Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Making What We Need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: On Constructions and Consecrations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where were we?  We’re in the middle of discussing the early modern conjuration ritual The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC), attributed to the good abbot of Spanheim, Johannes Trithemius, but which was more likely invented or plagiarized from another more recent source by Francis Barrett in his 1801 work The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer.  Many who are familiar with it either read it directly from Esoteric Archives, came by it through Fr. Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) in either his Red Work series of courses (RWC) or his book Seven Spheres (SS), or came by it through Fr. Ashen Chassan in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (Fr. AC and GTSC, respectively).  I’ve been reviewing the tools, techniques, and technology of DSIC for my own purposes as well as to ascertain the general use and style used by other magician in the real world today, and today we can move on to other topics  Last time, we talked about the Liber Spirituum, the Book of Spirits, and how it might or might not be recommended for DSIC works if all you need is just a notebook to take notes.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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