Search Term Shoot Back, December 2013

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of December 2013.  As most of you know, the 49 Days of Definitions project continued through and finished up in this month, forming the bulk of the posts, but there was time for other people to get to my blog through other terms.

“how does 2nd decan libra embrace their charm?” — Seeing as how I’m one of these myself, it’s hard to tell others how I can truly embrace my own devilishly awesome charm.  It has to do a lot with drinking diet cola and not giving a shit, generally.  Also being a magician.  Also being humble.

“fill me with your anointing lord” — Oh baby, I’ll fill you with my holy spirit, alright.  Get down on your knees and pray for it.  Jesus is coming; grab a towel.  (Sorry I’m not sorry.)

“favorable geomantic figures” — Personally, I dislike simply saying that a particular figure is always favorable or always unfavorable, but rather see how individual figures agree or disagree with a particular query or situation.  For instance, if one wants a quick escape out of a situation, the figure Fortuna Maior (which, although greatly useful) is terrible for this since it indicates having to overcome something and conquer it instead of simply sidestepping it.  That said, there are two systems I know of for determining favorable figures generally.  In Robert Fludd’s system, there are three types of figures: good, which are Fortuna Maior, Laetitia, Caput Draconis, Albus, Puella, and Acquisitio; moderate, which are Populus, Via, and Coniunctio; and bad, which are Fortuna MInor, Tristitia, Caput Draconis, Rubeus, Puer, Amissio, and Carcer.  An older Arabic system has good figures as Populus, Albus, and Laetitia; better figures as Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, and Laetitia; the best figures as Acquisitio and Fortuna Maior; bad figures as Puer, Coniunctio, and Via; worse figures as Cauda Draconis and Amissio; and the worst figures as Carcer, Tristitia, and Rubeus.  Generally speaking, I find Fortuna Maior, Acquisitio, Caput Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Puella, Laetitia, Albus, and Coniunctio to be favorable figures, from the most favorable to least favorable.

“mancy vs kinesis” — I can tell that some of the people who get to my blog are interested in comic book or RPG magic, that’s for sure.  Since both of these roots come from Greek, they’re used in some words to make “schools of magic” or whatnot seem that much more fantastical.  Briefly put, anything that ends in “mancy” means a divination system, and anything that ends in “kinesis” means a control or movement of something.  Thus, “pyromancy” is divination with fire, such as scrying or looking at burnt patterns in wood, while “pyrokinesis” is the supernatural harnessing of flames, fire, and heat according to one’s will.  In some arts, the line between divination and magic is blurred, such as in necromancy; though it ends in “mancy” and was originally and ultimately intended to gain information from the dead or by means of spirits of the dead, a lot of necromantic technique involves methods to raise the dead and commune with them in nonspecific ways, so a good deal of death magic was confused with the gaining of knowledge from the dead.  In video games and RPGs, however, a lot of “mancies” are actually “kineses”; anyone who moves earth with their mind is more properly a “geokineticist” and not a geomancer.

“meditation to obtain a kinesis” — Lots of meditation, sure.  I’m sure you’d eventually develop some awesome powers if you become a master of meditation in the meanwhile, but that shouldn’t be the point of meditation, in my opinion.

“orbs around my altar” — You might want to banish your shit or, like, use some disinfectant.  That, or stop taking crappy photos of your altars and dust your bedroom more.

“what spirit should I summon” — That’s like asking “what prayer should I pray” or “what food should I eat”.  It’s really up to you and what you feel appropriate and safe with.  I mean, I could just suggest Bael or Asmodeus or Yahweh, but I don’t feel like being that mean at the moment.

“beings that require bones for.conjuring summoning evocation -game” — I don’t know of any in the Western tradition that require bones, exactly, though they’re not exactly frowned upon, either.  Bones are a part of the body ruled by Saturn, being the densest part of the body as well as giving it structure.  Spirits of the dead as well as certain animals appreciate bones, especially if they’re the bones of the body of the spirit when it was still alive.  Bones are generally good for communing with gods of the dead, too, but they’re not required in terms of offerings or sacrifices, either.  Other traditions place a large importance on bones and their spiritual uses, but I’m not as familiar with them.  As far as summoning goes, very few spirits require bones to get their attention.  Candles, incense, and orations get you much farther and for a cheaper, cleaner cost.

“geomancy ifa” — Ah, the two great divinatory arts of Europe and Africa.  Geomancy, as I’m sure you’re well-aware, is a pretty old and well-developed form of European divination that has its roots in the Saharan Desert, going back about a thousand years.  It spread from there both to the east through the Middle East and Greece as well as to the west through Spain into the rest of Europe, where it was practiced virtually nonstop from then onward.  It went underground for a while in the past few centuries, but it’s starting to become more popular again.  However, the roots of geomancy also went south from the Sahara into the rest of Africa, where it was practiced in Madagascar as sikidy and by the Yoruban peoples as ifá and diloggun.  This was brought over with the slave trade into the Americas, where it’s practiced closely with the Santería religion and some other ATRs.  While geomancy and ifá share the same origin, they developed quite independently of each other, so it’s hard for me to claim any knowledge on ifá save that it’s pretty deep.  Only a select few people are meant to learn ifá (babalawos, generally), so unless you’re part of Santería communites, you’re better off sticking with geomancy.

“what is an aquarius/libra decanate land aries/leo decanate together like?” — Another decan/decanate question, woo!  I’m honestly going to ignore the part about romantic pairings because, really, it’s just about pointless to answer a question like that based on Sun signs alone.  Considering the importance of the other planets, the rising sign, house placements, and the like, Sun signs (though important) are only a fraction of the information a proper horoscope can give you.  As for the decans themselves, this query indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of them.  The decans of the signs are ruled by planets, not other signs!  There are different methods to assign the planets to the decans, however, with the Chaldaean ordering being traditional in Western astrology but the Vedic system (which is associated more closely with the signs than the planets alone) has been popular of late.

“where to buy consecrated chalk” — Regrettably, I haven’t found a supplier for this, and none of the local stores around me sell common items that have already been blessed.  To that end, I wrote up a short ritual for blessing your own chalk, which you’re free to use on whatever chalk you might get for yourself.  Alternatively, you could probably just buy a pack of chalk and ask a Catholic priest to bless it for you.  If you live near a botanica (Hispanic Santería/ATR magic store), I suggest getting a cake of cascarilla, or eggshell chalk, which is pretty good in its own right.

“how to make a real snowflake using magic without even chanting.anything” — I’m amused that this query assumes that all of magic requires chanting, but surprise, it doesn’t!  Just close your eyes, go to the kitchen, open the freezer, and knock off some of the ice from those leftovers you put in two months ago.  There you go, a real snowflake!  And yes, the magic of refrigeration is truly a miracle and allows otherwise inhospitable places to become endurable (e.g. the entire southern US).

“is anyone transalting munich manuel of demonic magic” — I have a few sections of the Munich Manual translated, though translating any more is currently on hold for the time being.  The Latin from Kieckhefer’s critical edition of the Munich Manual is pretty clear and well-organized, so anyone with even rudimentary skill in Latin and a good dictionary can get good progress on their own.  I have some other projects to translate in the meanwhile, but if there’s a particular section that you’re just absolutely dying to have translated ASAP, let me know and I’ll see what I can do about getting it put into English in the near future.

Also, Happy New Year!  Go get drunk, call on the stars and your ancestors, and bring in 2014 right!

Search Term Shoot Back, September 2013

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of September 2013.

“visualize offerings water light incense flowers”  — Visualized offerings are good for some spirits, or for complex astral rituals.  However, for most purposes, why not actually get the physical offerings themselves, and offer actual water, candles, incense, and flowers?  They’re more concrete and, if the spirit is “low” (i.e. an elemental spirit, genius loci, shade, etc.), they’ll be able to benefit more directly since they’re closer to the physical realm.

“munich manual english” — As far as I’m aware, there is no full translation of the Munich Manual into English, though I have translated some excerpts from it (which you can find under the Rituals menu above).  That said, it’s been suggested I take that on as my next big translation project, and I think I’ll oblige.  No idea when it might be ready, but it wouldn’t be unwelcome, as far as I can tell. 

“blessing the sator square” — It’s unclear how the SATOR Square was actually used, only that it came up time and again since the early Roman empire as a kind of memetic charm.  One theory is that it acted as a sign for hidden Christians, since reorganizing the SATOR Square can yield a different arrangement of two PATERNOSTERs intersecting at the N, with two As and two Os leftover (alpha and omega).  As a charm, I believe that the mere construction of the SATOR Square suffices to “bless” or charge it, though other consecrations can be added on top of it (cf. the second pentacle of Saturn from the Key of Solomon).  Depending on the purpose used, you’d consecrate it as you would any other talisman, charm, or tool.

“eskimo fucking” — I assume that’s how eskimos happened in the first place.  (Also, what…?)

“geomantic designs for capricorn” — You’d want to go with the geomantic figures for Carcer or Populus and their associated geomantic sigils.  Carcer is linked to Capricorn through its association with Saturn retrograde; Populus is directly associated to Capricorn in Gerard of Cremona’s system of astrological correspondences (which I use personally in my geomantic work).

“if i write de name of ma boyfriend n put it in de annoiting oil n pray over it can it makes him love like crazy?” — First, I’m honestly impressed people write unironically in an eye-dialect like this; after all, written communication is meant to help spoken communication cross time and space in a way that sound vibrations can’t, and writing as one speaks is certainly not a wrong way to do it.  As for the question itself, the answer is (as it often is in magic) that it depends.  Writing his name on a hoodoo-style name paper, and using something like “Come Here Boy” or another love-drawing/love-forcing oil on it with a prayer or repetition of a psalm over it, it can certainly induce love or love-craziness.  Caveat mage, though; Jason Miller has a story about someone who did this on a particular girl, and not only did the girl fall head-over-heels in love with him, but she ended up becoming an overzealously jealous, codependent, clingy stalker that the dude only wanted to get rid of after, like, two weeks.  Be careful what you wish for, my readers.

“how to kssss hole body” — I hope you wash that hole first.  I also hope you can tell me what exactly you were looking for.

“what to ask during geomancy” — Anything you want, really; geomancy is another system of divination, and divination exists to answer questions.  That said, it helps to ask questions that are clear, concise, and concrete: vague, open-ended, undefined questions tend to work badly with geomancy.  A good question in geomancy often takes the form of “will X happen with conditions Y?”, with X and Y clearly defined and stated.

“how to convert geomantic figures into binary” — Pretty simple, actually.  The method I use is to use a four-bit number, interpreting a single point (active element) as 1 (logic high) and a double point (passive element) as 0 (logic low).  The first bit in the number is the fire line, the second bit the air line, the third bit the water line, and the fourth bit the earth line; in other words, if you read a four-bit number from right to left, it’d be the same as reading a geomantic figure from top to bottom.  Thus, 0101 is Acquisitio, 1000 is Laetitia, 1101 is Puer, 1111 is Via, 0000 is Populus, and so forth.

“how long can you keep holy water in a bottle” — It depends on the type of holy water, and for what.  From a religious standpoint, the blessing may “wear off” over time, or may be depleted if anything unclean contaminates the whole bottle.  Any liquid can get physically contaminated over time without proper preparation, so it helps to make sure the bottle you’re using is thoroughly sanitized and that the water is used in a short time, often no longer than five days.  Using holy water that uses herbs like basil or hyssop can also easily get contaminated, and you’ll see a wispy web-like growth in the bottle over time.  For this reason, I make my holy water with just purified water and salt that I boil for twenty minutes and pour it into only sanitized bottles I’ve washed out with boiling water and soap.

“house blessing preparation” — Get a few white candles, incense that stings the eyes and nose, incense that sweetens the air, holy water, some clean white clothes, and a book of religious texts or prayers of your choice.  Wash yourself thoroughly and ablute in the holy water, meditate and focus yourself, dress in the clothes while praying for protection and light for yourself, light a candle in each room of the house, pray in each room of the house for protection and guidance in the house, waft the sharp incense in each room of the house, pray that all evil and defilement be removed from the house, sprinkle holy water in each room of the house, pray that all impurity and filth be washed from the house, waft the sweet incense in each room of the house, pray for happiness and joy to fill the house, pray to offer your thanks and for the assistance received, relax. 

“howtoinvokeadonai” — Youusehisnameinaprayer,begginghimforhispresenceandaidtohelpyouinyourlife.Youdon’thavetobeJewishorChristiantocallonADNI,butyoudoneedtohavefaithinhispowerandbeabletoanswertotheresponsibilityofcallinguponhim.AnynumberofprayersintheSolomonicandHermetictraditions,goingasfarbackasthePGMatleast,usethenameADNI,sohaveatandexplorewhatusesyoumightcomeupwith.  Also, please never type like this ever, even if you’re on a lot of DMT.

“hermetics most feared adversary” — I think it’s sloths, for some reason, but I’m unsure why.  Alkaloid herbs may have been involved, or so I’m told.

Thoughts on a Grammatomantic Calendar

Earlier this year, I produced my first ebook, a short text detailing the history and use of grammatomancy, or divination using the Greek alphabet much as one might use runes for divination. It’s an interesting system, and I combined the ancient oracular meanings of the letters with their isopsephic (gematria) meanings, stoicheic (planetary/elementary/astral) meanings, and qabbalistic symbolism to produce a full divination system suitable for any student of the magical arts. It got real complicated real fast, but also real complete in the process. (If you don’t have a copy, stop being lazy and get one here.)

As some of my readers may know, I make use of this every day (mostly) for my Twitter/Facebook feeds under the posts “Daily Grammatomancy”. It’s helped me and others plan our days out, using a simple oracle for how the day will go; the question I ask for our mutual and communal benefit is “for myself and for all who come in contact with my words, for this day, this very day: how best should we live our lives in accordance with the divine will of the immortal gods?”. For some people, it’s no better than a newspaper horoscope; for others, it hits dead on time and time again.

Doing this for a while has lead some of my friends to start pursuing their own daily divination methods. One such friend, Raven Orthaevelve (who is a fantastic artist and crafter whom you should totally buy and commission things from for anything fancy, magical, or otherwise), has started using the Mayan calendar as a divination tool. This isn’t any 2012 bullshit, either; the Mayan calendar was known for being a reasonably complex set of interlocking cycles. One such calendar used for these cycles is the tzolk’in, a 260-day calendar made up of 13 20-day “months”. Each day has a particular name and divinatory meaning which forms the basis of much of Mayan divination, natal astrology, and prognostication. Raven posts her interpretations of the tzolk’in daily on her Facebook, and will eventually build in other Mayan cycles into the mix for a more complex and complete daily prognostication.

In some sort of weird feedback loop, this has started to help me pursue my own idea of a cyclical divination using Greek letters. In other words, although the daily grammatomantic divination would be helpful for specific days, a day might generally have a particular meaning based on its location in a cycle of days; combining the two can help focus knowledge and energy for particular problems, much as one might combine the cycle of planetary days and planetary hours for rituals. Interesting as this idea might be, though, it’d be incredibly difficult; there’s no information I can find that this was done in ancient times, so it’d be a new innovation. Add to it, the development of any kind of calendrical cycle is difficult (as my experiments with forming a ritual calendar for planning things out have shown).

One option I might explore is just using the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet in making a type of calendar. 15 repetitions of this cycle would produce 360, a very nice number indeed; if I were to tie it to the solar year, then it’d produce 5 or 6 intercalary days that would not be associated with any particular letter. This kind of practice isn’t uncommon by any means: the Mayans used a similar practice with their haab’ calendar: 18 cycles of 20 days, again producing 360 days with five days (wayeb’) at the end; the ancient Egyptians and modern Copts use 12 cycles of 30 days, again 360 days, plus five or six days at the end. 24 is a pretty convenient number, I have to admit, especially with its divisors and amenability to larger cycles of 12, 360, and the like.

Plus, if I were to use this cycle of 15 months of 24 days, I could further associate each month with a particular letter, which could afford another general cycle around the day-letter cycle. Say that we associate the first month of the first year with Α, then the second with Β, and so forth. Because the year only has 15 months, the last month of the first year would be Ο, and the first month of the second year would be Π; likewise, the first month of the third year would be Η, the first month of the fourth year would be Χ, and so forth. This produces a cycle such that every 9th year has the first month starting with Α; thus, there are eight distinct years with this month-letter cycle. And if we have a month-letter cycle, we could also expand this to a year-letter cycle, such that three such month-letter cycles form one year-letter cycle, or 24 years (8 × 3 = 24). Alternatively, we might have a great year-letter cycle, where one month-letter cycle is given a letter, and 24 month-letter cycles completes a great year-letter cycle; this would be a cycle of 8 × 24 = 192 years. At this point, I’d just be forming cycles for the sake of cycles for a kind of neo-Greek long count calendar, but it’d be nifty all the same for finer, long-term gradations of influences.

To use such a cycle, however, I’d need to use a particular day as a start date, at least for the months. Although the Greek alphabet oracle as I use it was found in modern Turkey, different parts of ancient Greece used different calendars with different start dates for individual years. The Attic calendar, about which we know the most among all ancient Greek calendars, started on the first new moon after the summer solstice; other Greek calendars often started off between autumn and winter. For simplicity, I’d say that either the spring equinox (to tie it in with astrology) or the summer solstice (to tie it in with Athenian practice) would be the official start date. Thus, the five or six days leading up to this start date (according to the Gregorian calendar) would be the intercalary days, which would have no letters assigned to it; alternatively, I might devise a scheme to associate particular letters with these intercalary days based on specific properties of the letters. This doesn’t even mention where the month-cycles (years of day-letters) would begin, or what the anchor date might be.

If I were to use the Attic practice of using the summer solstice as the start date, though, why not actually go ahead and use the Attic calendar itself as the basis for my cycle? The Attic calendar, specifically the festival calendar used to determine festivals and rituals, was a lunisolar calendar. There were 12 months as determined by the observation of the Moon; months began on the first sighting of the New Moon just after syzygy (νουμηνια, “new moon”), and ended on the day of the syzygy itself (ενη και νεα, “old and new”). Thus, the months could be 30 days (full months) or 29 days (hollow months). A month was divided into three periods of ten days each, which I’ll call decamera; if the month was hollow, then the third decameron would have only nine days, with the usual 29th day being omitted entirely.

The problem with using this type of lunisolar calendar is that there are more days in a month (29 or 30) than there are letters in the Greek alphabet (24). Even if I were to include the obsolete letters digamma, qoppa, and sampi for a total of 27 letters, this would still leave three days leftover. This might be remedied by throwing “letterless” days into the mix, on which no advice can be given, as well as making the obsolete letters effectively “letterless” since they have no associated oracles or stoicheic meaning. They have isopsephic meaning, however, which can be substituted with Hebrew gematraic meanings (and, through them, Hebrew stoicheic meanings), but this is starting to overreach and combine different traditions.

However, the use of those three decamera within each month does lend itself well to the Greek alphabet, assuming we use the full body of 27 letters. Using isopsephy, the letters Α through Θ (including digamma) are given to values 1 through 9, Ι through qoppa are given to 10 through 90, and Ρ through sampi are given to 100 through 900. Thus, we have nine letters per decameron, of which two days per period are letterless (or one day for the final period in the case of a hollow month); one for the obsolete letter in the mix and one extra letterless day at the end of the period. In this manner, we’d have a method to create a grammatomantic lunisolar calendar, which would be interesting to use. There’d be gaps in the calendar, of course, but it’s no worse than other magical calendars I’ve seen, e.g. PGM VII.155-167 or the Munich Manual, for determining which day of a given month is good or bad for magic or divination.

Using a year of 12 months is convenient, and can make the process of assigning letters to each month much simpler: a month-cycle of two years can be had here, since two years of 12 months produces 24 months, one for each letter. That said, the issue with lunisolar calendars is that the months get out of sync without an embolismic month, or intercalary month every so often. Using the ancient Metonic cycle of 19 years, there would be 12 “short” years (years with 12 months) and 7 “long” years (years with 13 months). The embolismic month could be held as letterless and placed at the end of the year in long years. Thus, every two years would complete one month-letter cycle in this lunisolar scheme; due to the parity of the Metonic cycle, every 38 years would complete one year-letter cycle. Using the Babylonian and Hebrew method of assigning embolismic months, years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 would be long years.

So, that turned out to be a much longer discussion on calendrical cycles for divination than I intended. Then again, calendars and cycles have never been easy to work with for any culture or era. In all honesty, the use of the simple 15 months of 24 days plus intercalary days is highly appealing for the sake of its simplicity and ability to lend itself to cycles within cycles. There is something to be said for the attribution of letters to the lunisolar months, though, especially for the sake of timing rituals or determining favorable lunar influences for a given letter. I’ll try drafting the rules and algorithms for these two types of grammatomantic calendars, along with date calculation methods, and see where that gets me.  The next few posts will go over these two types of calendars, one based on the solar cycle of the seasons and one based on the lunisolar cycle of the lunar months as tied to the seasons, so stay tuned!

Late-Mid Fall Miscellany

So, beyond my awkward experience on Sunday and continuing the work on my lunar kamea, I’ve been working on a few projects.  Here’s a general update for you, dear readers:

  • Seven new short translations from the Munich Manual are up under Rituals: Hide and Seek.  Two of them are oneiromancy rituals (divination through dreams), two are crystallomancy (by crystal gazing, one of which requires a young child as a medium), one is on unlocking all locked doors or objects, and two are on invisibility.  I wanted to include a translation of divination by gazing into fingernails, but they all required child mediums and magical circles, and that’s (a) a little too complex (b) a little too weird for nowadays.  A few involve animal sacrifice, so you might not find all these rituals entirely useful, but at least they’re in English now.
  • So I have this absolutely fabulous altar with fancy wands and talismans and everything, and I simply haven’t been using it.  Mostly, it’s because I don’t know how to use it or what to use it for.  To remedy that, I decided to go ahead and write up a short ritual that calls upon all the forces represented on the altar to charge and balance their effects and forces in my life, what I call the Alignment of Forces Ritual.  I intend to do it weekly or so, and anyone can do it if they’ve got representations of the four elements and seven planets on their altar.  Members of Fr. Rufus Opus’ Red Work series of courses should have an easy time doing it if they so choose, since we’re all working, arguably, off similar altar layouts.  Since this is the first substantial ritual I’ve written up, feel free to discuss about how it works for you and what experiences you get from it, if any.
  • I carried out a consecration and charging of the sigil from last week’s post.  The ritual was my first involving a Bible verse, but I drew inspiration from Draja Mickaharic’s book Magical Spells of the Minor Prophets, which is a pretty badass resource.  I set up four candles in a square around the plaque, engraved and anointed each candle with oil as well as the sigil itself, repeated a relevant Bible verse four times each over each candle, chanted four malas of the acoustic sigil, then forced all the energy from this ritual into the sigil itself.  It felt pretty decent, and I was drained for a bit after the working, so I think I did it right.
  • I’m considering writing up a guide to geomancy under the Skills section.  Geomancy’s been my favorite and most preferred form of divination for years now, and I find it rather useful and simple.  Writing a guide’s been something of a back-burner project for a while, but I’m unsure about how to go about it, especially when there are already a number of highly-recommended books on the subject.  If you think you might find it useful, or if there’s anything in particular you’d like to read about (maybe some advanced topics), let me know and I’ll consider picking up the pace on it.

Also, Mercury goes retrograde from November 24th through December 14th.  Have fun on your holiday travels, y’all!  Remember to make sure the stove is off before you leave and do your three-point tap whenever you head outside.

Talismans, Curses, Conjurations, News, Etc.

Seems like I got a fair bit accomplished since my last post. Guess I triggered some change for a good effect, or something.  I had a few worries that the hurricane that swept up the east coast would interfere with a few of my plans, but yeah, no.  I should keep this advice in mind when it comes to interpreting weather news.  Also, Mercury went direct again!  He’ll be back up to speed in early September, if you’re curious.  And now for the updates:

  • As part of my making a working magician’s altar, I’m making a series of planetary talismans, one for each of the seven traditional planets.  It’s an awesome project, though it’s taking its own sweet time: each talisman needs to be made in its proper planetary day and hour, which yields three or four hours, one hour at a time, one day a week, for each talisman.  Each talisman is a small wood disk engraved via woodburning with the planet’s symbol and its seals along with its angel’s name and his seal (those last two are from the Magical Calendar and Heptameron).  The engravings are filled with gold leaf, and a small hole in the bottom of each talisman is filled with the planet’s proper metal (lead for Saturn, a copper nail for Venus, etc.).  I’ve got only Mars and the Moon talismans to fill with metal, and afterward need to apply finish to all of them and consecrate them, which will involve calling up the planetary angels for the first time.  Lessons learned from this project: don’t try to nail too many things into the same block of wood at once, silver’s really hard to melt down with a propane torch, and if 5′ of gold wire costs only $20, it’s probably not gold.
  • I put up two new pages under the Rituals menu: Writing a Defixio, on the writing of binding spells and curse tablets such as those found across the classical Mediterranean and European world; and my complete (but probably crappy) translation of the Planetary Conjurations from the Munich Manual, complete with illustrations.  That said, that whole section from the Munich Manual was basically lifted wholesale from the Heptameron, so, whatever.  And my parents said that Latin would never be useful for me.
  • I conjured Michael again and the Elemental Prince Oriens for the first time last week so I could go through the last of the elemental initiations.  Alas!  Oriens turned me down, saying that I wasn’t yet ready.  Michael suggested that I talk to my natal genius first in order to find out more about my true will and cause for doing all this occult stuff, with the suggestion that understanding why I’m doing this will make my drive to do it all that much stronger.  Also, this time talking with Michael, things were much cooler than the time before: the first time I conjured Michael, it was a really intense experience, but I had also been building up for that in every possible fiery way I could imagine.  Apparently, it’s much more in tune and harmonic usually, but still wiped me out (or burnt me out, if you will).
  • Also as part of this stage of my Work, I had to conjure the other princes of the elements, the nasty demonic ones whose names are Samael, Azazel, Azael, and Mahazael.  I conjured the archangels to bring them to me, then I sealed them up on pieces of paper bound in black thread and sealed up in little tea tins taped shut.  This is to keep their influence out of my life, and things have felt kind of clearer and a little easier since I started doing this, though that may be entirely psychological (what isn’t, when it comes to magic?).  It’s not the sturdiest of prisons, but it’ll do for now.  Once I finish the planetary talismans, I’ll redo the prisons, time permitting.  Bee tee dubs, those are some spiteful, hateful things.  I can’t remember the last time I shivered at that sort of emotion so deeply before.  Since then, however, things have felt…I dunno.  More relaxed, calm, smoother, even though nothing has explicitly turned out for the better.  No complaints, though.
  • After chatting with the four archangels, they helped me out by agreeing to come to my aid if I called on them by name outside of a proper conjuration.  The conjuration helps forge a stronger connection, but when I don’t have the materia or time, asking for their help with a small oration will suffice.  Nifty!
  • After my chalice shattered by my own hand after the oh-so-horrible earthquake aftermath last week, I went shopping and got a simple but pretty (and much sturdier and shorter) glass goblet.  I conjured up Gabriel the next day and had his help to consecrate this new cup for my altar, and now all is right with the world.  Or getting there, at least.
  • Along with my new chalice, I bought some asafoetida powder from an Indian store.  Asafoetida, also called hing or Devil’s dung, is a powerful herb related to Saturn and Mars, and can curse, uncurse, or banish.  That said, now I know why people think Indian food stinks, and my whole house smells like ass forever.  Such sadness.
  • It turns out there’s a decent Saturn election next month (Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 2:29 p.m. EDT where I live), when Saturn will have an essential dignity of +8 (If I did my math correctly).  I’m taking advantage of that to make a decent Saturn talisman for myself and to get some experience in astrological magic.  The whole process will be pretty involved, but I’ve already gotten the basic steps done of making a base lead disc for the talisman and planning out the design.  I’m pretty excited since, according to a natal reading from Chris Warnock at Renaissance Astrology, a talisman of Saturn is highly recommended for myself.  As part of this upcoming ritual, I’m also making a wooden kamea of Saturn, which should be done this coming weekend.
  • I’m restarting the practice of a weekly divination.  I’m out of practice with geomancy and I really need to pick my skills back up, so I’m going to try to get a weekly and monthly divination up again.  I’ll try to remember to note my results on this blog, just for reference’s sake.
Next up, finishing up a few more talismans, consecrating them with the archangels, having a few chats with my natal genius, working on this Saturn talisman, and rebinding the demonic elemental princes with lead and steel instead of paper and tealights.  Also, by mid-September, I’ll have a fully operational Death Star Table of Manifestation, which alone will be a significant achievement for me.  All that should carry me through the end of September nicely with plenty of stuff to do.  Now if only I could fit things like sleep and boozing it up in clubs in there, too, but I guess I should have something resembling priorities.

Fun with Medieval Latin, Necromancy, and Lead

So I’ve been having a good time reading through Kieckhefer’s book on the Munich Manual, and he’s got a lot of great insight on the topic of the manuscript and putting into the wider occult context of its time.  He offers a lot of thoughts and suggestions about where the original author or authors might have learned this stuff and their intents for their rituals, and he also offers a good analysis of the rituals, demon names, herbs, and circumstances behind the rituals themselves.

Although Kieckhefer translates some parts of the Manual for use in his analysis, the whole thing has not yet been translated into English, so a good number of parts remain unheard of in my native tongue.  However, since I love new chances to translate Latin, I’m going through parts of the book and translating them into English, much like how I did the “De Responsione Spirituum” earlier this summer.  I’ve made a new section under the Ritual menu specifically for things translated from the Munich Manual, and have already uploaded my translation of the Bond of Solomon, a lengthy exorcism and binding on unwieldy spirits.  I’m starting the translation a long stretch of rituals and lists from the Manual about astrological magic and the conjuration of planetary angels and such, but that might take me a week or three to finish.

If you’re interested in the same set of conjurations while I’m getting my translation up, check out Asterion’s old blog, Practical Solomonic Magic, where he offers his translations of the conjurations of the days of the week and comparisons to the Heptameron (on which this section of the Manual was likely based or with which this shares a common ancestor).

In other news, I’m melting down lead for talismans today.  Yay!

My Little Posse

Despite the title, no, I’m not into My Little Pony, nor am I a bro-ny.  For some reason that escapes me, the new MLP series is all the rage among men 20 to 35 years old.  I…I don’t even.

So I haven’t been completely idle these past few days, though I’m not as caught up as I wanted to be.  However, the next set of coursework for my Hermetic stuff came out, which goes over how to build a proper magician’s altar.  Now, keep in mind that I already have two altars, sorta: I have a devotional altar which I pray at and light candles and make offerings and stuff, and a small Ikea table which I use to perform miscellaneous rituals as the need arises.  The real altar, though, is going to be the Table of Manifestation, my sort of personal map of the macrocosm and microcosm as it relates to me, a supertalisman and focus for all my magical work.  It’ll have all my elemental weapons, symbols and talismans, and so on.  To that end, I’m getting together a rather large shopping list of metal ingots and weights to melt down to make talismans with and various other things (like some real frankincense resin incense and a proper charcoal incense burner).  Clearly, I’m putting my promotion and raise at work to good use.

As part of my altar setup, I’ll need talismans for each of the seven planets.  I got started last night on a Jupiter talisman, it being the day of Jupiter and all.  I took a wooden yo-yo from Michaels, split it apart, woodburned a few symbols into it, covered it in blue paint marker, then filled the woodburned inscription with silver ink.  There’s a hole in the bottom of the disc left from the yo-yo axle, which I’ll fill with molten tin (96% tin-4% silver solder from a hardware store).  Once that solidifies, I’ll apply a layer or two of glossy finish over the thing, then consecrate it under the auspices of Tzadqiel.  Lather, rinse, and repeat for the other six planets; the whole thing should be done by mid-September, if I’m dutiful.  For metal that can’t easily be melted, I might widen out the hole and just fit a piece of the planetary metal in there and glue or fasten it on somehow.  There’ll be pictures once I get all seven done, by which point the whole altar should have come together.

In other crafting news, I took an old staff of mine and made it all Solomonic.  The Key of Solomon has instructions to make a magical staff, which is virtually the same as the Solomonic wand and can be put towards the same use as other wands, such as the wand from Trithemius (I believe).  Unfortunately, I don’t have access to elderberry or cane wood, so I used an old staff I happened to find in a forest behind my last apartment (it was deliberately planted in the ground and already cut to a suitable height).  It’s not in the best of shape, but sanding it down and smoothing it off helped wonders.  I woodburned the symbols from the Key of Solomon into it as well as the Hebrew words AGLA + ON + IHVH, rubbed it with olive oil, and suffumigated it with incense.  Alas that no pictures show it properly since the oil turned the staff rather dark, but it looks pretty nifty.  Definitely an outdoorsy tool for a mage, and wielding a freaking staff feels pretty awesome.  I’ll be rubbing oil in it during hours of Mercury in the future just to make sure it gets waterproofed and treated properly.

Last but certainly not least, and related to the title of the post (of course there’d be a reason), I contacted Auriel and Raphael recently for a number of things, not the least of which to ask about obtaining elemental familiars.  You know, little helper spirits to call upon as I need.  I’m still kinda unsure about why I’d need them off the top of my head, but I figure it’s nice to call upon something already intimately familiar with the element in question as a need arises.  They’re pretty cool beings, I’ll admit, and are closer to humanity than the archangels.  That said, I didn’t expect the earth elemental Auriel to whom introduced me to have the high-pitched perky voice of a female Asian pop star, nor did I expect the air elemental to have fond memories of London and rhymes.

Don’t look at me.  I’m just writing this shit down.

Anyway, they’re pretty cool beings, and agreed to come when I called them.  They have pretty cool names, too, which just so happened to follow the rules of Hebrew theophoric names, which is interesting (ending in -iah or -el).  I’m starting to build myself up a whole circle of beings, apparently, to get things done.  Either I’m awesome or psychotic; after a certain point, I have a hard time telling.

Ooh, ooh!  Also, I splurged last week and got like eight new books for myself, including Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century by Richard Kieckhefer, a modern reprint of the famous Munich Manual.  It’s got a lot of source material for the medieval, Christian, or Hermetic scholar, and has a fair bit of planetary and demonic magic.  I’m not too keen on the demonic aspects of the work, but it’s got a lot of interesting stuff, regardless.  I’ve already translated one ritual from the source in Latin, so expect some more stuff to be thrown up as well.