Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do When Things Go Wrong

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 what changes we might make to the ritual script of DSIC if we wanted with non-angelic spirits, especially those of a more demonic nature in line with traditional Solomonica.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

One of the reasons why I wanted to write up my own (far more long-winded than I ever intended) analysis and description of DSIC is because, at heart, I’m an engineer.  I went to school for engineering, specifically with a focus in computer science and software engineering and development, and one of my professional skills is that of a technical writer.  While I might take a more colloquial, conversational tone in my blog posts, those who are familiar with my ebooks might have picked up that I’m much more formal and logical when I write specific guides, because I am a lover of procedure, process, method, and methodology.  It’s why I was so exact in the individual steps in my DSIC ritual script, describing the specific placement and motions and gestures to be made that neither DSIC nor Fr. RO nor even Fr. AC went to such lengths to describe, because I like making sure that every single step of the ritual is clear for both myself and others so that the exact same process can be replicated even if you haven’t seen it before or been shown it previously.  I’d like to think that I’m doing the world a good and helpful thing this way, but only time will tell.

It’s because I’m such a lover of process and method that I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to what-ifs.  Besides just going over alternative designs or conjurations to account for varying theologies, cosmologies, theories, desires, and components that underlie our own individual approaches to DSIC, I can also be paranoid sometimes about “what if this doesn’t work” or “what if things don’t work how I wanted them to” or “what if something happens that wasn’t supposed to happen”.  And, unfortunately, neither DSIC nor Fr. RO (in RWC and SS both) nor Fr. AC (in GTSC) really talk about anything to allay such fears of mine; I’ve had to resort to my own research and experimentation, sometimes playing things by ear under just such a circumstance, so that I can (hopefully) come out at least no worse than I was going into the experiment.  Today, we’ll talk about what happens when you use the DSIC conjuration and things don’t go right.

Honestly, there are as many things that can go wrong (or, at least unexpectedly) that there are things that you would perform the DSIC conjuration for to begin with.  I can’t account for your own individual experiments, needs, or desires, so while there’s plenty to talk about for niche or specific cases, it’s only of necessity (and not wanting to drag this out any further) that I can’t go into every possible thing that can go wrong.  But, as far as the DSIC ritual script is concerned, there are a few things that we can talk about that you should be prepared for just in case they happen.

We will assume, for the sake of this post, that you’re performing the DSIC conjuration ritual as close as you can without needless modifications, and that you’re doing things as correctly as you can: you did the preliminary preparations and purifications, you said all the prayers right and gracefully, you’re calling upon a particular spirit within the proper planetary hour, and the like.  Even though everything should work out fine, there’s always the chance that they won’t, and you should be aware of your options to take when things go sideways—or don’t go at all.

When the Spirit Won’t Show Up
This is the most common thing that can happen for a lot of people: you start the ritual as normal, you recite the prayer of conjuration (attempt #1), and…nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Silence.  Null and void.  You wait a bit, you try to open your spiritual eyes and ears and mind, and there’s just nothing there to perceive.  The spirit just isn’t there.

In this case, try it again; recite the prayer of conjuration once again (attempt #2).  If, after waiting a bit again and silently listening and looking and perceiving, you still get nothing, recite it once more (attempt #3) and try perceiving the spirit again.  Don’t vary the prayers, don’t change anything else; if anything, light a bit more incense (not necessary if you’re using self-igniting incense), and just repeat the prayer of conjuration of the spirit up to three times.  Don’t try to trick yourself into seeing or hearing or perceiving something that isn’t there; if it’s there, you’ll know.

If the spirit still doesn’t show up after the third time, you can’t proceed with the authentication or communion of the spirit.  There are two courses of action you can take here, either one or both, if you so choose:

  1. Ask the spirit to specifically reveal itself to you in a way that you can perceive, whether by sight, sound, or any other sense.  Give it a chance to reform and reconfigure itself into a form that you can actually work with.  You can also, instead of this or in addition to it, either pray to God for help in opening up your mind and spiritual perception or ask for the spirit’s help in doing just that, just a touch, so that you can align yourself better with the spirit to perceive it better.
  2. Whether or not you can perceive the spirit, treat it like it’s there regardless.  State aloud what you conjured it for, give it a charge, and issue any requests you wanted to make.  Don’t go crazy and try to do any heavy scrying, pathworking, consecration, or anything like that, but if it’s something simple like intel-gathering or fixing a problem or helping with a situation, keep it clear, concise, and concrete.

Whether you took option #1, option #2, both, or neither, the ritual shouldn’t be outright aborted, but you should proceed to the dismissal of the spirit.  Even if you tried to conjure the spirit and swear that nothing showed up at all, there’s always the chance that something did show up and you just didn’t pick up on it, so as a matter of protocol, you should always give a license to depart.  Proceed with that normally, then wrap up the ritual as normal.

After the ritual, take account of what might have gone wrong.  Was the planetary hour correct?  Did you get the planetary hour right but the planetary day wrong (not that should matter, but it could)?  Was the planet that presides over the spirit maligned, harmed, impedited, or otherwise badly affected in any way?  Is Mercury currently retrograde?  Is the Moon doing something weird, like is it void of course or in the Via Combusta?  Did you not prepare for the ritual appropriately with ablutions, prayers, fasting, and purifications?  Did you use the wrong kind of incense?  Were you wearing anything different?  Did you set up different wards or protections on the temple space than normal?  Were you sick or getting over being sick?  Are you taking any different medications?  Have you made offerings to your ancestors, land spirits, and spirit guides lately?  Try to find out where things might have gone wrong, especially if you have a track record of successful conjurations, and see what can be improved upon in your general approach.

When the Spirit You Get Isn’t the One You Wanted
So you’re doing the conjuration, and you make the prayer of conjuration, and wahey! a spirit shows up.  But something’s off: you don’t get the resonance you expected, the spirit isn’t at all what you thought it would look or are used to it looking, and when proceeding with the questions of authentication, the spirit clearly and unambiguously says that it is certainly not the spirit you explicitly called upon, neither by name nor office nor seal nor nature nor function.  You got a spirit, but it’s not the one you called upon.  Although it’s rare that such a spirit will just randomly pop up in your crystal, it can happen, and has happened to me a very few number of times before as it has to some of my colleagues.  I can’t exactly trace why or under what circumstances—I find that performing conjurations during Mercury’s retrograde periods tends to cause a slightly higher number of weird events when dealing with a ritual that explicitly involves communication, especially when dealing with planets that are on the same level or higher than Mercury itself—but it happens.  So what should we do?

First, ask the spirit who and what it is.  In most occasions, the spirit just ended up there seeing a window of opportunity to hijack the conjuration ritual for their own ends, butting out any other spirit to take their place so as to get your attention.  Be polite and friendly, but don’t exactly be welcoming; after all, they weren’t the one you were calling, and they’re not the ones you invited.  Sometimes such a spirit has a distinct and honest need that you can help resolve, and in so doing, they’ll help you out in return, or they can facilitate other work for you.  Whether or not you agree to do so is up to you.  However you choose to resolve this, at some point, you’ll be done interacting with the interloping spirit.  Proceed to the license to depart and let the spirit go.  If you have sufficient time to do so, begin the conjuration process again starting with the prayers to conjure the spirit you wanted; otherwise, if you don’t have enough time before the chosen planetary hour ends, just wrap up and try again at another time.

It has also happened on at least one occasion I’m aware of that the spirit you got is related, connected, or commissioned to appear on behalf of the spirit whom you were calling.  In other words, the spirit you called didn’t show up, but sent another spirit in their stead to speak and act on their behalf.  Such a spirit would be a messenger or functionary of the one you called upon, a servant who can (usually) fulfill all the needs of the big-name spirit that you wanted.  In effect, so long as the spirit is who they say they are and passes the questions of authentication as such (obtaining their name, seal, and specific office for future reference), the ritual can proceed as expected from there, giving the license to depart to this new spirit.

This latter sort of thing happening, moreover, is probably more expected in the older Solomonic and angelic-conjuration literature, like Liber Juratus Honorii or Heptameron, given how many angels there are under each of the seven big ones for the planets, with all their angels of the air, alternate-primary angels, and the like, and the Secret Grimoire of Turiel itself gives an example of conjuring “Turiel, Coniel, or Babiel”, the messengers of Jupiter, and seeing who popped out, which just so happened to be Turiel.  Although not exactly like the situation described, it does show that, depending on your specific approach to conjuration and the sets of angels or spirits you’re working with, you may well want to focus on subordinate spirits rather than the big-named guys themselves.

When the Spirit You Get Isn’t who They Say They Are
Now we get to something actually problematic: you do the conjuration, you say the prayers, a spirit shows up, and it looks, talks, acts, and feels like what you expect.  Yet, when you proceed with the questions of authentication…something’s wrong.  They falter in their responses; their image goes blurry, distorted, or otherwise disfigured; they hesitate to reply, or give you no reply at all; the replies they give you aren’t at all what you expected, or could even reasonably expect, while still trying to keep up the overall identity of being the spirit you wanted.  It’s evident that the spirit that’s present came in wearing a mask of the spirit you wanted, and their real identity is showing through.  Now what?

Though we should try, as magicians who walk with good character and dignity and grace, to take a light-handed approach to resolve problems whenever possible, there are times when it’s necessary to use heavy-handed solutions to the problems we encounter—but, unless we have good cause to do so, it’s better to never be more forceful than necessary to resolve such a situation.  In this situation, we have a spirit who’s actively lying or deceiving you, and that’s not a great thing because, despite our consecrations and preparations and prayers we’ve made to ensure that such a spirit doesn’t present itself in our crystal, one has still made its way there.

At this point, we need to assert our authority as magicians who operate with the dignity, grace, and light of Divinity and set things back to right.  When a spirit tries to keep up a farce like this, this is where we make use of our wand as not just a representation of power but as a tool of it.  Referencing Agrippa’s method for dealing with spirits of which “you doubt of any lie” (book IV, chapter 12), take the wand and trace either a triangle (the shape of Saturn) or a pentagram (the shape of Mars) over the crystal (not necessarily directly on it, but towards it if you can’t reach it), and issue a command that the spirit be bound into the crystal and sworn to truth by the power of God (use whatever divine names you feel like, but especially both the general divine names as well as the specific ones for those two planets).  With such prayers as might be necessary pulled from other Solomonic literature, you might issue commands to impel the spirit to be truthful and honest and reveal itself in a way comely and appropriate for you; you might likewise recite prayers to God that he shine the divine, all-encompassing Light of Truth into the crystal and obliterate both all darkness and all deception that the spirit’s true form and nature be revealed unto you.  There’s no need to launch a full-out offensive against the spirit, but you do need to figure out who and what the spirit is and why they came into your crystal uninvited.

Once you’ve done so, proceed as before when you got something else you didn’t expect, but don’t be so willing or ready to treat it as an emissary of the spirit you were trying to conjure, unless it comes forward cleanly and honestly, swearing by God and upon your very wand (which you should have pointed directly and steadily at the spirit in the crystal, bounded by the triangle or pentagram you drew, this whole time) that it actually has—and that’s unlikely.  If you feel charitable or think you can put the spirit to work, that’s up to you; interact with it however you judge it best and wisest to do so.  Whenever you’re finished, whether or not you wish to actually work with the interloper, give it the license to depart and send it away.

While you could try to salvage the ritual at this point, starting over again from the prayer of conjuration of the spirit, it might be better to end the ceremony at this point with the proper closing, perform a full banishing of the temple space, sprinkle the crystal and all participants with holy water, and try again at another point in time.

When the Spirit You Get Won’t Swear Their Help to You
So we’re doing the conjuration, we say the prayers as we should, a spirit shows up, it’s behaving and appearing as we expect, it passes the four questions of authentication; so far, so good!  But when we get to the final question:

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

…the spirit says “no”.  Okay, well then.  Well, let’s try something different.

Note that I’ve changed this question from the original final question of authentication from DSIC, which went almost identically:

Wilt thou swear by the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou art truly NN.?

In other words, the original DSIC question only served to make the spirit swear that they were who they said they were; my version makes them swear that they are who they say they are and that they have come to help us in alignment with our goals.  I made this change specifically to correct what I felt was an oversight in DSIC that I think Fr. AC went too far with in GTSC by getting a full and formal oath sworn by the spirit that they come both honestly and helpfully.

So, let’s assume the spirit doesn’t agree to the combined identity-and-purpose oath we’re putting to them.  In this case, ask instead something that falls along the lines of the original DSIC oath (updated for modernity):

Do you swear by the blood and righteousness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you are truly NN. as you say you are?

If the spirit says “yes” to that, then good!  We’re making progress, and we still have some sort of oath that we can rely upon them by!  In that case, they came honestly, but they didn’t come for your sake or for the purposes that you called them for.  In other words, they showed up, but it’s not because of you.  This is a case where you need to proceed carefully, and ask humbly and reverently why they have come if not to help you as you have called them.  They could be on a particular assignment, mission, or task that involves you, or that your needs that you wanted to call them for are not legitimate in their eyes or the eyes of God.  Listen, inquire, and learn from them.  Continue the conjuration under these circumstances, and when done, close out the conjuration as normal.

But let’s say that the spirit doesn’t, won’t, or can’t swear by even the simple oath of just their identity.  Just as Fr. AC says, I too have never found a legitimate spirit hesitate to swear this or otherwise affirm it, but it can happen that this spirit just…won’t.  This, above and beyond any of the other questions, is the final and ultimate test of authentication.  If they can’t or won’t swear this, then they’re not the spirit you wanted, and are a spirit that’s just exceptionally good at deceiving you.  Fall back to the previous situation on what to do when the spirit you get isn’t who they say they are.

When the Spirit Just Won’t Leave
Now we get to a fun situation.  We’re in the ritual, we’ve said the prayers, we called down the spirit, the spirit is who they said they are, they’ve sworn their identity and their assistance to us, and we’ve had a grand old time communing with them and doing whatever it is we wanted to do with them.  Now, our time has come to an end, and we give them the license to depart…but they don’t.  Like, they’re still absolutely there.  They’re still present, notably and perceptibly present, above and beyond just residual echoes of their power and presence.  They can still respond to questions and commands—just, apparently, not your wish that they leave.  And you can’t properly close the ritual until they do.

Depending on the nature of the spirit, you can take different approaches.  If it’s something cosmic, celestial, angelic, and otherwise a “good spirit”, which is what many people use DSIC for, they’re almost never going to linger so forcefully like this, but there is a chance that they could.  In this case, though you might have finished your business with them, they haven’t finished their business with you.  Talk with them, investigate why they haven’t left when invited to, figure out what unfinished business might still need to be taken care of.  Let them have the ball for a bit, and let them explain themselves and whatever they need to let you know or do.  Heed it, agree to it (if reasonable) or work something out (if unreasonable), and then, once all is said and done, and that you’ve confirmed that everything is said and done, give the license to depart again.  So long as everything is, in fact, said and done, they’re not going to stay; once they’ve gone, then you can properly close down the ritual.

But if the spirit is of a different sort—something chthonic, terrestrial, demonic, necromantic, or the like—then you can certainly try the above as well; that’s still recommended!  But maybe they just don’t wanna leave, punk.  Maybe they like it here and find your temple a cozy place to be, and everything will all be fine, so long as you don’t kick them out.  It’s fine, go ahead and close down the ritual, everything’ll be fine.  Right?  Wrong.  Remember that, as the magician, you are to be in control of your rituals and ceremonies, and when you invite spirits to stay for a bit, it’s only for a bit, and they need to go when you ask them to.  If they don’t, then you need to make them go.

You can try a similar approach above with when the spirit you get isn’t who they say they are, drawing a triangle or pentagram upon the crystal and getting their forced agreement to leave.  You can issue commands of exorcism or banishing (the exorcism of the spirits of the air from the Heptameron, or the curse of the Lemegeton Goetia) combined with burning offensive incenses compounded of pepper, sulfur, pine, and the like to cast them out.  You could use a variant of the Bond of Solomon from the Munich Manual to force them to leave, basically constraining them anew (as you did similarly when you conjured them), except this time getting them to leave.  You could perform any number of rituals, ceremonies, or the like to get them to leave; I’ll remind you, too, dear reader, that the Headless Rite was itself originally a ritual of exorcism.

However, be careful when you pull out any sort of big gun or big stick (or even when using your wand as one), because things can get dangerous rather quickly.  For that reason, before you engage with spirits that could (or at least are more likely to) cause you problems, it’s recommended that you gain the oaths, support, induction, and blessing of the more benefic cosmic spirits (i.e. the seven planetary angels) before engaging with, say, goetic kings or princes or the like.  It’s also helpful—probably beyond literally anything and everything else—to have some sort of connection forged with your holy guardian angel, agathodaimōn, or supernatural assistant to help uplift and assist you, both in this and in all magical works.  You may also want to consider having a secondary lamen, such as the pentacle of Solomon from the Heptameron or the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, either worn separately, upon your girdle/belt/scarf, kept covered until as needed in such a rough situation, or have it drawn or affixed to the back of the lamen of the spirit you’re conjuring.  It might take more time and effort to be so prepared, but you’ll never complain if you are when you need to be.


Even though DSIC is a fairly straightforward and simple ritual of conjuration, there are a surprising number of moving parts to it, and though we don’t expect things to go wrong, things still can and do.  While we can’t account for everything that can possibly go wrong for every possible magician that uses it, we can at least note a few of the more common issues that can arise and have a set of procedures—or at least some notions or ideas—on how to either fix the conjuration or salvage it so that we don’t end up any worse than we did going into the conjuration.

At this point, there’s really not much left to talk about, but there is one topic that I know many people (including myself) would like to see discussed more.  As has been seen, DSIC is very much a product of Western Renaissance occulture, which were universally written with either pseudo-Jewish language, Christian language, or both.  But what if it weren’t?  We’ll talk about that next time.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do for Non-Angelic Spirits

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 what to do once the spirit has shown up in the conjuration ritual and temple space.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

The conjuration ritual of DSIC, it would seem, has been used chiefly for conjuring and working with angelic spirits, specifically those of the seven planets (regardless of what names you call them by depending on the specific source you’re working from).  This is both how Fr. RO uses his version of DSIC in the Gates texts of the Green Work section of RWC as well as in the subsequent SS book he put out, and is also the focus of GTSC by Fr. AC.  The DSIC text itself suggests that working with the planetary angels is its primary purpose, as it gives a list of planetary hours and their associated seven planetary angels at the end, and the ritual script of DSIC is written to use Michael of the Sun as the main example, using Michael’s name in the conjuration as well as a lamen of Michael of the Sun and a magic circle to be used with the seal of Michael of the Sun.  It also says, towards the start of the ritual text (my own emphasis in bold text):

And forasmuch as thy servant here standing before thee, oh, Lord! desires neither evil treasures, nor injury to his neighbour, nor hurt to any living creature, grant him the power of descrying those celestial spirits or intelligences, that may appear in this crystal

In what time thou wouldest deal with the spirits by the table and crystal, thou must observe the planetary hour; and whatever planet rules in that hour, the angel governing the planet thou shalt call in the manner following

for all celestial operations, the more pure and unmixed they are, the more they are agreable to the celestial spirits

Yet, the ritual text also suggests that spirits other than angels can be called upon in the ritual, too (again, my emphasis in bold text):

…and thou, oh inanimate creature of God, be sanctified and consecrated, and blessed to this purpose, that no evil phantasy may appear in thee; or, if they do gain ingress into this creature, they may be constrained to speak intelligibly, and truly, and without the least ambiguity, for Christ’s sake…

…that forthwith thou cast away every phantasm from thee, that no hurt whatsoever shall be done in any thing…

In the name of the blessed Trinity, I consecrate this piece of ground for our defence; so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here

Now, this being done in the order prescribed, take out thy little book, which must be made about seven inches long, of pure white virgin vellum or paper, likewise pen and ink must be ready to write down the name, character, and office, likewise the seal or image of whatever spirit may appear

Now the most pure and simple way of calling the spirits or spirit is by a short oration to the spirit himself…

“In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I do desire thee, thou strong mighty angel, Michael, [Or any other angel or spirit] …

There’s also the fact that the text consistently refers to the thing being conjured is almost always “spirit”, far more rarely “angel”, even in the title of the text itself (“The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals”).  It is true that, yes, angels are definitely a kind of spirit, and the words “spirit” and “angel” can be used interchangeably when discussing an angelic text—but not all spirits are angels.  And although some of the references to “evil phantasms” or “evil spirits” above should properly be considered exorcisms to ensure the purity, sanctity, and protection of both the implements, elements, and participants in the ritual, it does suggest that DSIC can flirt more with “evil spirits” (as Agrippa might call them in his Fourth Book, as opposed to “good spirits” like angels or other celestial entities) than might be readily apparent.

The usual approach to using DSIC is to work with angels—usually the planetary angels from Agrippa or the Heptameron, as Fr. RO and Fr. AC do, but even including the Olympic Spirits from the Arbatel as I’ve often seen done, especially but not only by Fr. Acher in his Arbatel essays on Theomagica.  In this sense, DSIC can be considered a way to flesh out Agrippa’s conjuration method of “good spirits” (book IV, chapter 10), but DSIC doesn’t strictly implement what Agrippa says there.  Instead, DSIC seems to be an amalgam of Agrippa’s methods of working with both “good spirits” as well as “evil spirits” (book IV, chapters 12 and following), and in that light, further fleshes out what Agrippa says with the techniques and tools of the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano.  It’s also interesting to note that, in the 1655 English translation by Robert Turner, there’s an introduction to this entry that was included with Agrippa’s Fourth Book et al. that says that the Heptameron was specifically included to flesh out what Agrippa had written about such conjurations:

In the former book, which is the fourth book of Agrippa, it is sufficiently spoken concerning Magical Ceremonies, and Initiations.

But because he seems to have written to the learned and well-experienced in this art, because he does not specially treat of the Ceremonies but rather speaks of them in general, it was therefore thought good to add hereunto the Magical Elements of Peter de Abano: that those who are hitherto ignorant and have not tasted of Magical Superstitions may have them in readiness [and] how they may exercise themselves therein…

As we’ve shown at multiple points throughout this series of posts, DSIC is very much a combination of theurgic invocation and communion with “good spirits” as much as it is a Solomonic conjuration of “evil spirits”.  In that light, DSIC should be able to work with “evil spirits”—demons from various goetic texts, non-angelic entities like genii locorum, and the like—as much as it works with “good spirits”.  And there’s nothing, strictly speaking, that says you can’t do just that, or that DSIC as written would be insufficient for such works with them.  After all, we pointed out in the actual ritual script that some descriptors, adjectives, keywords, and names can be changed to suit not just any angel of any planetary or stellar sphere, but to chthonic, terrestrial, or other spirits, as well.  However, as DSIC says, “the most pure and simple way of calling the spirits or spirit is by a short oration to the spirit himself”, and though the prayer used in the Conjuration of the Spirit from DSIC is written in a sufficiently general way to be used for all spirits, we can replace this with prayers that are specifically geared to specific spirits.

First, a note about those prayers for conjuration.  The DSIC text uses three prayers to conjure a spirit, which we had as follows from our script writeup:

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

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

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

Fr. AC in GTSC breaks these out into three separate prayers, with only the first one required no matter what, the second one to be used if the spirit does not immediately show after saying the first, and the third one to be used if the spirit still does not show up after saying the second.  These effectively “spur the spirit to arrive to your altar quicker”, and does fall in line with many Solomonic texts that give subsequent calls for the spirit to arrive if they delay, tarry, or otherwise don’t show up at first.  I can see Fr. AC’s logic in separating these prayers out this way, but I prefer to treat them all as a single “unit” of prayer.  The main thing that keeps me from agreeing with Fr. AC’s approach of these prayers as subsequent “spurs” to the spirit is that, typically, Solomonic rituals typically increase these subsequent prayers with stronger language, threats, intimidation, and acts such as revealing pentacles, holding knives in fire, and the like.  In other words, we first ask nicely, but we drop niceness in favor of business, cordial then serious then mafia-style rough, as we need to make sure we get our way.  DSIC does nothing of the sort here, and I don’t read or interpret that last part of the conjuration prayer as any more threatening or intimidating than the first.  I recommend all three be read as a unit.

So, let’s say we want to vary the prayer for specific spirits.  Let’s start with one that’s dear to my heart: the natal genius.  This is a spirit—generally considered angelic and typically of a solar order given its association with one’s life though not necessarily solar in and of itself—who I consider to be the spirit that represents the “idea” of our incarnation in the world, the angel (or a spirit close enough to one) into whose lap we fall into as their ward in the process of our birth.  Agrippa describes this as one entity of the “threefold keeper of man” (book III, chapter 22), and whose name can be derived in any number of ways, though I prefer the method described later on (book III, chapter 26) of deriving the name from the letters associated with the degrees of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Part of Fortune, and Prenatal Syzygy points of one’s natal horoscope.  Contact with this spirit is great for learning more about one’s proper place and work in life, and though I don’t consider it equivalent to one’s holy guardian angel or supernatural assistant, they can share some of the same functions.  When I work with this spirit, especially for the first formal conjuration, I use the following prayer instead of the DSIC generic conjuration prayer after the circle is traced and the incense is set to burn:

O spirit NN., I conjure you in the holy name of YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath, in the name of the Logos, in the name of the Holy Guardian Angel!  Come now to this place and appear before me, speak with me, commune with me that I may have the benefit of your direct guidance.

O NN., you who were one with the Logos at the dawn of time, you who are Logos to me now, you who created Heaven and Earth for me, you who has watched over me from the moment of my birth, you who has called me to perform this ritual here and now!  I conjure you to appear before me.  I am XX., child of YY.  You have called me and I am here.  You have led me to this place and brought about all that has transpired in my life to be here calling to you now.  Come now and appear before me in the name of YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath.  I conjure you, o NN.; appear before me here and now!

In this prayer, “NN.” is the name of the natal genius, “XX.” is your own name, and “YY.” is your mother’s name (I like using matronyms in magic operations of this nature).  Note that we’re calling on the spirit specifically in the name of “YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath”, a qabbalistic name associated with Tiphereth and thus of the Sun.  Also, I want to say that I got this prayer from Fr. RO’s RWC, but I cannot for the life of me find it in any of the texts no matter how hard I try.  It might have come from his blog, one of the posts in the mailing list for RWC, or another source of his, but I swear that I didn’t come up with this prayer out of the ether.  (If anyone familiar with his sources, or related ones, can point me in the right direction as to where I got this prayer from, I’d be deeply appreciative.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t write this prayer myself.)

However, there’s another specific conjuration prayer that I do know Fr. RO gave earlier in the Black Work part of RWC, and that’s a conjuration of a genius loci, the spirit of a particular place, especially those centered or linked to a particular river, stone, tree, mountain, home, or the like.  From the third Black Work lesson, Fr. RO describes a much pared-down conjuration ritual, foregoing the usual formalities of candles, circles, and incense, and skipping ahead directly to the conjuration itself, incorporating a libation and offering of food and drink to be poured out and scattered at the specific points indicated in the prayer.  At this point, having brought the genius loci into the crystal with the offerings laid out, you’d then engage in communion with the spirit as usual, learning about the spirit, its name, seal, and so forth.  At the end, a pared-down license to depart is used, using the name of the genius formally for the first time, based only loosely on that of DSIC:

O spirit of [land, tree, river, community, &c.], come to me!  I call upon you by the four angels of the corners of the world, by Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel!  I call upon you by the four kings of the world, by Oriens, Egyn, Paimon, and Amaymon!  Come now and receive this offering of [drink].  Come now and receive this offering of [food].  Come now and appear before me in this crystal, that we may speak and understand each other.

NN., I thank you for coming.  Return to me when I call you by name and by seal, come quickly from wherever you may be, and let there be mutual peace and prosperity between us until the end of our days.

Though Agrippa would probably take issue with Fr. RO’s approach, Agrippa would also probably take issue with DSIC itself.  Just as DSIC plays pretty loose and fast with what Agrippa describes in the Fourth Book, so too is Fr. RO playing loose and fast with DSIC.  Yet—as I can myself attest—this method of working with genii locorum can and does work!  In retrospect, however, I would recommend going through a more formal process that more closely resembles Agrippa’s method of working with “evil spirits” (circle, incense, no triangle or crystal), or eschew it all in favor of a more direct, diplomatic approach of approaching the spirit of a place without any conjuration at all, but just making devotional offerings and getting to know the spirit on their own terms.  Fr. RO, as I interpret it, was introducing people who were brand new to the notion of working with spirits using simple tools and spirits nearby them without them doing a full conjuration yet, but working up towards it later.

Then there’s Fr. RO’s other text, Modern Goetic Grimoire, which he (like the rest of his ebooks) no longer sells but (unlike the rest of his ebooks) I neither share nor bring up at length, especially because the man is heading towards publishing it formally in a new and revised version.  In his (earlier?) approach to goetia, Fr. RO used a hybrid approach that combined some of the tools and techniques from the Lemegeton Goetia with DSIC, replacing the DSIC magic circle with the one from the Lemegeton, incorporating the pentagram-style pentacle of Solomon to be on the reverse of the seal of the spirit (made in the Lemegeton-style instead of the Agrippa-style lamen), and using a generally DSIC approach to setting up the conjuration ritual but replacing the actual prayer of conjuration with one styled heavily after the first conjuration of the Lemegeton Goetia (the one using the names Beralanensis, Baldachiensis, Paumachia, and Apologia Sedes).  Because the Lemegeton Goetia and Heptameron are both Solomonic texts that share very closely-related forms of this prayer, and because the DSIC is itself a derivative of the Heptameron, one could easily use the Heptameron prayer (either as it is or in an altered form) to conjure “evil spirits” in the sense of demons like those found in goetic texts.  While I won’t share Fr. RO’s version of the prayer, this is one that I think follows a little more closely with the Heptameron while still being true to the DSIC format.  Using NN. for the name of the spirit to be conjured:

In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, by Beralanens and Baldachiens and Paumachia and the seats of Apologia, by the most mighty kings and powers, by the mightiest kings and strongest powers, by the most powerful princes, by the Spirit of Liachida, o you minister of the Tartarean seat!  Hear me, o NN.!

O chief prince of the seat of Apologia in the ninth legion, I desire you and call upon you, o NN., by the power of Almighty God, by the will of Him who is called Tetragrammaton … the holy God, the Father, He to whom all creatures fall obedient, that you come forth here to this place and now to this time, taking your place to appear visibly before me in this crystal, taking upon yourself a peaceful, visible, affable, and comely form.

Come forth, o NN., in the name of God whose mighty and true Name—YHVH—being resounded makes the elements to be overthrown, the winds to shake, the sea to recede, the fire to be quenched, the earth to tremble, and all spirits above the Earth, upon the Earth, and under the Earth cower in fear and confusion!

Come forth, o NN., without delay, quickly, quickly, immediately, immediately, from wherever you may be, from any part of the world, from whatever form or nature you take, in the name of the true and living God—Helioren—that you might manifest and reveal to me that which I desire, answering my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine Mercy and Goodness by requesting unlawful knowledge.

Come forth, o NN., and stay not where you are, delay not for any cause, doing nothing but coming to me to assist me in my desires and needs, in the name of the Lord God—Bachac rushing upon Abrac, Abeor over Aberor—all for the glory and honor of His divine Majesty, He who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

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

O Lord, by Your Name have I called NN.; suffer him to administer unto me, that no iniquity be done and all harm flee from me, so that all things in Heaven and on Earth may work together for Your honor and glory, to whom with You the Son and the Holy Spirit be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

This is my own mishmash of the Heptameron conjuration prayers of such spirits—with my own modifications to structure and grammar—put into the same overall framework as the DSIC conjuration prayer.  Of course, incorporating such prayers for such spirits might be a bit too much for a pure-DSIC approach to handle, so I would still recommend that either you use the the pentacle of Solomon (either hexagram-style or pentagram-style, though I would recommend using the hexagram-style) on the reverse of the lamen of the spirit to be called in this way, as well as having offensive incenses compounded of peppers and sulfur and the like.  Just in case things go wrong.

Now, I don’t mean to limit DSIC to working with just angels, demons, or spirits of the land; the format of DSIC is solid enough, grounded in Agrippa-style theurgy and Solomonic-style conjuration (though sometimes coming across as confused as to which it wants to be or do more of), to be used for truly any kind of spirit.  While the specific conjuration prayer used by DSIC is phrased generally enough to be used for any kind of spirit, we can play around a bit with modifying it or replacing it with other prayers that are specifically geared to specific kinds of spirit or even to specific spirits themselves.  In doing so, we begin a process of reincorporating DSIC into a more traditionally-Solomonic milieu or take it further away into a more animist, theurgic, or other style of approaching and working with spirits.  The above examples show that DSIC can be altered in just such a way—but they are only just a few examples that show what can be done, not to indicate the limits of what could be done.  Other spirits that don’t fall into the categories above should have their own prayers written specifically for them; heck, even specific angels themselves could have their own specific prayers used to conjure them, if one so chooses.

I mentioned at the end of the goetic-style DSIC conjuration prayer that maybe we should include a few other things in the ritual, like proper pentacles and offensive incenses and whatnot, just in case things go wrong or when a stronger arm is needed than might otherwise be desired.  Hopefully it doesn’t have to come to this, but…well, what if they do?  DSIC doesn’t tell you what to do for backup plans or contingencies, nor does it give you any “plan B” for when things don’t go as you expect.  We’ll talk about that next time.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Wand and the Ring

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 wrapped up the design of the lamen, noting how to fill in the circles and with what names or seals you might need.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Okay, so now we’ve reviewed some of the biggest things we know we need: the crystal, the pedestal and the table (or, if you combine them, the Table of Practice) and the lamen.  If only those were the only things we needed to discuss, but alas!  There are still even more things!  While we won’t get into all of them today, we can knock out a few of them in a single post, because there’s not that much to say about them—whether because they’re so straightforward or because whether there’s just not much written about them.

First, let’s talk about the wand.  We know we need a wand, because DSIC says so:

…take your black ebony wand, with the gilt characters on it and trace the circle…

And that’s the only instance in the ritual text of DSIC for using the wand.  There’s no description given in the text, but the illustration that accompanies DSIC gives us one:

The wand is the large stick on the left, a long thin cylindrical rod with the divine names “Agla On Tetragrammaton”, with a hexagram between “Agla” and “On”, a hexagram with a central Yod in it (like as depicted on the pedestal as well as described for the gold disc for the pedestal) between “On” and “Tetragrammaton”, and another cross after “Tetragrammaton”.  This depiction is also accompanied by the caption:

The Magic Wand to be used in Invocations by the Chrystal.  Write or engrave on the other side “Ego Alpha et Omega”.

So we know that there needs to be two sets of writings on the wand, which (as stated by the text) should be made of ebony with “gilt characters”, meaning that we need to use gold for all the inscriptions; you can just use gold ink or gold paint, or if you want to go the extra mile, engrave the ebony shaft and use actual gold leaf to gild it.

That’s basically it.  Fr AC, as usual, sticks to the design of this pretty exactly: a simple, straight, unembellished ebony rod with the characters applied in gold paint.  Nothing really that special to note, though I will note that the design of the wand he gives in GTSC omits the central Yod in the second hexagram, even if he includes it on the wands he makes and includes the mark in a separate diagram just before the completed wand design image.  A graphical oversight, I assume; the wand clearly should have the Yod mark (or, as Fr. AC claims, the Daleth mark) in the middle hexagram, as he makes on his actual wands.

However, instead of writing the phrase “Ego Alpha et Omega” in Latin as DSIC indicates, Fr. AC writes “Εγο το Αλφα και το Ω”, since he “decided to use the phrase and alphabet used in the Greek language for ‘I am the Alpha and Omega,’ as it seemed to be appropriate and stayed within the original context”.  Though he says that “end result turned out quite well”, there’s an unfortunate error in his design; as with the linguistic errors he made on on his version of the table, there’s a typo in the Greek here, too.  This phrase is taken from Revelations 22:13, which in Greek starts “Εγω το Αλφα και το Ω” (“Ἐγὼ τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦ” using polytonic Greek), using an ōmega instead of omikron for the first word.  Despite the minor though unfortunate typo (especially using such expensive materials as gold and ebony), I don’t disagree with using the original Greek phrase here, though some might find it weird to mix Greek script on one side and Latin script on the other.

Anyway, back to the wand design.  Fr. RO basically takes this same design and approach, but in RWC, he omits the reverse side of the wand; he doesn’t include “Ego Alpha et Omega” on the wand, just the three divine names with the three symbols.  He fixes this approach in SS, where he gives the three divine names with the three symbols on one side, and the phrase “Ego Sum Alpha et Omega” on the back; basically the same thing, with the word “sum” (“I am”) elided in the original statement.   Fr. RO also makes a note in SS: “Note that you don’t have to use a wand; you can also use your index finger, the finger of Jupiter”.  And that’s actually a really interesting point to make, because it taps into some of the symbolism of the wand: depending on your approach, it can be seen as a conductor’s baton, the caduceus of Hermēs/Mercurius, a drumstick to beat the sacred drum of the shaman, or a king’s scepter.  Fr. RO typically has a very Jovian-minded approach to his style of Hermetic magic that focuses much on kingship and royalty, but I don’t disagree with it: the wand is our symbol of divinely-entrusted Power.

For myself?  I originally used a simple version, made of no more than a carved pine dowel I got from Michael’s with just the front half of the inscriptions (since I was working from RWC at the time), which I then carved at the tip and stained and finished off with polyurethane, but I eventually made myself something much nicer from ebony, gold, silver, and quartz.  I described my approach to my wand on the craft page I made for it, documenting how I made it and my own design.  It’s not a close fit with DSIC, but it is based on it; I incorporated the symbols for the wand from the Key of Solomon, rewrote the divine names in Hebrew (אגלא, ון, יהוה), and replaced “Ego Alpha et Omega” with the word AZOTH.  No, it’s not by-the-book DSIC, but it fulfills all the same requirements and needs, and throws in a bit of traditional Solomonica as well.  (And, depending on your line of thinking, the symbols from the Key of Solomon can sometimes be read as highly distorted, devolved, and degraded Hebrew script for many of the same things we’d engrave anyway.)

However, looking at the three symbols on the wand, something does cross my mind.  We know that the illustrator for DSIC loves hexagrams: they’re present on the lamen (which, to be fair, is according to Agrippa’s specifications), they’re present in the magic circle (which we’ll get to in a later post), they’re present on the gold disc for the pedestal, and they’re present on the pedestal stand itself.  And now we see them on the wand, as well, but…I think it’s important to pick up on the fact that there are three separate symbols here on the wand, and the only time we see another set of three symbols is on the front side of the gold plate for the pedestal that has the pentagram, hexagram with central Yod, and cross with the name Tetragrammaton.  It occurs to me that the first symbol on the wand, the hexagram between “Agla” and “On”, might have been intended to be a pentagram and not a hexagram to match with the same symbols on the gold disc that supports the crystal, and that it’s a hexagram could have been a mistake on the part of the illustrator for DSIC.

It’s not clear, and Agrippa’s Fourth Book doesn’t describe the use of a wand at all, and this is the only instance of a wand described or used in the entirety of The Magus, as well.  It’s not clear where DSIC incorporated the wand from, and I’m not sure.  The closest thing I can think of, if not texts like the Key of Solomon itself, is a small description from the Liber Juratus Honorii, the Sworn Book of Honorius (LHJ):

But the wand should have four sides. On one side should be written “Adonay”; on the second side “Sabaoth”; on the third, “Hiskiros”; on the fourth “Emanuel”. On the middle of the wand make the pentagonal figure of Solomon, and where the wand is held, a cross, and thus it will be prepared for sacred and wonderful works.

If you think about it, this is kinda sorta like what DSIC has, if you squint a bit and cross your eyes.  But I do think that it’s significant to note the two symbols on the wand that LJH does describe: a pentagram “on the middle of the wand” and a cross “where the wand is held”.  If you reckon “where the wand is held” to be the bottom end of the wand according to the DSIC illustration, then we get a match with where the cross is placed on the DSIC wand.  The middle symbol of the DSIC wand is the hexagram with central Yod in it, but if you swap that with the blank hexagram and reinterpret the “figure of Solomon” to be a pentagram instead of a hexagram, then you’d end up with a modified form of the DSIC wand with a hexagram with central Yod in it, a pentagram, and a cross—the same set of symbols in the same order that DSIC gives for the gold plate inscription.

I dunno.  I think there’s a semi-convincing argument to be made there, but it’s inconclusive either way.  Looking at the Key of Solomon isn’t really helpful, as the wand described in that doesn’t match with any of this above, though Joseph H. Peterson of Esoteric Archives has the note for this section on their entry for the Key of Solomon:

The staff and wand seem to be interchangeable in book 2 chapter 7. See footnote 4. I believe these characters are nothing more than corrupted versions of the Hebrew characters “AGLA + VN + IHVH” found in TrithemiusScot’s magical texts have “Tetragrammaton + Adonay + Agla + Craton” on the wand. The staff and wand are conspicuously absent from the list of instruments in the Hebrew Key of Solomon as well as Ad. 36674.

How long should the wand be?  No description is given anywhere.  My default preference is the length from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger, fully extended in a straight line.  I find that to be a comfortable length, but it’s up to you.  Joseph H. Peterson has an article up on grimoiric wand lore over at Esoteric Archives, but even then, there’s not much.  Thesaurus Spirituum says one cubit (about 18″), Le Grand Grimoire says 19.5″, and some versions of the Key of Solomon say 24″.  So, pick something in the 20″-ish range and you’ll be good; it just so happens that the average person’s elbow-to-middle-fingertip distance happens to be in that same range, depending on your body’s proportions, so that might be the best standard to measure by, especially if you’re exceptionally tall or exceptionally short.  That said, I’ve seen some people use much shorter wands than this, sometimes even shorter than 12″, so there’s certainly room for variance.  As for thickness, perhaps as thick as your index finger at the knuckle, something with substance but nothing too unwieldy.

Now, all that being said, this assumes that the wand is held by the end with the cross symbol on it, such that the DSIC image shows the wand “pointed up”.  However, looking back through the old mailing list archives of Fr. RO’s RWC Yahoo! Groups, I find (almost seven years after the fact) that Fr. RO uses the wand with the cross-symbol end being the “point”; this is the original interpretation I used, as shown by my first wand.  In other words, the base of the wand starts at the start of the text “Agla…” and finishes with “…Tetragrammaton ✠” at the “point”; when I went to Hebrew script for my ebony wand, I kept Agla close to the base and the Tetragrammaton closer to the tip.  So, really, the DSIC illustration would seem to most conventionally be interpreted to have the wand shown “pointed down”; I think this makes the most sense, since we hold the wand where the text starts, and as the of the divine names text “continues” our reach, it shows the flow of both semantic meaning as well as power from our hands.  Others, however, found that it doesn’t matter for them, since the wand as shown has no actual “point” to it, so it may be used either way as a general rod of power.  Fr. AC doesn’t say which way the wand should be held, though the old promo video for GTSC at the 4:31 mark shows Fr. AC holding the wand in a similar way, with “Agla…” closer to the base and “…Tetragrammaton ✠” at the point.  Based on all this, we should hold the wand from the “Agla…” side, regardless whether we write the names in Latin script or in Hebrew script.

So much for the wand, but I do want to make one more note here: though Agrippa in his Fourth Book doesn’t really describe the use of a wand, he does describe the use of a sword for use in conjurations, mostly when performing conjurations of evil spirits (book IV, chapter 12)

And after all the courses are finished, then cease a little; and if any Spirit shall appear, let the Invocant turn himself towards the Spirit, and courteously receive him, and earnestly entreating him, let him first require his name, and if he be called by any other name; and then proceeding further, let him ask him whatsoever he will: and if in any thing the Spirit shall shew himself obstinate or lying, let him be bound by convenient conjurations: and if you doubt of any lie, make without the Circle with the consecrated Sword, the figure of a triangle or Pentagram, and compel the Spirit to enter into it; and if thou receive any promise which thou would have to be confirmed with an Oath, let him stretch the sword out of the Circle, and swear the Spirit, by laying his hand upon the Sword.

What Agrippa is describing here falls much more in line with classic Solomonic literature of using a sword to impel and threaten spirits, in this case using a consecrated sword to draw a triangle or pentagram into which the spirit is forced to enter so as to compel it to speak truth, making it swear oaths of loyalty and truth upon the sword.  As an implement of iron, the classic material for the bane of spirits generally and evil spirits especially, this makes sense, and recalls similar uses for daggers and other blades in texts such as the Key of Solomon.  However, DSIC doesn’t mention their use at all, suggesting a different origin or lineage of conjuration than the Key of Solomon or Lemegeton Goetia.  Still, it can make sense to think of the wand the wand as a replacement for the Solomonic sword, especially given their similar uses in Agrippa and elsewhere.  This, however, runs counter to what Fr. AC says about the wand in GTSC:

The wand is meant to be a representation of divine authority and command.  As such, it should be treated with the upmost [sic] respect and dignity at all times.  This is not and was never meant to be only a “director of the magician’s will.”  This is also not a “blasting rod” in which to threaten and subdue spirits with either.  It is wielded as an active symbol of holy diplomacy and ambassadorship.  When you invoke holy Archangels with this wand, you are doing so with the assumption of divine inspiration and permission.

Now…do we really need a wand?  Personally, in light of the absence of any other Solomonic-type tool of conjuration, I would say that we should.  But, if not, as Fr. RO suggests, using the forefinger, the “finger of Jupiter”, can work in some cases.  It won’t work for the proper Solomonic purpose of threatening impelling spirits (Mars, properly speaking, doesn’t have a finger associated to it, but the middle finger, given to Saturn, might work instead).  Will a non-DSIC wand work?  I think so, yes.  It’d be best to make it according to spec here, but I don’t think that it’s that important in the long run; a wand with some sort of holy names, or imbued with holiness somehow, is sufficient.

However, an argument can be made that, if all you’re using DSIC for is “good spirits”, then you probably wouldn’t need a wand at all; after all, Agrippa doesn’t mention the use of any such tool or implement in either of his conjuration methods for “good spirits” (either his prayer-based theurgic method or his ecstatic trance method), and even in his conjuration of “evil spirits”, he only uses a sword in certain circumstances.  If it weren’t for the single DSIC instruction of tracing the circle out with the wand (which is such a waste of an exquisite and exotic tool, made of ebony and gold as it is!), I would personally say that you wouldn’t need the wand unless you really wanted one.  It’s not like you can exactly boss angels around, nor can you impress them as being an emissary of the power of God when that’s exactly their own role.

What about the ring?  We can assume that this is basically a Ring of Solomon, but as far as DSIC is concerned, what exactly should we be looking for or aiming at?  Like the wand, DSIC only mentions it once:

Then taking your ring and pentacle, put the ring on the little finger of your right hand…

But, unlike the wand, DSIC doesn’t give a description of what the ring should look like.  Agrippa’s Fourth Book isn’t of much help here, either; there are only a handful of instances of the word.  Here are the relevant passages, with the important parts in bold text:

It is to be known also, that Vows, Oblations, and Sacrifice, have the power of consecration, as much real as personal; and they are as it were certain covenants and conventions between those names with which they are made, and us who make them, strongly cleaving to our desire and wished effect: As, when we dedicate, offer, and sacrifice, with certain names or things; as, Fumigations, Unctions, Rings, Images, Looking-glasses; and things less material, as Deities, Sigils, Pentacles, Enchantments, Orations, Pictures, and Scriptures: of which we have largely spoken in our third book of Occult Philosophy. (book IV, chapter 8)

But he that is willing always and readily to receive the Oracles of a Dream, let him make unto himself a Ring of the Sun or of Saturn for this purpose. There is also an Image to be made, of excellent efficacy and power to work this effect; which being put under his head when he goes to sleep, doth effectually give true dreams of anything whatsoever the mine has before determined or consulted on. The Tables of Numbers do likewise confer to receive an Oracle, being duly formed under their own Constellations. And these things you may know in the third book of Occult Philosophy. … Now he that knows how to compose those things which we have now spoken of, he shall receive the most true Oracles of dreams. And this he shall do; observe those things which in the second book of Occult Philosophy are directed concerning this thing. He that is desirous therefore to receive an Oracle, let him abstain from supper and from drink, and be otherwise well disposed, his brain being free from turbulent vapors; let him also have his bed-chamber fair and clean, exorcised and consecrated if he will; then let him perfume the same with some convenient fumigation; and let him anoint his temples with some unguent efficacious hereunto, and put a ring upon his finger, of the things above spoken of: let him take either some image, or holy table, or holy paper, and place the same under his head: then having made a devout prayer, let him go unto his bed, and meditating upon that thing which he desires to know, let him so sleep; for so shall he receive a most certain and undoubted oracle by a dream, when the Moon goes through that sign which was in the ninth House of his nativity, and also when she goes through the sign of the ninth House of the Revolution of his nativity; and when she is in the ninth sign from the sign of perfection. And this is the way and means whereby we may obtain all Sciences and Arts whatsoever, suddenly and perfectly, with a true Illumination of our understanding; although all inferior familiar Spirits whatsoever do conduce to this effect; and sometimes also evil Spirits sensibly informing us Intrinsically or Extrinsically. (book IV, chapter 11)

But when we do intend to execute any effect by evil Spirits, when an Apparition is not needful; then that is to be done, by making and forming that thing which is to be unto us as an instrument, or subject of the experiment it self; as, whether it be an Image, or a Ring, or a Writing, or any Character, Candle, or Sacrifice, or any thing of the like sort; then the name of the Spirit is to be written therein, with his Character, according to the exigency of the experiment, either by writing it with some blood, or otherwise using a perfume agreeable to the Spirit. Oftentimes also making Prayers and Orations to God and the good Angels before we invoce the evil Spirit, conjuring him by the divine power. (book IV, chapter 14)

None of these really seem to apply to DSIC.  The first passage kinda touches on the consecration of various things, but it’s nothing specific to conjuration, just of consecrated items in general.  The second passage deals with oracles and divination through dreams, and though it specifies a ring to be made for the Sun or Saturn, there’s nothing specific about that.  The third passage talks about dealing with evil spirits, but more in the case of working with them in a non-conjuration framework, such as through talismanic works.  So Agrippa doesn’t seem to help us at all for matters about the ring.  There’s exceedingly little in The Magus about it, too, and nothing specific for conjuration; there’s nothing in LHJ or other texts like the Heptameron, either, about rings.

My only guess is that the ring is an import from Solomonic literature like the Lemegeton Goetia (LG).  From that, we get the following design (first from Esoteric Archive’s version, the second from Mather’s later redrawing):

The older version on Esoteric Archives gives a short description:

This Ring is to be held before the face of the Exorcist to preserve him from The stinking fumes of spirits &c.

Mathers gives a more fuller explanation for the ring that I like:

THIS is the Form of the Magic Ring, or rather Disc, of Solomon, the figure whereof is to be made in gold or silver. It is to be held before the face of the exorcist to preserve him from the stinking sulphurous fumes and flaming breath of the Evil Spirits.

I bring up both designs here to point out something interesting: both rings have the three names “Tetragrammaton”, “Anaphexeton”/”Anaphaxeton”, and “Michael” on them, though Mathers describes this more as a disc, while the older version seems a little…funkier.  I think what the older version is showing is that “Anaphexeton” and “Michael” should be on the outside of the ring, and “Tetragrammaton” on the inside.  (As for the word “Anaphaxeton”, Enoch Bowen of The Occult and Magick blog put up a post some years ago about this word, and how he describes it as related to the more common divine name “Tzabaoth”, related to the heavenly hosts, and this would make sense with the inclusion of the name “Michael”, being their prince and commander.)  This design makes more sense than Mather’s design as a disc, but I suppose either would work.

As for the purpose of this ring?  LG mentions the use of a ring when interacting with certain spirits (using Mathers’ much more readable version for these quotes):

  • Beleth: “And thou must have always a Silver Ring on the middle finger of the left hand held against thy face, as they do yet before  Amaymon. “
  • Berith: “Thou must make use of a Ring in calling him forth, as is before spoken of regarding Beleth.”
  • Astaroth: “Thou must in no wise let him approach too near unto thee, lest he do thee damage by his Noisome Breath. Wherefore the Magician must hold the Magical Ring near his face, and that will defend him.”

The one big difference in use between the ring of LG and the ring of DSIC, namely which finger and hand to wear it on (DSIC says the pinky/little finger of the right hand, LG the middle finger of left hand), but I think the basic idea here is clear: it’s for the protection of the magician from poison.  Silver, after all, is well-known and has long been acclaimed to detect poisons by turning black, and is seen also as a way of nullifying poisons, hence why LG says to wear it before the face in order to preserve the magician from damage from the “noisome breath” (i.e. toxic, noxious, poisonous, deadly, or otherwise unpleasant fumes, smoke, gas, breath, or similar emission from the presence of the spirit).  This would seem, however, to contradict Mathers’ description that the ring could be made of gold when silver is clearly being relied upon here.

Now, Fr. RO doesn’t describe the use of a ring in his RWC or SS, but he does use a lead (!) ring (which he says works as well as gold or silver) based on Mather’s version in the form of a disc.  Moreover, he says that he uses this and other similar tools (the pentagram and hexagram seals of Solomon, basically other protective lamens from Solomonic literature) when conjuring one of the spirits for the first time, though he also says that he has “never had a spirit manifest in a stinking toxic cloud”.

In GTSC, Fr. AC does bring up the ring, but he makes the same conclusions I do: there’s nothing in DSIC to guide us except that we need to wear one on the little finger of our right hand.  However, Fr. AC does bring up something to my attention I missed: The Magus does, in fact, give an illustration of a magic ring, just not where we expected!  On page 106 (part II, chapter 18), there’s an illustration of a number of things: a few pentagrams and other geometric diagrams, an illustration of a sword, and, indeed, a magic ring!  (I blame bad digitizations from Google Books on why I didn’t spot this earlier.)

The ring given in this image is pretty simple: a simple band, with a bevel/jewel that has upon it a hexagram with a single dot (perhaps a precursor to the hexagram with central Yod we see elsewhere?).  This is a very, very simple form of the “seal of Solomon”, but it works for our needs, to be sure.  Fr. AC describes his implementation, where he found just such a ring, and goes more into the materials and uses for it, though he also takes the approach of the old-style LG and engraves “Michael” and “Anaphexiton [sic]” on the outside and “Tetragrammaton” on the inside.  This is basically my own approach, too, as I showed when I had my own ring of Solomon made for me some years back (using Hebrew instead of Latin, and replacing “Anaphaxeton” (or however you want to spell it) with “Tzabaoth” in Hebrew; there’s a hexagram with central dot engraved on the band underneath the sunstone.

To quote a bit of Fr. AC on the purpose of the ring:

The magical ring is a shield of protection and banner of obedience to all spiritual forces.  The ring is a perfect symbol of divine unity and the impenetrable armor of God.  To the spirit, there is no transgressing past this unified symbol of divine completeness.  It is recommended that the ring you use be brand new and used only for this operation.

Also, one more note about that picture from The Magus: the sword in that image bears striking resemblance to the wand from DSIC, even though this is from Barrett’s version of the Heptameron.  Barrett describes this specifically on page 110:

…and let the operator himself carry the sword, over which should be said a prayer of consecration: and on the middle of the sword on one side let there be engraven Agla †, and on the other side, † OnTetragrammaton †.

Fr. AC mistakenly interprets this to be a wand and not a sword, despite the text clearly saying that it’s a sword as well as the caption saying so as well.  Knowing that this is a sword and not a wand, we can pick up how closely Barrett (and the author of DSIC, if separate people) may have considered the DSIC wand to be to the sword here; in my mind, this weakens Fr. AC’s view that the wand is not a “blasting rod”, since it can and should be used as one should the need arise.  After all, many of the tools in magical practice are not necessarily used for one thing and one thing only, nor do they act as symbols that mean one thing and one thing only.  While that might be the case if you’re working from the Key of Solomon that has over a dozen separate implements, DSIC has so far fewer, and as we can see, the wand in DSIC is a distillation of both the Solomonic wand as well as the Solomonic sword, and thus can be used for either of the two in practice and in symbolism.

On that note, let’s call it a day for now.  We’ll pick up next time on two more relatively minor (but still important) parts of the DSIC toolset: the candles and the incense brazier.

De Conjuratione et Compulsione

A good chunk of the work I do is conjuration: the summoning, evocation, and invoking of spirits to communicate with me and help me out in my Work, either by having them do something for me externally or empowering or educatingme internally for a particular aim.  Conjuration is definitely a primary tool for me: divination, simple energy work, astral sight, and the like all have their place, but I wouldn’t be where or what I am without chatting with the spirits I’ve called up. 

The word “conjuration” means “command on oath” or “constrain by spell”, from Latin conjurare, “to swear together, conspire”.  It’s a pretty forceful term, come to think of it, and it’s not hard to see why.  Look at any text in the Solomonic tradition and you’ll find that the prayers and incantations used to evoke the spirits can be pretty heavy-handed, if not replete with threats, curses, and ultimatums.  (For a real good example of this, check out the Bond of Solomon from the Munich Manual, which is ridiculously long and uses basically every divine act in the Old and New Testaments to convince a spirit “hey you, do this now”.)  Between “behold your conclusion if you do not obey me”, the Spirit’s Chain, and various other orations from the grimoires, it’s not hard to picture the conjurer or magician as someone in charge of an “enhanced information extraction” torture chamber.

Of course, given that a lot of spirits referred to in the Solomonic tradition are demonic or outright harmful to the magician, you probably do want to be stern with them, but are they harmful because of the magician’s threats, or does the magician threaten them because they’re harmful?  It’s an interesting chicken-and-egg problem, not helped any by the fact that most Solomonic magicians in the Western tradition were likely priests or devout Christians who saw any spirit not explicitly an angel of God to be a lacky of Satan.  And, as Fr. MC from the Lion’s Den noted in his Crossed Keys, a lot of these spirits are ancient and benevolent, having only committed the crime of not bowing down to the Judeo-Christian God.  To be honest, I can’t blame them.

Now, a good occultist friend of mine says that while she likes the work I do, she dislikes that I use conjuration to do it.  She’s a big proponent of free will and the ability of choice for all entities (save for predator/prey situations, defense, and necessary facts of life like that), and is barred by her own tradition and powers from doing anything like conjuration.  Instead, she appeals to the spirit directly and builds up a relationship with them to ask for their help and favor, or, if something’s causing a serious issue, she appeals to her own higher powers to take care of it.  From that point of view, I can certainly understand: it’s often better to ask for permission or help than just outright command something you have no apparent connection to to get something done.  It’s more respectful, kind, and appropriate, especially since most of these spirits I deal with are far older than me, my family name, or even humanity, not to mention more powerful.

In other words, it’s as if you worked for a certain company, and I was your boss’ child, and I told you “Get your ass over here and show me this internal report or I’ll tell your boss you done fucked up”.  It disrespects you, disregards your tenure in the company, elides the previous work you’ve done, and assumes that it’s in your purview to even do what I asked (or demanded) you do.  It also presumes that your boss would even bother listening to me, which may not be a valid assumption based on relevance, acceptibility, and how favored I am with your boss.

At the same time, from the Hermetic point of view, that’s actually exactly what’s going on, but in a different light.  From that perspective, we are made in God’s image (ultimate infinite all-encompassing God, not this God or that God) through and through, and even though all things come from God, we’re the only ones to be made like God.  Because all things bear a love for God (even if it’s in some crazy, harmful, or demonic way), when they see us, they see a small part of God, and so will obey us as they obey God, though perhaps not as readily or happily.  However, as we descended through the spheres and gained more and more density, we also gained more and more power from the spirits of those spheres who wanted to help us and empower us out of love for the First Father.

In other words, it’s as if you’re good friends with my parents, and since you like them and I remind you of them, you’d be willing to help me out if I were to call upon you for a favor or request.  It’s really similar to the case above, but phrased and seen like this, it’s not that blatantly disrespectful; I wouldn’t ask you to help me out unless there were already a strong connection and willingness to help.  However, I wouldn’t rightly demand that you do something for me, either, since that’d be taking advantage over you who would only want to do me good; disrespecting you would reflect poorly on me by means of my parents, who would disapprove of the way I’d treat you.

In a recent chat with the angel Michael of the Sun, I asked for his thoughts on conjuration in magic and the Work.  Now, granted, he’s coming from a soldier’s point of view (right-hand man of God, prince of the heavenly host, etc.), but he made a pretty good point:

All things have a job to do.  You can ask them to do it, and if they do it willingly, it is good.  When they do not and their job needs to be done, you need to make them do it.

The cosmos is a complete system where everything plays a part, no matter how minute or how grand it may be.  If something isn’t doing its job, it needs to get a swift kick in the rear or languish about until it finally decides to do it on its own.  In this light, I can see how the efficiency of a well-ordered cosmos would demand the occasional slap on the wrist of a lazy person, but that isn’t always what’s happening in conjuration.

For angels and the like, conjuration’s a fairly straightforward deal.  Supposedly (and I’m unsure how much I buy this idea, but let’s go with it), they don’t have free will but only act as emissaries, mouthpieces, and actors for God, hence their etymology as “messenger”.  If I ask for something that’s absolutely right out of bounds with God, or not in line with the Will of the Father, they’ll decline, but that’s about the only reason they have for declining.  They don’t seem to mind being conjured in the name of God (or in one of the various godnames from the Tree of Life), but that’s because it’s really similar to just directly calling on God and interfacing with a more concrete, non-infinite form of Divinity that’s easier for the human mind to handle and geared specifically for the task at hand.

For other spirits and things that assert their own will and choice, things get a little more hairy.  Sure, being made in the image of God definitely gives us a natural boost in authority, and moreso if you actually work for divine might-makes-right.  However, we’re also pretty young when it comes to creation, and being the favored child doesn’t always cut it.  Personally, I’d always go with an ask-first approach, always paying respect and kindness and understanding to the spirits unless they actively try to initiate harm; in that case, the gloves come off. 

For instance, the first time I met the local nature spirits in my neighborhood, it wasn’t through a conjuration; instead, it was just by taking a walk and calling out to the forest itself, and letting the genius loci appear to me on their own.  In my adaptation of the conjurations from the Lemegeton, I’m only planning on using the first conjuration; I’ll respectfully call upon the goetic spirit (in the name of their rulers and higher powers, yes, but not in an overtly belligerent way), maybe twice or thrice if they do not appear the first time, and after that just be done with it.  At the risk of sounding like a fluffy whitelighter, unless the spirit is being a real prick, I don’t want to bust out anything more offensive than “Hey, I’m calling you here, please come, I have the authority to ask for you”.  I’ve got no compunction against using weaponry when I need it, but until I get more warlike and experienced in this sort of stuff, I’d rather delay the need for them as long as possible until nothing else will cut it.

What do you think?  Do you consider conjuration to be useful for all spirits, even when a polite summons and invitation will do?  Do you find conjuration to be anathema and overly heavy-handed in all circumstances?  Do you use conjuration for some spirits and other techniques for others?

Craftwork update!

Gotta love the feeling of being productive and actually making stuff again.  About damn time, too; crafting this stuff is at least a quarter of the fun of the Art.

Since I had all the supplies, and now that things in my life have calmed down enough to allow me enough time during the week and weekends to focus and set my mind to some projects again, I can proudly show off two of my latest crafting projects:

  • A ritual sword, partially Solomonic in design but with certain elements that give it a much more offensive nature against harmful spirits.  Yes, dear reader, I made myself a demonsbane-type sword.  I’m going to conjure Kammael and Michael in turn as this conjuration cycle continues and get their opinions on it and how to keep it in good shape, so there’ll be a post on that in the future.  In the meantime, I’m scared to even hold the thing; it feels like a firebomb in my hands.
  • A Circle of Art painted onto a large canvas tarp, based on a design I introduced before.  Simple, elegant, and portable, and awesome-looking, besides!  I made a few wooden pentagram placards to serve as bases for candles and the brazier, too, so the whole setup is pretty cool.  Walking into it feels like stepping into a fortress observatory, so I think I did it right.
  • Although not a craft, per se, I had a hard time finding a proper blessing of chalk that didn’t specifically mention the Three Wise Men or Epiphany, so I made one up.  Here you go, if you ever need a Hermetic or Abrahamic blessing of chalk.

Now that I have these two things, in combination with the tools and supplies I already have (wand, triangle, pentacles, ring), I’m finally ready to start working with goetia and other types of demons.  This opens up a whole new set of practices to experiment with, so I’m pretty excited about this.  Yes, I know that dealing with demons is a powerful practice and can fuck my own shit up if I’m not careful, but what’s life without living, and what is living without learning?  I want the experience, and I hear some demons are pretty neat guys to be acquainted with.  Based on a friend’s suggestion and my own inclinations, I think Orobas will be the first guy in line.

My brony friends would be proud if they knew about this guy.

Though, this does bring up a good question for myself.  I’m used to using the Trithemius ritual to conjure spirits, which I’ve used for angels and genii (two totally different ranks of spirits), but nothing besides (since I haven’t done any other kind of conjuration).  Fr. Rufus Opus has said he’s used it equally well for all kinds of spirits from different grimoires, traditions, and texts, so I’m eager to try and figure out experiments with this rite and how to conjure spirits that are less-than-sanguine about the holy Trinity, qabbalistic godnames, and so forth.  The Lemegeton and Key of Solomon have good starting points for me to jump off of; a Trithemius/Solomonic blended conjuration might be an interesting thing to write up, since the Trithemius rite has the basic framework I need and the Solomonic texts have all the godnames, conjurations, and calls.

Oooh, pretty PDFs.

In terms of my work, I’m holding off on conjuring the elemental prince Amaymon, prince of Earth in the South, since I decided to do a bit of research on Amaymon in my chat with Auriel last week.  Little has come up except some stuff from the Goetia, so I struck up a conversation with a good friend who was once a member of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn (OSOGD).  I asked about whether he had any experiences with the prince himself, and indeed he did.  He was surprised, however, that I didn’t mention it in the context of the Abramelin operation.

So, he sent me a PDF copy of the Abramelin work.  Since then I’ve come across a number of other grimoires including the Arbatel, all free, all prettily and authentically kerned.  Now I have several more binders to take care of on my shelf that, with enough luck and time, I’ll eventually get to and through.  Maybe the universe is just prepping me for the future one day or something.