The Osirian Bindings

Looking through the PGM recently, I came across a delightful little entry from PGM VII.429—458, “A restraining [rite] for anything”.  The description of the effects of this binding ritual is impressive: “works even on chariots…causes enmity and sickness, cuts down, destroys, and overturns for whatever you wish…the spell, when said, conjures daimons and makes them enter [objects or people]”.  Impressive, indeed.  I figured we might talk about this ritual today, even if only because it has a bit of interesting description about the powers of the Moon and how it relates to the efficacy of long-term magical items buried underground.  Why am I deciding to share this one today?  Eh, why not?  Seems like we can always use good ritual tech, after all.  Sometimes it’s good to get back to your roots, and this type of restraining spell is a classic, an example of malefica we’d otherwise call defixio or katadesmos a.k.a. “curse tablets”, but this time containing some interesting Egyptian elements.  Why are we bringing this up today?  Well, why not?

The thing about this ritual, however, is that it’s not one binding, but two, each one operating in different ways using the same apparatus.  We’ll break down this ritual into several parts.

Creating the Binding Plate

The main implement of both of these binding rituals is that of a lead plate, ideally “from a cold-water channel”; in our modern day and age, any old lead pipe that was used for plumbing and carrying unheated water would be ideal.  You’d take such a bit of lead, hammer and roll it out thin, and there you go, but do what you can; you can also get pre-rolled sheets of lead just fine, or if you’re worried about toxicity, a soda can or beer can you drain out and cut up into a large rectangle will work, too, especially if you pour out the drink as an offering to the spirits of the underworld who’ll do the work.

On the plate, engrave with a “headless bronze needle” (i.e. a needle that does not have a hammer-flat “head” on it, like how railroad spikes do, or any sort of ornamentation) the following:

I conjure you, Lord Osiris, by your holy names: ΟΥΧΙΩΧ ΟΥΣΕΝΑΡΑΝΑΘ ΟΥΣΙΡΕΙ ΟΥΣΕΡΡΑΝΝΟΥΦΘΙ ΟΣΟΡΝΟΥΦΗ ΟΥΣΕΡ ΜΝΕΥΕ ΟΥΣΕΡΣΕΤΕΜΕΝΘ ΑΜΑΡΑ ΜΑΧΙ ΧΩΜΑΣΩ ΕΜ ΜΑΙ ΣΕΡΒΩΝΙ ΕΜΕΡ ΙΣΙ ΑΡΑΤΩΦΙ ΕΡΑΧΑΞ ΕΣΕΟΙΩΘ ΑΡΒΙΩΘΙ ΑΜΕΝΧΟΥΜ ΜΟΝΜΟΝΤ ΟΥΖΑΘΙ ΠΗΡ ΟΥΝΝΕΦΕΡ ΕΝ ΩΩΩ

I give over to you, Lord Osiris, and I deposit with you this matter: …

“Add the usual” at this point; write down what you wish to happen.  Transliterated into Roman script, the barbarous words are:

ŪKHIŌKH ŪSENARANTH ŪSIREI ŪSERRANNŪPHTHI OSORNŪPHĒ ŪSER MNEUE ŪSERSETEMENTH AMARA MAKHI KHŌMASŌ EM MAI SERBŌNI EMER ISI ARATŌPHI ERAKHAKS ESEOIŌTH ARBIŌTHI AMENKHŪM MONMONT ŪZATHI PĒR ŪNNEPHER EN Ō Ō Ō

Betz in his translation makes several notes about the barbarous words above and how much Egyptian can be spotted in them:

  • ΟΥΣΕΡΣΕΤΕΜΕΝΘ: wsir nfr, “Osiris the Good”
  • ΕΜ ΜΑΙ: “in truth”
  • ΕΜΕΡ ΙΣΙ: “whom Isis loves”
  • ΟΥΝΝΕΦΕΡ: either ḥwn-nfr “beautiful youth” or wn-nfr “Onnophris”

Anyway, with the lead plate engraved, it’s time to consecrate it.  It should be consecrated with bitter aromatics, such as myrrh, bdellum, styrax, aloes, and thyme, and with “river mud”; I would interpret this, personally, to mean that the plate should be suffumigated in an incense composed of herbs like the foregoing, washing it and smearing it with mud from a river in the process.  This is to be done “late in the evening or in the middle of the night”—midnight would be ideal.

At this point, we have one of two choices in how we want to go about this binding.

Approach #1: The Drowned Binding

All the foregoing would ideally be done at the place where the lead plate is to be deposited, but if not, do it in private and then take it to its place of deposition, into a stream or drain that leads away, preferably into a larger body of water.  The plate is to be tied to a sturdy cord or string and anchored or tied to where the person casting the binding can reach it; punching a hole in a corner and tying the thread through the hole would be good.  The plate is then thrown into the stream, reciting the above incantation that was written on the plate seven times.  Be sure the plate does not drift away, become untied, or otherwise unreachable; be sure this is done in a place where others will not interfere with the plate or string.

When you want to undo the binding, pull the plate out from the water using the string and untie the plate from the string.

Approach #2: The Buried Binding

Instead of throwing the plate into a river or stream, the plate may also be buried or left in a hole, well, coffin, or larger body of water.  In addition to writing the above, also write the Ephesian words (which this PGM entry says are “Orphic”):

ΑΣΚΙ ΚΑΤΑΣΚΙ ΛΙΞ ΤΕΤΡΑΞ ΔΑΜΝΑΜΕΝΕΥΣ ΑΙΣΙΑ

Transliterated into Roman script:

ASKI KATASKI LIKS TETRAKS DAMNAMENEUS AISIA

Take the plate and tie and bind it all around on the outside with a black thread using 365 knots.  How to do this?  You could make 365 holes around the edge of the plate and tie the thread continuously through each hole and knotting each one, or make one hole in the plate to anchor the thread, tie the thread through that, then loop the thread all over and cocoon it in the thread, knotting it each time for a total of 365 times.  While doing this, recite over and over the Ephesian words (or at least ΑΣΚΙ ΚΑΤΑΣΚΙ) followed by your charge of binding (e.g. “Keep him held”, etc.).  This done, the plate may be deposited wherever you wish.

However, this should be done at a place where you have access to, ideally being able to stand directly over the place of deposition.  The reason for this is that PGM VII.429ff claims that “Selēnē, when she goes through the underworld, breaks whatever [spell] she finds”.  To circumvent this and keep her from breaking the binding, the above formula of the Ephesian words with the charge of binding should be recited at least once daily on the spot where the plate is buried.  In this case, the binding is considered to be in effect for as long as one maintains this daily practice.

Close of the Binding

Whenever you’re done with the ritual, whether binding or unbinding your target, leave the place of deposition.  Do not turn back and do not look backwards; do not speak a word to anyone for any reason until you get home.  Once you do get home, wash yourself thoroughly, making sure you can immerse every part of your body in water, then go to sleep.  Maintain a vegetarian diet for at least seven days in this process to maintain purity and holiness, and to ensure that your work will continue strong.

Technically, this close is only mentioned for the first method of binding, not the second.  However, it would also be a good practice to engage in it for the second option as well to increase both the general purity and the protection of the practitioner.  After all, when engaging with chthonic and underworld powers, it helps to be respectful.  I’d even take the extra step of taking a different route back to my home than the one I used to take to the place of deposition, but that’s just me.

Headless Rite

(Update 12/31/2017: Interested in more about this ritual?  Check out my more polished, fleshed-out writeup over on this page!)

I mentioned before that I’m getting into the regular practice of performing the Headless Rite (Bornless Rite, Liber Samekh, etc.) as part of my Work.  Per my genius’ instructions, I try to do this every night followed by a meditation session before my final prayers and sleep for the night.  Of course, I’m procrastinating right now by typing this up instead of actually doing it, but hey, I’m still just trying to get back on the ball from New Year’s.  Whine whine moan moan I’m a big baby, etc.

Now, the version of the HR that I perform is one that I based off reading the versions given in the PGM, Jason Miller’s “The Sorcerer’s Secrets”, Liber Samekh, and other sources here and there.  Stephen Flowers’ “Hermetic Magic” also provides a copy, along with a bit of extra materia that I myself use: a pendant inscribed with a special symbol (see below) from the PGM and HM, along with the barbarous words “ΑΩΘ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ” on the reverse.  This is based on the original PGM injunction to use a new strip of papyrus as a headband inscribed with the same, but I wanted something a little more permanent.

I asked Michael, the angel of the Sun, what he thought of the symbol, since I couldn’t find any information on it in any other resource or dictionary of symbols (gotta love those voces magicae and their crazy symbols); plus, since the HR has traditionally been marked as a Solar ritual, I figured he’d have some answers.  He said it was a powerful defensive-offensive symbol, combining the images of a shield and inner power bursting through any oncoming force.  Helpful, given that the original intent of the HR was to act as an exorcism, and powering through them might be a risky endeavor.  Crowley adapted it, so I hear, to be something like an exorcism of the self, cleaning out the body and mind and spirit and soul to make room for the HGA.

At any rate, below is my version of the HR.  I use Greek letters to represent the barbarous words, and I prefer the classical Greek pronunciation instead of the modern one, but either works, depending on your level of comfort with how you like alien sounds coming out of your face.  Whenever the text “[Rubric]” appears, it means to repeat a given statement of intent, like “Deliver N. from this demon that plagues him!” for using the HR as an exorcism, or “Deliver to me my HGA, deliver to me my Supernatural Assistant, deliver to me the spirit N. who is tasked with guiding and leading me through this and all lives!” for attaining K&CHGA.  The standard rubric from Liber Samekh works well for either situation, I’m guessing.

Knowing the rubric I want, I put on my pendant and perform my invocation.  The PGM says to face north, the direction of the immortal Northern Stars, but modern sources say to face east, the direction of the rising Sun.  Either works, much like where you perform it (physical or astral), depending on your background and inclinations.

ΑΩΘ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ
Thee I invoke, the Headless One.
Thee, who created earth and the heavens.
Thee, who created night and day.
Thee, who created darkness and light.
Thou art OSORONNŌPHRIS*, whom no man hath ever seen.
Thou art IABAS!
Thou art IAPŌS!
Thou hast distinguished between the just and the unjust.
Thou hast made the female and the male.
Thou has revealed the seed and the fruit.
Thou hast made men to love each other and hate each other.
I am thy prophet to whom thou hast transmitted thy mysteries, the whole quintessence of Mageia.

Hear me!  I am the messenger of OSORONNŌPHRIS!
This is thy true name handed down to the prophets!
ΑΡΒΑΘΙΑΩ ΡΕΙΒΕΤ ΑΘΕΛΕΒΕΡΣΗΘ ΑΡΑ ΒΛΑΘΑ ΑΛΒΕΥ ΕΒΕΝΦΧΙ ΧΙΤΑΣΓΟΗ ΙΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ
[Rubric]

I call upon thee with an empty spirit, oh awesome and invisible god!
ΑΡΟΓΟΓΟΡΟΒΡΑΩ ΣΟΧΟΥ ΜΟΔΟΡΙΩ ΦΑΛΑΡΧΑΩ ΟΟΟ
[Rubric]

Holy Headless One, hear me!
ΡΥΒΡΙΑΩ ΜΑΡΙ ΩΔΑΜ ΒΑΑΒΝΑΒΑΩΘ ΑΣΣ ΑΔΩΝΑΙ ΑΦΝΙΑΩ ΙΘΟΛΗΘ ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ ΑΗΩΩΥ
[Rubric]
ΜΑΒΑΡΡΑΙΩ ΙΟΗΛ ΚΟΘΑ ΑΘΟΡΗΒΑΛΩ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ
[Rubric]

ΑΩΘ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ
He is the lord of the gods!
He is the lord of the world!
He is the one whom the winds fear!
He is the one who made all things by the command of his voice!
Lord, King, Master, Helper, empower my soul!
ΙΕΟΥ ΠΥΡ ΙΟΥ ΠΥΡ ΙΑΩΤ ΙΑΗΩ ΙΟΟΥ ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ ΣΑΒΡΙΑΜ ΟΟ ΥΥ ΕΥ ΟΟ ΥΥ ΑΔΩΝΑΙΕ
Εδε, εδε, αγγελος του Θεου!
ΑΝΛΑΛΑ ΛΑΙ ΓΑΙΑ ΑΠΑ ΔΙΑΧΑΝΝΑ ΧΟΡΥΝ

At this point in the invocation, center yourself, and picture yourself existing in all moments and in all places, transcendent of and immanent throughout the whole Cosmos.

I am the Headless One with sight in the feet!
I am the mighty one who possesseth the immortal fire!
I am the Truth that hateth that evil is wrought in the world!
I am the one who maketh the lightning flash and the thunder roll!
I am the one whose sweat is the heavy rain that falls upon the earth that it might be fertile!
I am the one whose mouth is utterly aflame!
I am the one who begetteth and destroyeth!
I am the Grace of the World!
“HEART GIRT WITH A SERPENT” is my name!

Come and follow, that every spirit, whether heavenly or ethereal, upon the earth or under the earth, on dry land or in the water, of whirling air or rushing fire, and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient unto me.

ΙΑΩ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ

* Osoronnōphris: a Greek rendition of the Egyptian phrase “Osiris made beautiful/perfected”.  Iabas and Iapōs are supposedly Samaritan versions of the name of the divine name Iaō.  Together, these three names might be different epithets or aspects of the Deity, or another set of terms for the Father/Son/Paraclete trinity prevalent in Hermetic and Christian theology.