the candle of the first hour. Say the invocation of the first hour while saluting the first candle with the right hand:

In the first hour you have the form of a cat; your name is ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ. Give glory and favor to this charm.

Pour out an offering of wine, either directly on the ground on top of the hieroglyph (if outside) or in its proper cup (if inside). Follow this with the following supplication:

You who will set at evening as an old man, who are over the world and under the world, mighty ruler of the sea, hear my voice in this present day, in these holy hours, and let all things done by this charm be brought to fulfillment, and especially for the need for which I consecrate it, for the sake of NN.

Set the Sun candle down by or on top of the charm. The ritual for the first hour is complete.

At each of the successive hours of the day through the twelfth hour, repeat the process by lighting more incense, taking up the Sun candle, and proceeding to go through each invocation for each of the hour, saluting each candle, until you reach the proper candle for the appropriate hour, where you’ll light that hour’s candle, recite the invocation to that hour while saluting the candle, pour out wine for that hour, and finish with the final supplication before putting the Sun candle down by the charm. The rest of the hour invocations are (supplemented with my own additions for the tenth and twelfth hours):

  1. In the second hour you have the form of a dog; your name is ΣΟΥΦΙ.  Give strength and honor to this charm and to NN.
  2. In the third hour you have the form of a serpent; your name is ΑΜΕΚΡΑΝΕΒΕΧΕΟ ΘΩΥΘ.  Give honor to the god NN.
  3. In the fourth hour you have the form of a scarab; your name is ΣΕΝΘΕΝΙΨ.  Mightily strengthen this charm for that which it is consecrated.
  4. In the fifth hour you have the form of a donkey; your name is ΕΝΦΑΝΧΟΥΦ.  Give strength and courage and power to the god NN.
  5. In the sixth hour you have the form of a lion; your name is ΒΑΙ ΣΟΛΒΑΙ, the ruler of time.  Give success to this charm and glorious victory.
  6. In the seventh hour you have the form of a goat; your name is ΟΥΜΕΣΘΩΘ.  Give sexual charm to this charm.
  7. In the eighth hour you have the form of a bull; your name is ΔΙΑΤΙΦΗ, who becomes visible everywhere.  Let all things done by the use of this charm be accomplished.
  8. In the ninth hour you have the form of a falcon; your name is ΦΗΟΥΣ ΦΩΟΥΘ, the lotus emerged from the abyss.  Give success and good luck to this charm.
  9. In the tenth hour you have the form of a baboon; your name is ΒΕΣΒΥΚΙ.  Give power and wisdom in all things to the god NN. for whom this charm is consecrated.
  10. In the eleventh hour you have the form of an ibis; your name is ΜΟΥ ΡΩΦ.  Protect this great charm for lucky use by NN. from this present day for all time.
  11. In the twelfth hour you have the form of a crocodile; your name is ΑΕΡΘΟΗ.  Give the greatest protection to NN. by this charm.

At sunset, go through the entire ritual once more, burning more incense and invoking and saluting each of the hours as before.  Regardless of whether the circle is large enough to walk through, stand behind the censer facing south towards the candles, and hold the charm in the incense smoke throughout the entire set of invocations.  After this, continuing to hold the charm in the incense smoke, recite the following prayer:

You who have set at evening as an old man, who are over the world and under the world, mighty ruler of the sea, hear my voice in this night, in these holy hours, and let all things done by this charm be brought to fulfillment, and especially for the need for which I consecrate it, for the sake of NN.  Please, lord ΚΜΗΦ ΛΟΥΘΕΟΥΘ ΟΡΦΟΙΧΕ ΟΡΤΙΛΙΒΕΧΟΥΧ ΙΕΡΧΕ ΡΟΥΜ ΙΠΕΡΙΤΑΩ ΥΑΙ, I conjure earth and heaven and light and darkness and the great god who created all, ΣΑΡΟΥΣΙΝ, you, Agathon Daimonion the Helper, to accomplish for NN. everything done by the use of this charm.

Put the charm back down in the focal point of the semicircle, either on the ground (if outside) or inside the bowl (if inside).  Pour out a new offering of wine on top of the charm. Set the candle by or on top of the charm.  Face north with the candles to your back.  With arms outstretched, say the concluding formula:

The one Zeus is Serapis.

The ritual is complete, and the ritual fast may now be broken.  Let all the candles burn out on their own, and at the first sunrise after all the candles have burned out. If done inside, take the bowl with the wine and the charm, remove the charm from the bowl and set it on the ground facing the Sun, and pour out the wine on top of the charm while facing the Sun. Whether done inside or outside, once the charm can be removed from the ritual area, gently clean off the charm with pure water and let it dry in the Sun’s light after anointing it with oil.  Keep the charm nearby whenever you need its power or whenever you need to use it.

Nighttime Simultaneous Ritual
An alternative method of employing the ritual is, instead of progressively building up to the full consecration throughout the twelve hours of the day, is to do it all at once at night.  For this, the general ritual setup would be similar with the fast starting at the sunset before the ritual and ending at sunrise after the ritual, but the ritual is to be done precisely at solar midnight, the balance-point between sunset of the previous day and sunrise of the next (which, especially if you’re on summer time/DST, may closer to 1 a.m. instead of 12 a.m.).  In addition, the candles may last any length of time; I’d recommend twelve tealights and a single taper candle.  Perform any banishing or invocation as desired and set up the ritual space, but instead of using the semicircular arrangement as above, use a circular arrangement with the first face oriented to the east; the censer should be put off to the side somewhere, with the twelve candles surrounding the charm.

Nighttime Consecration to the 12 Faces of Helios Arrangement

At true midnight, light the incense and light the Sun candle, and begin the preliminary invocation.  For each of the twelve faces of Helios in order, light its candle, salute, invoke, and pour wine out for the face.  Afterwards, finish with the final supplication (the one involving barbarous words), pouring out of wine on top of the charm, and concluding with the concluding formula.  Let the candles burn out and clean up at sunrise as you otherwise would.

Other Variations
I’ve seen vague references to other magicians employing this ritual for other purposes, not just for the consecration of a charm but for general empowerment or wealth, and this ritual can be modified accordingly merely by tweaking the text for the benedictions of each hour as well as the final supplications.  For a more initiatory ritual, you might use the circular arrangement, even in daytime, with you standing at the center being the thing consecrated, building up after a fast and performing the ritual at least once, if not at nighttime then multiple times throughout the day.

Ritual Astragalomancy

Astragalomancy, as I brought up in the last post, is divination using knucklebones.  Besides the fact that I can legitimately say that I “throw the bones” when I do readings, I’m excited to learn about it because it’s such a classical system of divination, and one tied directly to Hermes.  Thing is, however, that it’s pretty straightforward, pretty simple, and pretty clear.  I’m a ceremonial magician.  Can I make something more complex?  You bet your ass I can, so I did with this.  After all, knucklebones and a guide to divination is well and good, but why not consecrate my new divination tools or set up a ritual divinatory framework with them?

Dervenis in his Oracle Bones Divination happily gives instructions on how astragaloi were cleansed and prepared from the actual sheep by repeatedly boiling them in a fresh dilute solution of vinegar and cleaning off whatever can come off until they’re completely cleaned of blood and flesh.  He admits that this is a bit much to ask of the everyday reader in our culture far removed from home butchery, and my knucklebones are already cleaned off.  Still, I figured I’d incorporate this simple act into a ritual of consecration under Hermes to dedicate the knucklebones for divination; the ritual boils the knucklebones more for effect and going through the motions instead of actually cleaning them, but if you’re actually cleaning off flesh and blood from the knucklebones, the ritual can be adapted for that, too.

At dawn on the day of the month given to worship of Hermes (the fourth day of the lunar month if you go by the Attic calendar, or the seventh day if you go by the mathetic calendar), prepare a large batch of khernips and wash yourself off with it.  Set aside frankincense and cinnamon incense, olive oil, white vinegar, clean water, and red wine, and make an offering to Hermes as you would normally with the usual prayers, incense, wine, candles, and whatever else you do; be sure to offer a good-sized glass of wine to the god during your offering.  Present to Hermes the five astragaloi, either by laying them on his altar before his image (if you have one) or by raising them up to the east facing the sunrise; dedicate the astragaloi to him as a gift and a means by which you can communicate with him and he with you for advice, divination, guidance, and direction:

Hail, Hermēs Khrēsmophoros! By your guidance, I seek messages from the gods.
Hail, Hermēs Euskopos! By your guidance, I seek wisdom from on high.
With these five knucklebones, these five astragaloi, I seek to know my life and the world I live in.
O Hermēs, you who love to be a friend to humanity, I give these astragaloi to you!
Let us throw these together as friends, sharing knowledge and wisdom of action and reaction!
Let us throw these together as mates, giving and hearing words of reality and advice!
Accept these five knucklebones, Hermēs Astragalios, as tools by which we may speak together!

After this, take a small pot and wash it out with the khernips.  Take one measure of vinegar and four measures of water in the pot, enough so that the entire amount is enough to completely cover the knucklebones, and heat the solution until it comes to a rolling boil.  Place the knucklebones into the boiling solution and slowly say the Orphic Hymn to Hermes.  Take the knucklebones out of the solution and place them on a clean white towel to dry and cool off, and throw out the liquid from the pot.  If so desired, repeat all this four more times, from rinsing the pot out with khernips to drying out the knucklebones, so that the knucklebones have been washed off five times in diluted vinegar; once, however, is enough, especially if the knucklebones have already been cleaned.

After this, rinse off each knucklebone in the khernips.  Take a shallow bowl and place the five knucklebones in it, and present the knucklebones to Hermes again as clean instruments for divination.  Light the incense of cinnamon and frankincense.  For each of the five knucklebones, take one from the bowl, hold it aloft, and dedicate it to Hermes in work with divination, submerging it in the wine you offered to him earlier:

With this wine, I nourish these bones that they may be fed to work in my divination.
With this wine, I honor these bones that they may help me in my life.
With this wine, I exalt these bones that they may loosen the tongues of the gods.
With this wine, I dedicate these bones to Hermēs that he may speak with his power.

After all five knucklebones have been fed with wine, empty and clean out the bowl, then place them back in the bowl (you may want to pat them dry first) and drizzle them all with the olive oil.  Rub each with the olive oil, making sure that they’re slick and covered with the stuff.  Waft each of the knucklebones in the incense so that the smoke completely surrounds each bone, having come in contact with all its surfaces.  Present the oiled and suffumigated knuclebones in the bowl (again emptied and cleaned out) to Hermes again, setting them before his image (if you have one), and pray:

Hail, Hermēs Khrēsmophoros! By your guidance, I seek messages from the gods.
Hail, Hermēs Euskopos! By your guidance, I seek wisdom from on high.
Great Hermēs guides all on their paths.
Great Hermēs leads all to their ends.
Great Hermēs knows all in their minds.
I dedicate these five astragaloi, to the words and works of Hermēs Astragalios,
that I may not be misguided, that I may not be mislead, that I may not be left in ignorance.
Cleaned, fed, anointed, suffumigated, dedicated,
may Hermēs speak clear and true through his oracles of his dice!

After this, leave the knucklebones on his altar for some time, at least a full day but, if possible, a full lunar month; set a candle on top of the bones every day that they’re being consecrated.  Once the consecration period is over, make an offering to Hermes in thanks for consecrating and accepting the knucklebones as a tool to be used with him for divination; the dice can now be wiped off from any extra oil that did not take and can be kept in a clean, protective bag.  Afterwards, that same day, also make an offering to Apollo, the best friend of Hermes and the other primary god of divination, and present the dice to him that his words may also come across true and clear through the dice with the guidance and aid of Hermes.

With that, our astragaloi are consecrated and ready for use.  Now, how do we go about using them?  Traditionally, astragalomancy was performed in the agora or forum, the town marketplace, by a herm (four-sided pillar topped with a bust of Hermes) with the 56 different oracles inscribed on the sides.  Next to the herm would be a table or a bowl containing the five astragaloi for divination; you’d ask Hermes the question, take up the astragaloi, roll them on the table or on the ground, and look up the corresponding answer.  Pretty simple and straightforward; ritually speaking, we don’t need to do more than just invoke Hermes and ask him our query.  Then again, that’s boring, so let’s be a little fancier.

Before consulting the astragalomancy, it helps to always figure out what exactly you’re going to ask.  I’ve talked about this plenty before, more in person than otherwise, but the query is the most important part of the whole divination process.  Without a good query, your answer’s going to be shit.  A good query follows the rules of the three “C”s:

  • A good divination query is clear.  There is no obscurity, duplicity, or vagueness in the query; you’re being honest about what it is you want to know, and you’re putting it bluntly, frankly, and openly for both yourself, the diviner, and the gods or spirits who answer.
  • A good divination query is concise.  You aren’t droning on for half an hour telling your life story, nor are you taking the garden path when asking your question.  Instead, you’re able to succinctly phrase your question into a single, short sentence.  This goes hand-in-hand with the clarity of the query.
  • A good divination query is concrete.  You know exactly what you’re asking about and you’re asking it clearly and concisely.  You aren’t talking about abstract concepts or hypothetical theoretical potentialities of what ifs, but something that can actually happen with tangible or viewable results.

So, rather than asking “will I ever be happy in my love life?”, which is clear and concise but not concrete, you might ask “will John Doe propose to me by the end of this year?”; instead of asking “am I in the right place in my life” after droning on for an hour about your college mistakes, you might ask “should I leave my current company to work on my start-up idea?”.  You get the gist.  Given the placement of the oracle and given the major focus of the astragalomantic verses, although astragalomancy can be applied to any query, they’re especially powerful for matters involving business, trade, travel, and other worldly affairs.  It’s quite probable that tradesmen, shopkeepers, and other business-minded people would consult the agora astragalomancy before business deals or other ventures as our modern businesspeople consult the stock market and trade indexes.

Once you have the query fixed in your mind, understanding what it is you’re actually going to ask, prepare yourself and a few supplies for making a formal supplication for divination from Hermes.  Wash off with khernips and sprinkle it around the area you’ll be divining in as well as on the astragaloi.  Set the astragaloi before you.  Make an offering to Hermes by lighting a white candle and, if desired, some frankincense incense, and pour out a small amount of wine, praying:

Hail, Hermēs Khrēsmophoros! By your guidance, I seek messages from the gods.
Hail, Hermēs Euskopos! By your guidance, I seek wisdom from on high.
Great Hermēs guides all on their paths.
Great Hermēs leads all to their ends.
Great Hermēs knows all in their minds.
I make you this offering, Hermēs, and I seek your presence here!
I come with a question seeking answers, a query seeking advice!
Accept this light, this incense, and this wine, blessed god, and be pleased with them.
Open now my paths and see now my plight!

Feed the astragaloi with wine, using the fingers of your left hand to dip into the glass of wine for Hermes and sprinkling them onto the astragaloi.  Pray the same wine-feeding prayer as above:

With this wine, I nourish these bones that they may be fed to work in my divination.
With this wine, I honor these bones that they may help me in my life.
With this wine, I exalt these bones that they may loosen the tongues of the gods.
With this wine, I dedicate these bones to Hermēs that he may speak with his power.

Take up the astragaloi in your left hand and speak your query directly into them; focus on the query, breathing onto the astragaloi, until they become warm.  Once they’ve taken on your heat, cup them in both hands, shake them four times, and toss them onto the ground before you.  Make a note of how each astragalos falls, both in terms of which side it falls on (Khion, Hyption, Pranēs, Kōon) and how it falls in terms of speed, bounce, location, direction, and whether it bumps into another astragalos or into another object.  Announce the god associated with the throw of the astragaloi, and read aloud the corresponding oracle associated with the throw of the astragaloi.  Meditate on the god, the oracle, and the manner in which the astragaloi fell and how it all ties into a single answer for your query; if desired, also consult the Greek alphabet oracle interpretation for the sum of the throw.

If there are any more questions to be asked, wash off the astragaloi with khernips and feed them with wine again, saying the prayer as above, then repeat the process of throwing the astragaloi and meditating on the answer.  Once all questions have been asked, the divination ritual can be brought to a close.  Wash off the astragaloi with the khernips once more and pour a bit more wine into the offering for Hermes, thanking him for his answers and guidance from your heart, and asking that he continue to guide you that his advice may not be wasted or spoken in vain.  The candle can be respectfully put out or left burning as an offering.

Of course, if all the above is too much for you, you might invoke Apollo and Hermes, the gods of divination and prophecy, in a simple prayer that Apollonius Sophistes gives on his page about the Greek alphabet oracle.  This is an invocation at the top of a pillar with a set of oracular verses upon which grammatomancy is based, directly preceding the verses themselves.  The prayer runs thus:

Apollo, Lord, and Hermes, lead the way!
And thou, who wanders, this to thee we say:
Be still; enjoy the oracle’s excellence,
for Phoebus Apollo has given it to us,
this Art of Divination from our ancestors.

As far as ritual timing goes, I’d say that pretty much any time is good for Hermaic astragalomancy.  He’s both ouranic and chthonic, liminal, and everywhere all the time; there’s no bad time to work with him for this.  That said, as a matter of custom, any days the agora or market wouldn’t be open is probably a day to not consult the bones for this; in my lunar grammatomantic calendar, the unlettered days would be an example of this.  The usual astrological phenomena apply, of course: be wary of Mercury retrograde, rethink starting a matter when Mercury is afflicted or Moon is void of cource, yada yada.  Taking observance of the weather, a common warning in geomantic practice, is useful, too; you probably don’t want to do divination with the gods when those same gods in charge of the weather and the world are fighting or upset, causing storms or hurricanes or damaging winds or sharp frosts or whatever.  The process of figuring out the query can be coupled with meditation to clear out your own mind and settle your own passions, too, but you probably already know this.

Suitable Jewelry for Magic, Spirits, and Forces

As many of my readers and followers on Twitter and Facebook are aware, one of the most important things I craft for my personal practice are pieces of jewelry I wear in honor of the spirits or as talismans of particular forces.  This goes far beyond the lamens used in conjuration or Solomonic rings, but include what I’ve come to call carcanets, beaded necklaces and bracelets with colors, stones, and metals that resonate well with a particular spirit.  I started making them to have simple wearable talismans of planetary and elemental forces that wouldn’t attract too much attention or be too bulky to carry around, but I ended up making more for some of my gods and spirits, and then more for other people based on custom needs.  On Facebook, The Professor from the blog Traif Banquet noted that she’s seen me make many different types of carcanets and was interested in how I pick the colors and patterns for each, and how I consecrate them and use them in ritual work.  Of course, I was headed to a theme park that day to support the local LGBT community, so it wasn’t quite the time for such a discussion then and there, but I decided to oblige anyway and write a fuller explanation of what exactly I do.

So, what is a carcanet?  Physically speaking, a carcanet is ritual talismanic jewelry made from beads that sometimes incorporate precious and semi-precious stone or metal or wood or bone, sometimes religious items like saint medallions or crosses, and sometimes other items that is worn to derive the blessing, presence, and aid of a particular spiritual force or entity.  I make mine from artificial twine and seed beads and make them into necklaces and bracelets, though there’s nothing saying you have to use the same materials I do.  I use artificial twine because it’s sturdy and resistant to breaking, though elastic cord or leather can be useful too on occasion.  Each carcanet is attuned and consecrated to a particular force or spirit, and the colors, materials, and patterns on the carcanet indicate exactly what that attunement is and to whom or to what it’s consecrated by or under.

For instance, consider my Sash of Powers, something I made a while back for use in standard Western ceremonial work, which contains representations of all the forces used in Western ceremonial magic based on the Golden Dawn and Agrippan materia.  This is worn across one shoulder and drapes down to the opposite hip, since it’s far too long to wear as a necklace or bracelet.  Among other forces, the Sash of Powers contains the 24 forces that we use in mathesis and, for that matter, most of the Western mystery tradition, and the colors I use for this tend are those I tend to use in most of my work:

Sash of Powers

  • Four elements: I use the system of flashing colors that the Golden Dawn instituted.  Thus, I use red (primary) and green (secondary) for Fire, yellow and purple for Air, and blue and orange for Water.  They didn’t really have flashing colors for Earth that I can find, instead using the “muddled” colors associated with the sephirah Malkuth (black, citrine, olive, russet), so instead I use black (primary) and white (secondary).
  • Spirit: I’ve never really considered this an element proper (as my mathesis stuff shows), though it can be considered an element or a planet or any other force based on the need.  Because of this, it’s hard to give a color for pure Spirit; I tend to use pure white, clear, pearlescent, or rainbow for Spirit.  If we consider Spirit to be the realm of the fixed stars (i.e. Chokmah), then some combination of silver, clear grey, or light blue might work; if we consider it pure divinity (i.e. Kether), then white and clear would work.
  • Seven planets: I use the system of Queen and King scales of the Golden Dawn, so black and crimson for Saturn, blue and purple for Jupiter, red and orange for Mars, and so forth.
  • Twelve signs of the Zodiac: I never liked the scales of the Four Worlds the Golden Dawn uses for the paths of the Tree of Life, from which we can get  colors for the twelve Zodiac signs.  Instead, I use a combination of the Queen scale of the Golden Dawn for the ruling planet of the sign as well as the colors that Agrippa gives for the sign (book I, chapter 49).  Thus, as an example, consider Aries and Libra.  Agrippa gives white as the color for both these signs, while the corresponding Queen scale of the ruling planets are red for Aries ruled by Mars and green for Libra ruled by Venus.  Thus, Aries has red and white, and Libra has green and white as its colors.  I tend to differentiate the Agrippan zodiacal colors from the Queen scale planetary colors by using a slightly brighter, more reflective, or metallic variant (so a reflective clear red instead of a flat red), but it’s not necessary.

Of course, the Sash also has a few other things marked on it, including the 12 Banners of the Names of God and the 16 geomantic figures, but those aren’t forces, per se.  These are less colors to be used with forces and more representations of more complex things that can vary.  Geomantic figures, being ultimately related to the Earth, use white and black as the colors of the element of Earth (with a white bead noting an active line and a black bead a passive line in a geomantic figure); I used white, yellow-gold, black, and brown to represent the four letters of the Tetragrammaton put in their different permutations, but I’m not sure that it matters for this how or which colors to use.

Of course, I don’t make carcanets and the like for just pure forces.  The major focus of what I make nowadays is for individual spirits, gods, saints, and the like, and that’s where creativity and research really come into play.  Unfortunately, most of the Western tradition (especially books like the Lemegeton) focus on the use of certain kinds of metals or woods and less on colors than I’d like, so I have to branch out and be a little more innovative to figure out what colors go with what spirit.  However, the way I tend to settle on colors follows a pattern:

  1. Traditions of the spirits takes precedence; if there’s a body of lore or worship built up around something, I’ll likely start with those colors, if not just use those colors.  For instance, it’s tradition that Saint Cyprian of Antioch’s colors are generally perceived to be black, purple, white, and red, so nearly all my Saint Cyprian gear has black, purple, and white on it (red I tend to reserve for specific workings or subsume it into purple, perhaps settling on a compromise of wine or dark red).  The archangels of Christianity often have their own color symbolism, especially in icons from the Orthodox tradition, so I might use the colors most commonly seen on their robes or in their icons, like light blue and pink for Sealtiel.
  2. Association with the forces described above can play a role in deciding colors.  For instance, I work with Hephaistos, the blacksmith god of the Greeks, except there’s so little known about Hephaistos’ cult back in the day that I have no tradition to go on.  However, Agrippa in his scale of 12 (book II, chapter 15) helpfully gives an association between the 12 Olympian gods (including Hestia and excluding Dionysus) and the 12 signs of the Zodiac.  There, Hephaistos is associated with the zodiac sign of Libra, and my colors for Libra are white and green, so good colors to use for Hephaistos can include white and green, as well.
  3. Asking the spirit themselves for colors they like can also work well.  This generally requires being in tune and in good standing with the spirit to get that kind of information about, and it might require divination or light trancework to get a good set of colors that works well, but overall asking the spirit themselves for what colors they like can be hugely helpful.  However, no two people may arrive at the same colors for the same spirit, based on their relationship with them.  For instance, my Hermes altar uses orange as the primary color (since I started off conflating the god Hermes with the planet Mercury, which isn’t too hard a leap to make), but my ritual necklace I have for him uses bone-white, brown, light blue, and gold beads based on a color scheme he gave me.
  4. Syncretism of different traditions can be informative as well.  If it’s alright with the spirit, looking at other traditions not native to them can help me pick what colors to use.  Going back to Hephaistos, I asked if it was alright if I looked at another tradition with a huge repertoire of color symbolism: Santeria.  The elekes and collares of Santeria are color-coded necklaces that indicate which orisha one has received, and although the ATR I’m in (yes, I’m an initiate in one) doesn’t have colors of its own, our spirits in that ATR are happy with using the same colors as Santeria (since they’re basically cousins of each other, much as how Roman and Greek gods are mythological cousins).  In Santeria, the blacksmith god Ogun has the colors black and green, so with the permission of Hephaistos, I also use black and green for some of my works in conjunction with white and green derived from Hephaistos’ association with the zodiac sign of Libra.  This can be tricky, however, and you need people on both sides to agree that the use of another traditions’ colors is alright, especially if you happen to live in an area with a large number of that other tradition who might confuse you for one of them.

As a rule, I like to have at least two colors on the carcanet.  To be honest, this keeps the thing from being visually boring; I dislike having a single solid color unless it’s required for a spiritual purpose, kind of like the Santerian orisha Obatala having his eleke being pure white.  That said, most spirits tend to have a multitude of powers, fields, strengths, and things they rule over; the different colors I use reflect those different responsibilities and dominions.  Too many colors can be confusing, however; I usually stick between two and four colors per carcanet, but sometimes more if there’s a specific need for it or if the spirit itself is associated with having many colors.

Beyond the colors of beads themselves, most of my carcanets and the like often make use of precious and semi-precious stone and metal beads, and those are much better attested in the Western traditions generally.  Of course, color symbolism is important in picking these, too, as well as the specific resonances of the stones or metals or whatnot.  For instance, red stones tend to be ruled by Mars in general, though carnelian, ruby, and fire agate all have slightly different feels that may make them better for some forces or spirits instead of others.  The minerals and chemicals within the stones themselves, too, can be important, which can link them together with metals.  For instance, one of my favorite green stones is malachite, which contains a high amount of copper that gives it its bright green color.  Copper and green are both associated with Venus, which makes this an excellent Cytherean/Venereal stone suitable for the planetary force as well as the goddess Aphrodite.

Once I have the colors figured out, then it’s time to figure out the patterns.  The most straightforward and simple pattern, assuming two colors, is to alternate the colors of beads one by one (so red, black, red, black, red, black…).  Personally, I hate this system, and I try to stay away from it as much as I can.  I generally figure out patterns based on numbers sacred to the spirit.  For instance, Saint Cyprian’s sacred number is 9, so the patterns I use tend to involve 9 in some way; one such carcanet I made for him has nine black beads, three wine beads, one white bead, one clear bead, one white bead, and three more wine beads for a “set” of 18, or 2 × 9, and I’ll repeat this as many times as necessary to get a carcanet of suitable length.  My mathesis carcanet (yes, I even made one for that) has ten white beads followed by one gold bead, since 10 and 1 are sacred numbers in mathesis and Pythagoreanism.  My Venus carcanet has two sets of seven green beads separated by a tiger’s eye bead, two sets of seven gold beads separated by a green aventurine bead, and a set of 14 (2 × 7) beads that alternate green and gold.  Making the patterns can be tricky, but usually I have a good idea in my head before I launch into stringing the beads.  On occasion, I’ll decide a few sets into the carcanet that the pattern isn’t good and I’ll start over, but they’re generally close to what I had in mind.

Of course, crafting the carcanets and the like is only half the process; the other half is consecration.  Just like how the colors and patterns may change based on the purpose, the means of consecrating the carcanet will also change.  Generally speaking, however, consecration falls into two different methods.  Both methods first start off with ritually washing the carcanet off in holy water to cleanse and prepare it for future blessing, and both tend to involve anointing with oil and suffumigation in incense, but beyond that, they’re different:

  • Force carcanet consecration: A carcanet that’s a talisman of a force (e.g. Water, Mercury, or Taurus) is consecrated by conjuring the angel associated with the force (e.g. Gabriel, Raphael or Asmodel, respectively) at an appropriate time, generally during an appropriate planetary day and hour or when the zodiac sign in question is rising or culminating during the waxing moon.  I’ll charge the angel in the appropriate godname and office to consecrate, sanctify, dedicate, bless, and empower the carcanet to serve for me a powerful talisman and connection and link to the force in question, that it may radiate the same force into my sphere that I may call upon and direct it at will and in my need.  I’ll suffumigate it in the incense burning for the conjuration and anoint it with an appropriate oil if desired and if I have one.  You know, the usual.  After the conjuration, I’ll set the carcanet on top of the lamen of the angel wrapped around a candle to continue and complete the charge of the carcanet.  Once the candle burns out, I’ll often (but not always) conjure the angel again and thank them for helping me consecrate the carcanet, charging them to seal the power into the carcanet and make it a powerful tool and instrument for my work.  This completes (and, usually, overdoes) the consecration.
  • Spirit carcanet consecration: A carcanet that’s dedicated in the honor and blessing of a spirit, on the other hand, takes a slightly different route.  Instead of turning the carcanet into a simple talisman, it becomes more of a devotional offering to be worn in the honor and service of a particular spirit.  Yes, it still accomplishes the result of bringing the blessings of a particular force into my life, but this way it’s less that it’s being filled with a particular power or motion and more that it’s bringing the attention and blessings of a particular spirit.  In this way, I’ll go up to the spirit, make offerings to them at a time good or convenient for them, and formally dedicate the carcanet as an offering to them to be worn in their honor and devotion.  I’ll often anoint the carcanet in oil or their offering drink (wine or water, usually), drape the carcanet on the image or statue of the spirit or wrap it around a prepared candle, and I’ll ask that they consecrate, sanctify, dedicate, yada yada the carcanet to their own blessings and purpose.  After leaving the carcanet on their altar or shrine for a week, I’ll make another offering to them thanking them for the carcanet’s blessings and wear it during certain times to obtain their blessing and in their honor as a kind of votive action.

Now that I think about it, the methods for consecrating them for a force via an angelic conjuration and for a spirit by dedication aren’t that different; it’s just two variations of the same idea, really.  Plus, depending on the carcanet and spirit/force it’s consecrated under, I may maintain its power in different ways, sometimes by anointing it with oil or “feeding” it with other sundry liquids, sometimes by praying over it, sometimes by letting it sit out in sunlight or moonlight.  It all depends.  The carcanet is a general ritual tool that, even though the material basis looks the same being made out of twine and glass, its spiritual essence and use may vary wildly.

Speaking of, how are these things used?  It’s pretty simple: you wear them.  That’s it.  I’ll often say a short blessing or invocation of the spirit or force to which a carcanet is dedicated or consecrated under when I don one, and I’ll say a prayer of thanks and blessing when I remove one, but that’s about it.  Seed beads are often too small for my big fingers to manipulate, so I don’t bother with using them as prayer tools but rather as part of spiritual regalia, armor, and connection when I need it.  On occasion, I’ll make a chaplet or set of prayer beads large enough to be worn, and in those cases the carcanet doubles as a prayer instrument, but this is the exception and not the norm for me; such prayer carcanets tend to use stone and metal beads more than seed beads, so the way I make them tends to differ a little bit since my options are usually more limited.

And yes, if you’re interested, I do take custom commissions for carcanets and can make them to your specifications or based on my own interactions with the gods and spirits.  If you like, contact me or send me a message through my Etsy shop and we can hash something out.

Search Term Shoot Back, September 2013

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of September 2013.

“visualize offerings water light incense flowers”  — Visualized offerings are good for some spirits, or for complex astral rituals.  However, for most purposes, why not actually get the physical offerings themselves, and offer actual water, candles, incense, and flowers?  They’re more concrete and, if the spirit is “low” (i.e. an elemental spirit, genius loci, shade, etc.), they’ll be able to benefit more directly since they’re closer to the physical realm.

“munich manual english” — As far as I’m aware, there is no full translation of the Munich Manual into English, though I have translated some excerpts from it (which you can find under the Rituals menu above).  That said, it’s been suggested I take that on as my next big translation project, and I think I’ll oblige.  No idea when it might be ready, but it wouldn’t be unwelcome, as far as I can tell. 

“blessing the sator square” — It’s unclear how the SATOR Square was actually used, only that it came up time and again since the early Roman empire as a kind of memetic charm.  One theory is that it acted as a sign for hidden Christians, since reorganizing the SATOR Square can yield a different arrangement of two PATERNOSTERs intersecting at the N, with two As and two Os leftover (alpha and omega).  As a charm, I believe that the mere construction of the SATOR Square suffices to “bless” or charge it, though other consecrations can be added on top of it (cf. the second pentacle of Saturn from the Key of Solomon).  Depending on the purpose used, you’d consecrate it as you would any other talisman, charm, or tool.

“eskimo fucking” — I assume that’s how eskimos happened in the first place.  (Also, what…?)

“geomantic designs for capricorn” — You’d want to go with the geomantic figures for Carcer or Populus and their associated geomantic sigils.  Carcer is linked to Capricorn through its association with Saturn retrograde; Populus is directly associated to Capricorn in Gerard of Cremona’s system of astrological correspondences (which I use personally in my geomantic work).

“if i write de name of ma boyfriend n put it in de annoiting oil n pray over it can it makes him love like crazy?” — First, I’m honestly impressed people write unironically in an eye-dialect like this; after all, written communication is meant to help spoken communication cross time and space in a way that sound vibrations can’t, and writing as one speaks is certainly not a wrong way to do it.  As for the question itself, the answer is (as it often is in magic) that it depends.  Writing his name on a hoodoo-style name paper, and using something like “Come Here Boy” or another love-drawing/love-forcing oil on it with a prayer or repetition of a psalm over it, it can certainly induce love or love-craziness.  Caveat mage, though; Jason Miller has a story about someone who did this on a particular girl, and not only did the girl fall head-over-heels in love with him, but she ended up becoming an overzealously jealous, codependent, clingy stalker that the dude only wanted to get rid of after, like, two weeks.  Be careful what you wish for, my readers.

“how to kssss hole body” — I hope you wash that hole first.  I also hope you can tell me what exactly you were looking for.

“what to ask during geomancy” — Anything you want, really; geomancy is another system of divination, and divination exists to answer questions.  That said, it helps to ask questions that are clear, concise, and concrete: vague, open-ended, undefined questions tend to work badly with geomancy.  A good question in geomancy often takes the form of “will X happen with conditions Y?”, with X and Y clearly defined and stated.

“how to convert geomantic figures into binary” — Pretty simple, actually.  The method I use is to use a four-bit number, interpreting a single point (active element) as 1 (logic high) and a double point (passive element) as 0 (logic low).  The first bit in the number is the fire line, the second bit the air line, the third bit the water line, and the fourth bit the earth line; in other words, if you read a four-bit number from right to left, it’d be the same as reading a geomantic figure from top to bottom.  Thus, 0101 is Acquisitio, 1000 is Laetitia, 1101 is Puer, 1111 is Via, 0000 is Populus, and so forth.

“how long can you keep holy water in a bottle” — It depends on the type of holy water, and for what.  From a religious standpoint, the blessing may “wear off” over time, or may be depleted if anything unclean contaminates the whole bottle.  Any liquid can get physically contaminated over time without proper preparation, so it helps to make sure the bottle you’re using is thoroughly sanitized and that the water is used in a short time, often no longer than five days.  Using holy water that uses herbs like basil or hyssop can also easily get contaminated, and you’ll see a wispy web-like growth in the bottle over time.  For this reason, I make my holy water with just purified water and salt that I boil for twenty minutes and pour it into only sanitized bottles I’ve washed out with boiling water and soap.

“house blessing preparation” — Get a few white candles, incense that stings the eyes and nose, incense that sweetens the air, holy water, some clean white clothes, and a book of religious texts or prayers of your choice.  Wash yourself thoroughly and ablute in the holy water, meditate and focus yourself, dress in the clothes while praying for protection and light for yourself, light a candle in each room of the house, pray in each room of the house for protection and guidance in the house, waft the sharp incense in each room of the house, pray that all evil and defilement be removed from the house, sprinkle holy water in each room of the house, pray that all impurity and filth be washed from the house, waft the sweet incense in each room of the house, pray for happiness and joy to fill the house, pray to offer your thanks and for the assistance received, relax. 

“howtoinvokeadonai” — Youusehisnameinaprayer,begginghimforhispresenceandaidtohelpyouinyourlife.Youdon’thavetobeJewishorChristiantocallonADNI,butyoudoneedtohavefaithinhispowerandbeabletoanswertotheresponsibilityofcallinguponhim.AnynumberofprayersintheSolomonicandHermetictraditions,goingasfarbackasthePGMatleast,usethenameADNI,sohaveatandexplorewhatusesyoumightcomeupwith.  Also, please never type like this ever, even if you’re on a lot of DMT.

“hermetics most feared adversary” — I think it’s sloths, for some reason, but I’m unsure why.  Alkaloid herbs may have been involved, or so I’m told.