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

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

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

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

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

But I can tell you what you could do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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