Making a Phylactery

After weighing my options with the different phylacteries from the PGM, I decided to go ahead and put my skills and supplies to good use to make myself a phylactery.  It’s really a simple process, but being a ceremonial magician, I decided to throw in some consecrations for good measure.  Happily, the Key of Solomon is perfect for this, and the consecrations for the relevant materials were short and simple compared to some of the rituals in the texts.  Even though combining renaissance European magic techniques with classical Greco-Egyptian charms may seem odd, the skills and tech involved are so modular and adaptable that they can be used in tandem here neatly.

The materials I used were:

  • Clean paper
  • Ink (I used my recently-finished dragon’s blood ink, which writes out as a warm grey)
  • Dip pen (I used a cheap plastic pen shaft with bowl nib)
  • Incense (I used one stick each of frankincense, cinnamon, and myrrh)
  • Holy water
  • Container (I used a cheap but sturdy metal cylindrical tin, smaller than my palm)
  • Magical oil (I used my Fiery Wall of Protection oil)

The steps I used to create the phylactery were:

  1. Clean out and purify the container from dust, grime, and filth, physical and otherwise.
  2. Consecrate the ink and pen according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 14):

    [Thou shalt take a male gosling, from which thou shalt pluck the third feather of the right wing, and in plucking it thou shalt say:]

    Abray, Habyly, Samay, Tiedonay, Athamas, Seaver, Adonai, banish from this pen all deceit and error, so that it may be of virtue and efficacy to write all that I desire.  Amen.

    [After this thou shalt sharpen it with the quill knife of the art,] perfume it, sprinkle it, and place it aside in a silken cloth.

    Thou shalt have an inkstand made of earth or any convenient matter, and in the day and hour of Mercury thou shalt engrave thereon with the stylus of art these names: Yod He Vau He, Metatron, Iah Iah Iah, Qadosh, Elohim Tzabaoth; and in putting the ink therein thou shalt say:

    I exorcise thee, O creature of ink, by Anaireton, by Simulator, and by the name Adonai, and by the name of him through whom all things were made, that thou be unto me an aid and succor in all things which I wish to perform by thine aid.

  3. Consecrate the paper according to the second method according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 17), using the consecrated ink to draw the characters (this is the same method I used to consecrate the canvas tarp for my Circle of Art):

    …Take any parchment, and exorcise it; prepare a censer with perfumes; write upon the parchment the characters [below], hold it over the incense, and say:

    Be ye present to aid me, and may my operation be accomplished through you: Lazay, Salmay, Dalmay, Adonai, Anereton, Cedrion, Cripon, Prion, Anaireton, Elion, Octinomon, Zevanion, Alazaion, Zideon, Agla, On, Yod He Vau He, Artor, Dinotor, holy angels of God; be present and infuse virtue into this parchment, so that it may obtain such power through you that all names or characters thereon written may receive due power, and that all deceit and hindrance may depart therefrom, through God the Lord merciful and gracious, who liveth and reigneth through all the ages. Amen.

    Then shalt thou recite over the parchment these Psalms:

    • [Ps71=KJV72] Deus iudicium tuum Regi da (Give the king thy judgments, O God)
    • [Ps116=KJV117] Laudate Dominum omnes gentes (O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him)
    • [Ps133=KJV134] Ecce nunc benedicite Dominum (Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye)
    • [Dan3.57] Benedicite Omnia Opera (O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye)

    Then say:

    I conjure thee, o parchment, by all the holy names, that thou obtainest efficacy and strength, and becomest exorcised and consecrated, so that none of the things which may he written upon thee shall be effaced from the Book of Truth.  Amen.

    Then sprinkle it, and keep it as before said.

  4. Bless the paper and prepare it for inscription according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 22), using the conscrated ink to write out the godnames:

    Whensoever in any operation it is necessary to write characters, and thou fearest that thou wilt fail, do this: write at the beginning the name Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, and at the end the name Ain Soph; between these names write what thou wishest, and if thou hast anything especial to do bear the said written names upon the wrapper in silk, and thou shalt say over them:

    Most wise and most high creator of all things, I pray thee for thy pity and mercy that thou mayest grant such virtue and power unto these holy names, that thou mayest keep these characters from all deceit and error, through thee, O most holy Adonai.  Amen.

  5. In a day and hour of Mercury or the Sun, while the Moon is waxing, write out the charm for the phylactery on the consecrated and prepared paper.  I used a more lengthy variant of PGM VII.311-316 with some personal flourishes and touch-ups.  Reading out aloud each word as its written may be suggested, but it may also be just a quirk of my own workings.
  6. Anoint the paper in a five-spot pattern (a spot of oil in each of the four corners and once in the center) with the oil.
  7. Fold or roll up, and store in the container.  Seal as desired.  Clean up as necessary.

Bam, protection charm get.  The consecration of ink, parchment, and paper took maybe half an hour, and was easily done.  Writing out the charm onto the paper was a little more difficult and took half an hour on its own, since my pen kept getting stuck with fibers and resin in the nib, but this may vary depending on how elaborate you want to get with the charm.  It’s just as easy to make a phylactery out of this alone as it is to combine it with other items or charms in a mojo bag or some such object.  Another alternative is to burn it into ash and using the ash to embed in some powder, chalk, vial, or part of a ring or talisman for when that level of compactness is desired; that’s not necessary here, but it’s another viable way of doing it.  I’m still deciding the best way of keeping this kind of talisman active or strong; regular “feeding” or charging isn’t a bad idea, especially under fiery/Martian/Solar forces given the Fiery Wall of Protection oil.  I’m still unclear on where to keep the thing, too; I see pros and cons to keep it on my person at all times, with me in my bag where I generally am, or in my sacred space/altar/home base.

I’ve noticed that, while “looking” at myself, my normal sphere/energy body/aura/astral form got a neat little upgrade from equipping this charm, so to speak.  (Warning: what I’m about to say annoys even me, since it may come off as fluffy or arcanely dramatic, but it’s the best way I can describe it.)  It’s got these single-row “scrolls” of Greek letters across my sphere,in a faint but noticeable red color, slowly rotating around my system on top of my normal shields.  I’m still unclear at their exact effect, but it does apparently seem tied to the phylactery, since they weren’t there before its creation and are there now.  My HGA approves of the result, noting that they won’t last forever without some upkeep, but that the charm is potent enough to serve in combination with the oil I used.

I might have to have a friend or two poke at the recent addition to my sphere and see what happens.  It might just be me going crazy and imagining it (when isn’t that the case when you’re dealing with this stuff?), but it’s certainly a nice thing to have done for myself, you know, “just in case”.  Besides, if the recent vitriol and “religiously tolerant” intolerance keeps getting stronger without a strong smackdown, this might just come in more use than I thought.

A Treasury of Phylacteries

No, not relics of martyrs, if that’s what you’re wondering, though that would be pretty nifty.

At a recent gem show, which had dealers of all kinds of cultures peddling all kinds of wares, shinies, and pretties, I picked up a nifty little container, a small metal canister that fits together snugly and near watertight with a few loops to hold a chain or strap.  It can hold a few small objects, like a charm bag, but since the stall I got it at stocked mostly Tibetan or northern Indian things, I figure it’s a scroll canister.  I’m making use of it by tying a strap through the loops to keep it shut and to affix it to my person when I’m, say, traveling or on an adventure (which happen tolerably enough for me), and filling it with a few protective scrolls of my own.  Traditionally, these are called phylacteries, protective talismans that ward physical and spiritual harm from their bearers.  A similar thing is still done by orthodox Jews using tefillin, boxes containing sections from the Torah.

I’m currently in the process of making a potent ink: it’s a dragon’s blood ink that uses frankincense and copal resins and Abramelin oil, consecrated according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 14), and mixed with a simple fluid condenser (chamomile extract and gold tincture).  It’s coming out a warm grey color, which I’m okay with, since I’m using the scrolls more for magical protection instead of artistic legibility (though that would also be nice).  This powerful ink will be used with a special pen and paper, also prepared according to the Key of Solomon, for the scrolls that I’m going to use for my phylactery.

As for the scrolls themselves, I’m considering at least two scrolls to go in this little phylactery tin: a copy of the Headless Rite written in Greek and anointed with Abramelin oil, and a phylactery text consisting of voces magicae and characteres from the PGM anointed with Fiery Wall of Protection oil.  The PGM has a huge selection of phylacteries available for the student, so I went through and got a list of some of the more complete ones from the index given in Betz’s edition.  Unless otherwise noted, they’re likely to be written down on paper or a lamen and kept with yourself for protection, though some are meant to be spoken aloud.  I’m using Romanized Greek text, so keep in mind that “TH” means theta, “Ē” means eta, and so forth.

  1. PGM IV.86-87, against demons or for one possessed by a demon: “HOMENOS OHK KOURIEL IAPHĒL, deliver (add the usual) EHENPEROOU BARBARCHAOUCHE”
  2. PGM VII.218-221, against daily fevers with shivering fits: “IAŌ SABAŌTH ADŌNAI AKRAMMACHAMAREI”, repeat subtracting the first letter of the previous line (AŌ SABAŌTH… then Ō SABAŌOTH…, then SABAŌTH…, etc.) followed by “ABRASAX”.
  3. PGM VII.311-316: “IAŌ SABAŌTH ADONAI ABLANATHANALBA AKRAMMACHAMAREI SESENGENBARPHARANGES PEEPHRAZAŌTH ZŌTH MENE BAINCHŌŌŌCH, protect (name) whom (mother) bore from any violence both by a frightful dream and by all demons of the air.  I conjure you by the great famous name ABRAHAM EMEINA AEOUBAŌTH BAITHŌ BES IA IABAŌTH AGRAMAKRAMARI PSINŌTH BER ŌŌN IASŌP BARPHARANGĒS PNOUTE (add the usual, whatever you wish).” Note that there’s a lacuna in the text: “IASŌP B…PNOUTE”.  I added in “BARPHARANGĒS” here because it felt proper.  Substitute with another word or string of words that start with Bēta as you might feel appropriate.
  4. PGM VII.317-318, to be said to the moon: “ACHTIŌPHIPH ERESCHIGAL NEBOUGOSOUALĒTH SATHŌTH SABAŌTH SABRŌTH (add the usual, whatever you wish).”  This is the basis for my full moon ritual, by the way.
  5. PGM VII.579-596, to protect against demons, phantasms, sickness, and suffering; to be written on gold or silver or hieratic papyrus: “KMĒPHIS CHPHYRIS IAEŌ IAŌ AEĒ IAŌ OŌ AIŌN IAEŌBAPHRENE MOUNOTHILARIKRIPHIAE Y EAIPHIRKIRALITHANYOMENERPHABŌEAI”, followed by a series of characteres and the injunction “Protect my body and the entire soul of me, (name) (add the usual)”.  Write in the center of an ouroboros itself lined with the words “TARĒOĒĒNOUPNIBRINIASĒNŌPHEIBRINOKYLĒAIA OBZTHBABAIMENE ŌĒOPIOBM MOĒAŌPHI”.
  6. PGM LXXI.1-8: “Great god in heaven revolving the world, the true god, IAŌ! Lord, ruler of all, ABLANATHANALBA, grant me this thing, grant me this favor: let me have the name of the great god in this phylactery, and protect me from every evil thing, protect me who is (name) whom (mother) bore, (mother) begot!”
  7. PGM LXXXIX.1-27, adapted from the original, possibly meant to be spoken aloud: “I, Abrasax, shall deliver!  Abrasax am I!  ABRASAX ABRASICHŌOU, help NN.! Get hold of and do away with what evil comes to (name)!  Whether it is a shivering fit, get hold of it!  Whether a phantom, get hold of it! Whether a daimon, get hold of it!  I Abrasax shall deliver.  Abrasax am !  ABRASAX ABRASICHŌOU, get hold of and do away with the plague and pest afflicting (name), that which comes to (name) on this very day!  Whatever it may be, do away with it!”

What about you?  Do you have any special protective charms that’d fit in this tradition, any written charms or scrolls you use?  In this case, something like the Benedictine Vade Retro or Medal of St. Benedict works well, too:

Crux Sanctum sit mihi lux / Non draco sit mihi dux
Vade retro Satana / Numquam suade mihi vana
Sunt malae quae libas / Ipse venena bibas

May the Holy Cross be my light / May not the dragon be my guide
Go back, Satan / Ne’er tempt me with vanities
What you offer is evil / You yourself drink the poisons