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.

The Thirteen Holy Names of the Lamen

Because I’m bored and taking a break between study sessions today, I thought I’d do a bit of research into the thirteen names of God written a lamen.  Since the names of God are held to hold innate power, similar to a mantra in Hinduism and tantric Buddhism, the names of God on a lamen are probably used to charge or guide the power of the spirit the lamen is dedicated to in order to fashion a stronger connection between the conjurer and conjured.

For reference, the lamen of Michael, the angel of the Sun is shown below.  The original form of the lamen is based on Trithemius’ design in the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals.  I’ve changed the spelling and format of the names, but they’re essentially the same (I prefer to use the traditional Latin spellings, but also polished the spelling of some of the names that I think got mangled over the centuries).  The Hebrew rendering of the names are given where appropriate.

  1. EL (אל): “God”, the generic Hebrew term for a deity, but also used for the God of Israel.  Very commonly used for epithets of God.
  2. ELOHIM (אלהים): A masculine plural form of the singular feminine noun Eloah (see #3), often rendered just as “God” but also “the powers that be”.  The plural might be used to denote majesty or refer to the many faces or aspects of the singular God.
  3. ELOAH (אלוה): The feminine singular base of Elohim (see #2), again rendered as “God”.  It is sometimes used for pagan deities or idols in ancient Israel, and so might be used to refer to God as any holy form or entity.
  4. TZABAOTH (צבאות): “Hosts” or “armies”, referring to the heavenly host of God.
  5. ELION (עליון): “The supreme” or “the highest”.  Note that this does not have the same root as El, since it is spelled with an ayin and not an aleph, though Agrippa spells it with an aleph.
  6. ESHEREHIE (אשראהיה): A contraction for the name God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, “I am that I am” or “I will be that which I will be” (אהיה אשר אהיה, ehyeh asher ehyeh).  The name is given by Agrippa as Asher Eheie as a name of God with seven letters.
  7. ADONAI (אדני): Hebrew for “my Lord”.
  8. IAH (יה): The first two letters of the Tetragrammaton (see #10), also used to mean “God”.  Much like how Iod refers to the active principle and element of fire (see #12), the first two letters of the Tetragrammaton are linked to the active and passive principles, or the elements of fire and water, respectively.  This hints at God being both male and female, the union of polar opposites.
  9. IEHOVAH: A vocalization of the Tetragrammaton (see #10), taking the vowels from the name Adonai (see #7).  The vowels originally served as a reminder to the reader to say “Adonai” instead of the Tetragrammaton, but was taken as the actual vocalization in Europe starting in late antiquity.
  10. TETRAGRAMMATON: The Greek term for the most holy four letter name of God (יהוה, IHVH), although the Hebrew term for the name is just “the Name” (השם, haShem).  It has the meaning of “he exists” or “he who causes to exist”.  Although it can be read as “Yahweh”, other vocalizations include “Iaō” (from Greek Ἰαῶ) and Yehowah (see #9).  That the lamen uses the word Tetragrammaton which refers to the name but not the name itself implies that it is too holy to be written down even for some uses in the Work, or even that just referring to the name has innate power.
  11. SHADDAI (שדי): “The almighty”, “the overpowering”, or even “the destroyer”.  Alternatively, it may mean “sufficient” or “enough”, in that God is enough to supply and fulfill all of one’s needs as he is, wills, and does.
  12. IOD (יוד): The first letter in the Tetragrammaton, representing the active principle, the element of fire, and the first cause.  It is also similar to the word “yad” (יד), or “hand”, referring to the Hand of God.  The letter is qabbalistically linked to the world of Atziluth, the realm of pure divinity and the highest of the four realms of the Universe.  In the Tarot, especially in the Rider-Waite family of decks, you can see little yod-shaped symbols in cards like the Tower, which also points to the presence and action of God.  Agrippa lists this as the sole name of God with a single letter.
  13. EHEIEH (אהיה): “I become” or “I am”.  Same word as “ehyeh” in Esherehie (see #6).
According to tradition, scribes of the Tanakh or any holy scripture in Judaism had to prepare mentally and ritually to write seven of the above names: El, Elohim, Adonai, the Tetragrammaton , Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, Shaddai, and Tzabaoth.  That all of these seven names, plus another six which are epithets or alternate forms, indicates that a lamen of this type is a pretty significant and powerful instrument used in conjuration.  I can’t imagine that my orthodox Jewish brother would be too pleased to see me throw around these names like I was preparing for an interview, though.