Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Planetary/Spirit Stuff and Shape of the Lamen

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 now that we wrapped up the table and pedestal (and/or the Table of Practice), we can move on to other topics.  Last time, we began talking about the lamen, where it comes from and how DSIC implements the design given by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim in his (spurious?) Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, and the divine names to be used on the outer ring of the lamen.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Now that we’ve gone over the outer ring of names on the lamen, let’s talk about the actual meat of the thing: the information, names, characters, and layout of all this on the lamen itself.  DSIC itself doesn’t have any text-based description or design of the lamen, but it does give an example of one for the angel Michael of the Sun in its illustration:

More than that, we know that the lamen design is clearly based off of Agrippa’s Fourth Book, from which we know that we need the following (book IV, chapter 10):

…And in the center of the Lamen, let there be drawn a character of six corners (hexagram); in the middle whereof, let there be written the name and character of the Star, or of the Spirit his governor, 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 (Pentagram), as the spirits we would call together at once. And if we shall call only one spirit, nevertheless there shall be made four Pentagram, 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…

This means we need to have as main design elements a single hexagram (six-pointed star consisting of two triangles, one laid upside-down on top of the other), and at least four pentagrams (five-pointed stars) arranged around the hexagram.  The central hexagram is the big thing here, as it’s the main focus of the lame.  Everyone I’ve ever seen uses the hexagram to specify the seal and name of the spirit we’re calling upon in the ritual itself; if you want to conjure the angel Michael of the Sun, then following the example of DSIC, you’d put the name “Michael” and his seal in the central hexagon of the hexagram; if Gabriel of the moon, “Gabriel” with his seal, and so forth.  Pretty straightforward, no problems there.

What’s interesting, however, are the pentagrams around the hexagram.  Agrippa clearly says that these aren’t just for decoration, but explicitly for conjuring other spirits.  What sorts of spirits?  Read the first part of the Agrippa quote above closely: “let there be written the name and character of the Star, or of the Spirit his governor, to whom the good spirit that is to be called is subject” and “let there be placed so many characters of five corners….as the spirits we would call together at once”.  In other words, the lamen is designed to be sufficiently general that it can call upon any kind of spirit (and I do mean any kind, admitting that all spirits have some sort of planetary affinity), but in such a way that it reinforces spiritual hierarchies.

So, let’s say that we wanted to perform a conjuration specifically of Nakhiel, the intelligence of the Sun.  In this case, though the usual common modern approach would be to make a lamen with the name and sigil of Nakhiel in the central hexagram, the proper Agrippan method of doing so would be to place Nakhiel and its sigil in one of the pentagrams around the hexagram, keeping Michael of the Sun’s name and character in the hexagram.  Likewise, if we were to call upon Taphthartharath, the spirit of Mercury, and if we wanted to call upon the intelligence of Mercury Tiriel as well to keep Taphthartharath in line, then we’d make a lamen with the hexagram having the name and seal of Raphael of Mercury inside it, with the name and sigil of Tiriel in one pentagram and those of Taphthartharath in another pentagram.

Alternatively, note how Agrippa also says that the name and character “of the Star” can be placed in the hexagram, not just “of the Spirit his governor”.  This means that instead of constructing a lamen such that the ruling angel of that planetary sphere gets put in the middle (symbolically giving that spirit dominance over all other spirits around it), the planet itself would be put in the middle and all the other spirits around it (symbolically recognizing that all those spirits belong to that planet).  Using this approach, if we wanted to make a lamen for Michael of the Sun, we’d put the name “Sol” (or “Sun”, or “Shemesh” in Hebrew/Celestial script, etc.) with the characters of the Sun (book I, chapter 33) or number square seal of the Sun (book II, chapter 22) in the center part of the hexagram, then put the name and seal of Michael in one of the pentagrams around it.  For our Mercury example above, we’d put the name “Mercurius”, “Mercury”, “Kochab”, etc. with either the characters or number square seal of Mercury in the hexagram, with the names and seals/sigils for the spirits Raphael, Tiriel, and Taphthartharath in the pentagrams around it.

I actually like the approach of putting the planet in the middle of the hexagram, but it seems that literally nobody does this: not Fr. RO, not Fr. AC, not Fr. Acher, nobody, not even Barrett himself in the DSIC illustration.  In fact, it doesn’t seem that anyone has ever taken this approach, whether using the planet in the center and all other spirits around it or even using a ruling spirit in the middle and subordinate spirits around it, and the reason is pretty apparent to me: writing names and seals in those tiny pentagrams is hard.  No size is given for the lamen in either Agrippa or DSIC, but if we would need to make the lamen large enough to support both the writing of the name and character of whatever we put in the central hexagram as well as in the pentagram for the spirits, and that’s pretty large, even if we make the central hexagram the same size as the pentagrams—which nobody does, and probably for the simple design reason of making whatever’s in the center stand out visually both in arrangement and in size.

That being said, let’s go back to the DSIC-style lamen that focuses on Michael.  The DSIC illustration gives the name of the spirit twice, once in Hebrew above the hexagram and once in Latin inside the hexagram.  Why both?  Agrippa doesn’t say to do this, and DSIC is silent on the matter.  Yet, it seems that everyone follows this method, and I’m not sure why.  On this, since we’re looking at Agrippa here anyway, let’s turn to Donald Tyson who, in his version of the Fourth Book from Llewellyn, gives both the original text and a lengthy analysis of it, which is super useful here.  He also gives a bit of interpretation of what Agrippa says about the lamen, along with how Barrett interpreted it for DSIC:

… In the center is drawn a “character of six corners”, which I take to mean a hexagram rather than a hexagon.  In the center of this is written the name and character of the planet, or of the governing angel of the planet, to which the angel invoked is subject.

Around the hexagram are placed as many “characters of five corners” (probably pentagrams rather than pentagons, even though Turner [the original English translator for Agrippa] uses the word “pentagons” here) as there are good spirits to be invoked.  If it happens that only a single spirit is to be invoked, nonetheless four pentagrams are used, and in them is written the name and character of that spirit.  What is to be done if two or three spirits are to be invoked is not made clear in the text.  Perhaps four is the minimum number of pentagrams to be used when the number of spirits is less than four. …

In the example of a lamen made to these specifications that is provided by Francis Barrett in his work, The Magus (plate immediately before bk. 2, pt. 4), here redrawn for clarity, we see Barrett’s interpretation of these instructions, which is not without defect.  It is stated that the hexagram should be drawn in the middle of the lamen, but Barrett’s engraver placed it below center.  The name “Michael”, who is the governing angel of the sun, is written within the hexagram in Latin letters, but also in Hebrew letters above the hexagram.  In my opinion this repetition of the name is unnecessary, and it should not be written outside the hexagram.  Also within the hexagram is the character of Michael.  Around the hexagram are six pentagrams, which are uninscribed in this general example of the lamen, but which would represent six spirits under the authority of the sun, and Michael, who are to be summoned.  The names of these spirits would be written in the pentagrams.  Thirteen divine names are written around [the] lamen within a double circle: El, Elohim, Elohe, Lebaoth [sic], Elion, Escherchie, Adoni, Jah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Saday, Jod, Ehevi.  …

I agree with Tyson on this matter, that the repetition of the name of the spirit to be conjured as shown by the DSIC illustration is unnecessary.  Perhaps it’s to specify what the spirit is we’re actually focused on, in case we’re calling upon a subordinate spirit?  It’s not clear, but I don’t think that it’s needed.  In that case, we could get rid of the outside-the-hexagram name entirely to save some space to make the central hexagram and surrounding pentagrams larger, giving us more space to write names and seals where needed.  However, it would also seem that I and Tyson are in the minority there; everyone else appears to use the name (written most often in Hebrew, sometimes both Hebrew and Latin, and even in one instance where I’ve seen it written in Arabic)  outside any such star in the lamen.

But, going back to the pentagrams, Agrippa says that there should always be a minimum of four.  Why?  It’s not stated in the Fourth Book, and as far as I can tell, it’s not in the Three Books, either.  There are two things that come to mind that might explain this, and the first is a pretty simple one: four stars for the four directions, kings, or archangels.  This effectively reinforces the notion of four “pillars”, for lack of a better term, to further ground and align ourselves as the magician in connecting with the spirit or spirits we’re conjuring, and given the stellar alignment of the angels in general, I’m guessing that these would be the four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel as would be present on the pedestal/table/Table of Practice…but I don’t like this explanation, as I’d expect such an alignment to be made more explicit if that were the case.

Rather, I think what’s going on is that the Fourth Book is designing lamens in a general enough way to account for a minimum of four spirits per planet no matter what.  Hear out my logic on this:

  • In book II, chapter 10 and chapter 13, Agrippa gives us a single angel for each of the seven planets.
  • In book II, chapter 22, Agrippa gives a bunch of divine names for each planet, including subordinate spirits.  The planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, and Mercury all have one intelligence and one spirit each; Venus has an intelligence, spirit, and intelligences; and the Moon has a spirit, a spirit of spirits, and an intelligence of intelligences.
  • To account for all seven planets, there are either three or four total spirits: one angel, one spirit, one intelligence OR intelligence of intelligences (for the Moon), and (only in the case of the Moon) a spirit of spirits OR (only in the case of Venus) intelligences.
  • This method then suggests that the name and character of the planet should be in the hexagram, with all other spirits in the pentagrams.
  • Thus, because there are a baseline of four entities for each planet (though most only have three), there should be four stars at minimum, to account for all these different subordinate spirits given in book II by Agrippa.

Now, I don’t fully buy that explanation, either, because what if we have, say, six solar spirits that aren’t any of the above, even if we were to put the angel of the Sun in the central hexagram?  After all, there are plenty of texts that give a variety of spirits, messengers, intelligences, and other types of spirits for the planets, in addition to one’s own familiar spirits that one might receive from that sphere as well.  I don’t know, but that’s the best explanation I can come up with for why there must be four pentagrams from an Agrippan perspective, and it is a workable explanation, if it weren’t for the fact that for most planets, only three pentagrams would suffice using this logic.  I can’t say for sure.  There might be something I’m missing, or another textual influence that I’m not picking up on here.  (We’ll probably return to this point later on when we talk more about such influences.)

And what about using more pentagrams?  Just keep adding them on, I suppose; Agrippa just says to have as many pentagrams as there are spirits to be conjured.  That said, the fewer, the better; I suppose we should stick to at least one but no more than six in a single conjuration.  Heck, as the Arbatel says (in aphorism VI.36), “Care is to be taken, that experiments be not mixed with experiments; but that every one be onely simple and several: for God and Nature have ordained all things to a certain and appointed end…therefore simplicity is chiefly to be studied, and the knowledge of such simples is to be sought for from God”.

All the same, Agrippa is clear that there needs to be at least four pentagrams.  Yet, even if we put the angel we’re conjuring in the central hexagram, it doesn’t seem like we need to go with the minimum number of pentagrams in general.  After all, the DSIC illustration itself gives six pentagrams around the hexagram, even though the caption gives the lamen only to Michael, and Fr. AC, following the DSIC example, always gives six pentagrams to all of his lamens in GTSC.  Fr. RO, on the other hand, prefers to stick just to four, as shown by his RWC version and SS version of the lamen for the angel of Jupiter below:

Personally, I fall in line with DSIC and Fr. AC to always use six pentagrams around the lamen; it just looks nicer.  But, knowing what my lamens I already use look like, what would they look like if we took some of our observations above into account?  Let’s say we wanted to make a lamen for the angel Michael alone, and another one for all the four main Agrippan spirits of Venus (angel Anael, intelligence Hagiel, spirit Qedemel, intelligences B’nai Seraphim).  What would we do?  Here’s the approach I’d probably take nowadays:

  • Use the ten general divine names (or twelve, as I said last time), plus any others for the specific planet of the spirits to be conjured
  • Write the divine names in Latin script, starting from the top of the lamen (and not the left), beginning with the general names and ending with the specific ones
  • Use the planet’s name (in Latin) and character in the hexagram
  • Put the other spirits’ names and characters in the pentagrams
  • Use the standard Latin-script spelling of the angels from the Heptameron, corrected Agrippa elsewhere (e.g. reading “Bne Seraphim” as “B’nai Seraphim”)
  • Only write the name of each spirit once in its proper star, i.e. no big name outside any of the stars inside the ring of divine names
  • Always use six pentagrams, even if fewer spirits are being conjured
  • Try to place and balance out the names in the pentagrams however necessary according to the number of spirits

That would get us two lamens like the following:

Of course, if we wanted to use the common approach of putting the presiding angel in the hexagram instead of the planet, we’d get these:

While I like the change in the divine names to make use of the more planetary-specific ones, I think we can see why the pentagrams are so underutilized for spirit names and characters: they’re so damn small that it really is a pain to have names in them without making the central hexagram as small, too.  This is a bother, but it is following specifications according to Agrippa.  But why have pentagrams at all in this use?  Consider what Agrippa says in book IV, chapter 12 when dealing with stubborn or lying spirits: “if you doubt of any lye, make without the Circle with the consecrated Sword, the figure of a triangle or Pentagram, and compel the Spirit to enter into it”.  We’ll get into the topic of magic circles later, but note the similarity here of what’s going on: we’re putting a spirit into a structure of binding and obedience.  But, if we’re not putting anything into them, then an argument could be made that we shouldn’t have them at all in the design.  I wouldn’t know how to answer that point, because I simply don’t know what purpose the pentagrams themselves fill on the lamen if they’re not used for containing spirits, but they are used all the same.

However, DSIC does say nothing about using the pentagrams on the lamen in this way, so perhaps the author of DSIC meant (for this very same reason) to just use just one spirit for the lamen, and that placed in a central large hexagram so as to avoid difficulty when writing the names.  For that, I think a third version might be best, which is just the second set of lamens above without any secondary spirit and the central hexagram much larger than the rest:

You’ll also note that all of the pentagrams are pointing upward in these lamens.  While I can think of good meaningful reasons to do so, it feels a little weird to me only because there’s a graphical imbalance and improper use of whitespace.  I would personally be inclined to rotate each pentagram so that it points outward from the central hexagram (as I showed in my second set of “custom” lamens from before), but that’s just a minor stylistic choice on my part.  Looking at the older grimoires, like the Key of Solomon and Lemegeton or Heptameron, it seems like it’s about 50/50 whether surrounding pentagrams are rotated or not.  You could take it or leave it, I suppose; it’s a really minor difference, but I think it looks a bit nicer.

And, just to clarify something I mentioned in passing in the last post: what if the spirit we’re conjuring isn’t a planetary one?  What if we’re not conjuring an angel, intelligence, spirit, messenger, familiar, etc. of a planet, but some other sort of spirit entirely, like a spirit of the land, a demon, or some other type of spirit?  What would we do for all the planetary stuff?  Well, in short, there is nothing that is not planetary in some way; Agrippa is clear on this point that all things that exist underneath in or underneath the realms of the seven planets have an affinity with a planet.  Every possible spirit can be given some sort of planetary nature; indeed, in book IV, chapter 12 (“Calling forth evil spirits to a magic circle”), if we want to call upon an “evil” (demonic, goetic, whatever) spirit:

…it first behooves us to consider, and to know his nature, to which of the Planets it agrees, and what Offices are distributed to him from that Planet; which being known, let there be sought out a place fit and proper for his invocation, according to the nature of the Planet, and the quality of the Offices of the said Spirit, as near as the same may be done…let there be chosen a convenient time, both for the quality of the Air, serene, clear, quiet, and fitting for the Spirits to assume bodies; as also of the quality and nature of the Planet, and of the Spirit, as to wit, on his day, or the time wherein he rules: he may be fortunate or infortunate, sometimes of the day, and sometimes of the night, as the Stars and Spirits do require. …

In that sense, the same lamen format as given above can be used for any spirit.  For instance, if we wanted to use the DSIC method for a spirit from the Lemegeton Goetia, eschewing that specific conjuration method in favor of the DSIC one, we know from the Lemegeton that “the seals of those 72 kings are to be made in Metals, the chiefest King[s] in gold, Marquises in silver, Dukes in copper, Prelates in tin, Knights in mercury/pewter, and Earls in [a mix of] copper and silver equally alike”.  Note that these are the metals given to the planets, and were written originally using the planetary glyphs to stand in for the terms for the metals.  Admitting that the seals of Earls should probably be made in iron, if it weren’t for iron’s property of destroying spirits, then we’d have planetary affinities for each of the 72 demons of the Lemegeton Goetia.  So, if we were to make a DSIC-style lamen for, say, Dantalion, we know that he’s a duke, and thus given to the planet of Venus, so we’d put the name and seal of Anael the angel of Venus in the central hexagram and the name and seal of Dantalion in a pentagram around the hexagram.

Just another small note after all that: I made a point to say that, when describing my lamens above, that I would “write the divine names in Latin script, starting from the top of the lamen (and not the left), beginning with the general names and ending with the specific ones”.  The DSIC lamen starts the divine names at the leftmost point of the lamen and goes clockwise from there.  I find this odd and can’t figure out the reasoning for it; both I and Fr. AC start at the top and go clockwise, but Fr. RO sticks closer to the DSIC illustration and starts at the left, as well, so he’s being more faithful to the DSIC text here.  The only thing I can think of is—maybe—when wearing the lamen, assuming the lamen should be facing away from the magician towards the crystal (and I see no reason why that wouldn’t be the case), the name “El” would be present closest to the right hand, the hand which DSIC says is to both wear the ring and use the wand.  We’ll touch on those two items later, but that’s the only thing I can think of to explain the positioning of the starting point of divine names on the lamen in the DSIC illustration, and it’s not a very good explanation at that.  Still, something to point out.

And one last note!  While we’re touching a bit on materials here, I want to save the materials for the lamen (and all the other tools and supplies, bits and bobs of DSIC) for a later post, there is something else to mention here as well: what shape should the lamen be?  We know the design of it as given in this post and the previous one, but we know that we need to make this lamen to wear from the neck on the chest for the conjuration.  Knowing that the design should be in a double circle as shown above, what shape should the item as a whole be?  Agrippa says that the “outward form or figure thereof may be square, circular, or triangular, or of the like sort, according to the rule of the numbers” (book IV, chapter 10).  This suggests that we should be using a polygon of a number of sides equal to the “rule of the numbers”, as suggested by Agrippa in book II, chapter 22, i.e. three for Saturn, four for Jupiter, and so forth.  That means:

  • Saturn: triangle
  • Jupiter: square
  • Mars: pentagon
  • Sun: hexagon (though Fr. AC in GTSC gives a lovely sunburst pattern for one example of this with 24 rays, and 24 = 4 × 6)
  • Venus: heptagon
  • Mercury: octagon
  • Moon: nonagon (which Fr. AC in GTSC gives a beautiful scalloped form for each of the sides, each side curving inwards slightly)

However, in general, a circle will suffice for them all, as all polygons are approximations of the circle anyway, which is properly has no number of sides at all (except, perhaps, infinite).  However, if you have the means for it, go with shaping the lamen in a shape appropriate to the planet being conjured, as it will increase the planetary attunement and resonance you’re going for to begin with for the lamen.

To make the lamen wearable, there are three major approaches I can think of:

  1. The first is simply to poke or bore a small hole at the top of the lamen itself and thread it with a ribbon, string, cord, thong, or some other kind of strap to make a large pendant out of it, wearing the lamen directly on the chest.  This is easiest no matter what material you make the lamen out of.  The strap can be colored appropriately to the planet of the spirit.
  2. The second approach is to construct the lamen so that it has a hook or loop at the top of some sort; think of those pre-made, pre-cast pewter pendants you’d get.  This is best if you can make the lamen out of some sort of durable material like metal; it keeps the body of the lamen unpoked and unholed, while giving it a more professional, finer look.
  3. The third approach, which I personally prefer, is to make the lamen as a sort of insert into a frame.  This keeps the lamen whole and without having to poke holes in it.  For this purpose, I got a small circular wooden picture frame and put a hook in the top of it with a cord passing through it.  This way, I get to keep my lamens whole and unpierced while still making them able to wear around the neck.  However, this only really works with thin lamens made out of paper or thin metal.

With that, I think we can wrap up this bit on the lamens.  We’ll pick up with some of the other tools from DSIC next time, specifically the wand and the ring mentioned in the ritual text.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Agrippa’s Lamen Design and the Divine Names

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 now that we wrapped up the table and pedestal (and/or the Table of Practice), we can move on to other topics.  Last time, we wrapped up the Table of Practice, putting together all the elements we discussed previously, and now we can move onto other topics, and today, I want to talk about the lamen.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

The biggest challenge in implementing DSIC is the table upon which the pedestal sits (the GTSC approach), or if you prefer to forego the pedestal and lump its designs into the table, creating a Table of Practice to perform the conjuration by (the SS approach).  The reason why this is so challenging is that DSIC only gives the briefest of descriptions about the table without giving an example of how it should look, as well as the pedestal where only one half of it is shown.  But, once we get the table and pedestal and/or the Table of Practice out of the way, the rest of the text’s tools and methods becomes a lot easier to grok and implement.  Let’s remind ourselves what the illustration from DSIC looks like:

Today, let’s (finally) move on from the table/pedestal/Table of Practice talk and get on with the other implements, and specifically, let’s talk about the lamen.  What even is a lamen?  The word itself is (supposedly) Latin, meaning “plate” as in “breastplate”, and typically refers to a wide or large flat thing worn as a pendant suspended from the neck on top of the chest.  In conjuration rituals, there are plenty of different types of lamens, as many as there are grimoires; sometimes the lamen is specifically attuned to a particular spirit to be worked with, sometimes it’s just a general design used to protect the person who wears it in all conjurations.

The lamen of DSIC is of the former type above, where it’s described…well, it isn’t, really.  DSIC mentions the lamen once, and not even by that term:

Then taking your ring and pentacle, put the ring on the little finger of your right hand; hang the pentacle round thy neck ; (Note, the pentacle may be either wrote on clean virgin parchment, or engraven on a square plate of silver and suspended from thy neck to the breast), then take your black ebony wand, with the gilt characters on it and trace the circle…

That’s it.  There’s no description given in DSIC about the lamen at all, besides the illustration given.  That’s it.  There’s no description given in DSIC about the lamen at all, besides the illustration given.  So, what do we see as far as that?

  • A ring of divine names (El, Elohim, Elohe, Zebaoth, Elion, Escherchie, Adonai, Jah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Saday, Yod, Ehevi)
  • A squiggle at the end of the names
  • Inside the ring of divine names, the following:
    • The name of the angel Michael, given in (wobbly wonky) Hebrew square script
    • A hexagram underneath the Hebrew name
    • Six pentagrams, one each between the arms of the hexagram
    • The name Michael written in Latin along with the seal of the angel Michael

So…where do we go from here?

First, note that the text says “the pentacle”, not “the lamen” or “the holy table” like what the DSIC illustration says.  Nobody has ever said or suggested anything else but that the pentacle refers to anything but the lamen, as even Joseph Peterson of Esoteric Archives says in his notes on the ritual that “the lamin [sic] is also referred to in the text as ‘the pentacle'”.  This makes sense, as there’s no other mention of anything else that could be the lamen in the ritual text itself.  Remember this, because we’ll touch on this later on in a future post.

For comparison, let me show what I’ve been using this whole time.  I’ve made two forms of lamens in the past based on my work with Fr. RO’s RWC and SS, one closer to the DSIC form and one of my own style that I like a bit better for stylistic reasons.  I present both styles, old and new, below, made according to the names and rules given by Fr. RO, using Celestial script for the angelic name instead of square script Hebrew.

It’s important to recall that DSIC was not written in a vacuum.  Heck, even as far as derivative late Solomonic works, DSIC isn’t really a complete text on its own.  Yes, if you know how to read between the lines and take the Arbatel approach of “real magicians already know what to do with this”, then you can figure out what to change and what to replace in order to conjure other spirits, but even then, DSIC has a lot going on behind the scenes that isn’t apparent in the text.  We know that DSIC makes its (almost certainly likely) appearance in Francis Barrett’s The Magus, which was largely plagiarized from a whole bunch of other texts, especially the Three Books and Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy of Henrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim.

In that context, what DSIC is actually presenting makes a lot of sense.  Consider that Agrippa’s Three Books provides a true wealth of information about, well, occult philosophy: the occult-yet-natural virtues of various things in our world, the spiritual significance and meaning behind so many of the things occultists and magicians do, the cosmologies and structures that underlie occult practice and worldviews, and a general overview of different approaches to the divine and to the occult that were used in both antique and (then) modern times.  However, despite all this, Agrippa only provided information about the occult that could be used in rituals, without providing any rituals to actually use.  That’s where the Fourth Book comes into play; this book, which may well be spurious and not actually penned by Agrippa himself, especially since it appeared thirty years after Agrippa’s death and given that one of Agrippa’s students denounced its attribution to his teacher.

Regardless of its origins, it does tie into and build upon the Three Books by giving a bit more meat of actual occult practice, at least where the conjuration and interfacing with spirits is concerned, and gives actual implements and practices to use.  The short text begins (my emendations for modern style and spelling):

In our Books of Occult Philosophy, we have not so compendiously, as copiously, declared the principles, grounds, and reasons of Magic itself, and after what manner the experiments thereof are to be chosen, elected, and compounded, to produce many wonderful effects; but because in those books they are treated of, rather theoretically, then practically; and some also are not handled completely and fully, and others very figuratively, and as it were Enigmatically and obscure Riddles, as being those which we have attained unto with great study, diligence, and very curious searching and exploration, and are heretofore set forth in a more rude and unfashioned manner. Therefore in this book, which we have composed and made as it were a Complement and Key of our other books of Occult Philosophy, and of all Magical Operations, we will give unto you the documents of holy and undefiled verity, and inexpugnable and irresistible magical discipline, and the most pleasant and delectable experiments of the sacred deities. So that as by the reading of our other books of Occult Philosophy, you may earnestly cover the knowledge of these things; even so with reading this book, you shall truly triumph. Wherefore let silence hide these things within the secret closets of your religious heart, and conceal them with constant taciturnity.

This also explains why the Fourth Book also included other texts, such as Agrippa’s “On Geomancy” and non-Agrippan texts including the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, the Isagoge, “Of Astronomical Geomancy” of Gerard of Cremona, and the Arbatel, all of which serve to fulfill an all-around practice of magic for someone in Agrippa’s day in the 1500s and early 1600s.  However, even then, the Fourth Book could only be used as a guide to spiritual works and conjurations of spirits if someone knew how to piece together what was presented there.  The rest of the texts could be used as extensions of this, but if one were to focus just on the Agrippan non-geomantic works, then there’s not a whole lot to cover; the next best choice would be to use the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, which doesn’t fully line up with what’s given in the Fourth Book.

That’s where DSIC comes into play.  If you match up what’s in DSIC with Agrippa’s Fourth Book, you see more than just a few parallels; it’s as if DSIC was written as a direct implementation of what’s prescribed for the occult practice of conjuration of spirits in the Fourth Book.  Not all of it, mind you; some of DSIC, especially the prayers, come from other Solomonic texts (including most certainly the Heptameron but also likely other sources), and some of the equipment isn’t described in Agrippa that’s used in DSIC.  However, of them, the lamen most certainly is.

Using Joseph H. Peterson’s chapter numbering of the Fourth Book, we turn now to book IV, chapter 10 which has information “cocnerning the invocation of good and evil spirits”, in the first parts regarding the “Preparation of the place of working and other things to be arranged” generally and “the holy table and lamen” specifically:

Now the Lamen which is to be used to invoke any good spirit, you shall make after this manner; either in metal conformable, or in new wax, mixed with species and colors conformable: or it may be made in clean paper, with convenient colors: 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, both the general names as well as the special. And in the center of the Lamen, let there be drawn a character of six corners (hexagram); in the middle whereof, let there be written the name and character of the Star, or of the Spirit his governor, 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 (Pentagram), as the spirits we would call together at once. And if we shall call only one spirit, nevertheless there shall be made four Pentagram, 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.

And this is the way of making the general Table, serving for the invocation of all good spirits whatsoever. Nevertheless we may make special Tables congruent to every spirit, by the rule which we have above spoken of concerning holy Pentacles.

(Just to note, even though the text here says that this is the design for the “holy table and lamen”, the two terms should be considered identical to each other and not with one referring to the table used to support the pedestal or the Table of Practice, as even the DSIC illustration gives the caption to the lamen as “the Lamen, or Holy Table of the Archangel Michael”.)

When this refers to “the divine names, both the general names as well as the special”, he’s referring to an earlier chapter, book IV, chapter 6 on pentacles and sigils:

But we now come to speak of the holy and sacred Pentacles and Sigils. Now these pentacles, are as it were certain holy signs preserving us from evil chances and events, and helping and assisting us to bind, exterminate, and drive away evil spirits, and alluring the good spirits, and reconciling them unto us. And these pentacles do consist either of Characters of the good spirits of the superior order, or of sacred pictures of holy letters or revelations, with apt and fit versicles, which are composed either of Geometrical figures and holy names of God, according to the course and manner of many of them; or they are compounded of all of them, or very many of them mixed. And the Characters which are useful for us to constitute and make the pentacles, they are the Characters of the good Spirits, especially and chiefly of the good spirits of the first and second order, and sometimes also of the third order. And this kind of Characters are especially to be named holy; and then those Characters which we have above called holy. What Character soever therefore of this kind is to be instituted, we must draw about him a double circle, wherein we must write the name of his Angel: and if we will add some divine name congruent with his Spirit and Office, it will be of the greater force and efficacy. And if we will draw about him any angular figure, according to the manner of his numbers, that also shall be lawful to be done. …

…Moreover, let there be written about it the ten general names, which are, El, Elohim, Elohe, Zebaoth, Elion, Escerchie, Adonay, Jah, Tetragrammaton, Saday.

There’s plenty else in the chapter, too, that describe the sorts of pentacles that we’d see from texts like the Key of Solomon, or like what Balthazar Blacke describes for making custom kabbalistic seals and pentacles.  But the above part is what we want to focus on for making lamens, which constitute a pentacle of sorts for a given kind of spirit.  (Also, note that “double circle” phrasing again.  Remember what we talked about when we brought that up for the design of the DSIC table?  I just wanted to point that out again.)

So let’s sum up what Agrippa is saying about the lamen.  A lamen should be constructed from the following:

  • A double circle
  • Between the two circles, a ring of divine names, both the general (El, Elohim, Elohe, Zebaoth, Elion, Escerchie, Adonay, Jah, Tetragrammaton, Saday) as well as any specific ones (presumably to our spirit we’re conjuring)
  • Inside the ring of divine names in the inner circle, the following:
    • A hexagram, in which is written the name and character of the planet or of the spirit that governs it
    • Four or more pentagrams around the hexagram, each containing the name and character of the spirits to be conjured that belong to the planet or which are ruled by the spirit whose own name and character is written in the hexagram

What DSIC is using here as the design for the lamen is basically one interpretation of the instructions given by Agrippa!  First, let’s talk about the divine names.  I once brought up a brief analysis of the names on the lamen as given in DSIC a good long while ago, which some might be interested to read at this point, but let’s focus now on what’s in Agrippa and what’s in DSIC (and accounting for spelling differences):

  • Common to both: El, Elohim, Elohe, Zebaoth, Elion, Esc(h)erchie, Adona(y/i), Jah, Tetragrammaton, Saday
  • Only in Agrippa: —
  • Only in DSIC: Jehovah, Yod, Ehevi

It would seem that DSIC uses the same basic set of names that Agrippa suggests as the ten general names, and adds three more on top of that.  This suggests that these three names are specific for Michael of the Sun in some way, but it’s not entirely clear.  If we turn back to the numeric Scales of Agrippa (book II, chapters 4 through 15) to find what these names might pertain to, then we get:

  • Jehovah (YHVH): this is the name of God of four letters above and beyond any else, and features prominently first in the Scale of Four, which contains references to Michael, especially if we give the letter Yod (the first letter of the name) to the column in which Michael appears (the first column of the table).
  • Yod, found in the Scale of One.  This is the “one Divine essence, the fountain of all virtues and power, whose name is expressed with one most simple Letter”, and is associated with the Sun.
  • Ehevi, which doesn’t appear in Agrippa, but Fr. RO interprets this name to be a variant spelling of Eheieh (AHYH, אהיה), which would be found in the column for Kether in the Scale of Ten; not exactly specific to the Sun, but it’s a reasonable interpretation.  However, based on this spelling in Latin, we’d expect something like AHVY (אהוי) or even HHVY (ההוי).  This latter name appears twice in the Scale of Twelve, being a permutation of the Tetragrammaton, specifically given to…Pisces.  Okay.  However, if we go back to using the spelling Ehevi and אהוי, then we get a name that uses the four letters in Hebrew that can serve as vowels: aleph, heh, vav, and yod.  Given that this name is well known in Hebrew kabbalah (in some cases serving as the name associated with the “left side of Da`ath”, which I don’t think is a concept in Hermetic qabbalah) and in many other occult texts, I think it should really should be “Ehevi” and not “Eheieh” as Fr. RO makes it out to be; Fr. AC keeps this as “Ehevi”.  Yet, I can’t rightly explain why DSIC would use Ehevi here, especially as the name doesn’t otherwise appear in Agrippa or in Francis Barret’s The Magus.  It might be that, from the earlier entry in The Magus that describes the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano which uses a highly similar list of godnames (“Adonai, El, Elohim, Elohe, Zebaoth, Elion, Eserchie, Jah, Tetragrammaton, Sadai, Lord God Most High”), that “Ehevi” might be a Hebraicization of “Lord God Most High” on the part of the author of DSIC.

What’s not clear is whether, based on Agrippa, DSIC proposes to use all these names for all conceivable lamens or whether we should use the ten general names from Agrippa plus any other divine names that are associated with the planet or spirit that we’re focusing on.  Going down the Scales in Agrippa, as well as looking at all the different divine names answering to the numbers of the planets (book II, chapter 22), we can come up with this list of names specific to the planets:

  • Saturn: Vav (if we want to give the third letter of the Tetragrammaton in the Scale of Four to the third column, containing this planet), YHVH Elohim, Ab, Hod, Yah, Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh
  • Jupiter: Heh (if we want to give the second letter of the Tetragrammaton in the Scale of Four to the second column, containing this planet), El, Abba, Ehi, El Ab
  • Mars: Yod (if we want to give the first letter of the Tetragrammaton in the Scale of Four to the first column, containing this planet), Elohim Gibor, Heh, Adonai
  • Sun: Yah (if we want to give the first name given in the Scale of Two to the first column, containing this planet), Yod (if we want to give the first letter of the Tetragrammaton in the Scale of Four to the first column, containing this planet), Eloh(a/e), Vav, Heh, Eloah
  • Venus: Heh (if we want to give the second letter of the Tetragrammaton in the Scale of Four to the second column, containing this planet), YHVH Tzabaoth, Aha
  • Mercury: Vav (if we want to give the third letter of the Tetragrammaton in the Scale of Four to the third column, containing this planet), Elohim Tzabaoth, Azbogah, Din, Doni
  • Moon: El (if we want to give the second name given in the Scale of Two to the second column, containing this planet), Heh (if we want to give the fourth letter of the Tetragrammaton in the Scale of Four to the fourth column, containing this planet), Shaddai, Hod, Elim

Since there’s often some overlap between these names and the ten general divine names Agrippa says to use in his Fourth Book, the overall lists of names we might want to use—if we wanted to be completionist about it, and to keep both “Jehovah” and “Ehevi” as general names to make the overall number twelve, which Agrippa says is a number “of grace and perfection”—then we’d end up with the following lists of names to use for the planetary lamens (using my preferred spellings):

  • Saturn: El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi, Ab, Hod, Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh
  • Jupiter: El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi, Heh, Abba, Ehi, Ab
  • Mars: El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi, Yod, Gibor, Heh
  • Sun: El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi, Yod
  • Venus: El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi, Heh, Aha
  • Mercury: El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi, Vav, Azbogah, Din, Doni
  • Moon: El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi, Heh, Hod, Elim

Note that I didn’t include some names, like “Elohim Tzbaoth”, because this name is composed of two words, “Elohim” and “Tzabaoth”, both of which were already included in the ten general names.  In the case of Mars, for which there’s the divine name “Elohim Gibor”, I only added “Gibor”, since “Elohim” was already present in the general names.  Still, even with those considerations, the above lists are pretty above-and-beyond the completionist.  Both Fr. RO and Fr. AC just stick with the names given in the DSIC lamen (with the Fr. RO substitution of Ehevi with Eheieh), which I think is fine, but if you wanted to go the extra distance and use planet-specific names for the lamens, then you’d probably want to consider using the above.

Also, I simply ordered these names by using the general names that Agrippa gives in his Fourth Book first, then the specific names at the end of that list.  In the DSIC example, which has the order “El, Elohim, Elohe, Zebaoth, Elion, Escherchie, Adonai, Jah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Saday, Yod, Ehevi”, two of the non-general names are at the end (as we would expect using this method), but one of them (Jehovah) appears earlier on, immediately after Jah.  I don’t know why this would be the case; perhaps because Jah and Jehovah are already so similar, that they might belong together in some way?  I dunno.  But I think the general rule of giving the specific names at the end would make sense.

There’s also the matter of the squiggle in the ring of names on the lamen in DSIC.  While I’ve seen some replicate this same squiggle in their own productions of the DSIC lamen (mostly Fr. RO’s earliest forms of the lamens from RWC), both Fr. AC and the later works of Fr. RO don’t (and when they agree, I think we know for a fact that this is the proper approach).  I think the reason for the squiggle is easy: when the illustrator of DSIC filled up the ring of names around the lamen, there was extra leftover space, and given that it’s better to have a filled space than an unsightly blank one in something like this, a squiggle was used as just a space-filler, nothing more.  However, it could be implied that this space could be used for yet other divine names, but given the construction of the lamen above, I think we’d’ve already covered that.

So, in the end?  You could just use the “general names” that Agrippa describes in his Fourth Book, or you could use them plus the planet-specific divine names (which aren’t the names of specific spirits) as he gives in his Second Book.  While most magicians who make use of DSIC today (myself included) just use the set of names on the lamen as the DSIC illustration gives it, I think this may well be a misstep on our parts, including names that can be considered specifically solar for all planetary spirits regardless of their planetary affinity.  If we just stick with Agrippa’s general divine names, then we would be good for all spirits no matter what, which might be the safer option.  There’s no way to tell conclusively what the author of DSIC specifically had in mind, but I think it’s what we’re seeing from Agrippa’s Fourth Book about the general and specific divine names of God being used.

We’ll pick up next time on the real meat of the lamen: the stuff that makes it specific for a particular spirit to be worked with.

Practical Arbatel: Names and Seals of the Olympic Spirits

So now that I’m getting seriously interested in the Arbatel, I suppose it’s time to start reviewing what I know and what, exactly, it is that I’ll be doing and conjuring.  Most of the Arbatel is focused on being, basically, a good magician, which for all intents and purposes is to be a good Christian.  The basic virtues of piety, faith, love and honor of God, helping out your fellow man, and the like are what’s really expounded in the text, with most of the aphorisms of the Arbatel written on these subjects and how to effect them in one’s life.  That said, the Arbatel contains an introduction on the conjuration of seven Olympic Spirits, each associated with one of the seven planets and each possessing a certain number of spiritual legions of their own, as well as particular secrets that they can reveal to a magician who lives properly and is worthy of those secrets.  So, yes, there will be conjuration involved in this project (yay!), but it’ll be of a different kind than I’m used to (ooh!).

As the text reads in the Third Septenary (III.16), the names of the seven Olympic Spirits are given in the Latin alphabet as Aratron, Bethor, Phaleg, Och, Hagith, and Phul.  While I’d normally be okay with using these names as they are, my penchant for using literally anything other than the Latin alphabet whenever possible has led me to attempt a Greek transliteration of these names.  After all, when using Greek, I can tweak my spelling of things and get a better understanding of the isopsephy and stoicheia behind the names, perhaps leading to something a little more appropriate than what might be naïvely spelled.  Add to it, by beginning to incorporate more Greek into my conjuration work, I can perhaps make inroads into developing a system of mathetic conjuration that would augment and build up the rest of mathesis.  Besides, with these Olympic Spirits being Olympic and with many references to the text suggesting a pseudo-Greek origin to the system, it might befit us to use Greek anyway instead of Roman or Hebrew.

Happily, such a Greek transliteration of the Arbatel names is already given by Stephen Skinner in his Complete Magician’s Tables (M.42 through M.50, particularly M.43).  There, he gives the names of the seven Olympic Spirits, as well as their isopsephic values, as Αραιθρον (341 = 11 × 31), Βεθορ (186 = 6 × 31), Φαλεκγ (558 = 18 × 31), Ευχ (465 = 15 × 31), Ηαγιθ (31 = 1 × 31), Οφιιλ (620 = 20 × 31), and Φυλ (930 = 30 × 31).  These spellings are a little odd for me, however, as is the isopsephy involved.  For this, Skinner explains:

Immediately a pattern becomes obvious, confirming the accuracy of the orthography.  All the names are based on 31 or αλ ‘AL’ in Greek, and are therefore a carefully constructed formula, not just random mediaeval names, as most people previously assumed.  Even the grand total of all the values comes to 3131.  The Greek names of the Olympic Spirits also form a key to Crowley’s Liber AL vel Legis, although one of which Crowley was perhaps not aware, a key that I do not believe has been published by anyone else to date.  I intend to postpone the explanation of that material to a later time.  Suffice it to say that they are a significant key to Liber AL vel Legis.

Furthermore, the multiples of 31 are in themselves significant.  Apart from the factors 15, 20, and 30, the remaining factors form a significant Middle Pillar formula:

1 + 6 + 11 = 18, can be interpreted as Kether + Tiphareth + Daath = ih (10 + 8) or Arrow (in Greek).  The path so traced out is indeed the Path of the Arrow.  The key numbers for these spirits are therefore:

  • Hagith = 1
  • Bethor = 6
  • Araithron = 11
  • Phaleg = 18
  • Och = 15
  • Ophiel = 20
  • Phul = 30

In all honesty, mixing Golden Dawn and Thelemic works into a text 300 years their senior is a dicey proposition, and I don’t think that there’s much to link the two, even if it had been in the Golden Dawn’s scope to do so.  Add to it, I haven’t seen these spellings or this reasoning anywhere else, and the spelling and pronunciation in Latin or in German (since we can claim that the Arbatel is definitely a German work of occult literature) are quite different from the pronunciation given in Skinner’s transliterated Greek, and his use of “Araithron” instead of “Aratron” is unusual, since the Arbatel clearly only gives Aratron.  Add to it, Skinner’s claim about the sum of 1 + 6 + 11 = 18 associated with arrows makes no sense to me; “arrow” in Greek is τοξευμα (common antique word), οιστος, βελος (preferred modern word), ιος, ατρακτος, πτερον, or γλθφιδες, the isopsephy of any which is anything but 18.  Likewise, the Hebrew word for “arrow” is חץ, which still doesn’t add up to 18.

Given that Skinner’s transliterations weird me out and that his reasoning is sketchy, even though they do have that oddly nice consistency with the number 31, I think it might be better to take another look and develop a new set of Greek names for the Olympic Spirits.  Of course, transliterating what are essentially barbarous names between Greek and Roman isn’t always easy, so we often have multiple alternatives available to us.  For transliteration, I’ll only use the names given in the Arbatel itself; other books, such as the Secret Grimoire of Turiel and the Complete Book of Magic Science seem to be much later inventions, and the Arbatel would appear to be the first published text with the names and seals of the Olympic Spirits.

  • Aratron: The “-on” ending here strikes me as being omicron-nu, since most second declension neuter nouns in Greek have this same ending.  Thus, a straightforward transliteration would be Αρατρον (622).  If we were to use a theta instead of tau in the name to get Arathron, courtesy of Skinner’s suggestion, we’d have Αραθρον (331), but this seems to be a stretch, since I find no reason why we should use a theta if it wasn’t indicated in the source text, although it is likely as a more German pronunciation of the name (a slightly harder “t” than tau in German would provide).  Thus, we’ll use Αρατρον.
  • Bethor: The “-or” ending in this name strikes me as being omega-rho, since only a very few words in Greek end in omicron-rho.  The real question then becomes whether we use epsilon or eta, giving us either Βεθωρ (916) or Βηθωρ (919).  For me, Βεθωρ seems more likely; 9 + 1 + 6 = 16, and 1 + 6 = 7.
  • Phaleg: The ending here should be a simple gamma, not kappa-gamma as Skinner suggests, since that was a comparatively modern innovation to represent a hard “g” sound.  Thus, we’d end up with either Φαλεγ (539) or Φαληγ (542), based on whether we use epsilon or eta, and of these, Φαλεγ seems the more likely spelling.
  • Och: Depending on how we transliterate “o” as either omicron or omega, we could get Οχ (670) or Ωχ (1400), or even Ωοχ (1470) as Skinner proposes as an alternative to his Ευχ (465), although Skinner mistakenly gives the isopsephy of Ωοχ as 930 and not 1470.  Of these four names, Ωχ appears to be the cleanest and most likely.
  • Hagith: Greek doesn’t represent aspiration, so we really should be transliterating “Agith”.  This is fairly straightforward to transliterate, Αγιθ (23), with no other options available to us unless we really change things up, like replacing iota with eta for Αγηθ (21).  Thus, Αγιθ it is.
  • Ophiel: This is the most Judeo-Christian “angelic” appearing of the names, and Judeo-Christian angelic and otherwise theophoric names ending in “-el” in Roman are typically written as “-ηλ” in Greek.  However, the initial “o” could be either omicron or omega, giving us either Οφιηλ (618) or Ωφιηλ (1348).  Alternatively, if we use epsilon instead of eta, we could get Οφιελ (615) or Ωφιελ (1345).  Of these, I find Οφιηλ to be the most likely; .
  • Phul: There are only two options here, depending on what kind of “u” we want, either the French “u” represented only by upsilon, or the long “u” represented by omicron-upsilon, giving us either Φυλ (930) or Φουλ (1000).  However, Φυλ appears to be the more straightforward and reasonable of these.

Thus, for our Greek names, we’ll use Αρατρον (622), Βεθωρ (916), Φαλεγ (539), Ωχ (1400), Αγιθ (23), Οφιηλ (618), and Φυλ (930).  Altogether, the sum of the names isopsephy yields 5048.  While these names don’t have the consistency of a repeated number as Skinner’s names do, I also find these far more likely spellings to use of the Olympic Spirits.

Now that we have our names settled, it remains to figure out the seals, and happily, there’s pretty much nothing to figure out.  The seals given in the Arbatel are clear and consistent, and there are excellent modern renditions given by Asterion on his art blog.  I plan on using his seals, which are essentially the same as those given in the grimoire itself, but a little more squared up and cleaned up.  Normally, in conjurations, I make a Trithemian-style lamen bearing the seal of the spirit in a central hexagram with six pentagrams around it, the name of the spirit around that, and thirteen names of God around that.  However, I didn’t want to use the Trithemian design for these conjurations, since I wouldn’t be using the Trithemian ritual and also because the lamen format is fairly overkill for the Arbatel-type of conjuration, which is essentially minimalistic.  I took into account other lamens that other magicians have made for the Arbatel, such as Fr. Acher’s lamens for his Arbatel operations, but decided against anything too fancy.  Instead of using a psalm, series of names of God, or parts of the prayer from the Arbatel, I decided upon the Greek phrase:

Την ημερα και την ωρα του XΧΧ καλω σε ω Δαιμων Ολυμπικε !
In the day and in the hour of XXX I call upon you, o Olympic Spirit!

Thus, if I were to call upon Aratron, I’d use Κρονου, “of Kronos (Saturn)” in the XXX spot; if Bethor, Διος; if Phaleg, Αρεως; and so forth.  Alternatively, I prefer to use the planetary titan names that I’ve mentioned before when first pondering a Greek kabbalah, so instead of Κρονου I’d use Φαινω, “of Phainon”, etc.  A note on this, however: the planet Venus was considered to be two stars, Eosphoros (Dawn-bringer, Venus when it rises before the Sun in the Morning) and Hesperos (Evening Star, Venus when it sets after the Sun in the evening); either of these names could be used, when the proper phase of Venus applies, or you could use the general name Phosphoros (Light-bringer, a general name of Venus).

And, yes, as someone pointed out on Facebook, the use of the word “δαιμων” may raise some eyebrows here.  The text itself, which is a German work originally written in Latin in the 1500s, used the Latin word “pneumatica” to refer to the spirits, and doesn’t use the word “daemon”.  However, lest people think I’m confusing the Olympic Spirits with the types of spirits found in the Lemegeton Goetia, the word δαιμων refers to any natural power, force, fate, or entity, not unlike what’s connoted by θεος.  It was only with the development of Christianity that the word δαιμων began to pick up distinctly negative connotations, leading to our modern word “demon”.  The Renaissance use of the word πνευμα plus the connotations of the Christian Πνευμα το Αγιον, then, picked up what δαιμων left behind, going from a meaning of breath-like life energy to a force of nature as a discrete nonphysical entity.  Now, when I developed this phrase, I found the word δαιμων to be a perfectly acceptable word to use here, especially considering what the Olympic Spirits are proposed to be, but if they themselves wish to use the word πνευμα, I have nothing against changing the phrasing here.

With all that in mind, I made the following set of lamens for my use in my upcoming Arbatel work.  Assuming the Olympic Spirits themselves don’t mind them, I don’t see why I shouldn’t use them, though it’s unclear how best I could use them, either as something to wear as I would in other rituals, or as something to place the scrying medium above, but that’s for another post.

Constructing a Lamen for Conjuration

Recently, I had someone ask me for help in creating a lamen for use with the Trithemian conjuration ritual.  While the original text doesn’t go into details about it, it says that “the pentacle may be either wrote on clean virgin parchment, or engraven on a square plate of silver and suspended from thy neck to the breast”.  In other words, the lamen used in conjuration is a type of pentacle or talisman worn, and this talisman is associated with the spirit to be conjured by writing the name and seal of the spirit upon the lamen.   It’s very similar to wearing the seal of the demon to be conjured according to the Lemegeton Goetia, so the idea is the same, though its execution is a little different.

For one, the lamen used in this conjuration has thirteen names of God written around the edge; I’ve explained these names in an earlier post.  Within the names of God is the name of the spirit, its seal, a hexagram, and at least four pentagrams.  The original form of the lamen, say for the angel Michael according to Trithemius and Fr. Rufus Opus, has it follow the general pattern:

Lamen of Michael, angelic governor of the Sun

Here, the name of the spirit is written twice, once in Hebrew (Celestial, in this case) outside and above the hexagram, and once in Roman script inside the hexagram with the seal, with four pentagrams surround the hexagram.  Why four?  It’s unclear, but we have a strong hint from Cornelius Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10) (emphasis mine)

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.

So it seems like the spirit in the hexagram isn’t actually the spirit we conjure, but rather the ruler of the spirit.  So, if we were to call upon Nakhiel, the intelligence of the Sun, we still have Michael’s name and seal in the hexagram and the name and seal of Nakhiel in all four pentagrams.  If we were to call upon the intelligence Nakhiel, spirit Sorath, and three angels from the choir of Virtues, we’d have five pentagrams around the hexagram, each with a different name and seal according to the spirits we summon.  Considering the size of the lamen, this gets way too complicated way too fast.  It’s easier to simply deal with the spirit ruling over the sphere we’re coming in contact with and have them in the conjuration to bring the other spirits we wish to commune with.  For some reason, though, there should always be at least four pentagrams.  Why?  It’s never really said, but the number four has plenty of oomph in it, so maybe it’s just a numerological thing; it’s unclear.

So why do we have the name of the spirit both in Hebrew and in Roman outside and inside the hexagram?  It’s never really said, and both I and Donald Tyson (who published an updated version of Agrippa’s Books of Occult Philosophy with notes and commentary) think this is an error, or at least unnecessary duplication.  In either case, the name should be the same no matter what script you use.  If one uses Hebrew on the outside and Roman on the inside, the names should accord given the writing system they’re written in, only using Roman script inside the hexagram and some other script outside.  I think they should be different scripts, so if the script used originally for the spirit was Roman, you might consider the use of Theban script outside the hexagram.  It gets real crazy real fast, admittedly.

Because of the confusion with the designs, between the number of pentagrams to use and what names should go where and written in which writing system, I decided to come up with my own version of the lamen, based more on Solomonic and Goetic practice.  This was a while back, and I wrote a post about it before, but my versions have worked fine and clear for me.  For example, contrast the following lamen of Michael to the prior one:

Lamen of Michael, angelic governor of the Sun

The differences between this lamen style and the Trithemian one aren’t that many, really, but they’re important:

  • The name of the spirit is written in another ring around a central circle using only one language most appropriate for the spirit
  • 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.

To reduce confusion, I only write the name of the spirit once around the hexagram and pentagrams, using the inside of the hexagram for the spirit itself and leaving the pentagrams blank.

One thing that can be clearly deduced from Agrippa and Trithemius is how to make the lamen.  For timing, the lamens are to be made while the Moon is waxing in a planetary day and hour appropriate to the spirit.  Thus, lamens for spirits of the Sun should be made on Sundays in an hour of the Sun, those of Mars should be made on Tuesdays in an hour of Mars, and so forth; this is pretty simple, and fairly basic as far as talismanic creation goes.  As for materials, this is where you can really go crazy; I use heavy fancy résumé paper, color the border with gold leaf, and color the insides of the stars and hexagrams according to that planet’s associated colors per the Golden Dawn color rules.

New Lamen Collection

I use simple circles for my lamen designs, though I’ve made other sets before that use different polygons whose number of sides accord with the numbers of the planets, e.g. a triangle for Saturn, a pentagon for Mars, and a nonagon for the Moon.  I use a circular shape since I have a circular wooden picture frame I modified to act as a lamen holder, but having your lamens be punched with a hole in the top is also totally workable.  Instead of paper, you might use parchment, or you might go really fancy and use colored wax made with essential oils of herbs associated with the planet, or go all out and make silver, gold, or other metallic lamens that accord with the planet.  While this isn’t strictly necessary (I haven’t had problems using even plain uncolored copy paper lamens), it’ll help over time to strengthen the contact between you and the spirit, but so would putting more effort with a simpler construction.  Of course, if the spirit isn’t planetary or doesn’t really care, you can use whatever method you want for making the lamen so long as it works for the spirit.

So what about the seals inside the hexagrams themselves?  It’s easy to find seals for Lemegeton goetic demons or the angels of the planets, but what about the seals for some arbitrary spirit?  It can get awkward, I admit, if you only have a name and no seal.  One route you can go by is using some sort of sigil generator to make a seal for the spirit based on its name; if the name is in Hebrew, you’d use the Golden Dawn Rosy Cross sigil wheel, and if it’s in Greek, you might try my own sigil wheel for the Greek alphabet based on stoicheiometric principles.  If the spirit is associated with a particular planet, you might use the qamea (magic square) of that planet to generate the names, which is how Agrippa gets his seals for the planetary intelligences and spirits (book II, chapter 22).  If you have any familiarity with modern magic techniques, you might make a simple sigil based on the letters themselves a la chaos magic.  Alternatively, you might not use any seal for the spirit at all, but actually ask for a seal directly from the spirit themselves; this is my approach to them, and how I got my seals for the elemental archangels.

Don’t forget that, despite their role in conjuration, lamens are simply talismans, and should be made according to the same rules and upheld to the same maintenance you’d use for other talismans.  These talismans will help link you to the spirit and its sphere to aid in conjuration, communion, and communication, and so should be made with that spirit and sphere in mind.  Although it’s traditional to wear the lamen in conjuration, I’ve seen some magicians (including Fr. Rufus Opus in his more modern style of conjuration) just use a metal talisman placed on the Table of Practice itself, so you still have freedom to experiment here.  Make the lamen with the spirit you want to communicate with in mind, following a simple premade layout for names and seals, and you’ll be good to go.  You might want to wear it, place it on the conjuration circle itself under the scrying medium, or simply set a candle atop it; so long as you use the lamen, you’ll be bringing the spirit down for conjuration.

New lamen set complete!

Recently I discussed my new style for lamens to be used in Trithemian-style conjurations, based on the description given in Agrippa’s “Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy”.  Although the style is largely the same, the latter is more preferred to my taste, being a little more balanced, seeming a little more “magical”, and working just as well as the old style.  Plus, I made the style, and that’s kinda cool.  Up until now, however, I’ve been using the old style of lamens, which I had printed out based on my designs on old-style kinda-translucent copy paper and lightly colored the lamens appropriately for the planetary angels.  They work, even though they’re not made of metal or something fancier.

This past week, during the week of the waxing Moon, I went ahead and printed out lamens for all the spirits I conjure using this new style, including the four Elemental Archangelic Kings and the seven Planteary Angels.  I used heavy faux-parchment cardstock to print them on, and for the planetary angels I also printed them out in their proper day and hour according to their ruling planet.  Like the old lamens, I colored the new ones as well, but this time I got kinda fancy:

  • For the planetary lamens, I lightly colored the ring of godnames and the central hexagon in the hexagram with the queen scale color of the planet, heavily colored the points of the names written in the Celestial script, the pentagrams, and the arms of the hexagram with the queen scale color, and colored in the space between the pentagrams and hexagrams with the king scale color of the planet.  This means black/crimson for Tzaphqiel of Saturn/Binah, blue/violet for Tzadqiel of Jupiter/Chesed, red/orange for Kammael of Mars/Geburah, yellow/rose for Michael of the Sun/Tiphareth, green/amber for Haniel of Venus/Netzach, orange/purple for Raphael of Mercury/Hod, and purple/dark blue for Gabriel of the Moon/Yesod.
  • For the elemental lamens, I swapped queen scale color with the traditional color associated with the element (red for Michael of Fire, blue for Gabriel of Water, yellow for Raphael of Air) and its flashing color for the king scale color (green, orange, purple, respectively).  For the Auriel of Earth lamen, I used the black-olive-citrine-russet color scheme and a light yellow background, since they’re also the colors of the element as well as the colors from the queen and king scales for Malkuth.
  • I also applied gold leaf to the edge of the lamen just as a nice touch to make them all fancy-like.  The gold leaf will be hidden when put in the lamen frame I use, but that’s no biggie.
Arranging the lamens in the same way as Fr. Rufus Opus’ Altar Glyph, here’s my new lamen set (also with a glimpse of the seals I’ve received for personal use from the four Archangels):

Information about the planetary or qabbalistic color scales mentioned above were taken from the Golden Dawn system (see here for a description), and the colors for the elements came from the colors of the Rosy Cross Lamen worn by Adepts of the Golden Dawn (see here for a picture).  The old and new styles of lamens themselves (uncolored, of course) can be found on the Designs page.

The spirits come all the same, and seem to be either the same strength or a little clearer, which makes sense since these colors applied to the lamens help make them more in tune with the force and spirit in question.  I may keep the old lamens, or I may burn them as offerings to the planets and forces I work with, but I’m very pleased with these new lamens.  Plus, the lamen design themselves double as talismans of that sphere and angel; a complex example can be seen on Fr. RO’s blog as a talisman for the angels and forces of Saturn, Jupiter, Virgo, and Capricorn.

Also, yes, I print out my lamens, and I use the graphics from the Magical Calendar for the planetary angelic lamens (but I draw in the seals for other spirits because, well, they don’t exist otherwise).  To be fair, I’ve also got the pattern, series of godnames, angelic names and spellings, and angelic sigils all in memory, and they’ve all been integrated into my sphere appropriately through initiation, alignment with their spheres, and repeated discussion.  If you do not have this done, try drawing out the lamens by hand first before using premade templates.  This functions as a very useful kind of “kinetic meditation”, as Fr. RO is fond of saying, and it’s not without purpose; the more you have this stuff in your mind, the more it’s in your sphere, and the more it’s in your sphere, the more you’re able to function.  It’s like learning a language: the more you use it, the better at it you become.

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.

Temples are really just for holding all your crap.

With the amount of stuff I’m accumulating and crafting, I need a much larger space to keep all of it, or even a separate building, like an insulated shed.  Hopefully I can get an extra room in my next apartment or house to use as a temple room or something.  Did you know that places like the Parthenon or other temples in the old Mediterranean were ancillary buildings as part of a more general sacred space?  They were used as warehouses to store all the loot they got from wars and worshippers alike.  The actual “temple” and sacred focus of the place was just a small stone altar, which the whole complex was oriented upon.  Funny how the temples get all the respect anymore.

First, the planetary talismans project.  All the talismans have been enmetaled, engraved, colored, and lacquered, with the Saturn talisman drying as I type this.  With the construction happily and mercifully done, and now that Mercury is direct and the Moon waxing, I’m printing out lamens for each of the planetary angels so I can conjure them and consecrate each of the planetary talismans I made.  My plan is to just start with consecrating the Sun talisman this Sunday and continue straight through to Saturday, asking each angel to consecrate the talisman with their planetary essence, as well as to begin the process of integrating its forces into my own sphere.  The Unlikely Mage generously helped me with formulating a request to the angels instead of going “Hey, sup Tzaphqiel.  I was wondering if you in your awesomeness would maybe make this wooden thing I made awesome like you.  That cool?  Sweet.”  If all goes well, I’ll have a complete set of talismans, and a complete altar, before too long.  A divination reading I did recently implied that there might be some delays with this, but we’ll see.

Not long ago I got wind from a local pagan blog that the well-known store Esoterica in Northern Virginia was going out of business.  S’a shame when that happens, but in this economy, it happens.  Everything there was on markdown, and so I helped myself to a number of goodies and ended up spending more than I feel comfortable admitting.  I will admit that I got, amongst other things, a rackful of herbs, a pair of selenite candleholders, and a selenite orb the size of a large orange (so pretty!).  Apparently, I really like selenite.  It’s easy on my eyes and I get a soothing feeling from it. It has connections to Taurus and the Moon, according to a few books I read, and is good for energy work and healing.  (If you know of any other uses or purposes for selenite besides looking really cool, please leave a comment below.)  In addition to all that, I got ten 1yd pieces of fabric for my working altar, one for each Queen scale color of the sephiroth for when I do planetary or qabbalistic rituals (using a dark natural linen cloth for Malkuth).  They’re all a little rough on the edges, so I want to get them hemmed up, maybe using the King scale for the threads.

The selenite orb didn’t come with a decent stand, so I decided to make one.  I had a spare circular wooden plaque lying around, into which I carved in a shallow pit and burned out more-or-less smooth.  Turns out that it fits both the selenite orb as well as my quartz ball I use for conjurations and, surprisingly, the stand itself fits the inner circle of my Table of Practice perfectly.  I decided to woodburn on some more symbols onto the stand (the triangle and its symbols from the Table of Practice, and the Tetragrammaton), which I’ll proceed to use in conjunction with the Table of Practice for conjurations.  With a little bit of stain and finish, the whole set looks kinda awesome.

I actually burned the inner circle before I did the pit, and just happened to make the pit the right size for its circumscribed triangle to perfectly fit inside the inner circle.  The whole thing was done informally with a compass and straightedge.  Without planning the size of the stand with reference to the Table of Practice or measuring the design for the triangle and circles, I almost have a hard time imagining it was just luck that things turned out as nicely as they did.  Almost.

As a side note, be wary when you ask an archangel to introduce you to a familiar spirit “harmonious and compatible with your temperament and self”.  You may end up getting one that likes to flirt with you.