The Attainment of Adam

Now that we’re done with our DSIC discussion (which you can access easily by going to the recap post at this link or searching through the blog with the tag reviewing the trithemian conjuration), let’s move on to other topics once again.

Not all the PDFs I make for my occult and spirituality stuff go up for sale; sometimes I just like fiddling around in LaTeX (which is my preferred way for formally typesetting documents, whether it’s an ebook, a book-book, or a letter), especially if I’m trying to get something out onto paper for a more formal use than otherwise.  I’ve made personal-use ebooks for things like Orphic Hymns, Homeric Hymns, divination oracles for grammatomancy and astragalomancy, and the like before for my temple; I have no intent on publishing them, but there’s a quiet enjoyment I take in this sort of typesetting, even if only I see the results of it.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on restructuring my own Hermetic practice in a way that uses a sort of geomantic devotional approach as its main vehicle for work, which largely resulted as a product of mulling over what geomantic holy days would look like, then again into a more simplified and regular “wheel of the year” kind of form.  Since then, I’ve been working on putting together another ebook—again, one I don’t intend on putting out publicly, at least not yet, and not anytime soon.  This ebook is essentially my new vademecum, my new enchiridion, my new prayerbook consisting of prayers, orisons, litanies, prayer bead rules (like those misbaḥa prayers I’ve mentioned), rituals, consecrations, and the like.  It’s currently sitting at 226 pages, all told; since it’s still in flux, from the specific wording and phrasing of prayers to the processes and procedures used for a variety of rituals I’ve been working on that all form together to make a complete system (one of the reasons I’ve been working on those DSIC posts!), I haven’t actually printed it out yet, but just keeping it as a PDF on my phone.  I’m really pleased with how it’s been turning out and coming together, as well as my practices generally.

But there’s one sticking point I haven’t been able to resolve.  I’ve been able to either outright write fresh, compile, pilfer, adapt, or otherwise reuse many prayers in this new prayer book of mine for so many purposes: general prayers to God, to the ancestors, to the angels, for specific dates or times or needs, for the figures and planets, for this and that…but there’s been one group of entities for whom I haven’t been able to come up with pretty much damn near anything, and that’s the prophets themselves: Adam, Enoch, Hermēs Trismegistus, and Daniel.  I just can’t seem to put anything to paper for them, for prayers or praises or invocations or rituals, unlike the abundance of the same I have for the angels or the blessed dead or this or that or the other.  Ironic, then, that the very four entities, these progenitors of the geomantic art, who inspired me who come up with a ritual calendar and formed the basis of this whole geomantic practice, have basically nothing coming up for them.

It’s not for lack of trying, I swear.  But it just…I can’t seem to get anything out of me.  Even more annoying, I can’t seem to find very many prayers or the like in traditional Abrahamic or Hermetic literature as devotions for these four geomantic forefathers.  Like, sure, there’s a few things that come to mind that I could use from the Book of Enoch to write up some Enoch-focused praises, at least in the context of his angelization into Metatron (though I’m hesitant to put too much weight on that specific aspect), but that’s not a lot on its own, and there’s just not a lot that seems to be written out there.  Like, while there are prayers in abundance for many of the mythic and saintly figures of Christianity and Islam (especially the various ‘ad`iyah /du`a’s of Islam attributed to their holy and saintly figures), there’s just…really not a lot.  Heck, the idea, even, sounds weird to me, since we don’t often think of the prophets of Abrahamic traditions to necessarily be saints or to participate in intercession or intervention like the saint-saints or angel-saints do, and while we all certainly praise Hermēs Trismegistus as the one revealed the secrets of the Great Work by the Divine Poemander to teach to the world, I just can’t find many prayers or praises in a formal context like this.  It could be that I’m not looking in the right sources (perhaps more Gnostic texts might be useful), but I just can’t find a lot.

So, it happened that, according to my ritual calendar, the Feast of the Prophet Adam, the First Man, Progenitor of Attainment came and went on Monday, May 6 earlier this year.  I had intended to devote a few weeks in April trying to draw up something to mark the day, even just something simple…but alas, the day arrived on its own, and I showed up empty-handed.  Still, I did what I could still do: I sat down at my shrine, lit a candle and some incense for Adam as I would any other saint or hero, and just sorta…thought and mused aloud in the solitude of my temple space.  Though I came empty-handed, I left with quite a few insights that I didn’t have before, and I wanted to share them here, even if only to keep the thoughts about it going.

Back when I wrote the Secreti Geomantici ebook, I developed a “Prayer of the Geomancers”, which I recite daily as part of my own practice (though reworked slightly and fit into my newer practice that arise after I wrote Secreti Geomantici).  In it, I give a supplication where we ask to be instilled with the four blessings of  “the judgment of Daniel, the dedication of Enoch, the wisdom of Hermēs, and the attainment of Adam”.  I basically tried to come up with some sort of high-minded virtue, ideal, strength, blessing, just…yanno, something that I could associate with each of the four progenitors to ask for to help us in our divination practices and spiritual development as geomancers.  For Daniel and Enoch, I used their very names as inspiration, the former meaning “God is my Judge” and the latter meaning “dedicated”, as in to God.  Hermēs Trismegistus, for me, is associated with wisdom, not just knowing things but knowing how to apply them.  But for Adam…I honestly didn’t know what to say.  “Attainment” sounded good enough, and it sorta semantically ties in with Adam in general for me.  Earth-born, earth-made Adam, whose name is a pun on the Hebrew word for “earth” (adamah), and was God’s final creation in the Genesis narrative as a distinct species or entity.  Eve (and Lilith), of course, could also be considered separate, but when reckoning them all as various kinds of Human, then it was Adam that would be considered the final bit of distinct creation of God.

In that sense, why “attainment”?  What did Adam attain?  Adam was the attainment, the completion and fulfillment of God’s work to create the cosmos; in the Abrahamic as much as the Hermetic sense, we are made in the image of God, but we could not exist as we are without literally everything else having existed before us.  (This reminds us to be humble in a new way; though we might be closest to God as a species of this worldly reality, we are also the youngest, junior to and thus dependent on ants, urchins, fleas, mold, and all else that exists.)  It wasn’t until God made humanity that God could rest on the seventh day after he first spoke “let there be light”.  In that sense, the creation of humanity completed the cosmos, giving everything the final connection that allows the cosmos be what it needs to be.

However, humanity as created was not made in a fixed state, as it lacked primarily one thing: knowledge.  That’s where the story of Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil came in; it wasn’t until Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree and gave it to Adam to eat that humanity finally knew their position in the cosmos and learned about themselves.  Up until that point, they were made in the image of God, but since they did not know or could even understand their material nature, they could not act on it or incorporate that knowledge; for them, they lived in a divine ignorance that effectively separated their spiritual nature from their material nature.  Only by eating the fruit of the Tree could they understand the latter, and then began incorporating it.  Of course, this had its own cost: by understanding the material nature of the bodies they inhabited, they became trapped by them, and in the process, excluded from Paradise.  We could consider this as a sort of “birth” from the womb; though they were not “born” in the traditional sense, we could consider God their “father” and the Earth their “mother”, with the Garden of Eden itself being the womb from which they were born.  For as long as they lived in Paradise, they could not be independent or truly alive in the sense that you and I are alive; they had to be “born” into the world, just as we are, in order to fully come into their own.  For them, their own completion was not complete until they went into their own birth.  And, just like with our own birth, it was accompanied by tears and pain.

This isn’t to say that God made humanity poorly, but that creation is a process that isn’t just a one-and-done thing.  As Jack Miles demonstrates in his wonderful literary and character analysis of the Old Testament God: A Biography, the process of creation is effectively God learning as much about his creation as we do ourselves.  And it’s not until we can take a look at the whole picture of something that we can finally perform a full analysis of something to understand it, and we can’t do that in terms of a human until we know their entire life.  For Adam and Eve, that entirety doesn’t come about until they die: it takes death to fully understand the whole of the human experience, so it wasn’t until the death of the First Man that the original creation of God might finally be considered “complete”.  In this sense, Adam had to attain his own creation and completion just as God did—and so too do all of us, as well.

This is also where the angel Uriel comes into the picture.  Uriel, in the Western tradition, is the archangel who’s typically associated with the element of Earth, and so I consider this angel to have a natural connection to Adam on a simple elemental basis.  And, of course, there’s the fact that Uriel is the angel appointed to stand guard at the gate to the Garden of Eden with the flaming sword.  What does this mean for us in terms of “attainment”?  Adam and Eve had everything they could possibly need while in the Garden, and so would never have had to work for anything, learn anything, struggle, adapt, invent, or grow at all; they would have lived in this sort of ignorant stasis where everything was good and nothing was bad, having been given everything except something to do—something to attain.  Just as we can no longer enter our mother’s womb, so too could Adam and Eve never reenter the Garden and regress to an earlier stage of development; their expulsion was necessary for humanity to truly flourish.  I mean, consider: if humanity is made in the image of God, then what had God done up to this point?  God had made something from nothing.  If Adam and Eve were to take after God, then they too must create something from nothing, but so long as they lived in the Garden, how could they do that if they already had everything and had neither anything to invent nor needed anything to invent?  It was only when they were taken out of the Garden that they truly had nothing—except the clothes that God made for them as an act of parental care, but let’s be honest, by that point they had already made their clothes to cover their nudity in the Garden after eating the fruit of the Tree.  And consider the context of that, too: they made something in a place God made where they needed nothing, and so effectively judged God’s creation…I hesitate to use this word, but lacking in a way.  To use a software development metaphor, if the Garden was God’s development-and-testing sandbox, the fact that Adam and Eve could create and invent shows that they were finally capable of being released into production, becoming independent co-creators with God in the process (“co-creators” because we are made to take after God and being infused with his breath), just on a smaller scale as befits our finite, more material role.

Uriel was positioned at the Gates to ensure that neither Adam and Eve nor any of their descendants could eat of the fruit of the other Tree, the Tree of Life, which would grant them immortality that God himself possesses.  Okay, fair.  But Uriel’s purpose is more than just to guard the other Tree; I think he was stationed there to make sure that humanity itself could learn to use their own world and tools to constantly create more of the world, co-creating with God throughout the entire process of their lives.  However, our lives must come to an end; why?  Because we have descendants.  In order for us to properly execute our function as humans, we must create and leave things behind so that others can create after us—whether they’re our own blood-and-flesh children, godchildren, initiates, or students doesn’t matter.  In order that they too can fulfill their purpose, they must have their own share of the world; for that reason, our bodies must return to the Earth, “for from it you were taken, for dust you are, and to dust you shall return”.  Also, it’s at this point in the Genesis narrative, once God issues his order of expulsion—that Adam finally names Eve, whose name in Hebrew is Ḥawwāh, meaning “living one” or “source of life”, (most likely) related to Hebrew Ḥāyâ “to live”, and Genesis itself says that Adam named Eve such “because she was the mother of all the living”.  The final name given to the final God-made creation of the Garden, only complete at their time’s end within it.

So, if our bodies return to the Earth, whence, then, our breath, our divine essence that God gave to humanity?  As I see it, based on this little bit, the breath returns to God, and thence can be breathed back into the world to continue the co-creation of the world.  For as long as the process of life and death exists, for as longs as there are descendants of Adam and Eve, for as long as the world exists, the process of co-creation is always ongoing.  Individual people may complete their attainment, but their attainment is not truly complete until the end of their lives as befits us as mortal creatures of this world.  Similarly, the attainment of humanity cannot be complete until humanity itself finally and eventually passes away from the world—or the life-sustaining world itself passes away, whichever comes first, I suppose.  And, when we do return to the Earth, it is only then that we can reenter the Garden.

What, then, of our own attainment?  What can we take after Adam, what could we ask for to help us in our own spiritual paths?  We know that, just like Adam, we cannot revert to an earlier stage in our spiritual progression; we know that we must become independent from our mothers, go out into the world, and work for ourselves and those who come after us; we know that we must live our lives until such a time as proper for us that our bodies return to the Earth and our breath returns to God, and until that point, we must always work to constantly create our world, co-creating with God as we are made in his image.  It is up to us, to each of us, that we do what we can to fulfill our purpose, role, and function in this world, taking what has been given to us and what we can to constantly create, build, grow, and nurture.  It is up to us that we attain our own role as being truly human and truly divine.  It is up to us to attain the fullness of our creation.  It is up to us to attain our true Will.  We cannot go back from whence we came, for just as the angel Uriel guards the gates to Paradise, but just as Uriel is the angel of the light of God, we can look back upon our past and see what was so that we can begin to understand what may be.  I mean, in this system of devotion I’m building, the title I give to Uriel is “Keeper of the Mysteries”; just as he keeps the Garden apart from us, he shows us with his light (and the light of his “fiery ever-turning sword”) what is possible, and permits reentry into the Garden as divine gatekeeper only at the proper time.  Things may leave the Garden, but not enter back in improperly.

There’s more that I can muse about this, of course, but I think this is a start.  I mean, honestly, this is probably one of the actual mysteries of this new little practice that’s been dropped on my lap that I’m really starting to chew into, structured by all the prayers and routines and rituals that I have.  Perhaps one day, after enough musing and research and writing and meditating, I might have proper prayers for Adam—maybe even the rest of the prophets, too!  For now, though, I don’t have much…but I do have this last bit I want to share.  While there’s not a lot out there that I can find for prayers that are attributed to Adam, there is one short Islamic du`ā’ of Adam (and, also, properly speaking, of Eve) that I thought was simple enough to commit to heart.  This was taken from Qur’ān 7:23, after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Paradise and were called out by God for it:

رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنفُسَنَا وَإِن لَّمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

Rabbanā ṭālamnā anfusanā wa-in lam taghfir lanā watarḥamnā lanakūnanna mina al-khasirīn

Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves. If you do not forgive us and bestow not upon us your mercy, we shall surely be among the losers.

It’s not a lot, but it’s something.  Working on the spot, and recalling the context in which this bit of scripture was recited, I also recalled to mind another simple du`ā’, this one from Qur’ān 21:83, this one associated with Job after he was ill for many years:

أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

Annī massaniya aḍ-ḍurru waanta arḥamu ar-raḥimīna

Truly, adversity has touched me, and you [God] are the Most Merciful of the merciful.

Kinda working on the spot, I ended up mixing these two supplications together, tweaking the terms and concepts slightly to better match my own spiritual needs and framework, and ended up with another misbaḥa devotional, which was at least something I could offer in the memory and veneration of Adam.  It’s not the same thing as what might be recited by faithful Muslims, but then, I’m no Muslim.  Using the usual misbaḥa format:

  1. Recite once: “In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Truly Merciful, the Exalter and Abaser both.”
  2. On each of the first set of 33 beads, recite: “O God, may we not wrong ourselves.”
  3. On the first separator, recite: “It is in God that we seek refuge.”
  4. On each of the second set of 33 beads, recite: “O God, show us your grace and your mercy.”
  5. On the second separator, recite:”It is in God that we seek refuge.”
  6. On each of the third set of 33 beads, recite:”O God, may we not be among the lost.”
  7. Recite once: “Though suffering is near to me, it is you, o God, who is Merciful among all the merciful.”

It’s something that I can use in the meantime, barring anything more.  It’ll just be part of my own attainment.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: A Postscript from Francis Barrett Himself

So I didn’t intend on writing a postscript so soon to my Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration series of posts, the recap post (with index of posts and my own observations) to which went up literally earlier this week. But, you know, as expansive and detailed as my series may have gone, I didn’t intend for it to be the final word; I fully expected there to be more to find out. Turns out, a bit of further direction came out from mukyo65 when they commented on the Four Kings post, directing me (and all of us) to Francis X. King’s 1992 work The Flying Sorcerer, “being the magical and aeronautical adventures of Francis Barrett, author of The Magus“. It’s a pleasantly short read, but what draws our attention today is Appendix A, “Barrett’s Hitherto Unpublished Skrying Manuscript”.

First, let’s just clarify what we’re talking about: this is a follow-up to our earlier discussions on 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).

In this “hitherto unpublished” text that mukyo65 directed me to, Barrett gives a whole bunch of extra technical advice and guidance on how to conjure spirits using DSIC that weren’t mentioned in the DSIC text itself. His writing style is erratic and weirdly punctuated at times, so when I quote Barrett, especially for the prayers he mentions, I’ll update it for both modern diction as well as punctuation and style rules, keeping as close to the original as otherwise possible.

Astrological Considerations:

  • The time of conjurations should be chosen through the rules of electional astrology, not just according to planetary hour. However, once the spirit is contacted, we may ask them for what seasons and times are best to contact them in beyond electional dates or planetary hours.
  • Thus, the planet associated with the spirit should “be in an Angle and strong”, i.e. the planet associated with that spirit should be in houses I, IV, VII, or X and dignified, or at the least not afflicted by an ill aspect or other ill accident.
  • Your own significator should not “be under the Earth but in as fortunate a part of heaven as can be convenient”. In this case, according to King, this should be interpreted that the planet of the sign rising in your own natal horoscope should be above the horizon (i.e. in houses VII through XII) when the conjuration is performed and dignified. An alternative approach would be to either use your almuten rather than your lord of the ascendant as your significator, or to use the planet ruling the sign rising at the moment of the conjuration be considered as your own significator, all situated according to the same rules above.
  • The Moon should be waxing at the time of the conjuration.
  • The Moon should not be combust when you work. According to the English astrologer William Lilly, this is when the Moon is within 8°30′ of the Sun in the same sign as the Sun or within 12° of the Sun regardless of sign. To be safe, I would interpret this as saying that one should not perform a conjuration starting 24 hours before the moment of the New Moon and until 24 hours after the moment of the New Moon.

Considerations of Place:

  • Barrett recommends performing the conjuration “in some retired place at a distance from your house, rather than in your own chamber”, but he also says that it doesn’t really matter. He notes that spirits are “sooner attracted to an unfrequented place than to appear in a house”.
  • According to Barrett, success in conjuration of the spirit depends on a number of factors, especially those related to the spirit and planet that rule over the place in which you do the conjuration. Thus, not only should the planets of the spirit you’re conjuring and of your own natal horoscope be dignified, but so too should that of the place of conjuration itself. On top of that, the planets of your own natal horoscope and of the place of conjuration itself should be in a good relationship to each other, either by essential nature or by accidental relationship according to the horoscope at the moment of conjuration.
  • We should set everything up as best we can according to the the planet and the spirit of the place wherein the conjuration is to take place. This includes the choice of suffumigations and the spirit we’re to conjure itself; we shouldn’t conjure a spirit of Mars in a place ruled by the Moon, for instance, if Mars and the Moon are in a bad aspect to each other.
  • Likewise, we should choose places that agree with us in terms of our own ruling planets. King explains this point succinctly: “[Barrett] seems to have been suggesting that if a city was ruled by a particular zodiacal sign the magus should not carry out invocations therein unless his significator, the planet ruling the ascendant of his nativity, was strong or exalted in that sign.”

Considerations of Preparation:

  • Barrett first says that one should consume no “animal food” (presumably meat) for 24 hours before the conjuration, and likewise no alcohol whatever until after sunset, “and then only sufficient to clear nature and refresh thy Body”.
  • Barrett later says that the conjuration should be preceded by seven days of fasting and abstinence, specifically from “all heavy rich and strong drink”, eating nothing between sunrise and sunset each day but breaking fast on bread and water after sunset.
  • A preparatory prayer should be recited seven times on the day of the conjuration before the ritual itself. This same prayer may also be recited every morning for the seven days preceding the conjuration.

Other Considerations:

  • Put a “new clean linnen cloth on the table under the Chrystal”. Basically, use an altarcloth, but drape it so that it covers the table itself upon which the pedestal is placed; the table should not be exposed.
  • The smoke of the incense should be “strong and plenty”. (I doubt most people would have an issue with this.)
  • Barrett says that you should have “some clean white paper or Virgin parchment to write down the name of the Spirit, his Planet Sign and character which he may shew you”. Nothing is said or mentioned of a Liber Spirituum.
  • Keep the character and name of the spirit free from all profanity and pollution (or, in other words, keep the lamen of the spirit protected, safe, and untouched by any unless they’re in a state of purity).
  • Do not touch the crystal with your hands after placing it on the table. (This seems to go directly against the DSIC instruction for consecrating the crystal; perhaps one should instead hold their hand above or over the crystal rather than directly on it?)
  • Do not engage with the spirit you’re conjuring longer than an hour. After an hour has passed, give the license to depart to the spirit.
  • The conjuration medium may be a (presumably quartz) crystal, a “smooth shining steel Mirror” (steel?!), or a (crystal of) beryl. Barrett treats all three of these mediums as interchangeable and as equally sufficient for conjuration; beryl wasn’t surprising to us earlier, given Frederick Hockley’s mention of it as well as Agrippa’s description of it being as lunar as quartz is, as well as the historical fact that beryl was used to make early eyeglasses with when glass could not be made sufficiently clear. Using steel for the mirror, however, comes across as a shock, as steel is a variant of iron, which tends to be inimical to most spirits.
  • If you do not succeed in conjuration of one spirit, try another spirit. Barrett gives the example of “if you try the first time under Jupiter let your next work be under Mars or Venus or Mercury or the Moon”.
  • The prayer of conjuration in the ritual itself should be recited not once but seven times.

What we can tell from the above is that Barrett placed a huge emphasis on astrology, specifically electional astrology, in determining specific times to perform conjuration. While most people nowadays (and arguably many earlier Solomonic magicians besides) content themselves with just following the planetary hours and days, Barrett seems to make a point of making sure that the planet associated with the spirit should be as strong as could be reasonably attained according to celestial position and accidents. This also included astrologically understanding the very place of where we conjure the spirit itself, which is a consideration most people likely wouldn’t consider to be as important, yet Barrett himself clearly did. Barrett also takes a staunchly Christian approach to make sure that the magician performing the conjuration is as worthy as possible for the work, not unlike many of the admonitions of the Arbatel.

Barrett also gives a little instruction that makes things interesting:

Meditate Day and night on what you desire to know, have ready Pen and Ink—perfumes—the Virgin parchment—2 wax candles and 2 clean candlesticks, and a small earthen dish with lighted charcoal, likewise the Pentacle of Solomon which you ought to draw out as describ’d in the Magus upon a piece of Virgin Parchment likewise the Name Tetragrammaton wrote upon a piece of Vellum fastened round your Forehead like a wreath.

The bit about the pentacle of Solomon ties in with what we mentioned before when we discussed setting up the altar, and the latter about the wreath agrees with Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10) in his description of the ecstatic method of contacting good spirits: “You shall also have a veil of pure clean linen, and in the fore-part thereof let there be fixed golden or gilded Lamens, with the inscription of the name Tetragrammaton” and “that always as often as he enters into the Circle, he have upon his forehead a golden Lamen, upon which there must be written the name Tetragrammaton“. This means that the “pentacle” described in DSIC may well not have been referring to the lamen of the spirit to be conjured at all, but an actual pentacle of Solomon. Plus we should be using a Tetragrammaton-engraved crown, which ties this ritual in more with the usual Solomonic practices.

But Barrett has even more surprises in store for us. He gives us this instruction regarding one of the supplies and processes for preparing ourselves and our equipment for conjuration:

Have ready a small new phial filled with clear Oil—olive with which you must anoint your eyelids and palms of both hands—and when all is ready make a small cross upon the flat side of the Chrystal where the Characters are and turn the convex side towards thy face—let it be placed between the two lights…

Okay, so we need a new bottle of clear, pure olive oil, with which we anoint our eyelids and palms of our hands before the conjuration; easy enough. But then he goes on to describe that the crystal itself should be anointed with the same oil, but note how he describes it: there’s a flat side to the crystal, so Barrett here seems to suggest that the crystal should be round on one side and flat on the other, i.e. a hemisphere. The flat side should be put on the side with “the Characters” (i.e. the hexagram with central Yod, the pentagram, the cross, and the name Tetragrammaton); this would make the round side put on the side that has the names of the four archangels. We are then to have the crystal oriented such that the round side facing the magician.

This goes against what we decided earlier in our DSIC discussions in several ways. DSIC says that the crystal is to be “globular or round each way alike”, i.e. a total sphere, round on all sides. While the pedestal design itself doesn’t change in terms of what names and characters need to be engraved on it, it does kinda throw in our idea of having Michael on top, Gabriel on the right, Raphael on the bottom, and Uriel on the left into disarray; I earlier decided on this because that’s how the DSIC illustration itself shows the plate, and if we were to face this side away from us, Gabriel would be technically on our left and Uriel on our right when facing away from us, which would put Gabriel in the North and Uriel in the South, in agreement with the directional associations given by Agrippa’s Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7). That reasoning falls apart, however, if that’s the side that we’re supposed to face toward us instead of away from us, which is incredibly obnoxious. We could just flip Gabriel and Uriel so that Gabriel would be engraved on the left of the plate holding the crystal and Uriel on the right if we wanted to preserve those directional associations, I suppose; I don’t think it fundamentally matters since, after all, the order in which the names are presented in the DSIC text don’t match up with the order in which they’re displayed on the DSIC plate. I suppose we might have just been reading too much into the DSIC design, neat though it was.

Still, Barrett’s notes here clearly state that the side with the angels should face the magician and not away from them, yet it also says that the crystal should have a flat side, too, which doesn’t match up with what DSIC says at all, which is that it should be totally spherical and round on all sides. If we assume that DSIC was written by Barrett, then this suggests either that Barrett changed his approach or used a variation of the tools proposed in DSIC itself, but this could also be a major sign that Barrett himself wasn’t the original author of DSIC (despite all suggestions that he did). This also means that the crystal should be exposed on both sides, the round side so that we can gaze into it and the flat side so that we can anoint it, and not covered with gold leaf on one side. This throws out our whole parabolic/spherical mirror idea for the candlelight to enter into the exposed front of the crystal and bounce off the gilded and round rear of it, at least in terms of Barrett’s application of the ritual—though the crystal being exposed on both sides does match up with pretty much everyone who’s ever applied DSIC, either in terms of using a crystal ball without a pedestal at all (for those in the Fr. RO camp) or those who use a pedestal with the crystal exposed on both sides (for those in the Fr. AC camp).

But this isn’t even the most surprising part of what Barrett says about the DSIC tools; of all the notes that Barrett provides, it’s this that I found most gobsmacking and flabbergasting:

You may omit the table on which the/chrystal is placed mentioned in the Magus with the wand which I never use—but instead sett the instruments upon the holy Bible saying [the] Consecration of the Place whereon the bible and Chrystal is sett…

Like…is he for real? The table—that contentious contraption that we spent multiple posts discussing—can just outright be omitted and replaced with a Bible? This lends some credence to the idea I had way back when that we could just use a monstrance and put it on top of a Triangle of Art from the Lemegeton Goetia, but this goes even beyond that. Then there’s also his remark that he never even uses the wand! For all the hassle of designing, creating, and consecrating the damn thing, for Barrett to say that “I never use” the wand should come as a massive shock to many DSIC-using magicians. If anything, I want to interpret this as using the wand as a tool of intimidation and force, in the same vein as a Solomonic sword—again, more evidence against Fr. AC’s argument that it’s not such a tool at all. It’s also in line with Fr. RO’s suggestion that the wand simply isn’t necessary, but it does raise the question of what Barrett would use to trace the circle out with—if he ever did at all, or if he ever even used a circle at all, which he doesn’t describe in this text (he mentions a circle only once in passing, and that with no further explanation). It also recalls that Agrippa never used a circle in his primary means of contacting “good spirits” (book IV, chapter 10).

Back to the bit about replacing the table with a Bible. Note that I don’t think this approach would be preferred if one were using a Table of Practice, i.e. a platform for the crystal that contains the design elements of both the pedestal and the crystal, but so long as one had the pedestal that held the crystal, one could replace the table entirely with a Bible. This means that—if Barrett himself was adapting the ritual for his own ends—then the table itself is nonessential, so long as the pedestal/crystal was put on something holy. It could be the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, it could be a Bible, it could be John Dee’s version of the Sigillum or his own square Table of Practice, an almadel from the Ars Almadel, or the Table of Practice of the Ars Paulina, whatever! I’ll note here, though, that in this case, the only names of four entities present on the tools then are those of the four archangels—and not the four kings. We know that the four kings (Oriens, Paimon, Egyn, Amaymon) are what the DSIC text (most likely) mean when it comes to the design of the table, that’s absolutely true, but let’s be honest: it’s evident, with ten years of modern practice being extant plus Barrett’s own notes included, that it doesn’t matter either way whether you focus on the four directional/elemental entities being angelic or demonic. To me, this is a strong piece of evidence that four entities of some sort (whether demonic or angelic) are necessary for the materialization or manifestation of the spirit in the crystal, and that the four archangels perform this function just fine on their own just as the four usual kings would.

Going back to the manuscript, Barrett gives the following consecration to be said above the Bible upon which the pedestal and crystal are placed:

In the name of the Holy and Blessed Trinity, I consecrate this Table by virtue of the Holy Bible that contains the Word of the Eternal Wisdom, and by the Holy Tables of the Law given unto Moses upon Mount Sinai, so that no evil thing may enter herein to die, hurt, or prejudice anyone. Bless, o Lord, all these instruments and experiments for the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Although we didn’t have a prayer or consecration process for the table earlier in our talk when we discussed making everything, this prayer could easily be amended to be used for consecrating the table, which might indeed be useful (and reflects Barrett’s repeated injunctions for everything to be consecrated before use). Barrett also provides several other prayers to be used which differ slightly from those in DSIC proper, such as the prayer of conjuration itself, which should be recited seven times (note his reference to using the Bible instead of a table as described by DSIC):

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost do I conjure you, o you spirit NN., by him who spoke the Word and it was done; by him who is the beginning and the end, the first and the last; by the Creation of the World and by the Last Judgment; that you, o NN., appear to me visibly in this crystal. By the virtue of the Holy Bible on which it is placed, give me true answers concerning those things which I desire to know and be informed of; instruct me truly and show us our desire without any guile or craft. This I do conjure you quickly to do by the virtue of God who shall come to judge the living and the dead and the World by Fire. Amen.

I conjure and exorcise you, o NN., by the Sacrament of Christ’s Body, by his Miracles, by the Sea, by the Earth, by all the things above and under the Earth and all their virtues, by the seven planets, by the seven spirits which stand before the face of God, by the great name of God Tetragrammaton El-Ousin Agla, by all the names of God holy and blessed and all their virtues, by the Circumcision and Baptism and Passion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ the Blessed Lord and Redeemer at whose name the devils tremble, by his name Emmanuel Messias, by all the good and holy names of the blessed Trinity in Unity! I invoke you, o NN., that you quickly appear in this crystal visibly and with a plain and intelligible voice; show me those things which are proven for me to know, and answer and inform me of these things that I may propose to you through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Note the godnames “Tetragrammaton El-Ousin Agla”. This is almost what we see on the wand, which is “Tetragrammaton On Agla”, but with “On” replaced by “El-Ousin”. As I discussed in my Wand of Art writeup when I made my own wand, “On” is a Greek word meaning “being” or “existing thing”, i.e. The Existent or The One. “Ousin”, in this case, is another Greek word, which should probably better be written as “Ousia”, a term meaning “substance” or “essence” or “the primary substratum underlying reality”. “El-Ousin” (or “El-Ousia”) combines this term with the Hebrew term for God; this then could be interpreted as “The Divine Essence Itself”. To my mind, “On” and “El-Ousin” are equivalent and interchangeable.

The prayer above for the conjuration is followed in King’s Appendix A by a prayer for a license to depart, after reciting which one is to “repeat the Prayer in the Magus returning thanks to God with any additional prayers or Psalms thou mayest think proper”:

God has appointed you a place; go in his name to wherever you belong, and be ready to come when I call you in his name to whom every knee in Heaven, upon the Earth, and under the Earth bows. I give you license to depart in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

There’s also a lengthy prayer included by King in the notes to this appendix, which “was used, or intended to be used, at the beginning of a rite for the invocation of a Saturnian and/or Martial spirit—or so I suppose from the fact that the ‘perfumes’ for the rite included sulphur, hellebore and euphorbium and that the operation was intended to take place in the planetary hour dedicated to Mars”, but which is written in a confused and rambling way. This prayer (the “preparatory prayer” mentioned in the considerations earlier in this post) is what Barrett says should be recited seven times before the conjuration ritual itself and which may be recited every morning in the seven days leading up to the conjuration. King says that the original prayer was written with such random and erratic punctuation that he tried reforming it to what he presumes to be its original; I’ve modified it further to make it make a little more sense, myself, both for punctuation and slight wording.

Almighty and most merciful Lord God, I am your poor, humble, and unworthy Servant, being an admirer of Wisdom, a votary of Science, and student of Knowledge of the Creator, desirous of true spiritual light, although a Worm subject to the frailties, wickedness, temptations, and casualties of the flesh. Grant, o great Jehovah, that I may this night see by thy divine Will and wonderful Power those spirits that may inform me of of those things, good and wholesome for my soul, that may be beneficial to me in my mortal and corruptible state. Grant these things, o most beneficent Being, to me, being desirous of holy things and willing to pursue the paths of Knowledge and true Wisdom.

O Lord, I beseech you to forgive my sins and mercifully incline your heavenly ear to my petition, which I now with my whole heart, soul, and mind offer to you and beseech you to take away the cloud of sensuality and dullness that I may clearly behold the spirit I invoke this day; this I earnestly pray, thinking nothing better for a man in this world than to be informed of things above corruption and to enjoy the sublime benefit of seeing spiritually and conversing with your blessed intelligence. But this I know myself unworthy of, as I am a fleshly creature. But, o God, as your Son, Jesus Christ, says: “whatsoever ye ask, that shall ye receive”; so, most mighty God, I, being one man, ask to receive divine illumination by the ministry of your spirit, a pure spirit, with whom I desire to see openly and fully to converse this day, o God. Grant, great Jehovah, that I may be taught Wisdom by this said spirit this day and that no evil spirit whatsoever may have power to come in the name of the good spirits to deceive me to the ruin of the health of my soul. O most mighty God, I beseech you to pardon this my imbecility in thinking myself capable of making myself heard; but, as I ask, let me receive as my intentions are. So let me be answered!

I know my own unworthiness, o Lord; great are my sins and iniquity; they are more than the hairs upon my head. But, o Lord God Almighty, if I have found any favor in your sight, if my anxious longing after Knowledge and true Wisdom or my anxious endeavors to acquire it be pleasing to you, o Fountain of Life and Light and Wisdom, then let one of your spirits descend and make known to me what course I should pursue. O almighty and merciful Jehovah, I wish through the medium of a gross and earthly body to exert that spark of your divine Essence which I believe you did formerly breathe into our nostrils with the Breath of Life; enable me, o God Almighty, to conquer those bad passions which every day rise in my heart. Let the Blood of Christ be an atonement for my sins, and grant that I, o Lord, who am a disciple of Wisdom, should attain knowledge and destroy those seeds sown by our human nature.

O God, grant I may be rapt up in the divine Vision of your holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, who sacrificed precious and immortal Blood upon the Cross. Enable me, o Most High, to immediately become a servant of your Will and an instrument curing the sick and the diseased, of relieving the distressed and fortifying the afflicted, doing all the good that may be made. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, I earnestly beseech you to intercede with the Father on my behalf. Be pleased, o most merciful God, Ruler of all things visible and invisible, to grant my petitions and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Let him descend this day and make known those things I desire, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Honestly, I wish I had read this text sooner, or at least had known about it before I wrote many of my earlier DSIC posts. There’s plenty of stuff that Barrett has written for us that we can easily (or not-so-easily) incorporate into our earlier discussions as extra guidance and advice, but there’s also a lot of stuff here that doesn’t match up. I don’t think that what Barrett says above invalidates any of our earlier practices, but I also can’t really say that Barrett is wrong, since Barrett is the source (in one way or another) of DSIC at all, and we’re getting Barrett’s own insights on how to use DSIC. Frustrating as it might be, the wrenches that Barrett throws into our earlier discussions are still enlightening; if nothing else, what we discussed earlier could be considered a “purer” form of DSIC practice, or at least another variant of it, if we assume that Barrett indeed didn’t create DSIC to include in The Magus. It certainly gives us all more food for thought in how we approach DSIC and how far we want to take it in terms of either its Agrippan influences or its Solomonic ones.

I think I was successful when I set out to write my DSIC posts to answer many of the questions surrounding this ritual text, although I know I also left some questions that remain to be answered. The process of research isn’t always linear, and the discovery and review of Francis King’s work about Francis Barrett shows just that; this text answers many questions, including some that I thought were sufficiently answered before, but it also raises just as many other questions, including calling into question some of my own conclusions. If nothing else, this should help other magicians get involved and try out different designs, approaches, and uses for DSIC, whether they incorporate Barrett’s own notes or not.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Dechristianizing DSIC

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 today we can move on to other topics  Last time, we discussed how we might tackle certain problems that could come up in conjuration when things go sideways.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

As we’ve shown at many points during our review, survey, and discussion over the past number of weeks, it’s clear that DSIC is very much a relatively late product of Western Renaissance Hermetic, Solomonic, and qabbalistic literature, relying especially on Agrippa’s Fourth Book and the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano but also referencing many other texts in those same lines, which were universally written with either pseudo-Jewish language, Christian language, or both.  I mean, heck, DSIC itself is attributed to a Christian abbot, Johannes Trithemius of Spanheim, so it should come as little surprise that we’d find Christian phrases and reliance on the power of Jesus Christ in our prayers—even if the real authorship of DSIC lies either with Barrett himself or one of his contemporaries or near-predecessors.

It really shouldn’t catch anyone off-guard that every tool, implement, and prayer in DSIC is accompanied with or emblazoned by names of God or references to Jesus; after all, that pretty much is the whole of the grimoire tradition from a pretty early period onwards up into the modern era.  After all, the majority of Europeans have (for better or worse) been various kinds of Christian for at least the past 1000 years, if not 1500 or even longer more; for the past thirty or so generations of European-centric culture, people were born Christian, lived Christian, and died Christian.  It was heresy, apostasy, and blasphemy to do otherwise—though, of course, the exact limits of what could be considered “Christian” would certainly vary from place to place and people to people, especially once you account for even longer-lived traditions that carried on under Christian masques.

It’s only within relatively recent history that people born within a largely European or Western culture are willingly and openly choosing to live in non-Christian ways again, and though some of those people do so in a way that’s respectful and understanding of their Christian heritage (which of course they have), many people just outright leave it all behind and want nothing to do with it anymore.  And I don’t blame them!  It’s not like Christianity, beautiful religion that it can be when you get into the theologies and eschatologies and salvific elements, has earned itself a good reputation when you factor in the institutionalization, politics, war crimes, sexual abuse epidemics, colonization, and all the other horrific problems that come about when you become an imperialist power of the shit-filled world we live in.  As the Indian philosopher Bara Dada once said, “Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians, you are not like him”.

To get to the point: we have a modern, thriving occulture and occult scene being played out on worldwide platforms that has dozens, hundreds of spiritual lineages, traditions, and practices being shared, applied, experimented with, adjusted, and adapted by a hundred times as many people each and every day.  The problem that arises, as far as DSIC (and this post) is concerned, is when people are presented with a ritual text and want to (or are directed or suggested to) apply it but are yet unwilling to do so due to its Christian tone and approach because they themselves are uncomfortable with Christianity.  What can be done?

In all honesty, the easiest choice is to just use the text as written: despite any hangups, chips on your shoulder, or hesitation when it comes to Christian language and theology, the honest-to-God most straightforward approach here is to just suck it up, shelve your hesitations or chips or blocks, and use DSIC.  It’s already a complete (well…mostly, sorta) text that works, and has been shown to work by Christians and non-Christians alike (I’m proof of just that).  You don’t need to be Jewish to use Psalms in magic, you don’t need to be Hindu to make pūjā for the devas, you don’t need to be Buddhist to use mantras for the bodhisattvas, and you don’t need to be Christian to use DSIC.  If the only thing that prevents you from using DSIC (by all accounts an easy, straightforward method to Western-style conjuration, if not an introduction to even heavier and more laborious and intense texts than that) is you, then either you should sit with yourself and try to resolve your hangups that has nothing directly to do with them (it’s not like Christian authorities would exactly approve of what DSIC does!), or perhaps find a different approach to magic and conjuration entirely that doesn’t cause you such problems.

But that’s not a great answer, and can come across as pretty insensitive.  Plus, with the title of the post as it is, you can guess I’m not gonna accept that answer myself.

Yes, there are ways we can modify the ritual text to avoid references to Christ; that’s not that difficult at all, and is actually pretty trivial if you know a few non-Christian set phrases here and there to replace Christian set phrases.  For instance, the divine name Agla is, in reality, an acronym for the Hebrew phrase Atah Gibor Le-olam Adonai, “You are mighty forever, my Lord”, and we see echoes of this in some of the older prayers used in Christianity, such as “mighty unto the ages of ages” or “whose mercy endures forever and ever” or “world without end”.  So, for instance, whenever we see a conclusion to the prayer that ends in “through Jesus Christ our Lord” or any variation thereof, we can replace it with “for the honor and glory of God Almighty” or “for your honor and glory” (depending on whether God is being addressed or not in that specific prayer).  Instead of “in the name of the blessed Trinity”, we can simply say “in the name of God Almighty”—or, if you wanted to replace this with a more Islamic flavor, “in the name of God the Most Gracious and Most Merciful”.  Changes like this are pretty easy and straightforward to make.

For instance, below is a copy of the DSIC ritual script that contains just the prayers from DSIC, but with all references to Christ and the Trinity removed and substituted with fairly appropriate changes in bold text:

O God, you who are the author of all good things!  I beseech you, strengthen this your poor servant, that he may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  I beseech you, o Lord, enlighten the dark understanding of your creature, that his spiritual eye may be opened to see and know your angelic spirits descending here into this crystal.

O inanimate creature of God, be sanctified and consecrated and blessed to this purpose: that no evil phantasy may appear in you, or, if one should gain ingress into you, that they be constrained to speak intelligibly, truly, and without the least ambiguity, for the honor and glory of God Most High.  Amen.

As your servant standing here before you, o Lord, who desires neither evil treasures, nor injury to his neighbor, nor hurt to any living creature; grant him the power of descrying those celestial spirits and intelligences that may appear in this crystal, and whatever good gifts—whether the power of healing infirmities, or of imbibing wisdom, or discovering any evil likely to afflict any person or family, or any other good gift—you might be pleased to bestow on me.  Enable me, by your wisdom and mercy, to use whatever I may receive to the honor of your holy name. Grant that all this may come to pass for your honor and glory.  Amen.

In the name of God Most High and Most Holy do I consecrate this piece of ground for our defense, so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here, by the everlasting power of God.  Amen.

I conjure you, o creature of fire, by Him who created all things, both in Heaven and Earth and the Sea and in every other place whatsoever, that you cast away every phantasm from you, so that no hurt whatsoever shall be done in any thing.

Bless, o Lord, this creature of fire, and sanctify it that it may be blessed, and that your blessing may fill up the power and virtue of its odors, so that neither the enemy nor any false imagination may enter into them, that all things may serve towards your honor and glory.  Amen.

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful!  I desire you, o strong mighty angel NN., that if it be the divine will of him who is called Tetragrammaton … the Holy God, the Father, that you take upon yourself some shape as best becomes your celestial nature, and appear to me visibly here in this crystal, and answer my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine mercy and grace by requesting unlawful knowledge, but that you graciously show me what things are most profitable for me to know and do, to the glory and honor of his divine majesty, he who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

Lord, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Make clean my heart within me, and take not your holy spirit from me.

O Lord, by your name have I called NN.; suffer him to administer unto me, and that all things may work together for your honor and glory, that to you, o Lord, be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

O Lord!  I give to you my hearty and sincere thanks for the hearing of my prayer, and I thank you for having permitted your spirit NN. to appear unto me, whom I, by your grace, will interrogate to my further instruction, in your holy Light.  Amen.

Do you swear by and within the True Light of God that reveals all secrets and obliterates all darkness that you are truly the spirit as you say you are and that you come to help me as I have called you?

O great and mighty spirit NN, inasmuch as you came in peace and in the name of the ever-blessed and righteous Trinity, so too in this name you may depart, and return to me when I call you in His name to whom every knee bows down.  Farewell, o NN.!  May peace be between us for the eternal honor and glory of God Almighty.  Amen.

To God, the Father, the eternal Spirit, the fountain of Light, the Creator of all creation, and the Sustainer of all life be all honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

Like, I did all that in about five minutes, copy-pasting and all.  It wasn’t hard.  And, moreover, it ties in just fine with the use of the DSIC tools that similarly don’t involve Christian language; the few divine names that are used have no relationship to Christ (which is another argument in favor of their ultimate Solomonic origins, I might add).  All the things I replaced were only in the prayers to be made, and were replaced with pretty bland and basically-equivalent things that maintained the same sense of what I wanted to use to begin with.  Heck, based on some of Fr. RO’s writings before on using more classically Hermetic stuff, I’ve got my own version of drawing out the circle specifically with a more Hermetic-Gnostic bent, which departs more from the DSIC phrasing but does exactly the same thing:

In the name of the Nous, this circle is consecrated for our defense.
By the power of the Logos, this circle is defended for our perfection.
For the sake of the Sophia, this circle is perfected for our work.
Through the might of the Aiōn, may all that is baneful be cast out, that only Good may here remain.

But there are those who would still take issue with this dechristianized version of DSIC because to them it’d still read as “too Christian”.  Despite this not being Christian at all anymore, it is still theistic in the Abrahamic sense, and that’s much harder to avoid because the prayers of DSIC are fundamentally Solomonic, and Solomonic texts are absolutely Abrahamic coming from a long tradition of Jewish magic, whether or not Hellenistic, Babylonian, Neoplatonic, or qabbalistic elements are involved or not.  To remove God from DSIC would mean completely detaching DSIC not only from its Solomonic tradition, but from the entirety of the Solomonic hierarchial worldview with God at the top of it and all things being accomplished by it under the authority and with the license of God.  And that’s very difficult to accomplish, because doing so means we need to rethink the entire cosmological underpinnings of DSIC that allows it to work at all.

It’s a lot like petitioning Christian saints, like (especially) St. Cyprian of Antioch, without being Christian: sure, you can do so, and it’s not like the saints themselves will (typically) spurn you, because they recognize that the same divinity that made them holy is within you, too.  But you can’t petition the saints or approach them without recognizing that it’s quite literally Jesus Christ that made them a saint to begin with.  If you accept the validity of the power and presence of Christian saints but deny the fundamental divinity that gives them that power and presence, then you’re basically trying to ascribe power to the saints themselves apart and away from Jesus, which isn’t how it works at all.  Not only that, but you also end up insulting the saints by disparaging and denying the God and savior they themselves worship.  It doesn’t end prettily.  You don’t have to be Christian to work with the saints (even if it does help immensely to be so), but you do need to recognize and honor Jesus Christ in your work with them because that’s the fundamental source of their own power.

Likewise, I know (and have personally encountered) some people who want to work with angels but who don’t like the idea of God and end up ignoring God entirely in their works.  That’s honestly a contradiction, because no matter how you cut it, the angels are the functionaries, emissaries, and servants of God; it’s right in their names (Michael ← “Who is like God?”, Raphael ← “Healing of God”, Gabriel ← “Strength of God”, etc.).  To take entities like this and completely remove them from their cosmological, theological, and mythological origins really doesn’t leave you with a lot to work with, because accepting the power of the angels necessitates accepting the power of God.  God and the angels come together as part of a package deal; you can’t really take one and leave the other without leaving yourself in the dust.  You don’t have to be Christian or Jewish or Muslim or partake in any kind of Abrahamic faith, but you do have to recognize the power and sovereignty of God in order to enter into the hierarchy that allows the angels themselves to work as well as to allow DSIC, as a ritual that’s fundamentally based on the angels and Solomonic hierarchies, to function.

So is that it, then?  If you don’t believe in God, you’re screwed as far as DSIC is concerned?  Well…yes and no.  “Yes” because DSIC fundamentally relies on a notion of a Divine Sovereign at the top of a cosmological hierarchy to which all things in the cosmos must necessarily obey when presented by an authority licensed by that Sovereign, to whom we can petition that we receive such authority and license to perform spiritual works to direct and summon spiritual entities as we desire within the boundaries of the permission of that Sovereign, under whom are particular planetary and worldly powers that facilitate creation, manifestation, and materialization in the world we live in that ultimately is made by and ruled by that Sovereign.  That is my understanding of the bare-bones cosmology under which the DSIC ritual operates, apart and away from its Solomonic vocabulary and structure.  That notion of Divine Sovereign is the “God” in which you must believe in order to use DSIC, so if you can’t buy that, then yes, you’re screwed.

That being said, the Divine Sovereign of DSIC is not necessarily identical to the God of the Jews, the God of the Christians, or the God of the Muslims, or any one particular cosmocrator, all-ruling deity or divinity of any particular tradition or faith.  If you can look behind some of the classically-used terms that people (who happen to be Jewish or Christian or Muslim, or some variant thereof that includes traditional, indigenous, or otherwise pagan influences without being classified as outright heretical or apostate) used to refer to this Divine Sovereign and see the fundamental divinity behind any particular religious approach and see something that you can understand and work with, then no, you’re not screwed, and can use DSIC just fine.  You might have hang-ups with some of the language used, and that can be resolved or worked with, finding appropriate substitutions as necessary, but once you understand why some of those very same terms and names are used, you can begin to appreciate what purpose they fulfill in the grander cosmological scheme of things and can still apply them without necessarily having to buy into any individual religious tradition that you don’t like or agree with.  In that light, you could consider this Divine Sovereign as YHVH of Judaism, as the Triune God of Christianity, as ‘Allāh of Islam, as Zeus Pantokrator of the Hellenes, Iupiter Optimus Maximus of the Romans, the Good of the Platonists, the Nous of the Hermeticists, Viṣṇu of Vaishnavaite Hindus or Śiva of Shaivite Hindus, and so on.  (This is one of the mysteries, as I see it, of Hermeticism as a spiritual practice: being able to see through the different interpretations to get to that which is interpreted directly.)

That’s where we need to be careful when changing the language and divine names used in DSIC—or, for that matter, any Solomonic or Hermetic ritual—because they typically fulfill some spiritual function at least as often as they fulfill some poetic or literary function.  While the phrases I replaced in my simple dechristianized DSIC alternative above were pretty easy, they also filled more-or-less the exact same role as the original Christian language, but I didn’t touch the divine names used on the tools because there was no need to and fit just as cleanly with the adapted ritual text as it did the original.  As Fr. AC says in GTSC, at least where it comes to the prayers themselves, that if the Christian language of the prayers used in DSIC “are too much of an aversion to your spiritual nature”, then you should make alternative prayers that—and he emphasizes this strongly and in no uncertain terms—”match [the original prayers] as closely as possible“.  This is most easily accomplished by simply changing some of the language, but you would need to do so in a way that matches the function of the original language as well as maintaining the underlying cosmological framework, as well.

I’m suddenly reminded that, back in February 2009, Fr. RO put up a post on his blog (a single post, unlike…what, is this the 21st post in this series?) that was basically a synopsis of how to conjure spirits using a very pared-down, fast-and-loose version of DSIC.  In it, he describes some non-Christian, and even non-Abrahamic things one might use for a combined lamen-cum-Table of Practice and some of the prayers:

You’ll need to draw the spirit’s symbol inside a hexagram, underneath it’s name. A Hexagram is a Star of David, made of two triangles, one pointing up and one pointing down. Each little triangle formed by the points should be the same size.

Around this hexagram, draw FIVE Pentragrams (five-pointed stars). Four of these stars represent the four Angels of the Corners of the Earth. The Fifth represents the Spirit you are conjuring.

Next write the spirit’s name above these stars. In the Fourth Book, you write them in Hebrew.

Next, draw an equilateral triangle around everything you’ve drawn so far.

Next, draw a circle around the Triangle. It should touch the three points of the triangle.

Draw another circle around that circle, about a half-inch or so out from the first circle. In the border you have created, write the Names of God. These Names will vary depending on your source. If you’ve studied the Golden Dawn version of the Tree of Life, and have performed the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram a time or two, and the Middle Pillar on occasion, then you should probably use the Names of God that are assigned to the ten Sephiroth.

In my opinion, you can write IAO, LOGOS, Chronos, Zeus, Apollo, Aries, Aphrodite, Hermes, Artemis, and Hephaestus. You can throw in Hecate instead of Hepaestus too, but I’d keep Hephaestus in there anyhow. Now these are Greek manifestations of the faces of God that were revealed to a set of people that were not given the Law the way God gave it to the Jews. Instead, they were given the Logos in the form of Philosophy and other weirdness.*

Either way, or any other way, you’re representing in the outermost circle the manifestations of God that represent the different phases He went through in his emanation of the physical world. By listing these secret names, you the magician are pointing out to the servants of the Most High that you’re in on the secret, you understand the way things work, and that you’re an initiate. It’s like a badge that a sheriff wears. There’s no magic in the star of the cop, it’s what it represents that makes a criminal have to listen.

When I trace a Circle, I say, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I consecrate this ground for our defense!” You can say, IAO, LOGOS, and Spiritus Mundi/Spiritus Sancti if you’re not feeling particularly comfortable with the names of God from the Christian tradition. I strongly urge you to stick with the neoplatonic system though. You’ll need a representative of the Monad, the Intercessor, and the Spirit that maintains everything in your world, like the name of your Nativity Angel, Genius, Agathadaimon, or HGA. By touching on these three things, you’re retracing your path up through the spheres, and acknowledging who you are and what your status is. You’re affirming that you are indeed the magician in the center square of the Circle of the Goetia with these simple words.

In some ways, I agree with his logic, and as a result, I’m reminded of some of Satyr Magos’ old work from a few years back in a custom Table of Practice to conjure the spirit of the plant cannabis, as well as a unique lamen-based pentacle incorporating PGM elements of the spirits of Saturn and Venus, all taking the fundamental techniques and technology of DSIC (based on Agrippa’s Fourth Book as well as fundamentally Solomonic ideas) and applying them in his own way.  These are by no means pure implementations of DSIC, Agrippa, or Solomonica, but they don’t have to be, because Satyr Magos (definitely not Christian or Abrahamic) took the fundamental notions of what was going on, went past the Abrahamic language, adapted DSIC to work within a Hellenistic pagan and magical method using the same fundamental underlying cosmology, and made something great with it.

But at the same time, I also know that Fr. RO took care in specifying what was being done, as did Satyr Magos.  You can’t just slap the names of the Twelve Olympians on top of the seven planetary angels, because they don’t fulfill the same function…unless you know to approach and conceive of them in that way: that the Olympians preside over the celestial and heavenly forces that produce creation.  (This is the same reasoning, by the way, that allows some people to successfully adapt DSIC tools to forego the use of the four kings and use the four archangels instead, because for them, in their manner of working and cosmological need, the four angels fill the same purpose as the four kings, and depending on how far back you want to reach, as we touched on before, can be considered interchangeable or identical with them.)

Basically, if you want to adapt DSIC not just in how you design the tools but how you construct and recite the very prayers of the ritual, you need to be careful that you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Yes, in order to use DSIC, you do need to buy into the fundamental cosmological framework upon which DSIC is founded and within which DSIC operates.  So long as you can do that, and recognize what the individual components of the ritual (prayers, divine names, sigils, symbols, arrangements, etc.) are doing, then you are entirely and absolutely able to adapt DSIC to your own personal religious or spiritual needs; thus, you could come up with a Neoplatonic Hellenic DSIC, a PGM-style DSIC, an Islamic DSIC, and any number of other variants that both click with the underlying framework of DSIC as well as being adjusted to the needs of specific spiritual or religious traditions.  However, even though this boils down to just a change in aesthetics, extreme caution is still needed that you keep all the things that need to be kept.  Otherwise, you end up either jeopardizing the functionality or safety of DSIC, or end up with something so completely different that it cannot be considered DSIC anymore.

So, for example, let’s say we wanted to come up with an adaptation of DSIC in the style of the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM).  Honestly, given how some of the texts are phrased in the PGM itself, the general theist adaptation of the prayers given above would suffice just fine for them; the only thing it really lacks are strings of barbarous words of power or other humanely-unintelligible divine names, which we could put in when referring to “the ever-blessed and righteous Trinity” or “swear upon the blood and righteousness of Christ” or wherever, as necessary.  However, the generic dechristianized prayer adaptation above would work fine.  The real issue in getting DSIC to fall more in line with PGM stuff would be the design of the tools and implements…sorta.

  • I mean, if you consider the divine names used on the pedestal and wand to just be a type of generalized barbarous word of power that happens to have Hebrew or Greek origins (much as the popular barbarous word ΣΕΜΕΣΕΙΛΑΜ comes from Hebrew for “eternal sun”, shemesh `olam), and the three symbols on the pedestal/wand to just be forms of characters generally.  I mean, wherever “Tetragrammaton” occurs, you could just keep that but written in Greek (which wouldn’t be utterly uncommon), or substitute it with ΙΑΩ (which is a Greek rendition of YHVH, the actual Tetragrammaton).  Alternatively, instead of referring to Jesus, one might call upon Abrasax (whose name, ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ, adds up to 365) as another divine figure, especially considering that they’re both solar entities at heart.
  • The only thing that you might want to consider changing would be the names of the four angels, four kings, and seven planetary angels.  But would that even really be necessary, either?  I mean, there are references to the angels in the PGM, as well, so their inclusion—at least for the four archangels on the pedestal—in a PGM device would fall within the realm of plausibility.
  • The four kings, likewise, even though they’re not purely part of PGM, could be included all the same, or we might substitute them with e.g. my four Solar Guardians of the Directions.
  • The seven planetary angels could be substituted with the seven planetary titans (e.g. Hēlios, Mēnē, Stilbōn) or their corresponding deities (e.g. Apollōn, Artemis, Hermēs), or (using an alternative interpretation of the DSIC instructions) we could omit the planetary angels entirely and just use the seals and characters of the planets without making reference to angels at all.
  • Or, if you wanted to stick with the seven planets, or something related to them, there are the names of the Fates of Heaven (PGM IV.662—674), the Pole Lords of Heaven (PGM IV.674—692), and the Images of God (PGM XIII.880—887) we put together when we discussed the seven stars of both Ursa Minor and Ursa Maior, and the seven planets and how they might relate to each other in a structure of high-cosmic rulership.  No characters for these, it’d seem, but PGM stuff always focused far more by far on names and words of power than characters generally.
  • Instead of using seven planets on the outer ring, depending on whether you consider the planets the primary celestial generators of the cosmos or the stars, you could use the twelve signs of the Zodiac instead, perhaps replacing their names and glyphs with those from Demokritos’ Dream Divination ritual from PGM VII.795—845.
  • For the lamen, the general form could remain the same, perhaps just replacing the string of divine names on the ring if you wanted something less Abrahamic, even if they still qualified as barbarous words of power on their own, some of them appearing in the PGM itself—perhaps using the divine names in the PGM that add up to 9999 (ΦΡΗ ΑΝΩΙ ΦΩΡΧΩ ΦΥΥΥΥ ΡΟΡΨΙΣ ΟΡΟΧΩΩΙ and ΧΑΒΡΑΧ ΦΝΕΣΧΗΡ ΦΙΧΡΟ ΦΝΥΡΩ ΦΩΧΩ ΒΩΧ, respectively), the “six names” from the Headless Rite (ΑΩΘ ΑΒΡΑΘΩ ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ, but remember that ΙΑΩ is a Greek rendition of YHVH, i.e. the Tetragrammaton itself, ΣΑΒΑΩΘ a rendition of Tzabaoth, and ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ can be interpreted as Aramaic or Hebrew for “in the name [of] Isaac”), or other divine names as desired, especially if they have planetary connections for the planet of the spirit being conjured.  Another good set of names to use here are those from the Royal Ring of Abrasax: ΦΝΩ ΕΑΙ ΙΑΒΩΚ, ΑΔΩΝΑΙΕ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ, Ο ΠΑΝΤΩΝ ΜΟΝΑΡΧΟΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ, ΚΡΥΠΤΕ ΑΟΡΑΤΕ ΠΑΝΤΑΣ ΕΦΟΡΩΝ, ΟΥΕΡΤΩ ΠΑΝΤΟΔΥΝΑΣΤΑ.
  • As for general ritual process, I would (of course) recommend my PGM-Style Framing Rite as a way to “do the usual” for such a PGM-style DSIC, or parts of it could be used to hack up a PGM-style DSIC process.

What about if we were to come up with a more Islamic variant?

  • Again, although the prayer variation given above works fine, more epithets could be used from the 99 Names of ‘Allāh, or similar invocations of jinn or spirits from a variety of Islamic texts on magic could be used.
  • Although the Picatrix has two sets of angels for the planets (one used in the lengthy and beautiful prayers that doesn’t match up with any other system commonly known or used, another used for the Mirror of the Seven Winds which do match up with what we later find in sources like Liber Juratus Honorii or the Heptameron), I might recommend instead using the Shams al-Ma`ārif instead, which uses a set of angels that’s more well-attested in Islamic and Arabic planetary magic.  In my estimation, the seals of the angels could reasonably be kept the same, changing the names out to be Arabic instead of Latin or Hebrew (or, realistically, pseudo-Hebrew or Hebrew-derived).
  • Jinn lore (cf. this website on these topics), but also Tewfik Canaan, “The Decipherment of Arabic Talismans” in The Formation of the Classical Islamic World (vol. 42), Magic and Divination in Early Islam, ed. Savage-Smith, 2004 Ashgate Publishing Ltd.) describes “four Heads” or “four Helpers”, spiritual entities who preside over the four directions: Māzar in the East, Qasūrah in the South, Kamṭam in the West, and Ṭaykal in the North (though properly “the sea”).  These four serve under (or are served by), respectively, the jinn lords El-Aḥmar, Shamhūrish, Mudhhib, and Murrah.  I’m not sure whether the four Helpers are better than using the four jinn lords here, because the jinn lords count among their number the jinn Maymūn—who would later become the Western Amaymon.  Within an Islamic or Arabic context, however, perhaps the four Helpers would be better.
  • Canaan above gives four angels for the four directions: Daniā’īl for the East, Ḥazqiā’īl for the South, Dardiā’īl for the West, and ‘Asiā’īl for the North.  However, I’ve also seen it attributed that the four main angels in Islamic lore are given such that Azrael (`Azrā’īl) is given to the East, Gabriel to the South, Raphael (Isrāfīl) to the West, and Michael (Mīkā’īl) to the North.  And, to offer another variation, we could use the angels of the planets that rule over the jinn lords above when connected to the four Helpers, leading to Samsamā’īl (Mars/Tuesday) for the East, Ṣarfyā’īl (Jupiter/Thursday) for the South, Rūqayā’īl (Sun/Sunday) for the West, and Jibraīl (Moon/Monday) for the North.  Any one of these sets could be used for the pedestal, though I like using the four main angels, myself, perhaps replacing Azrael with Uriel (‘Ūriāl).
  • I’m not sure what good replacements would be for the divine names used on the wand, pedestal, or lamen.  We know that some of the famous 99 Names of ‘Allāh in Islam have planetary uses or associations (see the link to the Shams al-Ma`ārif above), but perhaps other texts such as the Berhatiah might contain other divine names for consideration.

I don’t mean to say that these are the only possible ways to vary DSIC, or even for these specific traditions, but they should give some food for thought to those who would want to change DSIC up a bit to suit other traditions and spiritual practices, without using a fundamentally different conjuration ritual that involves other or different tools.  DSIC, as has been shown in the past 15 years or so, can prove to be a highly flexible system, especially if you play more fast-and-loose with it as Fr. RO likes to do, because the fundamental technology and approach works to conjure spirits into crystals.  That’s all we’re trying to do; everything else is aesthetics and design choices.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Actual Ritual Itself

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 today we can move on to other topics  Last time, we discussed how to orient the altar, what needs to go on it, and how to time the conjuration ritual itself.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

I’ve now written sixteen posts so far in this series, with about 67,000 words, quotes and images and all, with this being the seventeenth one.  And, just now, we’re finally—finally—getting to the actual ritual portion of DSIC.  To be fair, we did have quite a lot to talk about to get up to this point: what the actual tools and implements specifically called for by DSIC looked like, how to make them, what other stuff we needed, how to prepare ourselves, how to set up our temple space, how to set up the altar of conjuration, and how to time the ritual.  With all that out of the way, we’re now actually ready to discuss the actual ritual format of DSIC.  The format given below is my own personal take on the ritual choreography of DSIC, accounting for magicians, scryers, assistants, and all the things everyone should be doing, how, and when so as to build up to a harmonized performance of the ritual.  Much of this is based on my own experience, with some of it coming from the directions or witnessed implementations of similar Solomonic rituals.

So, let’s get into it.  By this point, we’ve undertaken our preparatory purification period of fasting, abluting, and prayer, our altar has been fully set up with all our supplies and tools at hand, and the awaited day and hour has come.  We will assume the following for the purposes of this post:

  • The conjuration is to call upon the angel Gabriel of the Moon.
  • The conjuration is being performed in an hour of the Moon, with the first prayer begun at the start of that hour of the Moon.
  • The orientation point (the direction the altar is set and to which we face for the conjuration), based on Agrippa’s correspondences from the Scale of Four, will be to the south.
  • The scrying medium to be used is a crystal.
  • The ring, lamen, and wand are all initially placed on the altar of conjuration itself.
  • The right hand will be used for wearing the ring and using the wand.
  • The vessel for incense is placed in a way that may easily be reached from the position of the magician within arm’s length.
  • A book for notes and observations for the conjuration should be present, but kept inside the circle along with pen and ink.
  • We are not using a scryer or any number of other assistants in this conjuration; you, as the magician will be operating alone (but we will make mention of their roles and functions when necessary).
  • We will be taking a full-on formal approach that covers all the necessary instructions, setups, procedures, and the like according to DSIC, Agrippa, and Solomonic literature, not skipping any steps or being casual with any part of the process.

For this post, we’ll be using the actual DSIC text itself and all its Christian prayers, and not any of the variants floating around out there, with only the spelling, punctuation, and phrasing updated for modern English without using the old-style thou/thee/thine/thy pronouns.  Parts that may change in reference to the spirit’s name, nature, related godnames, etc. as well as other changeable aspects of the ritual like the specific scrying medium used, etc. and the like will be in underlined text.  We’ll go over how to adapt the DSIC prayers in non-Christian frameworks in a later post, but for now, let’s stick to the basic DSIC text as written (though updated for readability).

Note that these prayers and instructions are written so as to accommodate any variation on the following, should you choose to depart from the setups and designs and approaches discussed in earlier posts:

  • Having the circle include the altar or exclude it
  • Using an actual table with the table design engraved or written onto it, or a separate piece of equipment that has the design put on top of another surface
  • Having the lamen be a Solomonic pentacle instead of the lamen of the spirit, having the lamen for the spirit with a Solomonic pentacle on the reverse, or wearing a Solomonic pentacle and placing the lamen for the spirit underneath the crystal
  • Using a pedestal to support the crystal on the table or whether the crystal is placed directly on a Table of Practice
  • Any specific design choices made for the pedestal, table, lamens, or wand
  • Placing the vessel for incense on the ground before the altar, off to the side on top of the altar, or behind the crystal on the altar or on the ground, so long as it is easily accessible and reachable
  • Using a proper Liber Spirituum or a regular notebook

Any variation of these above considerations is acceptable for use in this conjuration ritual, as are many other variations besides, I’m sure.

One further note before we get on with the ritual itself: it is absolutely best-practice, recommended, suggested, and urged that the magician learn all these prayers by heart.  They may read off of a script if necessary, and having a copy of such a script is good just in case the magician forgets or slips up on the wording or purpose of something, but it is absolutely the best possible approach for the magician to learn each of these prayers, steps, and routine by heart, forwards and backwards.  The magician should spend as much time as necessary, especially in the preparatory period leading up to the ritual, to review, memorize, and practice the ritual script so that they may execute it easily, correctly, and gracefully without relying on a script.

Pre-Ritual Setup
Begin by performing your usual devotions, supplications, confessions, and any other prayers you routinely or habitually use, or those that you have been reciting every day during the preparatory period; if you’ve been reciting these these while kneeling either in front of the conjuration altar, then do those here, too.  If you’re operating with any assistants, including a scryer, they should recite their own prayers as well.  You, as the magician, should be directly in front of the altar; if operating with a scryer, they should be on your immediate right in front of the altar, and any other assistants should be kneeling behind you.

All those present should have abluted themselves with holy water; if this has not yet been done, do this now.  You as the magician and the scryer, if one is present, should anoint themselves on the forehead and eyelids with holy oil at this point; the assistants, if any are present, may anoint themselves similarly if desired by the magician.  Both the ablution and anointing should be accompanied by appropriate prayers.

Recite any other prayers appropriate to the ritual as desired at this point, including supplications for enhanced visionary skills, protection in the undertaking, invocations of the planet ruling the hour, invocations to the angel of the hour or the genius loci of the time and place the ritual is to be performed, or invocations to one’s holy guardian angel, agathodaimōn, tutelary divinity, or supernatural assistant at this time.

Once any other preliminary prayers have been recited, if any, stand up straight before the altar.  If you’re operating with a scryer, they should remain kneeling on your right, and any other assistants present should remain kneeling where they are behind you.  At this point, if you’re operating with any assistants, only you as the magician should be reciting any prayers aloud, with assistants and scryers staying reverently silent unless directed or bidden to speak.

There should either be self-igniting incense, charcoal, or other fuel present in the incense vessel; if not yet, place it there now but do not light it.

The two candles on the altar should already have been lit from the preparatory period, but if not, light them now.

The altar should additionally contain the lamen, ring, wand, and other implements of conjuration, placed conveniently and respectfully on the altar.

If a veil is present on the altar covering the tools and implements of conjuration, remove it now and put it aside.

Consecration of the Scryer
If you’re operating alone, you may hold the arms out in the orans gesture (basically up and out to the sides with the palms facing upwards or forwards towards the altar), or, better, raise up the left arm in the orans gesture but place the right hand over your heart.  If operating with a scryer, place your right hand either above them or lightly upon their head or back, and your left hand upon your heart.  Recite the following prayer:

O God, You who are the author of all good things!  I beseech You, strengthen this Your poor servant, that he may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  I beseech You, o Lord, enlighten the dark understanding of Your creature, that his spiritual eye may be opened to see and know Your angelic spirits descending here into this crystal.

Note that the words and pronouns used here to refer to the magician (in underlined text) should be modified to account for both (a) whether the magician is operating alone or with a scryer and (b) the gender of the scryer, if present, or the gender of the magician, if a scryer is not present.  This prayer should be used primarily to consecrate the scryer and his/her/their “spiritual eye”, but both the magician and scryer should be similarly consecrated.  Consider the above prayer to be for when the magician operates alone and is male; as an alternative, if the magician operates alone and is female, use the following:

O God, You who are the author of all good things!  I beseech You, strengthen this Your poor servant, that she may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  I beseech You, o Lord, enlighten the dark understanding of Your creature, that her spiritual eye may be opened to see and know Your angelic spirits descending here into this crystal.

If the magician operates with a scryer, the following prayer instead should be used:

O God, You who are the author of all good things!  I beseech You, strengthen these Your poor servants, that we may stand fast without fear through this dealing and work.  I beseech You, o Lord, enlighten the dark understanding of Your creatures, that our spiritual eyes may be opened to see and know Your angelic spirits descending here into this crystal.

Note that the word “angelic” here may be changed to reflect the nature of the spirit if it’s not angelic, e.g. “demonic” if a demon, “terrestrial” if a spirit of nature or a genius loci, etc.

Note that the word “crystal” may be changed to reflect the actual scrying medium being used if not a crystal (mirror, vessel of water, etc.).

Consecration of the Crystal
Place your right hand upon the surface of the scrying medium (crystal or whatever else is being used for the ritual) and recite the following prayer:

O inanimate creature of God, be sanctified and consecrated and blessed to this purpose: that no evil phantasy may appear in you, or, if one should gain ingress into you, that they be constrained to speak intelligibly, truly, and without the least ambiguity, for Christ’s sake.  Amen.

Remove your right hand from the scrying medium, lift your arms up in the orans gesture, and recite the next part of the prayer:

As Your servant standing here before You, o Lord, who desires neither evil treasures, nor injury to his neighbor, nor hurt to any living creature; grant him the power of descrying those celestial spirits and intelligences that may appear in this crystal, and whatever good gifts—whether the power of healing infirmities, or of imbibing wisdom, or discovering any evil likely to afflict any person or family, or any other good gift—You might be pleased to bestow on me.  Enable me, by Your Wisdom and Mercy, to use whatever I may receive to the honor of Your holy Name. Grant this for the sake of Christ, your Son.  Amen.

Note that the word “crystal” may be changed to reflect the actual scrying medium being used if not a crystal (mirror, vessel of water, etc.).

Note that the word “celestial” here may be changed to reflect the nature of the spirit if it’s not celestial, e.g. “angelic” if a true divine archangel above any planet or heaven, “terrestrial” if a spirit of nature or a genius loci, “chthonic” if a subterrestrial or demonic entity, etc.

Consecration of the Circle
Put your ring of Solomon on the little finger of your right hand.

Pick up the lamen/pentacle from the altar and wear it around your neck so that the design of it faces outward and hangs at about mid-chest-height above the sternum or heart.

If there are any extra candles around the scrying medium on the altar to be given as offerings or decoration, light them now.

Pick up the wand with the right hand, proceed to orientation point of the circle, and place the point of the wand on the outermost edge of the circle being used for the conjuration.  The scryer and assistants, if any are present, should move to the innermost part of the circle out of your way.  Trace the circle clockwise starting from the orientation point, and while tracing it, recite the following:

In the name of the blessed Trinity, I consecrate this piece of ground for our defense, so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Consecration of the Incense
Proceed in front of the altar and light the incense in its vessel.  The incense to be used should be of an appropriate nature for the spirit or to its corresponding planet, or frankincense may be used generally for all spirits if no specific incense is to be used.  If the incense is self-igniting, light that directly but let the flame burn.  If you’re using loose incense, light the charcoal or flame, and let it complete its process of ignition.  Hold the wand in the right hand, point the wand at the flame, and recite the following:

I conjure you, o creature of fire, by Him who created all things, both in Heaven and Earth and the Sea and in every other place whatsoever, that you cast away every phantasm from you, so that no hurt whatsoever shall be done in any thing.

If you’re using self-igniting incense, blow the flame out now; if you’re using loose incense on a brazier with a flame or charcoal, throw that onto the flame.  Once the smoke of the incense begins to rise, whether the incense is self-igniting or otherwise, hold the wand in the right hand, point the wand at the incense issuing smoke, and recite the following:

Bless, o Lord, this creature of fire, and sanctify it that it may be blessed, and that your blessing may fill up the power and virtue of its odors, so that neither the enemy nor any false imagination may enter into them, through our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Note that, up until this point, only the first-person singular pronouns (I, my, me) are used in the prayers.  After the consecration of incense in the ritual, continue to use the first-person singular pronouns if you are operating alone, or the first-person plural pronouns (we, us, our) if you are operating in tandem with a scryer or other assistant.  The following prayers after this point assume that you’re operating alone as the magician.  The pronouns that are to be changed, if operating with a scryer or other assistants, will be in bold text in the following prayers.

Conjuration of the Spirit
At this point, check one last time to confirm that the hour is correct for conjuring the desired angel, e.g. that it is indeed the hour of the Moon when conjuring Gabriel of the Moon.  If so, continue the operation.  If it is too early, spend time in further prayer and meditation until the proper time arrives without leaving the circle, continuing to keep further incense burning (with or without reciting the blessing over it, as desired).  Otherwise, if it is too late, abort, as the hour is now wrong for the operation unless you can manage to swap out lamens and any other desired paraphernalia for the spirit in accordance with the proper hour.

If the hour is proper for conjuring the desired spirit, hold the wand in the right hand, point the wand at the scrying medium, and recite the following:

In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I desire you, o strong mighty angel Gabriel, that if it be the divine Will of Him who is called Tetragrammaton … the Holy God, the Father, that you take upon yourself some shape as best becomes your celestial nature, and appear to me visibly here in this crystal, and answer my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine Mercy and Goodness by requesting unlawful knowledge, but that you graciously show me what things are most profitable for me to know and do, to the glory and honor of His divine Majesty, He who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

Lord, your Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Make clean my heart within me, and take not Your holy Spirit from me.

O Lord, by Your Name have I called Gabriel; suffer him to administer unto me, and that all things may work together for Your honor and glory, to whom with You the Son and the Holy Spirit be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

Note that the divine name “Tetragrammaton” is underlined here, as is the ellipsis that follows it.  Any set of divine names, titles, or references of God may be used here, such as the general and specific names of God as referenced earlier in the first post on the design of the lamen.  Saying “Tetragrammaton” here is sufficient for all general purposes, but one may use a different name specific to the spirit being conjured, or a set of names to ensure the compliance and presence of the spirit.  For example one may use any of the appropriate sets of following names following from Agrippa’s general names and the specific ones (book II, chapter 22), the various qabbalistic names of God for the corresponding sephiroth, or the Islamic names of God associated with the planets from the Shams al-Ma`ārif:

Agrippa Qabbalistic Shams al-Ma`ārif
General El, Elohim, Eloah, Tzabaoth, Elion, Esherehie, Adonai, Yah, Jehovah, Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, Ehevi
Saturn Yah
YHVH
YHVH Elohim al-Bā`ith (the Raiser)
aṣ-Ṣādiq (the Truthful)
Mawlā al-Mawāli (the Lord of Lords)
Jupiter Heh
Abba
Ehi
Ab
El al-Quddūs (the Holy)
al-Mannān (the Benfactor)
ar-Raqīb (the Vigilant)
Mars Yod
Gibor
Heh
Elohim Gibor al-`Azīz (the Powerful)
al-Qāhir (the Victorious)
al-Jabbār (the Strong)
Sun Yod Eloah v’Da`at an-Nūr (the Light)
an-Nāfi` (the Propitious)
al-Fāṭir (the Creator)
Venus Heh
Aha
YHVH Tzabaoth ar-Raḥīm (the Merciful)
al-Ḥayy (the Living)
al-Ḥasīb (the Reckoner)
Mercury Vav
Azbogah
Din
Doni
Elohim Tzabaoth al-Khabīr (the All-Aware)
al-Wāsi` (the All-Pervading)
al-Ākhir (the Infinite Last)
Moon Heh
Hod
Elim
Shaddai El Ḥai al-Ḥalīm (the Forebearing)
al-Amān (the Safety)
al-`Alīm (the All-Knowing)

Note that the word “celestial” here may be changed to reflect the nature of the spirit if it’s not celestial, e.g. “angelic” if a true divine archangel above any planet or heaven, “terrestrial” if a spirit of nature or a genius loci, “chthonic” if a subterrestrial or demonic entity, etc. However, even for celestial entities such as planetary angels, while “celestial” works for any spirit that is associated with or drawn from any celestial sphere, this word may be replaced with a more exact adjective, e.g. “lunar” for Gabriel, “mercurial” for Raphael, “saturnine” for Cassiel, “stellar” for Raziel or the angel of any zodiac sign or lunar mansion, and so forth.

Note that the word “crystal” may be changed to reflect the actual scrying medium being used if not a crystal (mirror, vessel of water, etc.).

Note that this conjuration prayers is not necessarily appropriate for all types of spirits.  It is, however, appropriate for most kinds of spirits, especially those of an angelic or celestial nature.  We’ll discuss alternative conjuration prayers for less-than-angelic entities in a future post.

Once these prayers of conjuration have been said, await the presence of the spirit you have called; they should appear more-or-less immediately.  If a scryer is present, the spirit may appear visible to either the magician or the scryer or to both.  So long as the spirit is visible to the magician (if operating alone) or either one or both of the magician or the scryer (if operating with a scryer), then proceed to the Authentication and Oath of the Spirit.  If desired, you may wish to ask “is there a spirit present here?” softly but firmly to confirm; if you feel, perceive, or otherwise receive an affirmative signal, proceed on to the authentication.

If, after a little while, nobody present can see, hear, or in any way sense the presence of the spirit, repeat these sets of conjuration prayers, and wait again.  If, after three times you’ve said these prayers of conjuration and nobody has gotten any signal nor connection nor sign of the presence of the spirit, skip ahead to the Dismissal of the Spirit and proceed from there.

Authentication and Oath of the Spirit
Once the presence of a spirit (not necessarily the one you want!) is there, proclaim your thanks for the presence and the ability to perceive it:

O Lord!  I give to You my hearty and sincere thanks for the hearing of my prayer, and I thank You for having permitted Your spirit Gabriel to appear unto me, whom I, by Your Mercy, will interrogate to my further instruction, through Christ.  Amen.

At this point, the magician is to ask the spirit present four questions of authentication to ascertain the true character and nature of the spirit that you have conjured.  Holding the wand in the right hand pointed at the scrying medium, ask the following four questions one-by-one:

  1. In the name of the holy and undefiled Spirit, the Father, the begotten Son, and Holy Ghost who proceeds from both, what is your true name?
  2. What is your office?
  3. What is your true mark that I know you by?
  4. What are the times most agreeable to your nature to hold conference with me?

For Gabriel of the Moon, we would expect answers that are more-or-less in accordance with the following:

  1. “My name is Gabriel, the Strength of God.”
  2. “I am the angel who presides over the sphere of the Moon in the first heaven, Shamayim.”
  3. “This is my seal by which you may know me and call upon me:” (the spirit should visually or perceptibly reveal the same glyph that is used on the lamen)
  4. “The hours in which I may be called are those in which the Moon holds silver sway.”

If the spirit passes those above four questions of authentication, make one final question to confirm the nature of the spirit and receive their oath:

Do you swear by the blood and righteousness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you are truly the spirit as you say you are and that you come to help me as I have called you?

Note that “the spirit” here may be replaced with the specific name of the spirit we expect, e.g. “…that you are truly Gabriel as you say you are”.

If the spirit swears affirmatively, then all the above answers to the questions of authentication should be written down in your book.  Once this is complete, continue on to the Communion with the Spirit.

It is possible that the spirit may give a different answer to #3 (the question about the seal of the spirit) than what is used on the lamen.  If so, then make a note of what that seal is, but immediately proceed to another question, “Do you also respond to the seal shown here?” while holding up or pointing towards the lamen.  If the spirit responds affirmatively, then they pass that question, and you may proceed onto question #4.

It is also possible, as Fr. AC says in GTSC, that the spirit may give lengthy, winding, symbolic, metaphorical, or poetic answers.  So long as they say, show, or reveal something that is in agreement with what you expect to be reasonable, they should be considered acceptable; you may not receive verbal responses!

We’ll discuss in a later post what to do if the spirit turns out to not be the one called upon by failing the expected answers to the questions of authentication, or fails to swear to the magician their honest presence and assistance.  Regardless, suffice it here to say that, should the spirit present not be the one desired or fail to swear to the magician, skip ahead to the Dismissal of the Spirit, but if time and energy permits, instead of continuing to Closing the Ritual, resume the process of conjuration of the spirit once more, starting with the Conjuration of the Spirit; otherwise, proceed to the Closing of the Ritual after the Dismissal of the Spirit.

Communion with the Spirit
At this point, the spirit you’ve conjured is present and the field is open to communing and communicating with them.  Chat with them, learn from them, ask for their help, consecrate talismans, receive initiation or empowerment, and whatever else you wish to do with them at this point.  We’ll go over what you can do here in a later post, but all things done with the spirit should be related or pertinent to the spirit in some way, with nothing unnecessary discussed or engaged in.  If desired, the wand may be put down now at this point where convenient inside the circle.

If operating with a scryer, the scryer should communicate to the magician and assistants whatever it is the spirit says, shows, or does while present.  Only the magician should be asking questions or otherwise directing the spirit; the magician is the one in charge of the ritual, and nothing is to be done unless they consent to it.  If anyone else, including the scryer, has a suggestion or recommendation, they should first respectfully ask the magician whether it may or should be done, and, should they consent to it, the magician will facilitate it with the spirit, with the scryer giving the response.

Notes should be taken throughout this process in your book, including of the spirit’s replies, any visions, any confirmations or denials, and the like.  This should be the job of an assistant, if any are present; otherwise, you as the magician should do this.

If possible, keep incense burning throughout this process, adding more incense as necessary.  Subsequent recitations of the prayer of the Consecration of the Incense may be performed if desired, but it is not necessary to do so.  This should be the job of an assistant, if any are present, but not the scryer, whose attention should be given to the crystal; otherwise, the magician should do this.

Technically, this may go on for as long as desired or needed, but we’ll take the Arbatel’s instruction from aphorism III.21 here: do not detain them past the end of the (planetary) hour in which you’ve conjured them unless they agree to stay or are otherwise sworn or bound to you.  If using self-igniting incense, so long as the incense isn’t particularly short-lived, this may be used as a sort of “clock” by which you may measure the length of the conjuration; once the self-igniting incense burns out, bring the ritual to an end.

Dismissal of the Spirit
Once you’ve finished communing with the spirit, take up the wand again in the right hand, point the wand at the scrying medium, and recite the following:

O great and mighty spirit Gabriel, inasmuch as you came in peace and in the name of the ever-blessed and righteous Trinity, so too in this name you may depart, and return to me when I call you in His name to whom every knee bows down.  Farewell, o Gabriel!  May peace be between us, through our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The spirit should depart the scrying medium, and their presence should no longer perceptibly be felt.  It is normal for some residual resonance or energy to linger, but the spirit should no longer be actively present in the scrying medium or the ritual area anymore at this point.  We will discuss what to do if they choose to not leave in a later post, but for now, we’ll assume that they leave.

Closing the Ritual
Take up the wand with the right hand, proceed to orientation point of the circle, and place the point of the wand on the outermost edge of the circle being used for the conjuration.  Any assistants or scryers should proceed to the innermost part of the circle out of your way.  Trace the circle counterclockwise starting from the orientation point.

Place the wand on the altar as it was at the beginning of the ritual.  Remove the lamen and the ring, then place them back on the altar as they were at the beginning of the ritual.

Proceed directly in front of the altar and kneel before it as you did at the beginning of the ritual; the scryer and assistants, if any are present, should likewise resume their original place and kneel as at the beginning of the ritual.

Lift your arms up in the orans gesture, and recite the following:

To God, the Father, the eternal Spirit, the fountain of Light; the Son; and the Holy Ghost be all honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

The ritual is officially complete.  All may arise from kneeling at this point, or continue in further prayer and meditation if desired.

Post-Ritual Breakdown
The two consecrated candles on the altar may be left to burn out completely or they may be snuffed out with a candle-snuffer; any other candles burnt to augment the conjuration should be left to burn out completely, as should the incense.

Perform any final cleanup, notetaking, and other finishing tasks as necessary, including disassembling the altar of conjuration if desired, then leave the temple space when all else has been finished.

If you operated alone during the ritual, spend some time in intellectual contemplation and review of the communion and conversation with the spirit in silence, including reviewing any notes that were written down earlier.  If you operated with other people, such as a scryer or assistants, engage in conversation with them about the ritual in a similar way.  Other notes may be taken at this time as well, as desired.  It is good to do this while getting a bite to eat and something to drink to help the body relax and ground down at this time.


Whew. We finally did it, guys; we’ve finally discussed, at length, all the particulars of the actual DSIC ritual itself! But, even if we’ve gotten this far, we still have so much more to talk about.  As mentioned at various places above, there are several other topics to discuss, and we’ll start to tackle those next.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Attire and Purificatory Preparations

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 today we can move on to other topics Last time, we discussed all the considerations we’d need to make, create, obtain, and consecrate the tools called for by DSIC. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Okay, so we’ve got all the stuff that DSIC calls for, right? It’s been procured or made in some way or another, according to the outlines of consecration we’ve been able to pluck together from a variety of grimoires that more-or-less fall in line with what we’re doing. Now we can start setting up for the actual ritual, right? Well…we’re not quite done talking about equipment yet, as it turns out. We’ve covered all the designs, forms, functions, materials, and consecrations that we’d need to take care of for the DSIC equipment, but once we get ready to implement the DSIC ritual itself with all these tools and things we’ve now got, whether done by-the-book or made in with lenient or freewheeling substitutions, there are a few more things that we need to consider for the conjuration ritual.

As I mentioned last time, I took some things for granted in the list of materials you’d need for DSIC. I assume, for instance, that you have a resource to obtain or a method to create holy water, holy oil, basic incenses, consecrated chalk or charcoal, a stool or chair, a small table to act as an altar, and the like. This also assumes, of course, that you have things like lighters, candle snuffers, scissors or utility knives, spare candles and candle holders, extra fabric, extra pen and paper, and the like, just basic stuff that every temple should have or every magician should have on hand. But even beyond that, there are a few other things to consider for DSIC that aren’t explicitly discussed there but which we still need to here.

First up? Attire. This topic isn’t brought up by DSIC itself, so there’s nothing said about it, its material, or its consecrations in DSIC, but it’s important enough to talk about here. The three big suggestions for attire when it comes to rituals like this come from the Heptameron, Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10), and the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 6), respectively:

  1. “Let it be a priest’s garment, if it can be had, let it be of linen, and clean.”
  2. “You shall also have a long garment of white linen, close before and behinde, which may cover the whole body and the feet, and girt about you with a girdle. You shall also have a veil of pure clean linen, and in the fore-part thereof let there be fixed golden or gilded Lamens, with the inscription of the name Tetragrammaton; all which things are to be sanctified and consecrated in order…[and] with your feet naked.”
  3. “…ought to be of linen, as well as those which he weareth beneath them; and if he hath the means they should be of silk. If they be of linen the thread of which they are made should have been spun by a young maiden…shoes or boots should be made of white leather, on the which should be marked the signs and characters of art. These shoes should be made during the days of fast and abstinence, namely, during the nine days set apart before the beginning of the operation, during which the necessary instruments also should be prepared, polished, brightened, and cleaned.”

If you want to go the extra mile and be period-authentic by-the-book, then have at; it is technically what the grimoires themselves recommend. Do I recommend it? No. In my opinion, you do not need to wear a robe. You don’t. I don’t know what else to tell you. Unless you’re actually involved in a clerical or monastic order that wears robes, or unless you want to cosplay or LARP for your present-day ceremony with anachronistic garb that will waste more of your money and time than might give you spiritual or mental benefit, then there’s no need. We don’t live in the 1500s anymore when robes were actually a common sight and had cultural meaning beyond “weirdo”. You can get modern-day jalabiyyas, thobes, or similar garments worn by Muslims and Bedouins in north Africa, the Middle East, and southeast Asia if you want, but this is just simply not a priority or a concern for the vast majority of us.

Now, if you are in a priestly order? Wear priestly garments, if you wish and if you feel comfortable with it. If you’re in a monastic order? Well, chances are you’ll be wearing your habit anyway, because it’s just what you wear. But otherwise, don’t bother, don’t fret, and don’t worry about it. If you’re not a Christian priest or a Christian monk, or Christian at all, there’s no need to dress like one. Wear what befits your station and authority. I claim that the whole point of dressing in priestly garments in the grimoires, if you weren’t already a priest, was to get you in the mindset of being a representative of Divinity and taking on the authority and license as befits such a priest, and looking the part can trick the brain into believing it. But let’s be honest: most people wouldn’t be able to tell a proper priest’s garment from a discount Halloween costume from that one weird store in that shopping center across town, especially nowadays when there are fewer and fewer actual Christians who actually recognize what the priest actually is and stands for in the cosmos. If you’re not in that mindset, you don’t need to oblige yourself by forcing yourself into it.

Also, if you’re not in the Christian clergy of at least the level of a deacon? Do not wear a stole. This isn’t something to argue with or disagree with: do not wear a stole. I don’t care what Fr. AC says; you do not wear a stole unless you’ve actually taken holy orders in the Christian clergy. To do otherwise is disrespectful to the priesthood and makes you out to be something you’re not, just as if you were to wear Lukumí religious bead-jewelry reserved for initiates as a mark of their initiation, or a Plains Indian war bonnet when you haven’t earned the right to. You can wear something else instead of a stole, like a scarf or cape or sash or mantle or shawl or something, but wearing a proper stole is effectively appropriation of a legitimate emblem of a legitimate priesthood for the sake of LARPing; wearing a stole without having earned the right to do so in a ritual like this makes a mockery of those who have actually earned the right to wear it. Unless you’ve actually taken holy orders, do not wear a stole.

Now, should you have some sort of “temple garments”? Absolutely! Don’t get me wrong: I do think that wearing special clothing reserved for ceremonies, and ideally white clothing at that, is important, as is dressing modestly and in a way that covers most of the body for both protection and purity. I do certainly think having a set of clothes you put on for Doing Formal Magic is a highly recommended practice for getting you into the proper mindset. But does it need to be a full-body robe made of white linen? I like robes and I like linen, but no, it doesn’t. You can get a new white cotton hoodie and new white sweatpants, or get a new set of white scrubs, and those will work fine as standard all-around all-purpose temple/ritual wear. I know this might seem weird, if we’re spending so much time and money on the rest of DSIC/conjuration equipment, but I don’t consider the clothes we wear—which are necessarily products of the time and culture we’re living in, as opposed to the tools and names we’re using—to be nearly as important as the other things we discussed in the last post. But, like I said, if you want to go with full-blown robes (and I have my own set I do wear periodically for some rituals, consecrated according to the Key of Solomon, sacred signs and all), then by all means, have at! But this sort of sartiorial choice is about as far as it could get from being a priority in my opinion.

That said, if you want to, you can customize your look for specific rituals instead of donning your preferred default temple garments; in other words, dress for the part. This is something that Fr. RO uses to its max in SS: when interacting with a particular planet, dress for that planet. For Mars? Wear a set of camo BDUs or a martial arts uniform or similar “armor” or “battlegear”. For Jupiter? A three-piece business suit with cufflinks and a silk tie, the more expensive the better. For Venus? Luxurious clothing that makes you feel Good, something you could go to a high-class danceclub in. Et cetera, ad nauseam. I’ve used these outfits before, and I find it great for getting into the mindset of particular planets; it can certainly be a boon, especially if you’re trying to build up as much resonance as possible with the planet and its spirits that you’re about to interact with. Fr. AC, who prefers the LARP approach of wearing robes, says that wearing robes in the color of that planet can be an option, modern though it may be, but he would rather keep the robe white (which I don’t disagree with) and use a girdle (a loose belt) instead colored appropriately. I think that’s a pretty fair approach; our scrubs/sweatpants-and-hoodie approach might use a colored scarf, keffiyeh, sash, or other piece of fabric to do similarly. Either way, it’s up to you whether you pick the the full-costume approach, colored-robe approach, or white-garments-with-an-accent-color approach; I don’t consider it essential, but it can be helpful under the proper circumstances.

Whatever you select for your temple garments, whether scrubs or sweats or linen robes or priestly costume or whatever, keep them clean and in good condition, don’t wear them when not engaged in temple work, and don’t engage in any sort of ill-mannered, immodest behavior while wearing them (unless specifically called for by the ritual, but that’s not a concern for us with DSIC). If you want, you can consecrate your garments using the method from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 6), even going so far as stitching on the proper symbols and the like in red silk thread, but that’s still overkill for most people; unless you’re specifically working the Key of Solomon, then you can just throw them in the washing machine with some holy water and call it a day. You can keep this simple and modern based on what you can find accessible and appropriate.

When putting on your temple garments, there are prayers in Solomonic literature, ranging from the Heptameron to the Key of Solomon (same chapter as mentioned above) to the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, that you’ll say when putting on your clothing for your ritual; if you have a girdle (or scarf, sash, etc.) to wear in addition to your temple garments, then recite the blessing of the girdle from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel. You should be in a state of purity for putting on your temple garments, since you’re (a) about to literally clothe yourself with something made holy and pure (b) are about to engage in ritual work because you must have a need to put on temple garments.  Since DSIC doesn’t bring up any specific prayers or anything about clothing, we don’t need to bring up the specific prayers here, but you can use them (or not) as you wish or desire.

But that brings up an important topic on its own: how do we purify ourselves and otherwise spiritually prepare for the work to be done? There are basically three things that we need to do every day for a certain number of days leading up to a ritual of this nature, especially for the first time we contact a spirit or begin working with a planet that we’ve hitherto never formally contacted before:

  1. Fast.
  2. Ablute.
  3. Pray.

First, fasting. For this topic, I’ll just link to a post I wrote a bit ago on that topic extensively that I encourage you to read. You could simply do a water fast (i.e. abstaining from all food and only drinking pure water) or a water-and-bread fast; either of those are good if you wanted to be extreme about this part, or you could just abstain from meat and alcohol and keep the rest of your diet more-or-less the same. However you can limit your attachments, pleasures, indulgences, and addictions to worldly substances and behaviors, do it. This also typically and especially includes any and all sexual activity, whether performed alone or with anyone else in any number; not only do we want to fast from food, we also want to fast from all distracting, immodest, and mundane behaviors, for we are about to engage in a work of holiness and divinity, and need to sufficiently detach ourselves from the world in order to do so. Read my post on fasting, both for food and behaviors, and take it as food for thought.

Next, ablution. Abluting refers to the act of spiritually cleansing and washing yourself; if fasting is purifying yourself from the inside out, ablution is purifying yourself from the outside in. Just as we fast and abstain from worldly things and behaviors to make sure that we go in with clean hearts and minds into a ritual, we need to cleanse ourselves to make sure that we go in with clean hands and mouths, too. Spiritual hygiene mitigates the spiritual problems we encounter in the world, and reduces the influence they have when we engage in ritual. Not only that, but in this sort of ritual, we’re coming into direct contact with divinity in a sacred setting; tracking in worldly filth and spiritual garbage is disrespectful to the work we’re doing, the spirits we’re engaging with, and the God we’re calling upon.

And, last and best of all, prayer. This is essentially the warm-up exercise we do before we engage in the heavy lifting of ritual, and helps us get in tune with both God as well as the spirits we’re about to conjure. In effect, if we maintain a proper prayer practice and earnestly pray every day in the lead-up to the ritual, we’ve basically focused ourselves so much for so long, seeking to adapt ourselves to the work at hand, that by the time we even light the first candle, we’ve practically already put into the contact of the spirit, just not in any focused way. And that’s on top of the purificatory power of prayer, too! If fasting cleanses the body from the inside out and ablution from the outside in, then prayer cleanses not the body but the mind, spirit, and soul, which helps both our fasting practices and our ablution practices to be more efficacious all the while.

How long do we engage in these practices for? Different texts specify different lengths:

  • Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10): a full lunar month leading up to the ritual or, alternatively, forty days, increasing one’s strictness on the day of the ritual itself
  • Heptameron: nine days, increasing one’s strictness on the final three days
  • Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 4): nine days, increasing one’s strictness on the final three days, and increasing it even more on the day of the ritual itself
  • Secret Grimoire of Turiel: seven days

Personally, I think seven days of maintaining purifying practices is sufficient. If you want to go for longer, by all means have at! Keeping up such practices can certainly be worth the trouble, and I cannot argue with going longer if that’s what you can manage. Any less than seven days, well…personally, I consider that one should purify themselves for a bare minimum of three days, and that only if they honestly can’t manage longer than that for some reason—and, honestly, at that point, I’d be wondering what else is going on, because if it’s something that significant or major, then maybe it’s just not the best time to do that ritual. Only in cases of emergency should one skip the purifying phase of preparation, but the fact that it’s an emergency indicates that (a) you probably messed up somewhere along the line and should work it off in other ways than cheapening yourself and the ritual by skipping the purifying process (b) the purifying process is even more worthwhile and necessary than if it wasn’t an emergency.

Also, just as a note? I’m increasingly finding it important to maintain purification practices both before and after a ritual. So, in my recommendation, I’d suggest that you’d spend at least seven days purifying yourself and keeping yourself pure before the ritual, and at least a bare minimum of three days, preferably seven, afterwards as well. This helps you to better incorporate the effects from the ritual in a way without getting immediately tangled up in mundane, worldly, or fleshy matters again, and gives you time to ease back into living a normal life.

Just as different texts specify different lengths for pre-ritual purification, so too do they often offer specifics on the kinds of things to be done. Ablution, for instance, could just be bathing twice a day, or it could also be specifically washing yourself with holy water, or it might also include a daily anointing with holy oil after bathing proper. Fasting, as mentioned, isn’t just about food, but about our behaviors as well; as the Key of Solomon says in the aforementioned chapter:

…is absolutely necessary to ordain and to prescribe care and observation, to abstain from all things unlawful, and from every kind of impiety, impurity, wickedness, or immodesty, as well of body as of soul; as, for example, eating and drinking superabundantly, and all sorts of vain words, buffooneries, slanders, calumnies, and other useless discourse; but instead to do good deeds, speak honestly, keep a strict decency in all things, never lose sight of modesty in walking, in conversation, in eating and drinking, and in all things…

As for the kind of prayer we should cite? This could be something as easy as just partaking in Mass every day during this period, if you’re Christian, or it could be through the recitation of a particular prayer once a day, or once in the morning and twice in the evening, and the like. The prayer from the Arbatel (aphorism II.14) is a wonderful choice for this, but the Key of Solomon prayer from the same aforementioned chapter plus the confession and subsequent prayer from book I, chapter 4 are also excellent, as is the First Morning Prayer from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel or the orison from book II, chapter 12 from the Sacred Magic of Abramelin. No matter which prayer you consider, the basic things we pray for that tend to be common across grimoires are include, but are not limited to:

  • recognizing, admitting to ourselves, and regretting the errors we make by doing the wrong things or doing things wrongly
  • seeking help in assistance in our lives generally to lead better lives and to make the world better
  • seeking help through holy works specifically to lead better lives and to make the world better
  • seeking the assistance of the particular spirit we wish to conjure, that God will permit us to contact the spirit and the spirit to be allowed to be present for us and communicate with us
  • recognizing our place in the world, both as base creatures of flesh and blood as well as spiritual creatures made in the image of God
  • recognizing the place and power of God

I don’t think it’s all that important which prayer you use, or whether you use any pre-written prayers instead of praying from the heart, so long as you pray appropriately. At least, of course, if you’re using DSIC, because no preliminary or preparatory work is specified. If we were working a grimoire or other text that specifies a prayer to use, then we’d be using that, but for DSIC, I’d recommend something along the lines of either the Arbatel prayer or the First Morning Prayer from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel.

Given that these grimoires generally, and DSIC specifically, were written within a predominantly Christian context, the prayers we use are essentially Christian prayers (or Abrahamic generally in the case of the Key of Solomon or the Abramelin). That being said, prayers and process work no matter what religion you practice; the only thing I wouldn’t recommend is if you partake in the Holy Eucharist of Mass if you’re not baptized in the church. However, I do recognize that many people aren’t comfortable with Christian prayers or calling upon Jesus—and, after all, one of the whole reasons for my writing this series of posts to begin with is to analyze the DSIC ritual to both flesh it out as well as have a firm foundation in what it’s specifically doing so I can make my own less-Christian more-Hermetic approach for my own purposes that more closely aligns with my general practices. If you’re not comfortable with these prayers as given by DSIC and other grimoires in the Western magical tradition, then I think Fr. AC’s advice in GTSC is solid here: sit with the ritual (like I am now), and compose your own prayers that match the wording and intent of the original as closely as possible ahead of time. Fr. RO does this in RWC and SS, and I’ve seen a few other variants over the years (mostly privately shared) to make them less Jesus-y and more Hermetic-y or Hellenic-y. This is an acceptable variation and, if done right, won’t have an impact on the effect of the ritual.

Though, that said, I personally question the logic of conjuring angels who by definition are subject to God and who are not the various gods or goddesses or divinities of other pantheons without also having at least some token or intellectual acceptance of the existence of God. I find a belief in God, whether you want to conceive of the God of Abraham or the Nous of Hermēs Trismegistus or the One of Plato or the philosophical Zeus Pantokrator of other Hellenic philosophers and theurges, to be more than simply useful in these sorts of rituals. I can’t tell you how to live your life, nor can I tell you what you ought to believe, but while the wording of the prayers can be changed in DSIC, the fundamental cosmology it taps into with God, the One, the Summum Bonum at the top isn’t so flexible. There is a notion of a divine hierarchy and ultimate power upon whom we call, can enter into, and serve as divine ambassadors of authority and True Will that’s part of Hermetic practice that I cannot divest my perspectives, practices, or DSIC from. While I don’t doubt that there are ways around this, I can’t think of any that would make sense to me at the moment, so I won’t try to come up with them. I will be taking a monistic approach to divinity for the sake of the later DSIC posts; whether you want to interpret this as monotheistic (as in Abrahamic traditions), monolatric (worshiping only one god without denying the existence of others), or polytheism with a single central authority (as is common in many of the PGM texts and other Hermetic or proto-Hermetic works) is up to you.  We’ll return to the notion of a de-Christianized DSIC later on in this series.

Anyway, back to the topic of prayer. Though I don’t think the extreme length of a lunar month or of 40 days is necessary, I do like Agrippa’s method best here for how we go about the daily prayer (book IV, chapter 10). Basically, we first set up our temple space, including exorcising and cleansing it, and set up the altar for the conjuration, but keeping the necessary things covered with a clean white linen cloth. Every day, we purify ourselves, get changed into our temple garments, burn sacred lights (which ideally shouldn’t go out during the preparatory period, changing them out as necessary), burn sacred incense, and pray at the altar as we need. On the day of the ritual, we cleanse ourselves one last time, anoint ourselves with oil, and pray (which effectively consecrates us for the ritual, too!), then we uncover the consecrated objects on the altar and perform the conjuration.

But this all assumes we know how to set up the temple space generally and the altar of conjuration specifically, and we haven’t touched on that yet. We will next time.

Yet Another Misbaḥa Prayer: the Thrice Holy Crown

Yes, another devotion that uses the misbaḥa, the prayer beads used in Islam and Arabic-speaking areas.  I’ve already discussed this twice before—once about my Crown of Gabriel, another for the Crown of the Dead and the other archangels—and it seems like I’m falling into an unimaginative yet productive pattern when it comes to coming up with new ones.  This one, however, is more like the original Tasbīḥ Fāṭimah, in that it’s a devotion to God and God alone rather than calling upon another spirit or devoted for the sake of a spirit.  And it’s kinda rooted in a Christian practice, too, that also happens to use a set of Christian prayer beads.

So, we know the format, right?  The misbaḥa is a set of 99 beads, split up into three groups of 33 with a separator between the sets, all strung along from a larger starting bead that isn’t itself counted.

Given that kind of framework, here’s the misbaḥa-based devotional I call the “Thrice-Holy Crown”:

  1. Recite once: “In the name of God, the Most Holy, whose mercy is endless.”
  2. On each of the first set of 33 beads, recite: “Holy God, have mercy on us.”
  3. On the first separator, recite: “Cleanse our sins, forgive our errors, heal our illness.”
  4. On each of the second set of 33 beads, recite: “Holy Strong, have mercy on us.”
  5. On the second separator, recite: “Before your glory do we bow in worship.”
  6. On each of the third set of 33 beads, recite: “Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.”
  7. Recite once: “Glory be to God, forever and ever.”

Simple, clean, effective.  It’s one I find myself increasingly using in my regular devotions alongside, but more commonly nowadays instead of, the standard Tasbīḥ Fāṭimah when I’m not using my misbaḥa for other devotions.  Honestly, I’m liking the use of the misbaḥa for being so generic, flexible, and amenable to any number of devotions or ways to use it, and I’m basically treating it as taking in spiritual oomph like how some esoteric Buddhists treat their malas.  Plus, a standard misbaḥa is large enough to be worn around the neck or wrist to keep it at ready access, as well as being large enough to be draped over or wrapped around something.  This, I’m finding, is coming in use as a spiritual technique to gird or surround or help imbue something or someone with a particular spiritual presence.  For instance, when I’m praying something special for Gabriel, I’ll pray the Crown of Gabriel misbaḥa prayer I have using the misbaḥa, then either wear it while doing my intense Gabriel works or wrap it around a candleholder that’s being used for a candle dedicated to Gabriel.  For things like that, my misbaḥa is fast becoming one of my favorite multipurpose spiritual tools I have in my temple.

The heart and ultimate origin of this devotion is that of the Trisagion, one of my favorite and most simple prayers:

Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

That’s it.  That’s literally all there is to it.  It’s simple, short, and effective, and though it comes from Christianity, it can be used as well for pretty much any deist practice.  The Trisagion is an ancient prayer, and the name itself literally means “thrice holy”—hence its Latin appellation, the Tersanctus, which has the same meaning.  The prayer is sometimes incorporated into a broader “Trisagion Prayer”, or appended to other liturgies, but it’s a common sight in many forms of older forms of Christianity.  There’s also the wonderfully-termed Anti-Trisagion, which is sometimes used as a replacement for the Trisagion proper, but of which there also exist several variants or options, such as:

Before your Cross we bow down in worship, Master, and we glorify your holy Resurrection.

As for where it comes from, though there exists a traditional miraculous origin story for it, it may well be a combination of the Kyrie Eleison prayer and supplication (“Lord, have mercy”) plus an expansion of the Sanctus prayer, originally the hymn of the seraphim to God from Isaiah 6:3:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts,
Heaven and Earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

Personally, I change “who comes in the name of the Lord” to a more inclusive and atemporal “who comes, has come, and will come in the name of the Lord”, based on a more Orthodox version of the prayer, but that’s just me.

But back to the Trisagion, it’s…it’s just elegant and refined in its simplicity, and I find it a useful chant on its own.  Heck, that’s exactly what Greek and Russian Orthodox people use it for in conjunction with the Jesus Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The way the Jesus Prayer and Trisagion come together in Orthodox and Eastern Christian devotions is through the komboskini or prayer rope, essentially the Eastern/Orthodox parallel to the Western/Catholic rosary or chaplet.  Rather than being beads strung on a string or chained together, the prayer rope is a rope held together with intricate knots that take the form of crosses upon crosses.  Prayer ropes typically have 100 knots, with separator beads at every 25, sometimes 10, knot; smaller prayer ropes, sometimes of 10 or 50 knots or even 33 knots, and larger prayer ropes of 150 or more knots, also exist.

With the prayer rope, the usual practice (from what I’ve seen) is to recite the Jesus Prayer once on each knot, and the Trisagion on each separator bead.  Of course, there’s no one way to use the prayer rope, just like there’s no one way to use the misbaḥa, but the Jesus Prayer and Trisagion together form a wonderful spiritual practice for mystics and monastics alike.

Of course, I’m trying to…I mean, “divest” or “distance” is correct but I feel like that’s overly harsh, and it’s not like I have any ill will or bitterness towards Christian prayers, yet…well, anyway, in any case, I am trying to keep my own Hermetic practice as generally deist as possible without relying on religion-specific references, such as to Christ or Mary or Muḥammad, hence all this reinventing-the-prayer-wheel work I’ve been doing lately.  And yet, it’s been profoundly useful and clarifying for me to do so, to focus on a Hermetic practice that’s set apart from Christian Hermeticism or Islamic Hermeticism.  Plus, it’s not like all prayers from Christianity or Islam or Judaism or what-have-you are bound up in those religions; the Lord’s Prayer, for example, is a lovely prayer no matter who you are or what you’re doing, in a way that can be set apart from the Hail Mary or the Glory Be.  And, of course, if you’re Christian yourself, you should make use of such prayers!  But if you’re not, there are definitely alternatives and other options available.

Anyway.  What I did was, given the neat three-fold division of the structure of the misbaḥa, I split the Trisagion up into three separate supplications, then used each supplication for each set of beads on the misbaḥa.  For the separators, I took inspiration from one of the supplications used in the Eastern Orthodox Trisagion Prayer liturgy (see bold text):

Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever unto the ages of ages.
Amen.

All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us.
Lord, cleanse us from our sins.
Master, pardon our iniquities.
Holy God, visit and heal us for thy Name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever unto the ages of ages.
Amen.

Our Father who art in heaven, &c.

So I took those three supplications and combined them into a single line for the first separator, “cleanse our sins, forgive our errors, heal our illness”.  Similarly, the second separator is based on the Anti-Trisagion given above.  It was the beginning and ending prayers that I was kinda torn on.  I mean, with Islamic prayers, everything is started with the Basmalah, the famous incipit of the Qur’ān and so many other practices and prayers:

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Heck, the words for “Most Gracious” and “Most Merciful”, raḥmān and raḥīm, both derive from the same root, R-Ḥ-M, with a general notion of mercy, compassion, loving-kindness, and the like.  So, I could have just started the Thrice-Holy Crown with that and have it be entirely appropriate (it lacks anything specifically Islamic in its wording, after all), but I decided on a different start.  I like to keep the same format of the Basmalah to start my own misbaḥa prayers, all starting with “in the name of God…” and ending in a way that’s more fitting for that specific misbaḥa devotion, so I decided to go with “in the name of God, the Most Holy, whose mercy is endless”.  The appellation of God as “Most Holy” reflects the underlying focus of the Trisagion on the holiness of God, and the “whose mercy is endless” comes from the (strangely optional) concluding prayer from the Catholic devotion of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, another wonderfully potent and beautiful Christian devotion for the same purpose that I’m going for with my Thrice-Holy Crown (see bold text):

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself

The concluding prayer of the Thrice-Holy Crown, a simple “Glory be to God, forever and ever” is just a generic praise of God, my equivalent to the practice of tasbīḥ in Islam, which is nothing more than the recitation of “subḥānallāh” meaning “glory be to God”, though literally translated sometimes as “God is free/void” in the sense of having no errors, defects, faults, or flaws.  In fact, it’s this very same prayer in Islam that gives the foundation to the use of the Tasbīḥ Fāṭimah and to the misbaḥa generally—note the shared root there, S-B-Ḥ, referring to notions of glory or praise.

And there you have it!  At some point, once I refine some of my other misbaḥa “crown” prayers, I’ll end up compiling them into their own page.  For now, though, there’s already plenty else for me to do, but I did want to share this little thing I’ve been using for those who are amenable to using it.

When God Says No: On God and the Angels

Yes, another post from Curious Cat.  It’s honestly a great way for people to reach out to me, and it gives me a ready store of ideas for posts to write about.  (I’ve been asking for comments on my website, Facebook, and Twitter for ages for when people would like to ask questions, but people either just don’t do that or don’t generally trigger a post-writing reaction.)  Plus, according to Human Design (which my blessed sister studies and practices), I’m a so-called “manifesting generator” type, who responds well to being asked questions in order to produce and effect wonderful things.  But unlike other posts about things that come from questions on Curious Cat, this post is gonna be a little different; we’re going to discuss a common thread that ties together several different questions that were asked, all largely pertaining to angels, their role in the cosmos, how we interact with them, how we’re permitted to interact with them, and what their relationship is to God.  To give a brief summary of the questions asked and my replies to them:

  • Where do angels come from, and what are they?  God made them to carry out his will in infinitesimal slices of divine presence, made discrete and distinct to govern over specific things, entities, events, or phenomena of the cosmos.  Angels have no free will; by definition, their will is the will of God and vice versa, so that they act strictly and solely in accordance with, for, by, and to God.
  • If angels have no free will, then when we invoke or conjure an angel and commission it with a request, it can only fulfill this request if God wills it? Yes!  All the conjurations we do in the Western Hermetic and Solomonic tradition of higher entities, if we’re not taking the rather old-school approach of assuming divine power ourselves and browbeating the cosmos into complying with our (temporarily-assumed) divine will, is to supplicate God through prayer to reveal that he send his angels to us in his name for his honor and glory.  Thus, when we call on an angel, we’re essentially asking God to graciously give his permission for the angel to be sent to us, because God’s will and God’s will alone is what allows all things to happen; how much more this is the case, then, for entities whose sole purpose is to perfectly and only fulfill the will of God!
  • What sort of behavior do angels hate?  It depends on what they’re the angel of, but in general, angels don’t really “hate” because they don’t really do emotion, since they’re the embodiments of and agents for the will of God.  In that sense, angels “hate” anything that goes contrary to the will, design, aims, and goals of God—and, by extension, all that we do that goes against our True Will, which is nothing more or less than the will of God that is right and proper for us to will and accomplish in our lifetimes.
  • How can we discover our True Will if we’re unaware of it?  This is nothing short of the first half of the Great Work; the second half is fulfilling it.  And there is nothing harder or higher than to know and do what it is what we truly Will.  This is exactly the same thing as knowing the purpose God has established for us in life.
  • Why do angels hate emotion, then? Angels don’t hate emotion; they just don’t have it, or at least in any meaningful way that we might recognize as emotion.  We might perceive or interpret them to be acting emotionally, but that’s only because we ourselves are human and thus emotive creatures, while angels are utterly devoid of humanity and completely above and beyond our level, at least or especially where emotions are concerned.  Angels don’t have free will; they don’t even roll or blink their (innumerable) eyes without God willing it.
  • If an angel is being difficult, how do we complain to its manager?  If an angel is being difficult, it’s not because the angel is acting wily or being a punk for the sake of being a punk.  If an angel declines to do something, it’s because God declines to permit that thing from occurring; it’s not that the angels decide against it, but God decides against it.  That’s why, when we pray in conjuration for an angel to appear, we pray that God grant that it should happen (see above).  If something doesn’t happen, then there’s a reason for it; we either must work towards it so that we’re ready and proper for it in the eyes of God, or we must pray for the right thing to occur, whether it involves the conjuration and commissioning of an angel to do something or whether we should do something else entirely that would be better for us to do.
  • If God is unwilling to help us, would intervention from other deities from other traditions or pantheons help instead? Maybe, but if God’s decided against it, then there’s probably a good reason for that. It could be that you should look elsewhere for help, such as from another god or using another set of spirits or practices entirely to get the same thing done rather than by directly appealing to the Highest, but it could also be that you’re asking for the wrong thing entirely or that it’s not meant for you, whether now or at all. That’s where divination is crucial for magicians: it helps us plan out what we can do, but more than that, whether we should do something. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, and if you shouldn’t, you should learn the reasons why. In other words, don’t go shopping around for a second opinion when you already got The One Opinion To Rule Them All. Keep to the principle of “move, or move me”.
  • But when it comes to other gods, don’t they also share power over our reality as well?  Absolutely!  But for all their greatness and grandness and power, they’re not as great or grand or powerful as the cosmocrator God behind them all. And that’s okay, because they don’t need to be, and it’s often better to work with them directly if you’re in such a tradition than to work with the behind-the-scenes all-ruling One, because they’re more accessible. But there are limits in place that even they can’t argue with, because they’re not in charge of literally everything like God is.

All this ended up with me saying this from that last question in the series, which I want to specifically quote with a special emphasis on one particular line:

God (and I use that term in a very general, very high-and-behind-the-scenes way as in Hermetic theology/philosophy), more often than not, doesn’t really established hard and fixed prohibitions so long as something fits (or is, at least, tolerated and permissible) within the grander scheme of things.  Even the biggest events and problems in our lives are less than specks of dust compared to the grandness of all creation, and accordingly, there’s not too much that really conflicts with the overall overarching design of God; there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But when God says “no” through the creation of the cosmos, there’s no angel, demon, ghost, or god that will say “yes”. If God says “no”, then you should find out why that might be the case and act accordingly, because more often than not, it’s with your own best interests in mind. Again, this is where divination is important, because it will tell you what’s going on, whether you can do something, and whether you should do something.

Now, there’s a lot to unpack in all of this, because I didn’t necessarily summarize everything, and Curious Cat, for all its usefulness, isn’t great for truly nuanced discussions, what with its 3000 character limit on replies, and it’s easy to get some parts of the above misunderstood.  Plus, there are things that I’m hinting at in some of my replies that really need to be said explicitly, but just couldn’t fit reasonably in the above replies within the constraints of Curious Cat.  First, let me preface this by saying that I’m coming from a position that’s largely Hermetic and Neoplatonic and fundamentally emanationist-monist within a polytheistic framework, and I recognize that not all systems of theology, cosmology, or philosophy operate on these principles—but there are still quite a number that do.  Since I’m the one being asked these questions for my opinions, and since this is my own blog, these are my thoughts on all of this.

At the core of it all, the theme of all these questions is what role God has to play in our Work, whether or not we’re monotheistic or monist, and how we relate to God in that sense.

First, what exactly is this God we’re talking about?  Coming from a Hermetic standpoint, God is the ultimate underlying authority and entity that created and creates the whole cosmos.  Without getting into the nitty-gritty of Hermetic philosophy (I did a good-enough job of that in my 49 Days of Definitions blog series from 2013 regarding the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”), God is both the end result of spiritual development and the ultimate source of all things that exist, don’t exist, might exist, etc.  Everything else that exists does so within God as part of God.  It may be said that God is fullness itself; instead of merely saying that all things exist within God, it can also be said that all things are God, and since God is all things, God is All.  However, since God is still one divinely simple entity, God is also One, and thus All is One.  God is the Platonic Good, the summum bonum of the philosophers, the object of highest knowledge and importance that is the forerunner and producer of all other objects.  God is also the Monad, the One, that which is alone in itself, made by itself endlessly (i.e. unmade), making all things, coming first; it is the one Source of all things, creating all things within itself yet never being made from anything besides itself, never taking away from itself into less nor multiplying itself into more.  God, further, encompasses all things; not only is God fully immanent in all of creation, but God also transcends all of creation, too.  Everything is permeated with divine essence, but everything is also intrinsically connected to each other and to God by it as well.

Where does that put us, as human beings?  All beings, human and otherwise that are not God are finite; they are not infinite, unending, immovable, or the like, since these are qualities that belong only to God.  Something that is finite has an end; it is defined, or set in by boundaries.  The maximum extent of these boundaries can be called something’s capacity, and nothing that is finite can exceed its own capacity.  Thus, everything that exists that is not God has a certain way of existing up to a certain point, whether it be in quantity or quality or good or evil; these things cannot act outside or beyond that point, because then it would exceed its own capacity.  A being’s capacity is, essentially, its destiny; a being does what its nature is designed to do, which is to fulfill its own capacity, but which it cannot exceed, because that would be going past what its destiny necessitates.  This is essentially our power: to fulfill our capacity, to fulfill our fate, and we have the choice of doing good or evil in a Hermetic sense, to fulfill our fate or to not fulfill it.  And that’s huge!  But, despite all this power we’re entitled to have, we’re not omnipotent; for example, our nature as humans is to die; we are mortal, after all, and the nature of things with material bodies is to die eventually.

What about other entities that aren’t human beings, such as angels or gods that are distinct from capital-G God?  They’re entities in their own rights, to be sure, and have their own capacities, natures, and roles to play.  But they’re still finite, no matter how much power they have.  Whatever something is according to its nature, that is going to be how it will be for that being.  These entities still have power, but they still exist as finite entities within creation; thus, they are still not God.  Rather, it’s God who establishes their natures and capacities, and it’s the role of those entities to fulfill them however they so choose.  Being higher than us and made of more subtle stuff and without the distractions and darkness of incarnate bodies, they also see more and know more than we do, and are necessarily closer to God than we are down here.  All the same, however, they cannot exceed their own capacities, either.

Now, I know that this might seem a little…appropriative, as if I’m trying to fit every possible tradition or religion into a single monist framework.  In a sense, yeah, because that’s what Hermeticism is, and it’s fundamentally one of the ways that Neoplatonic philosophy regards the hierarchy and workings of the cosmos.  To be sure, there isn’t just one Neoplatonism, and I’ll admit that my own philosophical background is amateurish, but it’s a thing I’ve seen and considered time and again and, simply, the framework works.  While I believe in God, I also believe in a plurality of many other gods; they’re all real, and often with varying powers, domains, personalities, temperaments, preferences, and the like.  And yet, they exist as part of creation just like I do, which is why approaching them works.  Yet, as a Hermeticist, I also recognize the existence (such as it is) of a God of gods, a God behind all creation, both within and without.  This is effectively the same God as that of Abraham or Muḥammad as well as of Hermēs Trismegistus, as well as Olodumare of the Yòrubá and Lukumí, as well as the God of the gnostics and the Good of the philosophers.  One can still be a monist without being a monotheist or monolatrist.  Even if you disagree with that approach to divinity and divinities (and I know of at least several who would with very good reasons!), accept the premise of it for the purposes of this post.

When it comes to angels, the word itself literally means “messenger” in Greek (ἄγγελος ángelos), and the notion of it in Abrahamic religions comes from the Hebrew מלאך mal’ākh meaning, again, “messenger”.  More than just being a bearer of the messages of God, however, angels are more like ambassadors, emissaries, or functionaries of God: they accomplish the will of God in every possible way, fulfilling it by governing, ruling, directing, and instructing different parts of the cosmos, essentially acting as the limbs of God and extensions of the will of God.  If we want to take the “messenger” idea a bit further in a way that comports with both Hermeticism and Christianity, consider the role of the Word; after all, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word is God”.  The “Word” of Christianity does refer to Jesus Christ, sure, but it’s also the Logos of the Hermeticists, the rational and intelligible principle that allows God (as the Nous, or Mind) to allow the cosmos to function.  In that sense, angels are messengers of the Word of God; where they bear the Word, they fulfill the will of God.

The thing about angels is that they are still only messengers; they speak the Word of God, but that is all they can speak, for that is their capacity and nature.  Angels, as extensions of the will of God, have no free will of their own; their whole purpose is to effect the will of God in the creation God made.  Whatever an angel “wants” to do is identical with what God wills; their will is inherently God’s will.  That’s why, among many other things, we can’t command an angel to do anything, because that’s equivalent to commanding God to do something, which is so far outside our finite and human capacity and capabilities that it’s laughable.  Angels cannot and do not do anything that God does not command them to do, but “command”, though a familiar concept to us coming from a Jewish, Christian, or Islamic background, isn’t really what’s happening between God and the angels; rather, God speaks his Word, and the angels bear that Word to wherever they’re going to accomplish whatever that Word is.  Angels are almost machine-like in that sense; they exist for the sole purpose of “serving God” by fulfilling the will of God.

In terms more suited to Renaissance Hermeticism, angels are “intelligences”, spiritual entities under the rule of God that guide and direct the manifestation of the forces of the cosmos.  Every force, entity, place, planet, and thing in the cosmos has its own presiding or governing angel, which can be worked with through devotional, magical, or some other kind of spiritual means.  Thus, consider Tzaphqiel, the angel of Saturn; this angel is the “governor” of that planet, and serves to establish the power, roles, functions, motions, and works of Saturn in all things in the cosmos.  Tzaphqiel, as an angel, bears the Word of God in a way that focuses on the Logos as it pertains to Saturn.  If we want to bring more Saturn power into our lives or throttle it back from our lives, we can work with Tzaphqiel to do just that.  But what if Tzaphqiel says “no”?

This is basically what a lot of these questions on Curious Cat are getting at.  Let’s step aside for a bit and consider something else for the moment: where does the nature of angels in relation to God leave us in angelic magic, whether through prayers or conjurations?  It cannot be denied that working with angels is often incredibly effective for any number of ends, and is a staple of European folk religion and folk magic as well as Hermetic, Solomonic, and other kinds of magic generally in both the West and the East.  Obviously, we don’t worship angels—that’d be idolatry, and an insult to both the angel and God—but we do venerate them and honor them, especially when thanking them or calling upon them.  But the thing is that, when we call upon them, there’s something that’s really common in much of Western magical literature that we need to carefully consider: we don’t command the angels to appear, but we ask for them to appear.  Moreover, we don’t ask the angel to appear, but we ask God that the angel appear for us.  And there are very good reasons for that.

Consider the specific conjuration prayer from Johann Trithemius’ Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals.  For clarity, let me use my own slightly reworded version, and note the specific phrasing of the prayer in the emphasized sections:

In the name of the blessed Tetragrammaton, I call upon you, you strong and mighty angel Michael, if it be the divine will of the most holy God that you take the shape that best shows your celestial nature, and appear to me visibly here in this crystal, and answer my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine mercy by requesting unlawful knowledge, and that you graciously show me what things are most profitable for me to know and do, to the glory and honor of his divine majesty, who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

Lord, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Make clean my heart within me, and take not your holy spirit from me.

O Lord, by your name I have called Michael; suffer him to administer unto me, and that all things may work together for your honor and glory, and that to you be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

O Lord, I thank you for the hearing of my prayer, and I thank you for having permitted your spirit to appear unto me.  Amen.

For another example, consider the orison from book II, chapter 12 of the Book of Abramelin:

O Lord God of Mercy … Sanctify me also with the oil of thy sanctification, wherewith thou hast sanctified all thy prophets; and purify in me therewith all that appertains unto me, so that I may become worthy of the conversation of thy holy angels and of thy divine wisdom, and grant unto me the power which thou hast given unto thy prophets over all the evil spirits. Amen, amen.

Another example, the prayer from septenary II, aphorism 14 from the Arbatel of Magic:

O Lord of heaven and earth, Creator and Maker of all things visible and invisible; I, though unworthy, by thy assistance call upon thee, through thy only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord, that thou wilt give unto me thy holy Spirit, to direct me in thy truth unto all good. Amen.

Because I earnestly desire perfectly to know the Arts of this life and such things as are necessary for us, which are so overwhelmed in darkness, and polluted with infinite humane opinions, that I of my own power can attain to no knowledge in them, unless thou teach it me. Grant me, therefore, one of thy spirits, who may teach me those things which thou would have me to know and learn, to thy praise and glory, and the profit of our neighbor…

Then again, the invocation to call forth angels from the Ars Almadel (language cleaned up to be made more readable for modern readers):

O you great, mighty, and blessed angel of God, NN. … I, the servant of the same your God entreat and humbly beseech you to come and show unto me all the things that I desire of you, so far as in office you can or are capable to perform if God permit to the same.  O you servant of Mercy, NN., I entreat you and humbly beseech you … to inform and rightly instruct me in my ignorant and depraved intellect, judgment, and understanding, and to assist me both in both this and in all other truths that the almighty Adonai, the King of Kings and the Giver of all good gifts, shall in his bountiful and fatherly Mercy be graciously pleased to bestow upon me.  Thus, o you blessed angel NN., be friendly unto me and work for me, so far as God has given you power in office to perform, whereunto I move you in power and presence to appear that I may sing with his holy angels: o mappa la man, hallelujah!  Amen.

I think the message I’m getting across is clear here.  Granted, not all grimoires in the Solomonic or Hermetic tradition use this kind of phrasing, especially when we’re dealing in a more goetic fashion where instead of pleading for God to grant his permission of such-and-such a phenomenon happening, we simply assume that God has given us his authority to make things happen, thus all the perilous threats that Solomonic magicians are known to use.  But how do we actually know or make sure we have that authority, or how do we know whether God will grant us permission?  Consider the very first line of the Key of Solomon (book I, chapter 1): “Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel, hath said that the beginning of our Key is to fear God, to adore him, to honor him with contrition of heart, to invoke him in all matters which we wish to undertake, and to operate with very great devotion, for thus God will lead us in the right way.”

Heck, I think the Key of Solomon is an excellent text to discuss here.  Julio Cesar Ody (of famous occult-lampooning fame), if I recall correctly (and I hope he corrects me if I’m wrong!) has remarked before that people treat the Key of Solomon as something to pilfer and take extracts from, rather than treating it like a full initiatory system of magic unto itself.  And when you look at it…yeah.  It really is far more than just a collection of works and talismans to be made with good prayers to be used for consecrating three dozen and more tools and pentacles.  Consider that the recitation of psalms is a huge part of they Key of Solomon; why would that be the case?  Because the Psalms are fundamentally songs that are used to praise God for his power and  beneficence, creation of the world, and miracles and favors done for mankind generally and for the sake of Israel specifically.  They can take the form of laments, thanksgiving, praisegiving, celebration, or pleas for help, and their study and recitation is common in Judaism and Christianity for imparting wisdom and cultivating grace and an elevated spirituality in accordance with the will and command of God.  Yes, the specific psalms used in the rituals of the Key of Solomon do bear relation to the things being consecrated at times, but it’s a constant practice of keeping ourselves spiritually in line with the will of God, which, when used with the actual prayers of the rituals themselves, produce an all-around feat of holy work.  Consider the first prayer from book I, chapter 5:

O Lord God, holy Father, Almighty and Merciful One who has created all things, who know all things and can do all things, from whom nothing is hidden, to whom nothing is impossible!  You who know that we do not perform these ceremonies to tempt your power, but that we may penetrate into the knowledge of hidden things.  We pray to you, by your sacred Mercy, to cause and to permit that we may arrive at this understanding of secret things of whatever nature they may be by your aid, o most holy ADONAI, whose Kingdom and Power shall have no end unto the Ages of the Ages. Amen.

Fundamentally, working divine magic is just prayer, just supplications to the Divine—to God—that certain things happen, not for the simple reason that we want it to happen, but that it be capital-G Good and ordained by God that it should happen.  That’s really all there is to it.  You might want to use so many words as all the excerpts above show, perhaps to inflame yourself with prayer to reach a more powerful or ecstatic state of working, or you might use less, if you can manage to get as much intent and focus out from fewer words.  Either way, this sort of magic is just prayer.

In this light, what happens when we pray for something and it doesn’t happen?  There could be several explanations:

  • What we’re praying for isn’t permissible within the design of God. It could be that what you’re asking for just isn’t possible, realistic, or appropriate for the world that God has established.  God could look at you and say “you’re being unreasonable here, focus on what’s realistic”.  I could pray to grow wings so that I can fly around the skies, but it’s not going to happen according to the laws of human physiology and basic physics in this world, which were designed according to the will and plan of God.  It could happen on other planes where one’s form isn’t so rigidly fixed, but it’s not going to happen here.  Likewise, if you pray for the consecration of a particular talisman for a particular end and it doesn’t end up consecrated, it’s because God sees that what you’re asking for isn’t permissible within the overall scheme of things that God has set up for us, perhaps due to the nature of what you’re asking (e.g. a talisman to shoot fireballs out of our hands) or due to the ramifications it might have (e.g. it could set off a chain reaction that would end up butting up harshly against things God already has in store for the cosmos).
  • What we’re praying for isn’t for us to receive. It could be that what you’re asking for is good, noble, and proper, but you’re not the right person to request it or have it.  God could look at you and say “this is a good idea, but it’s not for you to work on, so ask for  something else”.  Not everyone is going to be good at everything; I’m no fighter or doctor, so while I might pray for skill in battle or for success in a lucrative medical career, these things aren’t in my life path.  Trying to force them, so long as it doesn’t go against the will of God for me, could get some success, but it could also just as easily happen that trying to go down those paths would end up with me being stymied, frustrated, and blocked at every turn.  These are signs from the cosmos itself that I’m not on the right path and that I’m barking up the wrong tree.  Instead, I should learn what my path truly entails and focus on that; it might not be easy (it rarely is!), but it will be successful in a way that would go far beyond things that I’m not meant to do.  Thus, if you’re praying for something to happen and it doesn’t happen, it’s could be because that thing isn’t for you to have in your life because it won’t help you and could easily harm you.
  • What we’re praying for is something that we can receive eventually but which we’re not ready to receive now. It could be that what you’re asking for is good, noble, and proper, and it’s proper for you to have those things, but you’re not ready to have it yet.  God could look at you and say “you’ve got the potential, but you aren’t at the right state of development for it right now, so keep working at it”.  In other words, you’re on the right track, but it’s above your station; one day, if you keep on the right track, you’ll get there.  Consider the notion of knowledge and conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel; coming in contact with this divine spirit often involves an ordeal because it’s a direct link to God, and quite simply, not everyone is ready for it.  They all have their own guardian angels, to be sure, but they might not be able to truly comprehend the power and, thus, the accompanying responsibility of the conscious company of that spirit yet.  They need to refine themselves through cultivating virtue and abandoning vice until they reach a certain stage of spiritual development.  Receiving those things we pray for earlier than when it’s appropriate for us could very easily cause us and those around us harm at worst or just distractions and delays at best.

How do we know whether a prayer of ours will be granted?  This is where divination comes into play.  Divination is important for magicians of all kinds, not just because it’s a useful and profitable skill to bring in clients and to spy on people, but because it shows us the way for our own Work.  By divination, we can figure out what’s going on and what the appropriate ways are to handle it; as part of that, we can see not just whether we can do a particular ritual for a particular end, but whether we should do it (or, in the words of the good and most reverend Bishop Lainie Petersen, whether it’s wise for us to do it).  If a reading indicates that we can do something but that we should not do it, then it’s within our power to do the thing but it’s not the best use of our power to do it.  If a reading indicates that we can not do something but that we should do it, then it’s not within our power yet to do the thing and that we need to focus on cultivating that power however necessary in order to do it.  And, if a reading indicates that we can not do something and that we also should not do it, then it’s neither in our power nor our best interests to do the thing.  The answer to can-or-can’t ultimately lies with us, but the answer to should-or-shouldn’t lies with God.

We’ll pick up on this tomorrow when we get more into the notion of what “should” really means here, because this is touching on what role the will of God plays for us in our lives.