“Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration” ebook available for free download!

This is just a short little notice, for those who prefer printouts or ebooks compared to reading things strictly on the web:

So, some of you may know that I wrote that 23-post-long series Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration earlier this summer.  Coming in at close to 100k words, this was a nontrivial thing that—I swear—was only going to be a single post, but things got a little out of hand and there ended up being a bit more I wanted to talk about, and then more, and then more…well, it culminated in a post series that I’m rather proud of having written.

The problem is that not everyone can read things online all that easily, for one reason or another, especially something as lengthy as an informal Ph.D.-level dissertation.  Though I’m reluctant to publish the post series as an actual book (it would need to be rewritten from the ground up, with lots of copyright and usage rights back-and-forths between me and some two dozen other magicians and authors, amongst other reasons), my good friend Dr. Al Cummins proposed the idea of simply compiling all the posts into a single PDF.  I found this pretty fair, and although the task ended up being a bit more complicated and involved than I anticipated, I ended up doing it.  (I actually did this quite a while ago, but I forgot about it and left the file on my computer, for which I apologize.)  I didn’t want to spend too much time on it, so it’s not anything formal or fully polished like I might normally do for my ebooks or publications, but it does satisfy me and stands up well enough on its own.

So, to that end, if you’d like a more print-friendly approach to reading my Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration blog posts in a single document, you can download the PDF version at this link, and you can also download it from the Books page of my website.  Arguably, “print-friendly” is probably something up for debate; it’s almost 50MB and over 260 pages with lots of images, but at least it’s all self-contained in a single document.  Like the blog posts themselves, this is free to download and read (though donations through Ko-fi for having reformatted it all would certainly be greatly and deeply appreciated if this is something you can make use of).

PSA: It’s easier to ask permission than forgiveness

In doing research for another ebook of mine that’s coming up soon, I was googling around for a particular set of seals of the four elemental archangels.  Eventually, I found what I was looking for, but in the process I found something else: my own lamen designs for the planetary angels Haniel and Gabriel.  Now, I’ve made many designs for my occult work, and I share a good number of them freely on my blog, so it’s not uncommon anymore for me to come across my own work when looking for something new while searching Google.  (It’s a curse, truly.)  Add to it, I post my designs on my blog for free so that people who are interested in following the path of a Renaissance Hermetic magician and whatever-the-fuck-else-I-am can make use of the same tools and designs for their own personal experiments.

The thing was, however, that these specific lamens I had come across had been printed out and were being sold as a listing on somebody’s Etsy page.  The Etsy seller had never contacted me for my permission or right of use, and I know them only because I saw some of Asterion’s fine occult art also copied for their own listings (again, as it had turned out, without Asterion’s permission).  Their listing never attributed the designs to me.  That’s not cool.

Don’t get me wrong, of course.  I’m personally thrilled that other people are able to make use of my lamens, Tables of Practice, force compasses, and various other types of seals in their own magical work and practices.  I’m flattered that people find them worthy and powerful enough, maybe even pretty enough, to share around online.  After all, it makes me feel like my time and my productions are useful and well-used, and I share these designs freely for the benefit of everyone.  That said, using my designs and productions for commercial purposes without attributing the design to me, without my permission, and without even asking me if it’s alright to do so is disrespectful, and I will not allow it.  I’m not a fan of taking my ball and going home, but I make my designs free for others to help them out without cost; if you’re going to ruin it for everyone and make it so that I stop sharing these designs, stealing them for your own ends is a good way to do that.

Just to make it explicit: my designs are under my copyright and are provided for personal noncommercial use only.  So, going forward, here’s what my policy is:

  • You are free to download, print, copy, and modify any design I make and post on my blog to use in your own magical workings, public or private.
  • You are free to redistribute without cost these designs while giving due credit for the design to me or my blog.  A link would suffice.  Heck, if you want to pass out my business cards to other people in the flesh, lemme know and I’ll send you a pack!
  • You may not redistribute these designs without linking to my blog or attributing me (polyphanes) as the creator of the design.  Hey, if crazy armageddon-minded conspiracy-theoried Christian bloggers can do that to defame me and my vocation, you can, too!
  • You may not redistribute, replicate, or use these designs in any publication, physical or electronic, without my permission.  This excludes blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, and others, of course, but don’t try putting my lamens in a book you’re writing about conjuration without asking whether it’s okay.
  • You may not use my designs to sell in physical or electronic form for commercial gain without my permission.  This includes printing out the lamen designs and consecrating them to sell for others, making resinated pendants, or simply selling sets of the lamens that you yourself print out.  If you have a commercial idea for a product that uses or incorporates my design, ask me whether it’s okay first.
  • If you do not ask me for permission to redistribute, replicate, or use these designs before using them, I will ask you to remove the designs from your work, take down your shop listings, etc. and you will never have permission to use any of my designs publicly for any purpose.
  • If you do not comply with my requests to remove my work from your commercial work, we’re going to have some problems that will be resolved with lawyers.

Now, as a priest and devotee of Hermes, I understand the power of theft and how it may be needed.  I also realize that, from my point of view here on the end of a computer outside of DC, that I’m not omniscient and cannot see the actions of everyone who comes to my blog.  If you’re going to steal my designs for profit, do it smart and off the radar where I can’t see you and where your pictures won’t come up on Google.  If I catch you, you’re done.

Now, if you want me to custom design you something, by all means, contact me!  I’ll make you a design that’s yours and yours alone; my rates are decently priced and fair, and I’m pretty handy with Adobe Illustrator and a pen.  Publishers, I’m talking to you!

And while I’m at it, about my PDF ebooks I sell on my own Etsy page?  Please don’t redistribute them, either.  I haven’t noticed it becoming a problem, and I’d like for it to stay that way, but if I find people sharing my PDFs, I’m going to ask that you stop and take down whatever links or resources you have to share them.  If you’re going to share my work without my permission and if there’s nothing I can do can stop you, then do it in a way that I can’t track, will never know about, and have no means to change.  I have no way to ensure that it doesn’t happen, of course, but I won’t go to the lengths that Fr. Rufus Opus has gone and put a conditional curse on my PDFs that kicks in if you illegally share them, either.  I understand the benefit that a single copied PDF can give.

Really, in the end, just don’t be a douchebag.  Give credit where credit is due.  Ask me whether it’s okay first if you use something.  If you want to see me make more stuff, help support me so I can make more stuff.  Stealing from me is only going to make me annoyed and make it so that I produce less stuff for fewer people.

On Ancient Greek Calendars, Including One You Can Buy!

As some of my readers know, I organize my offerings to the Greek gods, goddesses, and heroes according to a calendar of my own creation, the lunar grammatomantic calendar (lunisolar, really, but that doesn’t really matter when it comes to monthly offerings, so whatever).  By associating each letter of the Greek alphabet with one of the days of the 29-day/30-day lunar month, I not only have a regular cycle to do my letter meditations on, but I also have a way to schedule offerings to the theoi according to what their letter associations are.  For instance, the 13th day of the lunar month is assigned to the Greek letter Lambda, and Lambda is associated with the astrological sign of Virgo according to the rules of stoicheia.  Cornelius Agrippa, based on classical sources, associates the sign of Virgo with the Olympian goddess Demeter (book II, chapter 14).  Thus, I give the 13th day of the lunar month to Demeter, performing offerings and sacrifices to her by reserving that day for her and her closely-associated mythological and divine people.

Now, I admit wholly and fully that this is not a traditional Greek/Hellenic calendar; it’s something I developed on my own for my own use, going back before the invention of mathesis but definitely playing a part in mathetic ritual timing.  I strongly doubt that this sort of calendar was ever used, much less thought of, in ancient times, and I’m okay with that; I never claimed to be a Hellenist to begin with.  Hellenists, i.e. those who follow Greek reconstructionist paganism or Greek neopaganism, typically arrange their monthly rituals and dates according to an actual ancient Greek calendar, specifically the one that we have the most knowledge about, the Attic or Athenian calendar.  Hellenion uses it, and I believe most other Hellenists do, too, especially since this is the one that has the most work done on it to keep it modern and updated.  Now, I don’t live in Athens ancient or modern, and I don’t practice all the same festivals or maintain Athenian practices, and I prefer the completeness of my grammatomantic calendar, so I personally get more out of my own calendar, and the theoi seem to be okay with that.  Your mileage may vary, of course.

It’s convenient to use the Attic calendar, of course, but it’s certainly not representative of all of ancient Greek practice.  Consider the following, at least for my US-based readers: how much would you trust an all-pervading knowledge of different regional customs, local celebrations, and the like of all of the United States of America five hundred years from now based on only the records that survive from Boston?  While you may have plenty to go on for that area of the US, you might not know as clearly what’s done in southern Virginia, Alaska, Texas, Hawai’i, or Puerto Rico.  That’s what it’s like for what we know about everything from ancient Greece; of all the native knowledge, i.e. information on ancient Greece written by ancient Greeks, the vast majority of information and records we have comes from a single city-state, Athens.  We have some records here and there from other major city-states, but when we talk about “ancient Greek culture”, we generally mean “ancient Athenian culture” because nearly all of what we know comes from Athens about Athens written by Athenians for Athenians.  Thus, while we know some about Theban, Spartan, Boeotian, Delphian, Cretan, and other cultures within the broad geographic region known as ancient Greece including all her far-flung colonies across the Aegean and across the Mediterranean, it’s generally scant or written through an Athenian lens.

To learn more about other cultures, specifically their calendrical practices, you could do worse than browse the six-volume work Origines Kalendariæ Hellenicæ by Edward Greswell from the 1860s (volumes one, two, three, four, five, and six), but this is a massive undertaking and quite boring, useful only if you want to know some of the specific legislation, customs, and timing of festivals and rituals among really niche groups.  It’s detailed but dense and hard to read, and there hasn’t been a work like it since it was published.  Instead, I’d like to suggest you check out the fantastic blog of Ruadhán J McElroy, Of Thespiae, a long-time Hellenist who notably doesn’t use the Attic calendar.  Instead, he uses a modernized version of the classical Boeotian calendar, which is notably different from the Athenian calendar in many respects.  In addition, Ruadhán sells PDF copies of the calendar for your easy and convenient reference on his paganism-focused Etsy shop for only US$4.00!  You should totally buy a copy, since this is dirt cheap for a lot of heavy work put into formatting and planning all the Boeotian monthly and yearly festivals for 2015.  I bought a copy, and I’m pleased with what I found.

Why is this important?  Because “ancient Greece” was much, much bigger and much, much more diverse than what our common knowledge would indicate.  As I already mentioned, most of what we know of ancient Greece comes from Athens about Athens and written by Athenians for Athenians, from the dramas to the histories and everything in-between, so having an alternative view from a practitioner about things done a different, yet still reconstructionally valid and legitimate way, is extraordinarily valuable for the growth and further understanding of Hellenic classical religion and modern practice.  Just knowing Athenian religion and making that the default can stymie further research and opportunities for exploration within Hellenic paganism, and as Edward Butler said on Twitter, “regional [traditions] are valuable…Hopefully in the years to come we’ll see more of these regional [traditions], which require high research skills.  Good to support them.”  As Ruadhán is one of these very few people competently researching and practicing alternative and regional traditions within the framework and boundaries of ancient Greece, it’s crucially important for him to be able to continue this research, and what better way than buying what he produces?

So, dear reader, what are you waiting for?  Go buy a copy of Ruadhán’s Boeotian calendar PDF today!