Experimenting with Angelic Lamens

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I’m finally taking my original lamen design seriously and going to experiment using them.  My original lamen design was based off the one in Barrett’s the Magus to use with the Trithemius rite as well as from Fr. Rufus Opus’ Modern Angelic Grimoire, but altered to look a little cleaner and more magical; plus, the new style relies more on a circular format, similar to the seals given in Crowley/Mather’s Lemegeton.  For comparison, here’s the standard lamen for the angel of Mars, Kammael:

And here’s my new, experimental design:

The differences between the two, in case you’d like a written description:

  • The name of the spirit is written in another ring around a central circle.
  • Always use six pentagrams around the arms of the hexagrams, points facing outward.
  • No Romanization of the spirit’s name.
  • Center hexagram is embiggened and centered in the central circle.
  • Godnames rotated 90° so that El is aligned at the top.

I used this design for a temporary placeholder when testing out the look of some things, but went to the original format out of fear of fucking things up.  However, the basis for the design of the lamen comes from Cornelius Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10):

Now the Lamen which is to be used to invoke any good spirit, you shall make after this maner; either in metal conformable, or in new wax, mixt with species and colours conformable: or it may be made in clean paper, with convenient colours: and and the outward form or figure thereof may be square, circular, or triangular, or of the like sort, according to the rule of the numbers: in which there must be written the divine names, as well the general names as the special. And in the centre of the Lamen, let there be drawn a character of six corners (Hexagonus); in the middle whereof, let there be written the name and character of the Star, or of the Spirit his governour, to whom the good spirit that is to be called is subject. And about this character, let there be placed so many characters of five corners (Pentagonus), as the spirits we would call together at once. And if we shall call onely one spirit, nevertheless there shall be made four Pentagones, wherein the name of the spirit or spirits, with their characters, is to be written. Now this table ought to be composed when the Moon in increasing, on those days and hours which then agree to the Spirit. And if we take a fortunate star herewith, it will be the better. Which Table being made in this manner, it is to be consecrated according to the rules above delivered.

In some ways, my design might be closer to the description Agrippa gives.  Alternate designs could be drawn up that use, say, a pentagon for the shape of the lamen for Kammael (5 = Geburah = Mars).  Although I didn’t color the lamen template, I do hand-color in the lamens after I print them out and cut them in an appropriate planetary day and hour.  The rule about the number of pentagrams annoys me: four for conjuring four spirits and fewer, otherwise as many as the number of spirits being conjured?  Yet Barrett shows six pentagrams for his lamen of Michael.  How confusing!  I may as well just stick with the number six to keep things balanced and even around the design of the lamen, I feel.  Plus, if I do ever get around to using a single lamen for multiple spirits, this layout affords more space for the seals and names of the spirits to be conjured than the standard design.

Tyson, in his notes to his critical edition of Agrippa, notes that Barrett’s design strays from this by adding a Romanized version of the name inside the hexagram, as well as using six pentagrams around the lamen.  However, Tyson also theorizes that the name of the angel (Michael, in Barrett’s example) is the ruling angel of the spirits to be conjured, with the individual spirit being written in the pentagrams around the hexagram.  However, since the lamen is to be worn around the neck, it has to be an appropriate size for wearing, in which case the pentagrams are way too small for that.  Because this can’t be done, I’m going with the interpretation that the name or seal of the spirit written on the lamen itself is the one to be conjured.  However, Agrippa does say that “there be written the name and character of the Star, or of the Spirit his governour, to whom the good spirit that is to be called is subject”; this is why we can use a lamen of, say, the angelic elemental king Auriel to conjure Amaymon, since Amaymon is subject to Auriel.  (That said, the way I’m taught and used to doing things is just conjure Auriel and ask him to bring Amaymon once he’s already there.  YMMV.)

Since I’m scheduled to conjure Kammael this week, I’m going to try this lamen out tomorrow.  I don’t expect too different a result; the spirit should be the same, the strength should be what I’m used to.  If I get better results, I’ll finish off the rest of this lamen set and post them to the designs.  If I get worse results, I’ll just stick to what I already have and use.  Personally, I like my design better, but that’s because I’m biased and proud of my shit.  If it works well enough for me to continue with these things, I may as well make a nice and purty set on strong parchment-like stock.

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.

Two Swords

Man, time flies.  Just over five weeks ago, I conjured Kammael the angel of Mars as part of my conjuration cycle.  From then began about two weeks of constant energy, discovery, fun, and activity that left a definite impression on my life.  I can’t and won’t complain; it was all for the better, if not confusing.  Still, good times were had, and the surge of energy helped me lay claim to and determine the actual limits and content of what I consider to be “my life and self”.  It’s an ongoing process, but it was definitely a trip.

Earlier this week, I conjured Kammael again.  The familiar rush of flame and energy, of sharpness and judgment, descended and infused my sphere again, but the rush is much more tame this time around.  Indeed, Kammael seemed to want just that to happen; although last time the energy of fire was external and outgoing, it’s now time for that fire to go inwards and work on what I’ve laid claim to.  It’s a much more controlled fire, and more introspective.  It might have something to do with Mars going retrograde recently on January 23 (going direct again on April 14 and leaving its shadow on June 19, just before the summer solstice).

As part of the conjuration, I routinely ask the spirits for their advice given my current condition, progress, and state of affairs.  Kammael had this to say:

Judgment of the self: too much definition, and it becomes imprisoned; too much exploration, and it becomes lost. Use both swords wisely.

The Qabbalah sephirah associated with Mars is Geburah, “Strength”, and it’s named that for a reason: even though the fifth heaven and sphere of Mars is on red-hot fire with ever-molten pits of lava, it’s all about cold, hard judgment and strategy.  This is the place where anything unbalanced from above or impure from below gets burned out of the Tree of Life.  Anything unnecessary or excessively grandiose, nice though it may be, coming from Jupiter gets tossed.  Anything too proud or self-righteous, noble though it may be, coming from the Sun gets tossed.  This is the place of the blade that cuts and divides the good from the bad, the needed from the unneeded, the helpful from the unhelpful.  It’s why the Tarot path from Tiphareth to Geburah is Justice: it determines the proper amount and course of anything between the sixth, fifth, and fourth heavens.

In a similar way, we’re given to police ourselves and figure out what it is that our “self” is.  In order to know what we are, we need to have some sort of definition (literally “a complete boundary”) to ourselves to know what belongs to our self and what doesn’t.  At the same time, we need to know what we can be and what we can do to become what we will be in order to grow and live.  The force to restrict and the force to expand, the forces of Saturn and Jupiter, flow into Mars and have to be balanced out on the scales of the armed Lady of Justice.  Too much of either is no good, and it gets burned in the pits of Mars, and then we ourselves get burnt out by too much self-restriction or self-expansion. 

  • If we define ourselves too much, and say only “I am that and only that” without considering “I could also be that and can do this too”, we get too caught up in being in a fixed state of self, we get locked down in an unnatural petrification and stagnation, and can’t handle change when it comes. 
  • If we expand ourselves too much, and say only “I can do this and this too and I can do all other things that I want” without considering “I am also at heart this and not that”, we get too caught up in being an an changing state of self, we get lost in an unnatural diffusion and explosion, and can’t find ourselves when we look for it.

Neither of these forces are bad, and both are needed in their proper amounts.  When Saturn restricts too much, Jupiter breaks free; when Jupiter expands too much, Saturn anchors down.  Mars is where these forces, both flowing from the seventh and sixth heavens, mingle and balance each other out to form a coherent and stable form.  Mars is where the self, coming from the fourth heaven of the Sun and stripped of its emotions and ideas and fantasies and reality, can see its greater cosmic dimensions, both where it terminates and what it can contain.

Mars is not a nurturing planet.  It’s dry, hot, barren, and dark (it’s considered a nocturnal though masculine planet in astrology).  It does not engender, it does not generate, it does not create.  Even though it doesn’t give birth, however, it does give passage; it is not a mother, but a guard.  Guards that permit too much are little more than the greeters at Wal-Mart, permitting both honest customers and dishonest thieves.  Guards that permit too little block the flow of commerce, communication, and life.  Guards need to have a functional sense of judgment to know what’s permitted and what’s not, and to allow things past them as appropriate.  We need to be on guard for ourselves, knowing what we are and can be and do, and what we are not and can’t be or do.  It is by these two judgments, these two swords, that we can really understand and execute our will and carry out our lives properly as we should.