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.

Special Snowflake Syndrome

Whenever I engage in a conjuration of one of the bigger angels, or chat with a god during a special offering, I end up shooting the shit with them about any number of things: things I’d like to see happen or done in my life, various questions about practice and theory in terms of theurgy and thaumaturgy, and gods-know-what-else.  At the end of these little discussions, but before I wrap it up and dismiss or leave the spirit, I ask this:

Is there anything else at this point you would teach me or tell me?  Is there anything else you would have me learn, know, or do?

Such a simple question, but with such a vast effect.  A good third of the total information I’ve ever gotten from conjurations comes from asking this.  The spirits, after all, often know a lot more than we do and how we relate to them.  Getting their feedback in understanding our roles in the spheres they work in and how we stand in relation to them is invaluable advice, and if you’re not asking this when you engage with spirits you’ve built up a relationship with, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

I started asking this on my own to the angels when I was first getting really involved with the elemental angels “way back when” (all the way back in 2011, baby, all those two long years ago), mostly out of a desire to know what the fuck it was I was actually doing.  I still feel this way often enough, but back then, I was really feeling like I was just blundering and blustering about blindly in the darkness and then suddenly spirits happen.  So, naturally enough, one of the first questions I wanted to know was “why am I doing this?”, and I haven’t really been able to get a satisfactory answer, neither then nor anytime since then.  In other words, why am I practicing magic?  Why am I called for this, why am I doing this?  Ever since I started asking, nearly every spirit who has the purview and interest enough to answer has replied the same: “to do magic”, like it’s my primary and chosen vocation or something.

Well and good, but it’s not specific enough to my tastes and leaves much to be desired.  And yet, it’s problematic for me in another way.  If I’m chosen to do magic, what are the limits of magic?  If my frameworks and theories of magic indicate that its power is basically unlimited (in its own ways according to certain circumstances and conditions), then doesn’t that give me a huge power over the world, myself, and others?  Doesn’t that make me, well, special?  Being chosen by the spirits to do spiritual work certainly isn’t a common calling; with it still being a necessary calling and a needed role to fill, doesn’t that make me extra-needed by creation?  Doesn’t that make me, in some way, a kind of mini-savior?

Barring the natural difference in people due to talent and genius, I believe that one of the defining attributes of humanity is that we don’t necessarily have fixed roles among ourselves.  Every species has its own role to play in the larger scheme of things: predators control populations of other animals, fungi help dissolve and decompose to recycle materials into the biosphere, and the like.  Humans, according to a Hermetic view, help maintain the sephirah of Malkuth, the sphere of existence that meshes the material universe with the spiritual cosmos; humanity can be seen to be this sphere’s “choir of angels”, so to speak, maintaining and working with this sphere as our job as part of the larger creation of things.  However, this role can be endlessly complex, due to the complexity created from humanity’s interaction with both the universe and the cosmos, or what I call the human world.  Among ourselves, we have different roles to play, different jobs to discharge, and different strengths for which we are uniquely suited that only we can fill, a strong indication of one’s True Will or spiritual purpose, where we fit into the larger machine of creation.

Still, seeing what we’re good at, what we ought to discharge in this sphere, and ultimately who we are can be a dangerous thing, and leads to something I often term “special snowflake syndrome”.  According to Urban Dictionary,

A malady affecting a significant portion of the world’s population wherein the afflicted will demand special treatment, conduct themselves with a ludicrous, unfounded sense of entitlement, and generally make the lives of everyone around them that much more miserable.

The danger of this disease is that the sufferers rarely, if ever, know that they have contracted it, and continue about their merry way under the assumption that EVERYONE ELSE is the problem.

(If you ever look at the social justice or otherkin tumblrs, you’ll know what I mean.  If you haven’t read them, never do this.)

Why do people develop this?  It’s because they begin to see who they are, which is a good thing, but get an unfounded sense of vainglory, pride, and self-importance at who they are, which is a bad thing.  They think that because they’re the only ones who can be them and do the things they do, this makes them special or otherwise rare in the world, and end up developing a persecuted savior mindset because why can’t you treat them like the unique holy thing that they are, bawwwwwwwww.  They don’t need to consult others or get external input on what they’re doing or supposed to be doing, because clearly they already know everything they need to know about their special role.  Like a snowflake, they must be unique, and therefore are to be cherished by the masses.  I see this developing in no small number of magical people who suddenly realize “o hej, I can do magickqzs!” and think that they are the biggest shit ever.  Sadly, in the process, they actually do become the biggest shit ever, but not in the sense they desire.

I like to keep myself well-grounded and humble enough to prevent this from happening to me, bordering on self-depreciation and overmodesty.  In fact, it’s why I make a special prayer of humility fairly often to keep myself from getting too carried off in my own delusions of grandeur.  Even if I’m one of the few chosen to do magic, why should I be necessarily praised for essentially just doing my job?  Even if I’m a holy power chosen by the Almighty, why wouldn’t I recognize that same in every other human and entity alive?  Maybe it’s the weirdness and glamour of magic itself that still strikes me as weird, that fascination with this arcane and maligned yet powerful art that can change the course of nations and individuals alike.  But even so, can’t I say the same thing about my computer science skills and my current workplace, where I work with significant economic data used in thousands upon thousands of contracts and analyses daily across my country and the world?  Can’t I say the same thing about the jobs and work of others, too?  Can’t I say the same thing about others generally, too?  Just because I’m chosen for a particular necessary role doesn’t diminish the necessity of other roles or those chosen for them.  Just because I’m helping out the world in my own small way doesn’t make me a savior for the masses, it makes me a small gear in the great machinery of creation.  Just because I’m told to do magic doesn’t make me special, it makes me understand that my minor job in a world of jobs is the best one for me and I’m the best person in a world of people for it.

Yes, I may be a special snowflake, but there are also a lot of snowflakes out there.  It’s only upon microscopic inspection that any one snowflake can be meaningfully differentiated from the others; at any other larger distance, snow is one large undifferentiated mass (barring contaminants, pollution, or dense packs of ice, of course).  Snow falls and is natural, and each flake contributes to the weather; we enjoy the snow, but we don’t necessarily care about or notice any one particular flake.  One snowflake does not make a blizzard and lasts for no time at all on its own.

Genius, Skill, Talent, Technique

Between the sufferings of both modern public school education and psychological neuroses, a lot of people fall into one of two camps of belief:

  1. I can be anything I want and be good at everything I do.
  2. I can’t do anything no matter how hard I try.

Both of these beliefs are false, as I reckon them.  In a way, they’re two sides of the same coin, with each influenced by and growing upon the other.  The first belief (that of supercapability) is overly positive to combat any self-doubt, but when taken to its extreme, it fails the holder of that belief and leads one into the second belief (that of incapability).  That second belief is borne out of sorrow and doubt, but is also easily refuted in at least one action which can cycle back into the first belief.  Some people never cycle between the two, getting stuck in one belief or the other, but either way these beliefs are simply wrong.

According to the doctrine of astrology and Hermetic philosophy, we’re all born with several things, such as a purpose, a history, a goal, and a set of things we’re good at and a set of things we’re bad at.  Taken together, plus a little extra, this might all be construed as one’s True Will, the thing we’re supposed to be carrying out in order to fulfill our role in the cosmos as children of the Divine.  After all, the whole point of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism is to reclaim our true heritage and value as children of gods and co-creators of the cosmos, and we can’t know what we’re supposed to create without knowing what we’re good at and where we’re supposed to be.  Knowledge of our True Will helps us focus our efforts on the things we should be doing, which is almost always correlated with what we’re good at.

In addition to knowledge of our True Will, there are several spirits among the heavens that can help us find out what we’re supposed to be doing.  Among those, there are the threefold keepers of Man: the angel of the nativity, the Holy Guardian Angel, and the angel of the profession.  The angel of the nativity is the guy whose name is derived from the natal horoscope based on the five hylegical places, and is a guiding spirit who helps us out in this life for this incarnation.  While the HGA is more for our Selves across incarnations and the heavens, the angel of the nativity is a spirit specific to this life for what we need to do now.  In a way, it’s like the good angel on the shoulder of cartoon characters, but is more knowledgable about what we’re supposed to be doing and how we’re supposed to be doing it.  The other name for this spirit is the natal genius, or the birth-spirit, that helps us do what we need to do for ourselves and our Selves in this life.  In other words, it tells us what’s Right for us to do.  And, like I said before, when we do something proper and Right for us, it tends to be easy or flawless. 

We often call people “genius” when they’re really adept or smart at something, but it wasn’t originally a title of intelligence or mastery.  Instead, “genius” referred to the guiding spirit who helps us be good at certain things because that’s the role we’re supposed to fill; it’s kinda like a cosmic version of Huxley’s “Brave New World”.  Knowing what we’re good at via our genius helps us figure out our talents, the things we’re innately good at in the cosmos.  This could be anything from simple skills such as memorization or a good eye for measurement to whole fields like mathematics or biology or counseling.  Whatever we’ve got a talent in, we should probably explore and make use of. 

Still, just because one has talent in something doesn’t mean one has mastery.  Mastery in something can be called proper technique, the totality of knowledge in how, why, and what methods to use for a particular goal or end result.  Talent helps with building technique, but talent alone doesn’t cut it.  Talent needs refining through building skill, which can be thought of as learned technique as opposed to inborn technique through talent.  Skill helps refine talent to be used for specific, fine things in a regular, repeated manner that talent alone may not be able to do.  It’s like the difference between having a vague subconscious understanding of something and a total comprehension and coherent knowledge of it.

Other people, however, have little to no talent in a given technique, but still want to learn that technique.  In this case, skill is all they have to go on.  They’ll need to become more skillful to make up for the lack of talent, but this doesn’t mean they can’t learn technique or master something.  It just means they’ll have to learn and focus more on building up the skill that people with talent may already be good at.  However, spending time to build up skill in something in which one has little talent often takes time away from building up skill in something one does have talent for.  Keep in mind that talent implies that we’re supposed to be good at something and that we’re supposed to do it; if one shows talent in something but is wasting one’s skill on something else, they’re probably being misguided.

A lot of modern society treats all people the same, which is usually a good thing.  After all, I enjoy and favor equality of rights and opportunity for all, because we’re all still human and capable of basic humanity with human needs.  However, things go awry when society treats us all as having the same talents, skills, capabilities, and inclinations for things.  This kind of social conditioning does real damage, because it assumes everyone has the same basic drive and same basic talents, when this assumption doesn’t hold up.  Some people are very good at written language but awful at mathematics, some good at art and some good at sports, and so forth; we should afford people the chance to explore everything if they so choose, but we shouldn’t force them to pass standardized tests that assume everyone’s at an arbitrary level of technique for an arbitrary number of subjects.

Not everyone is going to be good at everything.  That’s just a fact of life, and that’s quite alright.  There are going to be subjects, fields, and tasks at which we aren’t suited but that others are.  This isn’t to say that we should settle for mediocrity and laziness for ourselves instead of striving to know and become more than we are, but we shouldn’t try to become a jack of all trades when we’re really only good and supposed to be good in a handful of them.  There are so many roles to fill in the world that requires dedication, single-mindedness, and talent in addition to skill, any number of which might be considered taboo or dangerous or outré, even though they’re just as necessary as any other.  Society may say it knows what’s best for itself, but it doesn’t.  We’ve all got a purpose, indicated by our talent and genius, and we need skill to make ourselves perfect.  Only with genius, skill, talent, and technique will we be able to know and carry out our True Will, and make progress on the path to becoming full-fledged co-creators of the cosmos once again.

Conjuration Cycle

After all these months of planning and putting it off, I finally started and completed one iteration of a cycle of conjurations on New Year’s.  And boy, let me tell you, it was a trip, and it’s one I’m going to be sticking to for a while.  So, this cycle, lemme tell you about it.  It’s a five week period of conjurations that cycles through the angels of the seven planets, the angels of the four elements, and my natal genius.  In each conjuration of each of these forces, I like to spend time soaking in the light and power of that particular sphere, reconsecrating and recharging whatever tools or talismans I have, meditating on that force’s symbols, and asking for specific or general advice about where to go or what to do next. 

Keep in mind that I’m not doing the full fasting, prayer, and meditation preparation during this cycle like Fr. Ashen or other guys, and as a result I’m not getting world-shattering lighshow-inducing experiences.  I’m able to catch a glimpse of the angels in the crystal and have a conversation with them in my mind, and these experiences get stronger as time goes by.  I’m satisfied with how things are working out and expect things to get better as time goes by (or learn new ways to make things better).

  • I conjure the planetary angels from Tzaphqiel of Saturn to Gabriel of the Moon (descending planetary sphere order) on their proper planetary day and hour.  The minimum amount of time needed to go through these seven conjurations is five weeks.
  • Since I work from home Wednesdays, I conjure the sublunar elemental angels then from Auriel of Earth to Michael of Fire (ascending elemental density order).  Since one of the Wednesdays in the cylce is used by Raphael of Mercury, the other four Wednesdays in the cycle are given to the elemental angels.  I tried to match up the cycle of the elemental angels with the planetary as best I could, but it seems to work well enough.
  • I give the non-Michael-of-the-Sun Sundays for communicating with my natal genius (a fairly solar spirit) to make sure I’m integrating these energies appropriately.

Graphically, the cycle looks like the following. You’ll notice that I have the conjuration cycle starting off with Raphael of Air and Tzadqiel, which is influence from Fr. Rufus Opus who suggests the same with his Gates series of rituals.

  Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 Genius     Raphael
(Air)
Tzadqiel
(Jupiter)
   
2 Genius   Kammael
(Mars)
Michael
(Fire)
     
3 Michael
(Sun)
    Auriel
(Earth)
  Haniel
(Venus)
 
4 Genius     Raphael
(Mercury)
     
5   Gabriel
(Moon)
  Gabriel
(Water)
    Tzaphqiel
(Saturn)

A few observations from the first iteration of the cycle:

  • That period of fire energy between Kammael and Michael of the Sun is intense.  I’m probably going to be looking forward to that week of awesomeness every time.  That conjuration of Auriel of Earth, though a party-pooper, is something needed to help keep me focused and grounded, though, so it’s something like a self-imposed restraint.
  • The period between Raphael of Mercury and Gabriel of Water is a very productive time; looking back at some of my recent blog posts and notes, I didn’t expect to have churned out as much data or ideas as I have.
  • The period between Gabriel of Water and Raphael of Air is the low point balancing out the fire period noted above.   Compared to the extroverted, outward-going hot and manic energies, this is a receptive, empathic, introverted, depressed period.  As I expected, based on my past watery and Saturnine experiences, I got sick (probably why I haven’t conjured Gabriel of Water since August).  Gotta watch out for my health during this and the following weeks.
  • Three or so conjurations a week really isn’t that bad.  Each conjuration usually hangs between 30 to 60 minutes long, with about 10 minutes of setup beforehand and 15 of cleanup and analysis afterward.  I just need to be mindful of parties or road trips to make sure I’m not too tired/hungover/lazy the next day to do what I need to do.
  • Phases of the Moon and other astrological transits from the start of the cycle until its first iteration’s end didn’t seem matter in the quality or clarity of the “connection” of the conjuration.  Other work related to a particular planet, however, did (strongest conjuration yet of Michael of the Sun happened a few Sundays back while I was doing a lot of fiery and solar work).

And some thoughts for future work:

  • The schedule isn’t very flexible.  Elemental angels can be conjured at any time, technically, but the planetary angels should only be conjured on their particular planetary day, though the planetary hour alone would suffice.  Missing a planetary angel conjuration would risk mixing up the schedule or putting things off a week or so.  I could get a few conjurations out of order, I suppose, but then I’d feel bad about mixing up the flow of things.
  • Conjuring my genius three or four times in five weeks doesn’t give us much to talk about in each conjuration.  I might cut it down to once or twice; I may as well build up more questions and use that whole stick of incense’s worth of time for him.  The rest of the Sundays I could devote to extra K&CHGA practice.
  • I spent some time trying to figure out how to set the schedule by phases of the Moon or astrological signs (fourish weeks), by the seasons (13 weeks) or cross-quarter days (sevenish weeks), or some other natural calendrical phenomena, but I didn’t have much success.  I could just expand the cycle to take up seven weeks (one week for each planet), but now that seems boring.   It’s something to be put on the back burner for now.  As it is, the cycle allows for 10 iterations to be done in a given year, allowing for two or three weeks of rest at the end or flexibility in pushing back certain rituals.
  • The cycle allows me to regularly come in contact with different spirits in a structured, repeated way.  That coupled with copious notetaking gives me many opportunities to experiment with different aspects of conjuration, technique, and magic in general.  I’ve got some ideas regarding variants of conjuration rituals or lamen designs, for one, not to mention pitching requests for other types of magical aid.

I LIKE BULLETED LISTS, YOU GUYS

Talismans, Curses, Conjurations, News, Etc.

Seems like I got a fair bit accomplished since my last post. Guess I triggered some change for a good effect, or something.  I had a few worries that the hurricane that swept up the east coast would interfere with a few of my plans, but yeah, no.  I should keep this advice in mind when it comes to interpreting weather news.  Also, Mercury went direct again!  He’ll be back up to speed in early September, if you’re curious.  And now for the updates:

  • As part of my making a working magician’s altar, I’m making a series of planetary talismans, one for each of the seven traditional planets.  It’s an awesome project, though it’s taking its own sweet time: each talisman needs to be made in its proper planetary day and hour, which yields three or four hours, one hour at a time, one day a week, for each talisman.  Each talisman is a small wood disk engraved via woodburning with the planet’s symbol and its seals along with its angel’s name and his seal (those last two are from the Magical Calendar and Heptameron).  The engravings are filled with gold leaf, and a small hole in the bottom of each talisman is filled with the planet’s proper metal (lead for Saturn, a copper nail for Venus, etc.).  I’ve got only Mars and the Moon talismans to fill with metal, and afterward need to apply finish to all of them and consecrate them, which will involve calling up the planetary angels for the first time.  Lessons learned from this project: don’t try to nail too many things into the same block of wood at once, silver’s really hard to melt down with a propane torch, and if 5′ of gold wire costs only $20, it’s probably not gold.
  • I put up two new pages under the Rituals menu: Writing a Defixio, on the writing of binding spells and curse tablets such as those found across the classical Mediterranean and European world; and my complete (but probably crappy) translation of the Planetary Conjurations from the Munich Manual, complete with illustrations.  That said, that whole section from the Munich Manual was basically lifted wholesale from the Heptameron, so, whatever.  And my parents said that Latin would never be useful for me.
  • I conjured Michael again and the Elemental Prince Oriens for the first time last week so I could go through the last of the elemental initiations.  Alas!  Oriens turned me down, saying that I wasn’t yet ready.  Michael suggested that I talk to my natal genius first in order to find out more about my true will and cause for doing all this occult stuff, with the suggestion that understanding why I’m doing this will make my drive to do it all that much stronger.  Also, this time talking with Michael, things were much cooler than the time before: the first time I conjured Michael, it was a really intense experience, but I had also been building up for that in every possible fiery way I could imagine.  Apparently, it’s much more in tune and harmonic usually, but still wiped me out (or burnt me out, if you will).
  • Also as part of this stage of my Work, I had to conjure the other princes of the elements, the nasty demonic ones whose names are Samael, Azazel, Azael, and Mahazael.  I conjured the archangels to bring them to me, then I sealed them up on pieces of paper bound in black thread and sealed up in little tea tins taped shut.  This is to keep their influence out of my life, and things have felt kind of clearer and a little easier since I started doing this, though that may be entirely psychological (what isn’t, when it comes to magic?).  It’s not the sturdiest of prisons, but it’ll do for now.  Once I finish the planetary talismans, I’ll redo the prisons, time permitting.  Bee tee dubs, those are some spiteful, hateful things.  I can’t remember the last time I shivered at that sort of emotion so deeply before.  Since then, however, things have felt…I dunno.  More relaxed, calm, smoother, even though nothing has explicitly turned out for the better.  No complaints, though.
  • After chatting with the four archangels, they helped me out by agreeing to come to my aid if I called on them by name outside of a proper conjuration.  The conjuration helps forge a stronger connection, but when I don’t have the materia or time, asking for their help with a small oration will suffice.  Nifty!
  • After my chalice shattered by my own hand after the oh-so-horrible earthquake aftermath last week, I went shopping and got a simple but pretty (and much sturdier and shorter) glass goblet.  I conjured up Gabriel the next day and had his help to consecrate this new cup for my altar, and now all is right with the world.  Or getting there, at least.
  • Along with my new chalice, I bought some asafoetida powder from an Indian store.  Asafoetida, also called hing or Devil’s dung, is a powerful herb related to Saturn and Mars, and can curse, uncurse, or banish.  That said, now I know why people think Indian food stinks, and my whole house smells like ass forever.  Such sadness.
  • It turns out there’s a decent Saturn election next month (Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 2:29 p.m. EDT where I live), when Saturn will have an essential dignity of +8 (If I did my math correctly).  I’m taking advantage of that to make a decent Saturn talisman for myself and to get some experience in astrological magic.  The whole process will be pretty involved, but I’ve already gotten the basic steps done of making a base lead disc for the talisman and planning out the design.  I’m pretty excited since, according to a natal reading from Chris Warnock at Renaissance Astrology, a talisman of Saturn is highly recommended for myself.  As part of this upcoming ritual, I’m also making a wooden kamea of Saturn, which should be done this coming weekend.
  • I’m restarting the practice of a weekly divination.  I’m out of practice with geomancy and I really need to pick my skills back up, so I’m going to try to get a weekly and monthly divination up again.  I’ll try to remember to note my results on this blog, just for reference’s sake.
Next up, finishing up a few more talismans, consecrating them with the archangels, having a few chats with my natal genius, working on this Saturn talisman, and rebinding the demonic elemental princes with lead and steel instead of paper and tealights.  Also, by mid-September, I’ll have a fully operational Death Star Table of Manifestation, which alone will be a significant achievement for me.  All that should carry me through the end of September nicely with plenty of stuff to do.  Now if only I could fit things like sleep and boozing it up in clubs in there, too, but I guess I should have something resembling priorities.

Days go by and still I think of blogging

So I thought I’d have been able to get a blog post or something out since the last one, but I guess not.  Between more offsite training to learn another programming language and finding a cute boy with whom I sense a good deal of potential, I haven’t had much time for chores, much less a conjuration or something.  I blame Mercury being retrograde as for my lack of updates, since it’s supposed to be a good time to review and remember.  In fact, I tried calling up Michael again today, you know, the archangelic king of fire, to talk to him about a few things.  No response.  Guess I should try to actually chat with him through his form as the King of Wands first before rushing things more; the ritual can wait, I suppose.

However, I haven’t been completely idle.  I ordered a natal chart reading from Christopher Warnock over at Renaissance Astrology, which was awesome.  Good information in all the various parts of my life (apparently I’ve got a problem with jilted lovers becoming secret enemies of mine, who knew?), but as far as magic and the occult goes, I’ve got a very strong connection with Saturn.  He’s dignified in Sagittarius in the 9th house conjunct Uranus; my friend over at The Unlikely Mage said that that sort of position is like bringing a torch down into ancient tunnels of knowledge, and it’s true: I like older styles and forms of ritual and the occult, and I’ve got a passion for Latin and classical culture.  Plus, with Uranus in the mix there, I’m also apt and able to update some methods and blend new styles into the old to create forms both awesome and, at its heart, traditional all at once.  Nifty!  Plus, I might be well-advantaged to take up more Saturnian arts such as necromancy and binding and other occult, hidden arts.  However, since I’ve got other things on my plate right now, I’ll hold off on chatting it up with Tzaphqiel until a little later.  I’ve always felt happy and pleasant about dealing with Saturn, but that doesn’t lessen its roughness to work with.

Shifting gears for a bit: while I don’t have a magical altar set up, I do have a devotional altar which I pray at and make offerings and stuff.  Since I had a chance to light a lot of candles, the altar looked awfully pretty, so I took a picture of it.

The center candle is the first one lit, and is (or should be) lit whenever I’m home; this candle represents the light of God and is like my own Lamp or Eternal Flame.  On the far left is a votary offering for the genius and other spirits of my home, with an offering of fresh water, wine, grapes, and a lit candle.  The inside left candle is an offering for my natal genius.  The candle on the right in the back with the spirit placard is an offering to the genius and spirits of the land around my apartment, along with an offering of wine and grapes.  The candle on the right in front is lit in honor and thanks for Saturn; I time my prayers to coincide with the planetary hour and day of the god I’m making these offerings to, and I dress the candle in the colors and symbols appropriate to that particular deity as well as light some incense appropriate to that god.  In this case, I had a candle painted black with the seals, sigils, and symbols related to Saturn and lit a stick of myrrh incense.  The whole getup is rather pretty, I think.  Eventually I’ll get other figurines and statues and things to put up, but this is what I have set up on a fancy day.  I only light candles to the genii of my apartment and land when I make offerings, but since I hadn’t given one in a while, I decided to go ahead with that today.

Busy weekend

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, I’ve kept myself active over the last few days.

  • I realized that I shouldn’t interact with entities and elements that oppose each other in nature or temperament.  I conjured Auriel after working with Raphael, and I felt like hitting a brick wall at high speed (air + earth).  It’s helpful, though, and Auriel offered me advice to slow down before I hurt myself (I had a hard time keeping up with myself at the speed of thought I was going), but good lord.  Plus, going from omg-so-active-buzz to I-dun-wanna-move-gimme-cookies and back was a little rough.
  • Due to the insomnia I’ve had after my first encounter with Raphael, I’ve been staying up later and reading and doing a bit more in the evenings.  Late on Thursday, I sat down to some contemplation and walked around in my mind for a bit, around this hilly mound with grass in the mid-morning, over to a small wooden tower, then down into this deep tunnel filled with water.  I encountered an entity that told me to try calling up my genius on Sunday.  There were sun motifs all over the place, which was interesting.  (More on that later.)
  • A while back, I got an ice pick that I wanted to use as a Solomonic burin for inscribing stuff.  I consecrated it according to Frater Quaero Lux’s directions on Friday at dawn.  Pictures are up in the Crafts section.
  • I spent the night at the house of a friend and mentor on Friday night.  I’m also getting involved in a pagan mystery tradition, so this was a good chance to learn some of the basics I’ll need to know and practice; since it involved a fair bit of qabbalah review, it was pretty easy to connect different traditions into a more unified worldview.  Good dinner, too, in  Dupont Circle.  Afterwards, we went to Michaels so I could get a bunch of crafting supplies, and later, I bought even more supplies from Amazon to finish that fire wand project from before, amongst other things.
  • Saturday afternoon, once I got settled in, I spontaneously decided to make a Golden Dawn-style pentacle for my budding altar.  Instead of being clay, I took a circular wood plaque, plotted out the diagram, woodburned it, colored it, wrote the Hebrew names of earth-related things and their Rosy Cross sigils, and applied some stain and finish to it.  Pictures are up in the Crafts section.  It’s not entirely canonical according to GD practice, but it’s very close and only has what I consider minor stylistic derivations.
  • Earlier today, in addition to my normal routine and contemplating the King of Swords, I performed a conjuration of my genius in the day and hour of the Sun, acting on the hint I got from the contemplation on Thursday night.  I was able to conjure him, and I felt his presence, but the connection was very faint and I couldn’t really get much, not even an image of a seal.  It was like we were trying to communicate but we couldn’t get much across, or at least from him to me.  He appeared hooded or veiled, and we agreed that I should try this again some other time.  He did agree to help me out with dreams and recalling them, but for now, I’ll shelve working with him or other celestial entities.  Whether this is because I’m not yet ready to really talk with him or because of some temporary thing is unclear to me (I did become really sleepy shortly before the ritual), but I did reach out to him and make a connection.
  • Site-wise, I made a few new pages that describe gematria in Hebrew and Greek (under Skills) and about the creation of the Table of Practice and the aforementioned earth pentacle (under Crafts) with pictures.  I also uploaded the lamen templates for the angelic kings of the elements to the Design section.
Now if only the next set of coursework would come out soon, I could get on with building an altar.  Weapon-wise, I’m making the fire wand once I get all the supplies, I just finished the earth pentacle, and I have a fantasy dagger and old plain piece of stemware (I think it’s a sherbet glass) for the weapons of air and water, respectively.  Until then, onwards with the elements of air and fire!