The Invocations of the Seven Temples

In my quest to further develop and refine my own spiritual practices, especially when it comes to prayers, I often turn to the practices of the great religions and disciplines that have gone before me, even if I myself don’t belong to them.  Not that this is an uncommon thing, whether for myself or for any other number of mages or spiritual people, of course, but there is a level of finesse that has to go along with this to avoid outright appropriation of practices or the misleading of myself into particular theological issues that I would rather happily avoid.  Sometimes it’s a simple matter of just tweaking the words slightly, and sometimes a more challenging matter of closely inspecting the actual theological, cosmological, or philosophical underpinnings that allow the prayer to manifest and blossom into sincere spiritual working.

There are three main influences going on here with these prayers:

  1. The `ad’iyah of the Seven Haykal.
  2. The `ad’iyah of Ṭawaf, the seven circumambulations around the Ka’bah at Hajj.
  3. Names of Allah associated with the seven planetary spheres from the Shams al-Ma`arif and similar resources.

It’s from that first influence, that of the Seven Haykal, that this prayer practice of mine takes its name; haykal (هيكل‎) means “temple” or “sanctuary”, from Hebrew hekhal (היכל‎) meaning “temple”, and originally referred to the main building of the Holy Temple of Solomon, but could also be taken to refer to palaces in other contexts.  In Arabic, the term can also refer to the body or form of something, especially when it comes to the human body; in similar senses, Bahá’í uses this word to refer to the body of the Manifestations (messengers) of God.  For our contexts and purposes, though, we’ll interpret haykal as the seven directions relative to oneself, all of which culminate in creating one grand manifestation of holiness and sanctuary.  Each of the seven “temples”, in this context, has its own separate invocation.

The First Invocation:

O God, you who are the Propitious One! Nothing can happen, o Lord, except according to your Word; all things happen, o Lord, according to your Word. I call on you by your name, by which all the seas and all the lands have been created! I call on you by your name, by which all of the Heavens shake! I call on you by your name, by which all your angels tremble! I call on you by your name, by which the prayers of holier men than me have been accepted and to whom you have given your love and mercy! I call on you by your name, by which your prophets have been purified and ennobled, by which you send your blessings and peace upon them, and by which all those who follow them may learn to follow in their ways to you! Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Generous.

The Second Invocation:

O God, you who are the Forbearing One! It is you, o Lord, who created the Heavens and all within them; it is you, o Lord, who created the Earth and all upon it. I commit endless errors and bear endless faults, but with you are endless blessing and endless relief. Help me, o Lord, that I might bring an end to my error; help me, o Lord, that I might lighten the burden of my faults. You have heard and granted the pleas of your most despised creatures for relief and peace; so too, o Lord, even if I am no better than them, grant my pleas for relief and peace. Bless me, o Lord, with what you give me, and make my heart content with it. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the All-Knowing.

The Third Invocation:

O God, you who are the Vigilant One! Whatever evil hurts us, o Lord, none but you can remove it; whatever good helps us, o Lord, none but you can repel it. I am your servant, utterly dependent on you, fearful for my soul, who takes refuge in you; grant me fortitude in my body and assurance in myself. I am your ward, a poor seeker of succor at your gate; grant me, o Merciful God, entry into your kingdom! Yours is a holy house and an eternal sanctuary, into which those who turn to you might enter for refuge. Save me, o Lord, and take me into your house, that I and all those before me, after me, and with me might be saved from the torments that I risk with every breath and every step. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Holy.

The Fourth Invocation:

O God, you who are the Truthful One! Whatever you bestow, o Lord, none can take away; whatever you take away, o Lord, none can bestow. Lord, guide your people to you, and keep all evil away from those who turn to you. Lord, grant us your blessing on Earth and in Heaven, and save us from the torments we face. Yours is a holy house and an eternal sanctuary, and it is here that I seek to stay and take refuge from the torments that chase me and the torments I bring upon myself. All blessing, relief, and well-being come from you; grant it upon me and all those before me, after me, and with me! Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Exalted.

The Fifth Invocation:

O God, you who are the Powerful One! There is nothing and no one on Earth or in Heaven, o Lord, that you do not know; all things that exist and live on Earth or in Heaven, o Lord, are known to you. Grant me life, light, and goodness by your mercy; grant me refuge from my torment by your mercy; grant me healing from disease by your mercy; grant me protection from harm by your mercy! By your mercy, unending and eternal, enlarge my bounty and blessings for me, and keep me safe from the evil of corrupt men and corrupting spirits. Lord, I know that my work is meager; multiply it and help me multiply it. Help me so that all that I am, all that I have, and all that I do might be made worthy to you and be accepted as an offering before your Throne. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Almighty.

The Sixth Invocation:

O God, you who are the Reckoning One! There is nothing on Earth or in Heaven, o Lord, that does not depend on you; all things on Earth and in Heaven, o Lord, utterly depends on you. Praise be to you, from this one who gives this prayer to you! Praise be to you, from all those who have ever honored and exalted you! Praise be to you, who has sent forth the angels to teach the prophets! Praise be to you, who has sent forth the prophets to teach all humanity! Lord, I know that my work is meager; multiply it and help me multiply it. Help me that whatever crimes I conceal be forgiven, whatever errors I make be corrected, and whatever flaws I possess be repaired. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Merciful.

The Seventh Invocation:

O God, you who are the Unique One! There is no might nor power except in you, o Lord; all my trust and faith is put in you, o Lord. Owner of well-being, creator of well-being, keeper of well-being, granter of well-being! You who give well-being to me and all your creatures! You, merciful on Earth and in Heaven, compassionate of all who turn to you! Send your peace and blessing upon all those who have gone before me, and send your peace and blessing upon me and all who walk with me, that we might have well-being now and always, that we might give thanks for well-being, and that we might always praise and glorify you and your mercy. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the All-Aware.

All seven invocations are to be used as one overall prayer done in succession, interspersed by a physical gesture of blowing breath in a particular direction.  Based on the instructions for reciting the Seven Haykals supplication, I follow the following process:

  1. Open up with my customary invocations and prayer to the Divine.
  2. Recite the first invocation.
  3. Cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, extending your hands forward and extending your breath mentally forward into the distance.
  4. Recite the second invocation.
  5. Cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands behind your head and extending your breath mentally behind you into the distance.
  6. Recite the third invocation.
  7. Look upwards, cup your hands together in front of your face, breathe out into them, moving your hands upward and extending your breath mentally above you into the skies.  Return your posture to face forward.
  8. Recite the fourth invocation.
  9. Look downwards, cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands downward and extending your breath mentally down into the Earth.  Return your posture to face forward.
  10. Recite the fifth invocation.
  11. Look to your right, cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands to your right (extending your left hand across your chest to the right and your right hand out fully) and extending your breath mentally behind you into the distance.  Return your posture to face forward.
  12. Recite the sixth invocation.
  13. Look to your left, cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands to your left (extending your right hand across your chest to the left and your left hand out fully) and extending your breath mentally behind you into the distance.  Return your posture to face forward.
  14. Recite the seventh invocation.
  15. Cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, passing your breath over your body from your head down to your feet, filling your own sphere with your breath mentally.
  16. Prostrate, and recite “Amen”.

In the course of this prayer, what I end up doing is filling each of the seven relative directions (the six directions of before, behind, above, below, left, right, and and the seventh direction of within) with holy breath, letting my breath carry my prayers to each of the directions so that each direction I face is a sanctuary of its own, all culminating in myself becoming the final sanctuary.  The overall effect of this prayer practice, I find, is that it relatively quickly, quietly, and simply produces an atmosphere of holiness and peace.  This has a number of benefits, to be sure, but in this light, using this as a way to quickly sanctify an area for spiritual works or to prepare such a space for more profound spiritual works is something I’ve settled on, almost as a framing ritual unto itself, in addition to when I myself feel that I need that extra bit of holy peace.  Even without such a purpose in mind, this prayer practice is a beautiful series of meditations and supplications to the Divine to seek and establish peace, well-being, and holiness in the lives we lead.

Although I based these prayers on those of the original two sets of Islamic supplications noted above, I did shuffle, mix, and reorder them.  There’s a subtle order present in the original invocations, but I decided to use a different order for these, and changed the order and presence of particular bits of prayer accordingly.   The first six invocations can be thought of instead as three pairs, with the first and second prayer sharing a similarity of structure and context, as well as the third and fourth, as well as the fifth and sixth.  This ties into the mirrored effect of the breaths one takes to sanctify that direction; as a result, the seventh and final invocation stands alone, as the Divine Center has no opposite once all the other directions have been taken into account.  Because these are all relative prayers, no direction needs be used as an orientation or anchoring point; you can face East or North or another direction of sacred import for you as you might like or prefer, and if you have such a direction to face then you certainly should, but the practice given above will produce a power of holiness in each of the directions around you anyway.  In this way, the names and attributes of God that are here given, based on the Islamic tradition, are arranged in a way that echoes a planetary structure not unlike that of my Geomancer’s Cross:

  1. Fore: Sun
  2. Rear: Moon
  3. Above: Jupiter
  4. Below: Saturn
  5. Right: Mars
  6. Left: Venus
  7. Center: Mercury

Of course, even with this, this is more of a hint of planetary flavor without being anything too blatant or stiff.  It’s a useful framework, but those who would prefer to use a different arrangement of the planets for the seven directions (e.g. the Calling of the Sevenths from the Heptagram Rite) can simply shuffle the initial and final names and attributes of God accordingly for the seven directions, such that the first one (Moon in East) is given the names “Forbearing One” and “All-Knowing”, the second one (Mercury in North) is given the names “Unique One” and “All-Aware”, and so forth.  However, given that this series of invocations seeks to establish holiness and sanctuary right where one is, I figure a more microcosmic than macrocosmic approach is needed here, hence the Geomancer’s Cross framework for arranging the planets to these ways.

It’s true that my current prayer practices are diverging more from an Abrahamic background and more into a theistic Hermetic one, but there’s so much fantastic and powerful ritual tech in the various Abrahamic traditions, especially those that have mystical or devout expressions of single-pointed holiness that isn’t limited to any one use case, really.  Besides, the beauty in such practices alone attests to their value, as beauty is truth and truth is power—even the Corpus Hermeticum agrees on that.  Although some might find the echoes of Islam and Abrahamism in the above to be still too clear and thus dissuading, I find that the beauty that rings in them is a powerful and clarion bell calling my heart to prayer, and just as the clear tone of a clear bell clears the airs, so too do these seven invocations with holy, intentful breath clear a place for even holier works to ensue.  Give it a shot sometime, dear reader; you might find this is a beautiful practice of power for yourself.

And yes, the prayer is already up in the menu for ease of reference: Prayers → The Invocations of the Seven Temples

Sum of their Parts: The Planetary Syntheses of the Geomantic Figures

I don’t make as much of a practice of meditating on the geomantic figures as I sometimes feel I should.  It’s an important practice, I think, that really opens up some truly amazing doors in the understanding of the geomancer to not just get an intellectual feel for these sixteen symbols of elemental presence or absence, of elemental action, reaction, and interaction, but also to get a truly profound, soul-touching understanding of them.  This is crucially important, I claim, for any new geomancer: perhaps even before studying the techniques of geomancy (which are pretty straightforward, really), they should make an effort to truly learn what the figures are, not just what they mean or stand for through rote memorization of correspondence lists or the like.  In doing so, we learn more about the figures and how they play out in the world around us.

Back during January, during some of my usual daily prayers, the thought arose to me that maybe I shouldn’t just be meditating on the figures more often than once a year or so, but also to simply consider newer and other ways to understand them. After all, we have all these mathematical ways of understanding the figures, the various operations that can be applied to a figure to transform it into another, but one of the most important for us is addition: the process of taking two figures and combining them mathematically to form a third.  This is the fundamental technique that allows us to come up with the Nieces from the Mothers or Daughters, the Witnesses from the Nieces, the Judge from the Witnesses, and the Sentence from the Judge and First Mother.  The process of addition can be interpreted in one of three ways:

  • Us + Them = Interaction
  • Start + End = Transition
  • Factor + Context = Conclusion

In all cases, what addition shows us is what happens when you add the symbolism of one figure to the symbolism of another.  For instance, consider the two figures Puer + Laetitia = Acquisitio.  What could this mean?  Well, let’s consider it according to the three models of addition above:

  • (Us + Them = Interaction) Our youthful energy, drive, and brazenness is faced with a happy time and people more than happy to uplift us and support us.  The combination of like minds, with the enthusiasm of Puer on our side combined with the optimism of Laetitia on the other, yields great gain for us all.  However, that gain is only incidental; what matters more is finding people willing to help us as we need to, so that we’re not the only ones striving for something.
  • (Start + End = Transition) A stoked start to matters, full of energy and gumption and not a small amount of willingness to step on toes to get our way, is going to indeed get our way and find everything that we seek.  It’s this very nature of winning, when all we want to do is win, that will get us to a state of true happiness and bliss.  Money isn’t what matters, but it certainly helps us in our overall goals to celebrate the goodness that life has in store for us.
  • (Factor + Context = Conclusion) Put a bull in a china shop, and you can expect things to get broken.  However, put a bull in a lush field full of other happy cows, and you can expect the bull to be in a happy place, indeed, doing what bulls naturally want to do: eat, sleep, and procreate.  When a huge bundle of energy like yourself is put in a situation where it’s own heat and drive is redirected and put to useful ways, all that energy you have goes to natural, proper ends that just works well for everyone in the end, so long as that energy is allowed to do what it naturally needs and wants to do.

With addition, we can expand our notions of 16 geomantic figures to 256 geomantic processes, each of which can be interpreted along the three models above, all of which touch on the same core idea but which can be phrased in different ways appropriate to different models of understanding or different situations in which they appear.  This is where the complexity of geomancy truly lies, I feel, and the only way to really navigate these complexities is through having a profound, intuitive understanding of the figures, which only comes about through study, contemplation, and meditation.

To be fair, not all such study, contemplation, and meditation needs to be done sitting on a mat and pathworking or scrying the figures.  Sometimes we can take a more logical or synthetic approach as opposed to a mystical one which itself can yield a fertile ground for further meditation, and today, I want to take a new twist on that.  We know that addition is an important operation in geomancy that can yield not just new figures but also new understandings of the figures, but we also know that there are 16 figures, which can be reasonably broken down into eight pairs of figures, each pair relating to one of the planets (Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Nodes).  If there’s a pair, then there can be addition:

Planet First Figure Second Figure Synthesis Figure
Moon Populus Via Via
Mercury Albus Coniunctio Rubeus
Venus Puella Amissio Tristitia
Sun Fortuna Maior Fortuna Minor Via
Mars Puer Rubeus Carcer
Jupiter Acquisitio Laetitia Puer
Saturn Tristitia Carcer Laetitia
Nodes Caput Draconis Cauda Dracions Carcer

What we have here is a table of what happens, what figures result when you add the two figures belonging to the same planet together.  Thus, consider the two figures of Mercury, Albus and Coniunctio.  If you add them together, you get the figure Rubeus.  What might this mean symbolically, not just for the figures of Mercury but for a geomantic understanding of Mercury itself?  Remember that the addition of figures shows us what the core themes of interaction, transition, and conclusion are between two forces, but in this case, we’re taking the two sides of each planet and seeing what happens when we synthesize them together.

There are a few observations we can make right off the bat:

  • In all cases except for the figures of the Moon, the synthesis figure is both a different figure than either the original figures and also belongs to a different planet than the planet that the original figures belonged to (Jupiter in the case of the figures of Saturn, Mars in the case of Jupiter, etc.).
  • Two figures are repeated among the synthesis figures: Carcer (formed from both the figures of the Nodes as well as the figures of Mars) and Via (figures of the Sun and figures of the Moon).  Mathematically, this is because these are the only planets whose two figures are inverses of each other, and Via can only result when you add inverses.  This suggests that only the figures of the Moon and the Sun are truly opposites of each other and reflect two totally distinct sides of each planet; all the other planets share something in common and show different themes without being complete opposites.
  • The synthesis figures are always going to belong to the Moon (Via), Mars (Puer or Rubeus), Jupiter (Laetitia), or Saturn (Carcer or Tristitia).  Mercury, Venus, and the Sun do not appear at all in this mix.  This is an interesting contrast to the Judges that can result from a geomantic chart, where only Mars is unrepresented as a Judge.
  • Saturn has a plurality of synthesis figures with three out of eight, Mars has two, the Moon has two, and Jupiter has one.  This is another interesting contrast to the number of figures belonging to the planets for the possible Judges that can form in a chart: the Moon has two possible Judges, the Sun has two, Mercury has one, Venus has one, Jupiter has one, and Saturn has one, with Mars having none at all.
  • Three of the four pure-elemental figures (Laetitia, Rubeus, and Tristitia) are present among the synthesis figures, but Albus is left out, the figure of pure Water.  Coincidentally, we have the inverse of Albus, Puer, as the synthesis of Jupiter, the figure that has everything but water.  In fact, with the exception of Via, all the planetary synthesis figures lack Water entirely as an element.

What we’re building up to is an understanding of a geomantic understanding of the planets (including the pair of Nodes together as a “planet” in its own right, at least for the sake of the model here) by seeing what happens when we add—synthesize—the two figures of a planet.  As opposed to simply looking at the different way a planet can express its energy, what we’re arriving at is a geomantic symbol of the core nature or tension of that planet, and how that nature relates to other planets as well.

With that in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into this and see how this plays out for each pair.  While I’m sure there’s more to be said than just a simple paragraph about each synthesis pair, this should be enough to get started for the sake of contemplation and meditation on the figures.  Note that the focus here is on the synthesis figure, irrespective of the order in which the synthesis takes place (e.g. Albus + Coniunctio and Coniunctio + Albus both add up to Rubeus equally).

Moon: Populus + Via = Via

This one is almost too easy, given that this is the only synthesis of planetary figures that yields a figure of the same planet as its components.  However, we should consider why that synthesis figure is Via and not Populus.  Via is the figure of change, and that is fundamentally the nature of the Moon: the Moon is in a constant state of flux, never appearing the same from one night to the next in its raw appearance.  As the fastest of the seven planets, the Moon constantly shifts between signs and lunar mansions on a scale completely beyond all the other planets, which is why the Moon symbolically has her planetary joy in House III.  However, more than that, Via is the one figure that has all four elements present and active; in astrology and astrological magic, the Moon is the planet that gathers up the light of all the other planets and can act as a stand-in for any other planet as necessary.  As the lowest of the planets, the Moon is also the closest planet to Earth, the realm of totally manifested reality, and thus the Moon is closest to the realm of the elements themselves.  In this light, Via is almost boringly obvious as the figure that relates to the essence of the Moon.

Mercury: Albus + Coniunctio = Rubeus

I suppose it’s super fitting, given that Mercury is generally considered a mutable planet harmonious with the element of Air, that the two Mercurial figures of Albus and Coniunctio add to form the figure whose sole active element is Air: Rubeus.  However, Rubeus is generally a hot and dangerous figure, one of deceit, treachery, lies, theft, and confusion—but are these not also things that trickster Mercury is known for?  We praise Mercury as being the planet of communication and commerce, travel and trade, language and science, and all this is true, but if a planet can bestow something, it can just as easily corrupt or deny those things, too: if Mercury grants a strong mind, it can also grant a weak or debilitated mind, or one that’s so strong that it becomes a deadly weapon in its own right (cf. “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and spilled ink can lead to spilled blood).  Further, we should never ignore the mythological aspects here of Hermēs being the slayer of Argos, in some myths by beheading with a golden sword, in others by bludgeoning with a rock, through with a scheme of trickery and plotting involved in such a thing, and ultimately to rescue (steal) Iō from Hēra.  If Albus is the mind at its most refined and noble, then Rubeus is the mind at its most raw and corrupt; it’s perhaps a good thing that Hermēs is the messenger of the gods acting on their behest rather than his own, since if Hermēs were to take his power into his own hands rather than using it on behalf of Zeus and the other gods, as the Homeric Hymn to Hermēs suggests, his greatest inclination is to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, and hoodwink all others endlessly for his own selfish gain.  We should remember that the mind is not just a tool but a power unto itself, and without harnessing that power and refining it through wisdom and morality, that power will serve itself more than anything else in ways that are cruel, crude, despicable, and destructive.

Venus: Puella + Amissio = Tristitia

Now this is an odd one: the figures of Venus add up to the figure of Saturn, Sorrow.  Off the bat, my first thought is that Saturn has its exaltation in Libra, a sign of Venus, but that’s not saying much about why Tristitia would be the synthesis figure for Venus.  There is also the notion that, to me at least, I associate Venus most strongly with the element of Water, and each of the elements has a particular motion associated with it: Air expands and Earth contracts, Fire goes upward and Water goes downward—and Tristitia is a figure of downwards motion, yet that too doesn’t seem to hit on the connection here all that well.  There’s something about the raw, simple power of pure Earth that turns the volatile passion of Amissio into the stabilized harmony of Puella: the feeling of having enough, the knowledge that everything is going to be alright, the blessing of experience and memory, the ability to dull or blunt emotional pain (whether one’s own or that of another).  All of these things are Earthy, sure, but none of these things strike me as Sorrowful.  But there is something here: all these things come about as the result of labor.  The fields and the forest may be abundant and fruitful, sure, but what good is all of that if you do not toil in the fields to ensure a harvest, or wander in the fields risking cuts and bites to pluck berries and mushrooms?  Venus, in all its splendor, is not a planet known for its labor, but there is a deeper, more profound labor going on behind the pretty face, whether done up for a night out or marred by tears from a bad night: there’s a profound emotional labor going on, either in the process of it that causes emotional volatility or as a result of it that produces emotional stability.  Venus, as a primary symbol of femininity, is also a symbol of childbirth, and how arduous and painful can that be, filled with tears and groans and moaning?  Tristitia is a profound figure that makes things alright in the end, but the process of that can be hard and long—but always results in pleasure, once the clouds clear from the skies.

Sun: Fortuna Maior + Fortuna Minor = Via

The other synthesis pair of figures that yield Via, it’s somewhat surprising to find that the figures of the Sun synthesize into a figure of the Moon.  After all, if Via is all about change, what do we make of this since we know the Sun to be a symbol of perfection and eternity itself?  We should still remember that even if the Sun itself is perfect and timeless, how the Sun relates to the Earth is not: the Sun rises and sets and itself marks the most fundamental change in the world, that of the day-night cycle, as well as that of the seasonal cycle as the Sun gradually moves above and below the celestial equator along the ecliptic.  Heck, think of the neopagan concept of the Wheel of the Year that discusses the various solar events of solstices, equinoxes, and zodiacal midpoints and how this tells an agricultural story of the birth, growth, triumph, fall, death, and rebirth of the Sun.  We should also note the reference in PGM XII.201ff (the Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual) to “yours is the processional way of Heaven”, referring most likely to the starry road of the ecliptic—and what is Via if not literally a road?  Rather than Via indicating change itself as it does for the Moon, for the Sun, Via instead indicates the process of change rather than the thing that undergoes change: while the roads we take in life take their toll, the roads themselves remain themselves and do not themselves go anywhere.  So too does the Sun show the road that we take, season in and season out, year in and year out, and even though the Sun will always remain the Sun, we constantly change as we follow the Sun throughout the times of life.

Mars: Puer + Rubeus = Carcer

The first of two synthesis pairs that yield Carcer, this pair of the figures of Mars shows a bold hero facing the endlessly tumultuous battle, the stoic soldier fighting against a raving berserker.  The notion of Carcer here is that of being locked into battle, a constant and neverending struggle of violence from which one cannot escape.  This is the figure that demonstrates the endless drive to break through and break free despite the utter impossibility of doing so (cf. the prisoner unfairly imprisoned who constantly plots and works their way out of prison) as well as the endless anger and frustration of trying to break free from that which binds oneself: we shouldn’t forget that Fire is present in Carcer, too, after all!  On top of this, Carcer is the figure of separation, which is the crucial action of Mars: the fundamental purpose of a blade is to cut, which divides one thing from another (whether a rope bridge spanning a chasm or the blood from its body).  In struggle, Mars separates one person/side/thing from another, yet the person/side/thing that is separated from the other will always be locked into a struggle with it, whether the struggle of imprisonment, of war, or of life and death itself.  While we might consider Puer to be a sword and Rubeus a battleaxe, Carcer would then be a sort of shield, another thing that cuts off one from another without doing much to resolve that separation.

Jupiter: Acquisitio + Laetitia = Puer

Now this is a fun one: the two Jovial figures adding up to a Martial one.  Why should two otherwise beneficial figures that lead to happiness—material and financial on the one hand, emotional and spiritual on the other—lead to something that so easily ruins happiness?  Crucially, there’s always too much of a good thing, and if any planet exemplifies the idea of “too much”, it’s Jupiter.  Jupiter is the planet of expansion, but to expand requires force, and Zeus, as king of Olympos, has all the force in the world to wield, whether for weal or for woe: there is nothing that can withstand the might of Zeus.  More than that, when we have good things, we want more good things, and that want, if not tempered by wisdom, can become a corruption of them, as acid (a Martian thing!) dissolves lesser metals.  Acquisitio’s desire for wealth can become insatiable greed, and Laetitia’s desire for hope and success can become reckless daring.  Jupiter is pure power, and that power is to make things more Jupiter through force, one way or another.  After all, how often do kings and rulers in our own world resort to the application of force, oftentimes brutal, whether against their own people or others, in order to satisfy their needs for resources, space, or the fulfillment of their state’s ambitions?  If the nature of a king is to rule, then the underlying ability that allows that king to rule is the application of force.

Saturn: Tristitia + Carcer = Laetitia

Just as it’s somewhat surprising to find that the figures of the Sun yield a figure of the Moon, it’s also weird to see the figures of Saturn synthesizing into a figure of Jupiter, doubly so since Laetitia is the reverse of Tristitia.  Structurally speaking, this synthesis is a lot like what’s going on with the Mercurial figures (an axial figure plus a pure elemental figure), and in that light, seeing how we took a heavily mythological twist to that analysis, perhaps it’s fitting to bring up that Kronos was once a benevolent, almost Jovial king during the Golden Age when humanity “lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them…”.  It is true that Saturn is the planet is melancholy, depression, toil, labor, old age, decrepitude, and the like, but that’s just its effects from our side: consider that once you strip away everything else that is unessential baggage (a la one’s Saturn return), that which remains is the pure essence of the thing, and this itself is freedom and a kind of joy unto itself, a revealing of truth from the deception of incarnation.  Plus, Saturn is the highest of the planets in the heavens, and Laetitia is the figure of upwards motion, indicating Saturn’s top position above all, closest to Divinity and showing the way to true joy where old age and death no longer have any power or presence.  The way to such a destination is fraught with endless problems and terrible toil, just as the course of the afterlife in Egyptian thought through the Duat, but so long as you hold true to the course and can survive everything thrown at you, your ultimate destination is a place of eternal joy, not of emotion but beyond all emotion.

Nodes: Caput Draconis + Cauda Draconis = Carcer

The second of two synthesis pairs that yield Carcer, the two figures of the lunar nodes here don’t show the struggle and separation side of Carcer, but rather show the other aspect of this figure as a cycle.  Consider the ouroboros, the symbol of eternity of the snake swallowing its tail, an apt symbol for the combination of the Head and Tail of the Dragon: the cycle of beginning and ending is an eternal one, for when one thing ends, another must begin, and where one thing begins, another must have ended.  This is the eternal cycle of creation and destruction, the cycle of life and death itself, the cycle of saṃsāra into which we are constantly born time and time again whether as reincarnation or as rebirth.  The only way to break out of the prison of the world is to break the world itself; the only way to escape creation is to cease being created and to cease participating in creation entirely.  After all, in many religions and cosmologies, the world has a fundamental start point and a fundamental end point, but these are often outside time itself.  In this, Carcer represents not just the cyclical creation/destruction of the cosmos, but also the walls that separate that which is inside creation from that which outside it entirely; this is the dragon in the ninth heaven, above the fixed stars themselves within creation but still below the domain of God outside creation.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Planetary Stuff on the Table

Where were we?  We’re in the middle of discussing the early modern conjuration ritual The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC), attributed to the good abbot of Spanheim, Johannes Trithemius, but which was more likely invented or plagiarized from another more recent source by Francis Barrett in his 1801 work The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer.  Many who are familiar with it either read it directly from Esoteric Archives, came by it through Fr. Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) in either his Red Work series of courses (RWC) or his book Seven Spheres (SS), or came by it through Fr. Ashen Chassan in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (Fr. AC and GTSC, respectively).  I’ve been reviewing the tools, techniques, and technology of DSIC for my own purposes as well as to ascertain the general use and style used by other magician in the real world today, and right now, we’re in the middle of focusing on the Table of Practice and how DSIC instructs the table and pedestal to be made.  Last time, we bit into one of the biggest debates about different approaches to the DSIC, namely whether to use the names of the Four Kings of the Earth (Oriens, Paimon, Egyn, Amaymon) or the names of the Four Archngels (Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel); many grimoire-purists and demon-workers argue for the former, while Fr. RO, Fr. Acher, and a number of others argue for the latter or for either or.  But we’re moving on now to keep the discussion moving; if you need a refresher, go read the last post!

Now that we have the debacle-debate about the four kings out of the way, let’s move on with the rest of the table.  We know from the description given in DSIC that the table needs to have the following on it:

…on the table on which the crystal stands the following names, characters, &c. must be drawn in order.

First, The names of the seven planets and angels ruling them, with their seals or characters. The names of the four kings of the four corners of the earth. Let them be all written within a double circle, with a triangle on a table; on which place the crystal on its pedestal: this being done, thy table is complete (as in the Fig. D,) and fit for the calling of the spirits…

With the four kings understood, and the debate about the pros and cons about using the four archangels instead of the four kings, what about the planetary stuff?  DSIC says to draw “the names of the seven planets and angels ruling them, with their seals or characters”.  That’s…quite a lot of stuff, actually.  According to the text, we need the name of the planet, the name of the angel ruling the planet, and then…well, what exactly do we mean by “their seals or characters”?  Do we mean the seals of the angels, the seals of the planet, or both?  The most common form of table that we see, as seen from Fr. RO’s versions above, use only the glyph for the planet (viz. the ones we most commonly see as a representation of them in astrological charts and texts) and the names of the planetary angels, with no other characters or names present.  We see this in the majority of Tables of Practice with some variants, such as the Magian-script one from the Scribbler, another version made by Fr. FC, and many that are commonly made and sold on Etsy

However, Fr. AC, as usual, goes a bit further.  GTSC gives the following for each planet:

  • the glyph of the planet
  • the name of the planet
  • the name of the angel
  • the seal of the angel

GTSC separates these four elements with middle dots (·), and separates groups of these elements with colons (:).  I like that design choice of separation, but I want to call into question his choice of characters here.  Though it’s a little hard to see, an image of how he sets up his table (along with the pedestal) is up on one of his old blog’s posts:

I find it incredibly odd that GTSC uses only the genitive forms of the Latin names instead of the nominative (e.g. Saturni instead of Saturnus, “of Saturn” instead of just “Saturn”).  Maybe this is due to a result of a poor understanding of Latin on Fr. AC’s part? I mean, it could be read as e.g. “Saturni Cassiel” translating to “Cassiel of Saturn”, but the use of the separator dot would seem to break that construction.  I think Fr. AC made a mistake here: he says he likes the “old spelling” of the planets, but that would properly imply using the nominative case here, just as we wouldn’t say “Michaelis” (genitive of Michael) or “Raphaelem” (accusative of Raphael), just “Michael” and “Raphael”.

However, Fr. AC interprets “their seals or characters” to only apply to the angels and not the planets, but there are indeed characters of the planets, too, which Fr. AC completely passes over in this case.  As noted above, Fr. Acher uses the sigils of the planets derived from their magic squares from Cornelius Agrippa (book II, chapter 22), but Satyr Magos over on his blog Journey Through The Obsidian Dream devised a nonce-based version that included only the planetary glyphs and characters (while omitting the angelic names) from earlier on in Cornelius Agrippa (book I, chapter 33).  Similarly, Erneus of Magia Pragmatica: Key to the Key of Solomon developed a Fr. RO-based design of the Table of Practice that includes the angelic names and seals as well as the planetary characters and images from the Magical Calendar, replacing the usual planetary glyphs with their corresponding images.  And, too, recall how Fr. Acher uses the number square-based planetary seals, too, on his table design.

Satyr Magos uses the planetary characters from Agrippa, but the table design made by Erneus uses the characters that were also used in the Ars Paulina.  The Ars Paulina, I should note, is likely the main inspiration or corroborating text that the Magical Calendar sourced its versions of the planetary characters from, and so it’s these that already have a good argument for using them instead of Agrippa’s planetary characters because they’re already part of a Table of Practice used for the same ends as the DSIC one, even if it’s of a fundamentally different design.  That is, there would be a good argument if only it weren’t for the fact that the Ars Paulina likely postdates Agrippa (given its likely Paracelsan origin), and the Magical Calendar definitely postdates Agrippa.  However, I think either set of characters would work, but I would favor the Agrippa set of characters that Satyr Magos uses.  However, Joseph Peterson mentions in his notes to the Lemegeton that the characters from the Ars Paulina, given the connections that the Ars Paulina also has with book II of the Steganographia of Johannes Trithemius (actually the real author instead of his spurious association to DSIC), may well give this latter set of characters a stronger argument.

While it’d be great to have the name, glyph, and character(s) of the planet as well as the name and seal of the angel, Fr. Acher pointed out in his design of his own table that it’s…just kinda too much.  Plus, it also raises the issue of the fact that the four kings have only names and neither characters nor seals (unless you want to go with the really intricate seals from the Clavis Inferni, as Asterion showed on his blog, which may not be necessarily recommend for this purpose); we could use the elemental glyphs, but that seems weird to me, as the four kings are more about the four corners of the Earth rather than the four elements.  If we wanted to make everything follow the same standard, we’d use only the names of the angels and planets and the names of the kings with no other glyphs or seals or characters, because that’s something they all have, but that certainly misses DSIC’s explicit instruction to engrave them with the “seals or characters” of the planets and/or the angels.  If we interpret the “seal or character” of the planet to just be that planet’s glyph, as GTSC appears to do, then that makes the process much easier and cleaner for us, and it avoids having to cram in several batches of things into a tight space, but I don’t like that approach; it seems to stretch what is normally meant by “seal or character”.  But, including the planetary characters, if we weren’t going to go with the seal/sigil like how Fr. Acher did (which is super detailed and can be hard to do on some surfaces with sufficient clarity) would mean we’d either need either a very large table or a very small font to get everything written in.

Thinking on this for myself, just to consider the planetary elements of the design of the table, I would include the glyphs for the planet, the strings of planetary characters from Agrippa, and the name of the angel; those would be my priorities.  The glyph of the planet basically stands in for and is synonymous with the name (and indeed is read as the name itself in many occult texts), and the planetary characters help to give the planetary power to the table as their “seals”, much as in the same way the names of the four kings lend their power to the table as well.  As for the angels, the angelic names are more important for me than their seals; after all, you don’t need a spirit’s seal to conjure them so long as you have their name, and so long as you have their name, you can develop any number of sigils for that name by which you can conjure them as effectively (or nearly so).  Plus, on the lamen itself (which we’ll discuss in the future), it’s the name that’s given the most prominence rather than the seal, which is comparatively hidden and nestled inside the hexagram.  It’s not that we want to bring the full presence of the angel to the table, either, but just their attention; I feel like this is more appropriate for just using their name rather than their fullness.  All this effectively interprets “the names of the seven planets and angels ruling them, with their seals or characters” as referring to the names, angels, and seals of the seven planets, not the names and characters of the angels and of the planets, nor the names and characters of the angels and also of the planets.  This final point really is up to just how specifically you want to interpret the DSIC description here, and is probably the most serious linguistic point of contention between how different people want to design the table.  However, in doing it this way, we also end up with something that’s on the same scale as the GTSC table combined with Satyr Magos’ design above, and yields a slightly cleaner and simpler design choice.

Moving on from that, what order do we put the planetary stuff in?  There’s no order given in DSIC for this, but given that the order of the Scale of Seven from Agrippa (book II, chapter 10) starts with Saturn and proceeds towards the Moon in descending geocentric distance order, I would think that order would be the most sensible to use.  Of course, you could go the other way, going from the Moon up to Saturn.  I don’t think it actually matters much, but as we’ll see in a bit, I think there’s a good argument to be made for the descending geocentric distance order, especially as we’ll see more about in a bit.  Fr. AC in GTSC agrees with this, that one should use the descending order of the planets, and Fr. RO uses this same order in his Modern Angelic Grimoire and RWC.  Both Fr. AC and Fr. RO use the same image in both their respective books to illustrate why this might be the case, the famous design of the geocentric celestial spheres according to Peter Apian’s 1539 work Cosmographia:

While we’re looking at this diagram, by the way, we also see why Fr. AC used the genitive forms of the names of the planets in his table design, because that’s what he most likely read according to this specific diagram.  Properly speaking, however?  Note the word “COELṼ” (read “coelum”, literally “heaven”) to the left of the glyph for Saturn; this should be read as “Coelum Saturni”, or literally “Heaven of Saturn”, and likewise “Coelum Iovis” as “Heaven of Jupiter”.  If we just wanted to use the planetary names on their own, we’d write the names in the nominative case instead: Saturnus, Iovis/Iup(p)iter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercurius, Luna.  I’m pretty sure the case-based linguistics of Latin tripped Fr. AC up, leading him to use the wrong form of the planetary names.

Anyway, back to orders.  Interestingly, Fr. RO uses another order instead for SS: going in the direction of the names of the angels (counterclockwise due to the right-to-left nature of Hebrew) he uses the order of Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Moon, Mars, Sun.  This doesn’t match the distance order, weekday order, or even weight order of the planets (according to their planetary metals, as I discussed once long ago, that of Saturn, Mars, Venus, Moon, Jupiter, Sun, Mercury).  First, compare the following two Tables of Practice he’s put out, the older one from RWC that uses the four archangels and the distance-based order, and the more recent one (posted on his own Facebook page) that uses the four kings and this new weird order.

I know where he got it from: it’s the association of the planets to the elements and directions according to Cornelius Agrippa’s Scale of Four.  Note how Mercury and Saturn, associated with Water, are placed by Egyn in the North, associated with Gabriel the angel of Water in his version of the table; Mars and the Sun, put by Oriens in the East, associated with Michael of Fire; Jupiter and Venus, put by Paymon in the West, associated with Raphael of Air; and the Moon, put by Amaymon in the North, associated with Uriel of Earth (along with the fixed stars according to the Scale of Four, but which aren’t associated with any planetary angel).  Though he never mentions it in SS, this is essentially Fr. RO’s hiding of his old Table of Manifestation layout from his earlier stuff; Fr. RO is organizing the planets according to their elemental associations, according to Agrippa’s Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7).  While I wouldn’t call this an order, it is an arrangement with its own internal logic.

This is classic Fr. RO stuff here.  Using this same organization for the Table of Manifestation as he uses for his Table of Practice is not an approach that I disagree with, given what Fr. RO uses his Table of Manifestation layout for, but it’s not one I particularly like for the table for DSIC.  I still prefer the descending distance order of the planets, myself, but Fr. RO’s arrangement is definitely a valid approach if you take a primarily elemental/directional approach to arranging things on the table from our perspective as incarnate human beings on the Earth—which we necessarily do.

But there’s also one more issue at play here: the specific names to be used.  Fr. RO and Fr. Acher use the Hebrew names as given in Cornelius Agrippa’s Scale of Four; this is simple enough.  However, this isn’t precisely in line with other sets of planetary angel names.  Granted, many of the names are similar, but not identical, and it shows.  GTSC, for instance, use the names as given in the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, and Erneus put out another version of his table that uses a faithful Hebrew rendition of the same names rather than those used by Cornelius Agrippa (note the subtle differences in the Hebrew in the outer ring).

So there’s also some contention about the exact spelling of names.  To give a comparison between the different versions we’re looking at, here’s a table that shows the various spellings that are common for DSIC Tables of Practice from a variety of sources:

  • The Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, which gives the names in Latin.  These are the same names given in DSIC itself, with the same spellings.
  • Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy.  He gives them in both Hebrew and Latin transcription.
  • Erneus’ version of the table above, which gives them in Hebrew.
  • GTSC itself, which gives the names both in Latin and Hebrew.  The Latin names are identical to that of the Heptameron.
  • SS itself, which gives the Latin names as given in the Heptameron, but frustratingly, two different Hebrew spellings: one for the Table of Practice (which agrees with Agrippa), and another set that appears to be closer to Erneus and GTSC, but with a number of differences, too.
    • There also appear to be some typos: the Hebrew spelling of Gabriel in the Table itself matches everything else, but the lamen omits the letter Yod (giving us “Gabrel”), and the Hebrew spelling of Haniel in the Table uses an initial Aleph instead of Heh (giving us “Aniel”).  I won’t mention these typos as specific spelling differences, however.
    • Annoyingly, RWC (the old Gates texts upon which SS was based) use a different set of spellings on some of the lamens themselves, but which agree with Agrippa’s Hebrew: the angel of Saturn is given as צדקיאל, that of Jupiter צפקיאל, and that of Mars כמאל.  Oddly, the typo of Gabriel as lacking the letter Yod in his lamen is still present.

This gets us the messy table below to compare a variety of all these angel spelling names:

Latin Hebrew
Heptameron Agrippa Agrippa Erneus GTSC  SS
Saturn Cassiel Zaphkiel*† צפקיאל קפציאל § כאססיאל ¶
Jupiter Sachiel Zadkiel* צדקיאל זכיאל סאחאל ¶
Mars Samael Camael כמאל סמאל סאמאל ¶
Sun Michael‡ מיכאל
Venus Anael Haniel האניאל ענאל ענאל or אנאל ‖ אנאל
Mercury Raphael‡ רפאל
Moon Gabriel גבריאל גבראל

* Agrippa renders Tzaddi as “Z” here according to the custom at the time of Hebrew transcription, so these should probably more accurately read “Tzaphkiel” and “Zadkiel”.  Likewise, he renders Qoph as “K”, which would give us an even more faithful rendition of these names as “Tzaphqiel” and “Tzadqiel”.
† Mistake in the text; Agrippa has “Zaphiel” (or, reading Z as Tzaddi, “Tzaphiel”).  “Zaphkiel” (or “Tzaphqiel”) is given in Agrippa’s Scale of Ten, as expected.
‡ Agrippa swaps Michael and Raphael such that Raphael becomes the angel of the Sun and Michael the angel of Mercury, which is definitely a thing seen in many grimoires of the time, which is also repeated in his Scale of Twelve when it comes to the corresponding sephiroth.  I swapped them back to fit in with modern/conventional practice.
§ This Hebrew spelling of the angel of Saturn in Erneus and GTSC would more faithfully be transliterated as “Qaptziel” and could arguably be transliterated into Latin as “Cassiel” (← Qassiel ← Qafsiel ← Qaptziel, account for the Hebrew combination of the /f/ and /p/ sounds).  While reasonable on its own, I can’t help but wonder if this is a case of propagated dyslexia, because swapping Qoph and Tzaddi here gets you the same spelling as in Agrippa.
‖ GTSC gives both spellings, one that starts with `ayin and one that starts with ‘aleph.
¶ Fr. RO seems to have naïvely transliterated the names from the Heptameron back into Hebrew, as some of these spellings seem really unlikely.

There’s a lot more variation in the Hebrew spellings because we don’t really have consistent or reliable Hebrew spellings for these angel names besides what’s given in Agrippa; the usual approach, it would seem, is to take the Latin names from the Heptameron and back-transliterate them into Hebrew, which gets us such varied results.  I don’t much care for this approach, honestly, but it’s not an unreasonable one, especially if you can trace back the root meanings of the theophoric names or use a bit of numerological magic to finagle them into shape.  I haven’t really seen a lot of reliable and historical Hebrew spellings for these angels besides Agrippa, but that might just be my own lack of literature and infamiliarity with texts that others might be more familiar with.

With all these variants above, what would I recommend?  Honestly, since I’m not sure where the Hebrew spellings of the angels came from in Agrippa, or whether they shared an origin with the Latin ones and one set or the other got corrupt, or one set formed the root for the other via transliteration.  While the spelling of the angel ought to matter, I think practice shows that all these names are, even if they are fundamentally different, just synonyms for the same spirit, so that Cassiel is Qaptziel is Tzaphqiel; heck, “Cassiel” itself is such a problematic name, as it was spelled in so many damn ways in the old grimoires, including Captiel, Caffriel, and Cafriel (cf. the Munich Manual entry on planetary conjurations, which has the same origin as the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano); this could be explained as misreading the lowercase “f” as a long s “ſ” (making the original spelling like Caffiel which was reinterpreted as Cassiel, as in Caſſiel) or the other way around.

My recommendation, at the end of the day, is to pick a set of names from a single source that you like and stick with it.  Experience and reports from many magicians the world over show that they all basically work.  That said, if you wanted to go with Hebrew, I don’t suggest Fr. RO’s Hebrew spellings from SS.  As much as I love the man, I wouldn’t trust these spellings here.  They don’t match the spelling pronunciation rules that are typically used for Hebrew, even for magical names; I’d recommend most going with either Agrippa or GTSC for the Hebrew spellings.

And, one more final note about writing the names themselves and in what script.  Given the late origin of DSIC and the fact that the four kings don’t have a readily agreed-upon spelling in Hebrew, it’s probably best for the sake of uniformity to use the Latin spellings of all the names on the table.  Consider, after all, that all the names and words for the wand, pedestal, and lamen are written in Latin; it follows that those on the table should be, too.  Again, this might have been an innovation by Fr. RO and/or Fr. Acher, who used Hebrew for the names of the angels and, in Fr. Acher’s case, the planets.   However, the lamen design from DSIC does have the name of “Michael” emblazoned on it in Hebrew as well as in Latin, so…I think it could go either way.

If, however, you choose to use Hebrew, at least for the angelic names, then there’s also the option of either using plain old square script that Hebrew is normally and conventionally written in, or the use of the Celestial Script as described by Agrippa (book III, chapter 30), which I personally like doing for planetary, stellar, and celestial angels generally (though I give the square script to the elemental angels as well as the honest-to-God truly-divine seven archangels, but that’s another topic for another day).  The Celestial Script is just another form of Hebrew, using more angular lines and ring-marks to imitate both constellation lines on star maps as well as the ring-mark characters on a variety of magical literature from the classical and medieval periods; this was either introduced or propagated later on by Agrippa with other magical scripts of the time.  While I like using Celestial for writing the names of the planetary angels, I seem to be an outlier in that (except for when I see people using my own designs); Fr. RO doesn’t advocate for this use in either SS or RWC explicitly for his Table of Practice, but I believe I got the idea from the discussion groups in his class (I think).  It made sense to me at the time, given that these entities are celestial beings, and Fr. RO does use the Celestial script for the names of the planetary angels on the lamens themselves.  I just followed suit and used the same font for the table, as well.

And then, related to this point about linguistics, there’s the Fr. AC’s decision in GTSC to spell the four kings out in Greek, which…honestly I don’t understand, and which he doesn’t explain.  I’d just use the Latin spellings, honestly, especially as we don’t know whether, for instance, Paimon should be spelled in Greek script with an ōmega or omikron (ΠΑΙΜΩΝ or ΠΑΙΜΟΝ).  Strangely, Fr. AC spells it ΠΑΥΜΟΝ, interpreting the Latin spelling of “Paymon” to use the equivalent Greek letters, but that’d interpret the Latin “y” as a Greek upsilon, which would give it a pronunciation more like “paow-mon” or “pav-mon”; ditto for Amaymon (“ah-maow-mon” or “ah-mahv-mon”).  I think these are both errors, to be honest; after all, Latin y is not the same letter with the same pronunciation as Greek upsilon.  Consider, further, that the name Amaymon comes from the Arabic jinn Maymūn (ميمون), meaning it should be an “i” sound (Greek iōta, Latin i or y) rather than a “u” sound (which Greek upsilon would imply).  It also ignores the fact that the name “Oriens” is literally just the Latin word for the direction East.  But, even more than that, it also goes against his own reasoning in GTSC for using the Latin names of the angels instead of Hebrew:

I debated for a time whether I wanted to use English, Hebrew, or angelic script for the names of the angels and the planets.  I believe any of these choices are valid and would be appropriate.  However, I eventually settled on the English versions, since this is the language I will be requiring the angels to speak in.

Honestly, to avoid any such confusion, I’d recommend spelling at least the names of the four kings in Latin, and neither guess at what their Greek or Hebrew counterparts would be.  The other names for the angels, both elemental and planetary, could be spelled in any such language or font, but there’s a strong argument to be made to just use the Latin versions of the names (using the English alphabet, which is functionally equivalent) for them all for the sake of standardization and to go along with Fr. AC’s reasoning.

Propitiation Ritual of Saturn

Many of my friends take note of particular astrological phenomena, whether they’re just for the “planetary weather” effects the stars have on our lives, or for their more in-depth and particular motions for elections and magical workings.  Mercury retrograde is probably the most common, especially to mock for its (perhaps overblown) infamy in pop culture, but there are many other motions people take note of.  One of which is Saturn’s transition into the sign of Capricorn, one of its two domiciles, where Saturn is particularly strong.  Saturn takes just under 2.5 years to transit through a sign of the Zodiac, so the last time Saturn was in Capricorn was around the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This is particularly important for people whose natal Saturn is in Capricorn, as it signals their Saturn return, a rough time in one’s life that was the literal astrological definition of “mid-life crisis”.  To prepare for my own, I erected and worked a personal shrine to Saturn, and wrote a post about it back last year as Saturn came up on its own position in my own natal chart in late Sagittarius.  For that shrine and its works, I came up with a set of altar tools pulling from the Western astrological tradition as well as some things borrowed from the Vedic tradition for his counterpart in that system, Lord Śani.  Granted, I didn’t work with it as much as I anticipated due to everything else going on in my life, but I do feel like it helped stabilize those Saturnine energies into a useful focal point in my physical domain.

Given that Saturn is moving into Capricorn, and the fact that the Sun just moved into this sign through the passage of the winter solstice, I think it’s time to bring something out of my own playbook to the table, yes?  To help those who are interested in forming a stable, beneficial relationship with this great, powerful planet, here’s the basic ritual I use at my Saturn shrine to call upon the god and seek his blessing in my life.

First, let’s talk about the prime piece, the focal point of my Saturn shrine, an altarpiece I call the Platform of Saturn.  Essentially, it’s nothing more than a planetary hexagram, much as we might find in Western qabbalistic or Golden Dawn-type systems, except that instead of the Sun being the center of the hexagram, we place Saturn in the middle instead, and we put the Sun in Saturn’s position.  In this way, Saturn becomes the focus of the piece, with the other planets balancing and reinforcing Saturn’s power as the spiritual “center” of the shrine.  I went a bit extra with my design for the Platform of Saturn by writing the six-lettered name of the Greek god ΚΡΟΝΟΣ between the points of the hexagram, as well as inscribing the magical characters for the planets (taken from the Magical Calendar) around or inside the hexagram.  Plus, when I made the thing, I also put the six-lettered name of God Elohim (אלוהים) at the points of the hexagram on the bevel, using the more angular Phoenician/Paleo-Hebrew script instead of the more modern square script.  On the underside of the Platform, I also inscribed the three-by-three planetary square of Saturn surrounded by the Tetragrammaton, the divine name of the Saturnine sephirah Binah; nothing special, but since the piece of wood I used for the Platform has a plate-like recess on the underside, I also use it to cover the old lead Saturn talisman I made back in 2011, further deploying even more power to the altarpiece as a sort of celestial foundation.


The use of this Platform is to act as a base for setting lights and lamps to the planets: six small candles for the non-Saturn planets, and a larger candle (or, in my case, oil lamp) for Saturn.

For this ritual, you will need:

  • Six white tealights, or other small candles/amps in the appropriate planetary color
  • A clean oil lamp with fresh wick
  • A small amount of sesame oil with three drops of myrrh oil
  • Clean room-temperature water, preferably from a well or other underground source
  • Myrrh resin
  • A dry mixture of rock salt and two of your choice of the following:
    • Black gram (Vigna mungo, commonly sold as “black lentils”)
    • Black rice
    • Black mustard seeds
    • Black sesame seeds
    • Other plants, bark, resins, or organic material associated with Saturn, but most preferably cultivated grains
  • Optionally, prayer beads for chanting
  • Incense holder, offering glasses, charcoal, source of fire, etc.

In the minutes leading up to an hour of Saturn on a day of Saturn, arrange the six smaller lights in a hexagram around the large central lamp, putting each candle on top of its particular planetary glyph following the pattern of the Platform of Saturn.  Get your incense ready, and once you make sure your offering glasses are clean, fill one with water and the other with a few spoonfuls of the dry offering mixture.  Fill the lamp with the oil.  (Alternatively, instead of using a lamp, you could use a large candle, either white if the other smaller candles are white, or jet black.)  Set the incense to the right of the candles, and the water with dry offering to the left of the candles, either in a horizontal line or an equilateral triangle.

At the start of the hour of Saturn, begin the preliminary invocation to the other six planets.  Light each candle in turn according to the design of the Platform:

  1. I light this candle and offer its light to the Moon, Lady of the First Heaven, who sings with a pure, sweet voice into our world: Α

  2. I light this candle and offer its light to Mercury, Ruler of the Second Heaven, who sings with a pure, sharp voice into our world: ΕΕ

  3. I light this candle and offer its light to Venus, Lady of the Third Heaven, who sings with a pure, lovely voice into our world: ΗΗΗ

  4. I light this candle and offer its light to the Sun, Lord of the Fourth Heaven, who sings with a pure, holy voice into our world: ΙΙΙΙ

  5. I light this candle and offer its light to Mars, Lord of the Fifth Heaven, who sings with a pure, strong voice into our world: ΟΟΟΟΟ

  6. I light this candle and offer its light to Jupiter, Lord of the Sixth Heaven, who sings with a pure, royal voice into our world: ΥΥΥΥΥΥ

If desired, energetically link the six smaller lights to the central lamp of Saturn at this point, so that all the lights are dependent upon and reflect the ultimate light of Saturn.

Light the myrrh incense and the lamp of Saturn.  Invoke the planetary presence of Saturn according to a prayer of your choosing; for this, you might use the Orphic Hymn of Saturn, or an invocation from a grimoire such as the Heptameron, the Hygromanteia, or the Picatrix (as I used in my Saturn talisman creation).  Recite this prayer at least once, preferably three times.

Dedicate the light of the lamp to Saturn:

I light this lamp and offer its light to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, dark voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this light shines upon this place, so too, Lord Saturn, shine your light upon us, gently and kindly enlightening us, illuminating our paths, and keeping us safe from all harm!

Dedicate the incense to Saturn (putting more on at this point if necessary)

I burn this incense and offer its smoke to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, silent voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this incense rises up and fills up this place with its sweet heavenly smoke, so too, Lord Saturn, fill our spheres, souls, and spirits with your blessing, essence, divinity, and presence!

Dedicate the water offering to Saturn:

I pour out this water and offer its power to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, profound voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this water is poured out for your refreshment and enjoyment, so too pour over us your blessing, cleansing us from all pollution, cleansing our ways of all obstacles, cleansing our senses from all obstructions, and cleansing our hearts from all wickedness!

Dedicate the dry offering to Saturn:

I set out this grain and offer its strength to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, heavy voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this grain and salt are set out for your nourishment and satisfaction, so too strengthen us inwardly and outwardly, in our bodies, souls, spirits, and minds, and protect us from all harm while giving us space to grow without undue burden!

At this point, continue the worship and exaltation of Saturn however you choose.  This is the point where I would first begin a chant for Saturn using a set of prayer beads; in my case, I chanted the Sanskrit mantra for the planet of Saturn 108 times on a mala made from black volcanic rock soaked in a magical Saturn oil.  Such chants, if desired, could be any of the following:


After chanting an appropriate number of times (33, 81, 108, 27000 etc.), continue praying, communing, or meditating with the presence of Saturn thus called.  Once finished, thank Saturn however you will; if this is a once-off ritual, give him a polite and trusting farewell, but otherwise, if this is part of a shrine installation, there’s no strict need for that.

At the end of the planetary hour, put out the lamp of Saturn, and let the other candles burn out on their own.  Once the hour is over, be sure to clean off physically and spiritually, or do some light solar work to balance out and brighten your personal sphere so as to not get too burdened with the heavy weight of Saturn.  This isn’t to banish its energies, but to balance them out so as to be able to better incorporate them as human beings.

Compared to the Western tradition of planetary invocations, Hinduism has a rich body of prayers, chants, and texts to appreciate.  Veneration and worship of the planets as gods in their own rights is alive and well in Hinduism, and many temples have a section just for the Navagraha, the nine planetary gods (seven planets, plus the North Node and South Node as planets of their own).  There are plenty of ways to make offerings in the Hindu system, which is where I got the inspiration for some of the dry offerings and the use of sesame oil.  Still, some of the prayers are positively splendid (when they don’t need to be chanted 23,000 times over), and one of my personal favorites is a prayer to Lord Śani for protection and blessing of one’s body.  In a sense, it’s a Saturnine version of the Lorica of Saint Patrick, and thus, I call it the Vedic Shield of Shani:

I bow down to the slow-moving Śani, whose complexion is dark blue like the ointment of nilañjana. The elder brother of Lord Death, he is born from the Sun and his wife Chāyā.

O god of night-blue skin dressed in night-blue silk, who wears a crown, who rides the vulture, who gives misfortunes, who wields the bow, who has four hands and is the son of the Sun, be pleased with me always and happily grant me your blessing!

Let the son of the Sun protect my head!
Let the darling son of Chāyā protect my eyes!
Let the strong brother of Yama protect my ears!
Let the child of Sūrya protect my nose!
Let the bright god always protect my face!
Let he with a pleasant voice protect my own!
Let the great-armed god protect my arms!
Let my shoulders be protected by Śani!
Let my hands be protected by he who does good!
Let the brother of Yama protect my chest!
Let he who is dark protect my belly!
Let my stomach be protected by the lord of all planets!
Let the slow-mover protect my hips!
Let he who makes all ends protect my thighs!
Let the sibling to Yama protect my knees!
Let my legs be protected by him who goes slow!
Let all my organs be protected by him who wears the cloak of darkness!
Let all my body be protected by the darling son of the Sun God!


With that, I hope that you have a happy time Saturning, no matter whether you’re coming up on your first Saturn return or are looking forward to the blessed release of your fourth!