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.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Making What We Need

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 the actual supplies and materials needed to make everything we’d need for the ritual.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Since DSIC doesn’t offer a lot in terms of how to actually make, prepare, or consecrate, we need to take some initiative on our own to figure out how not only physically construct the things, but under what magical or astrological conditions and what consecrations need to be performed on each.  For this, we can look to the Heptameron, the Liber Juratus Honorii, the Key of Solomon (especially book II which gives plenty of consecrations for a variety of tools and supplies) and its other variants/sisters/antecedents like the Veritable Key of Solomon, the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (and its near-identical sister text, A Complete Book of Magic Science by Frederick Hockley), the Lemegeton, and elsewhere as needed, in addition to what Agrippa says about consecrations generally like we discussed last time (book IV, chapter 8).  What follows is my recommendations for procuring, making, and consecrating the tools and supplies called for by DSIC.

Note that I’m going to prescribe the same supplies and materials that DSIC does, but if you can’t access them due to scarcity or lack of affordability, either do what you can or make do with what you can.  Likewise, I’m going to focus on the DSIC-style tools, including the pedestal and table; if you want to substitute or use alternatives, try to take the same logic I’m using and apply it as best you can.  Also, I assume some things for granted, that you have (or know how to make or otherwise procure) some basic elements of the Western magical tradition, including holy water, holy oil, church incense, and the basic stuff that isn’t explicitly called for by DSIC but which are such basic, fundamental staples that we all end up using anyway.

Lamens
Based on Agrippa and other texts, we know that all spirits have a planetary affinity, and it’s this planetary affinity that we make use of when designing lamens by putting the name and seal of that planet or the angel presiding over that planet into the central hexagram.  Since the whole design of the lamen comes from Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10), which provides the design and process for making them, we should use that method: make the lamen in the day and hour of that planet when the Moon is increasing (between New and Full).  The lamen can be made of a metal associated with that planet, in fresh unused wax mixed with herbs or oils or dyes appropriate to that planet, or of clean new paper colored appropriately for that planet.  The overall shape of the lamen may be circular or made in a polygon whose number of sides corresponds to the number of that planet.

However, DSIC gives the option to have this always made on a “square plate of silver” in addition to paper; silver makes sense, since silver is the metal of the Moon, and the Moon may be used as a substitute for any other planet since the Moon is the lowest of the planets closest to Earth, receiving and sending all the rays of all the other planets; four makes sense, as well, as it’s the number of four directions and four elements of the world.  However, even if one makes a lamen for any planet in this way, I would still recommend that the planetary day and hour appropriate to the planet of the spirit be used, and not of the Moon, unless the spirit for whom the lamen is made is a lunar spirit.

No matter what, however, the lamen must be made so that it can be worn, hung from the neck so that the lamen itself covers the middle of the chest (about the area of the sternum).  The size should be large enough to be able to both clearly read and write all the names and symbols on it; 3″ or 4″ in diameter, depending on the size of the elements, should be sufficient.  The lamen should either be made to fit in a frame that can be worn as a pendant, or the lamen itself should have a hole or loop at the top for a string, strap, thong, chain, necklace, or other material that can allow it to be worn as such.  Though not required, I recommend the string/chain/etc. be washed in a small amount of holy water at minimum to at least cleanse and purify it.

Either way, create the lamen in the day and hour of the planet that is aligned with the spirit to be conjured while the Moon is increasing; as a rule, and this goes for everything else, if you don’t finish it in the same hour, you can either continue working on it (using the moment of starting the project as the major concern) or set it aside to continue (and maybe finish) for the next possible hour(s) that fulfills the same condition (keeping the whole creation from start to finish locked within the same planetary influences).

No consecration is given for the lamens in DSIC; they’re just to be put on immediately before tracing the circle.  Fr. AC references the Benediction of the Lamen found in the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, but properly speaking, that lamen in that text isn’t the same kind of lamen that we’re using for DSIC; if you want to apply it, go ahead, but I don’t think it’s necessary.  Considering that these lamens are effectively talismans of spirits in and of themselves, in order to properly consecrate them in the usual way, we’d need to first conjure the spirit—but that’s precisely the point of making the lamen in the first place!  This is a chicken-or-the-egg problem here, but Agrippa says that the lamens should be consecrated according to the same principles he usually gives: sprinkle with holy water, anoint with oil, suffumigate with incense, etc.  In that case, in the same timeframe as one makes the lamen, I would do just that: sprinkle it with holy water, anoint it with an appropriate kind of oil for the spirit or planet, suffumigate it in a bit of incense appropriate to that spirit or planet, and offer a prayer to God that the lamen be given the virtues and resonance of that spirit and planet for conjuration, that sort of thing.

Wand
The wand should be made out of ebony, and have written upon it in gold ink (whether directly on the surface or engraved and then filled in) the required names and symbols.  I recommend a custom length of the distance between one’s elbow and tip of the middle finger, but any convenient size (but ideally around 18″) may be used.  The thickness of the wand, according to Fr. AC, should be about the width of your index finger at it’s widest point; I don’t disagree, but use what you can, so long as it feels natural and not too clunky to hold or use.  Although a plain cylindrical rod is shown in DSIC and is the format used by Fr. AC for his wands, I like shaping mine so that there’s a “tip” at one end, either due to the shape of the wand or by attaching some sort of crystal point to it; this is up to you and your tastes, of course.

I can’t find any specific planetary affinity for ebony; it’s a wonderful wood that works with all powers powerfully, but its planetary affinity could be argued in different ways.  Since the wand is the tool of Hermēs, one could argue for an affinity with Mercury; as a scepter, Jupiter; as a replacement for the Solomonic sword, Mars; as a replacement for the Solomonic black-handled knife, and in alignment with its dark and hard properties, Saturn; considering the gold used for inscribing on the wand, the Sun.  Fr. AC suggests Mercury the most, given that the wand is the symbol of the magician and of Hermēs, and how ebony compounds all these natures into a single material; I agree with him, especially as well given that the wand and staff from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 8) recommends the first day and hour of Mercury for its making.  In that light, while any planetary time may be used for the creation of the wand, I would be most in agreement with using days and hours of Mercury.

No consecration of this tool is present in DSIC or Agrippa, though as Barrett says for the Heptameron sword in The Magus, and in agreement with general principles from Agrippa, there should be a prayer of consecration said over it.  To this end, I would recommend sprinkling the wand with holy water, anointing it with holy oil (if you’re gilding the wand with gold leaf, you could mix this into the size oil used as adhesive as well), suffumigating it with holy incense (church incense works, or incense compounded of frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, and dragon’s blood).  For such a prayer, we might turn to those of the staff/wand or the sword from the Key of Solomon as mentioned above (again, remember that the DSIC wand is a combination of the Solomonic wand and Solomonic sword!), or another or original such prayer might be recited instead.  For that reason, one might as well use the prayer for the Consecration of the Sword from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel.

Crystal
DSIC only says to “procure of a lapidary” such a crystal, and since most people aren’t expected to have access to raw quartz (or beryl) and the tools to shape and polish it, this makes sense.  However, there’s nothing stopping you if you do.

Given the crystal’s lunar nature, at least according to Agrippa (book I, chapter 7), it would make the most sense to either craft yourself or purchase (and ideally have brought home) the crystal in a day and hour of the Moon while the Moon is increasing.  Increasing, here, would be useful because, as the title of DSIC says, we want to “draw spirits into crystals”, so having a waxing Moon would be helpful for the overall vibe of the crystal.

If desired, as Fr. AC recommends in GTSC, the crystal may be washed ahead of time with a fluid condenser, herbal wash, oil, or other suitably appropriate material conducive to visions and manifestations.  A lunar fluid condenser (wash, etc.) may be used for all rituals, but when dealing with specifically non-lunar or Moon-unaffiliated spirits, substances appropriate to the planet of the spirit may be used instead and washed off after the end of the ritual, preferably with holy water and other mild cleansing substances.

No prior consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the plate, but instead, the crystal is consecrated on-the-fly in the course of the actual DSIC ritual; in addition to this, however, I would also recommend at least an sprinkling of holy water before using it in any way for the first time.

Plate
The plate is to be made of pure gold, if possible.  If pure gold is not available, then use what you can: gold-filled metal, gold leaf, gold paint, shiny brass, or something similar that gives a similar-enough effect, even if not ideal, would still be appropriate.  It being a plate, it should be made as thin as possible without losing stability or strength so as to properly support the weight of the crystal (which, being small, should not be too heavy), but thin enough to allow the crystal to almost completely protrude from both sides.

Due to the solar nature of gold, the plate should be made/purchased and engraved appropriately in a day and hour of the Sun when the Moon is increasing.  Even if you don’t use gold and replace this with something else (engraving the pedestal and applying gold foil, using wood, etc.), this should still be done at such a solar time.

However, because this is of a fundamentally different planetary nature than the (lunar) crystal, I would not recommend setting the crystal into the plate on a day and hour of the Sun necessarily.  Either a day of the Moon and hour of the Sun or a day of the Sun and hour of the Moon while the Moon is increasing would be better, in my mind, or (even more preferred) at the moment of syzygy between the Sun and the Moon (i.e. a New Moon, but not if it’s a solar eclipse).  Doing so would most harmoniously link the illuminating power of the Sun and the materializing power of the Moon.

However, if the crystal is being made to be kept separate from the pedestal, i.e. something disassembled, or using a different format of such tools entirely (e.g. using a different kind of horizontal stand or base for the crystal instead of supporting it vertically), then I would recommend the stand, &c. be made in the day and hour of the Sun with a waxing Moon all the same, and the crystal placed onto the stand at the start of the ritual process itself.

No consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the plate.  However, as the plate is not used separately from the pedestal, I would recommend conscerating this with the pedestal (if at all) once it’s set into place.

Pedestal
The pedestal is to be made from either ebony or ivory, if possible.  As noted in the earlier post, because the crystal size is specified to be pretty small, and given the DSIC illustration, the main face of the pedestal does not need to be large, either.  It should be just large enough to securely hold the plate with the crystal in place.  Following the DSIC illustration, the pedestal plate may be made in the churchhouse-type monstrance shape (as Fr. AC prefers to make them) with the hexagram with central Yod above the crystal, or one may take the Hockley approach from Occult Spells: A Nineteenth Century Grimoire for the more round, sunburst-type monstrance shape.  The pedestal does not need to be elaborate, just something sturdy enough to hold the plate with the crystal aloft.

How high should the pedestal be made?  High enough for the magician and/or scryer to comfortably look at it.  Fr. AC doesn’t seem to make them very tall, but the Hockley illustration seems to make it much taller, probably about 7″ or 8″ from base to top of the plate (including the small cross at the top), assuming a 1.5″ crystal.

As noted before with the wand, ebony’s best choice of planetary affinity may well be Mercury, and the only other instance of ivory I can find on Esoteric Archives besides DSIC is the Clavicle of Solomon, where it’s prescribed as the material for the handle of the white-handled knife (book II, chapter 8), which itself is to be made in the day and hour of Mercury while the Moon is increasing, so whether the pedestal is to be made out of ebony or ivory (or another material entirely), a day and hour of Mercury while the Moon is increasing is a good time to make it.  Alternatively, like when combining the crystal and the plate, one might use a combination of the days and hours of the Sun and Moon, as both these planets rule over the two eyes by which we see, which is the whole purpose of the pedestal.  In addition to those times, I would also recommend making this while the Sun is above the horizon during the daytime; I would argue, further to make this while the Sun is setting (hours 7 through 12) to signify the “drawing down” of spirits into the crystal and triangle.

No consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the pedestal, nor do I personally think one is needed.  However, given the pedestal’s role as a DSIC-equivalent to the Catholic monstrance, one might use the Blessing of a Monstrance or Ostensorium from the Rituale Romanum as a basis for saying such prayers of consecration, in addition to washing it with holy water, anointing it with oil (especially on the engravings on the plate), and suffumigating it with holy incenses like frankincense.  This might be done as one sets the crystal into the plate, if it wasn’t done before the plate was set into the pedestal.

Table
DSIC only tells us what needs to go on the table and the general organization for arranging them, and nothing about its material or size.  Honestly, use whatever material you find comfortable and useful for this: some good sturdy wood is always a good choice (Fr. AC recommends oak, but I don’t think it matters), but polished stone, pure unused wax, clean unused paper or parchment, or any other material will work.  You could even just draw this out in chalk or charcoal if you wanted, but taking inspiration from the Liber Juratus Honorii for the Sigillum Dei Aemeth as well as the use of wax tables from the Ars Almadel of the Lemegeton, wax might be the most ideal and traditional material, but it’s honestly up to you.  I just recommend whatever good, sturdy wood you can find.  Ebony might be ideal to match the ebony pedestal and ebony wand, but it’s not necessary; the most important part of the table is the actual design itself.

As for the size, the table should be made big enough to accommodate all the things that need to be written upon it clearly and neatly, and such that the base of the pedestal (or other stand) for the crystal can fit comfortably within the inner triangle of the table without crossing the lines of the triangle; we want to keep the physical contact of the thing holding the crystal, i.e. the temporary body/vessel of the spirit, as confined as possible within the physical bounds of the triangle.  Plan accordingly based on your pedestal or other stand for the crystal.

As an alternative to making the table using a round piece of wood (or stone, or wax, or whatever), consider that DSIC only ever calls this piece of equipment “the table on which the crystal stands”.  There’s nothing saying that this cannot be an actual table’s surface, such that, if you wanted, you could take an actual table (side table, coffee table, bar table, dinner table, shelf, etc.) and engrave/paint/write the necessary elements directly into/onto that surface.  This is up to you, whether you have the space to dedicate for a permanent DSIC altar or whether you want something smaller, more flexible, and more manageable to move around onto different surfaces as needed.  Because I don’t like the idea of having large pieces of furniture that are hard to move and store and not in constant, active use, I prefer the portable table method, but this is up to you.

Additionally, nothing is said about how permanent the markings need to be.  While it would be best to go the high-quality option of engraving, woodburning, painting, inlaying, or gilding the design onto the table material (whether a portable disc or an actual tabletop’s surface), you could make a temporary one on-the-fly with consecrated chalk or coal.  Heck, if you were in a rush, there’s nothing saying you couldn’t just print out a table onto paper and use that for on-the-fly, gotta-do-this-now conjurations.  It’s not ideal, but it is absolutely an option.

Due to the multiplanetary nature of the table, I don’t think it needs to be made in any one kind of time or day or hour or anything like that, nor can I find any sort of recommended time for other similar devices like the Sigillum Dei Aemeth or the Table of Practice from the Ars Paulina, though the Ars Almadel recommends the days and hours of the Sun.  I don’t think that’s necessary, honestly, but it’s not a bad idea.  Likewise, given that the purpose of the table is to bind spirits given the triangle, one might use days and hours of Saturn (which is also placed over all the other planets) instead.  All that said, regardless of when you might make the table, I do like making things in general while the Moon is waxing, and having the Moon waxing would help to “draw spirits into crystals” just as said before.

No consecration is mentioned in DSIC for the table, nor do I personally think one is needed.  If nothing else, I think a preliminary sprinkling with holy water and a light amount of suffumigation with holy incense of the table would be more than sufficient.

All the same considerations for the table apply if you choose to eschew the separate pedestal and table approach for a combined Table of Practice approach.

Ring of Solomon
Following the example of both the Lemegeton Goetia as well as Barrett’s earlier illustration of magic tools for use with the Heptameron, the ring should be made out of silver and sized appropriately for the little finger of the right hand.  The ring should have on the front (whether the band itself, a bevel, or a gemstone) a hexagram with either a central dot in the center of it (🔯, the classic Seal of Solomon) or, following the inspiration of the DSIC symbols, a central Yod in it. If a gemstone is used, anything of a solar or fiery nature would be ideal, with carnelian or sunstone being most preferred.

The ring should be made while the Moon is increasing, preferably in hours and days of the Sun, or at a suitably appropriate solar election.

Taking the Lemegeton influence a bit further, and in agreement with Fr. AC, if one wishes to have further inscriptions on the ring, then either “Tetragrammaton” or יהוה should be engraved on the inside of the band, with “Michael” and “Anaphexeton” on the outside of the band (or, in Hebrew interpreting “Anaphexeton” as “Tzabaoth”, מיכאל and צבאות).

No consecration is given for the ring in most texts, but if we look at some of older texts (e.g. Testament of Solomon, Veritable Key of Solomon, etc.) as well as what Agrippa says about rings generally, it might be best to consecrate the ring by sprinkling it with holy water, anointing it with holy oil, suffumigating it with frankincense and other solar incenses all in the day and hour of the Sun with the Moon waxing.  The prayer before the exorcism of Astaroth from the Veritable Key of Solomon could be used here for this (translation by Stephen Skinner):

O Lord God who created everything out of nothing, and foresaw them before they existed, and crowned us with honor and glory and set us over the works of your hands, and subjected all things under our feet, all sheep and oxen, and over this most sacred word may you always be blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

Alternatively, the various prayers from the different versions of the Hygromanteia might be used for consecrating the ring, although the rings from that line of Solomonic texts are of a different nature and style.  However, in general, it seems that the ring is consecrated automatically by construction, so beyond sprinkling/anointing/suffumigating, anything more would be up to you.

Incense
DSIC says nothing about the types of incenses to be used, so we can default to whatever blends we want that are in agreement with the planet of the spirit we’re calling upon.  Fr. AC gives a bunch of such lists in GTSC, but you can use whatever you want.  In general, frankincense is always a recommended default if you can’t get anything more specific than that.  Whether you want to use self-igniting incense like sticks or cones, loose incense on self-igniting charcoal, or loose incense on a burning flame is up to you and not really important to the practice of DSIC.

The incense is consecrated on-the-fly in the course of the ritual.  However, I would recommend sprinkling the incense with a very small flick of holy water immediately before reciting their consecration.

Vessel for Incense
Although the DSIC illustration gives a depiction of a stake-like “tripod” that may be held or thrust into the ground, which agrees with the designs given in Turiel and Complete Book of Magic Science, this (a) is unwieldy as most people aren’t going to do many conjurations outside anymore unless you have a specific need for it (b) can’t be put safely on a stable or solid floor (c) is awkward and tiring to hold (d) assumes you’re going to be using loose incense to be burnt on a source of sufficiently high heat enough to melt and burn them.  None of these assumptions are great to make anymore as a necessity, given the types of incense we have easily available to us nowadays and given the fact we tend to do conjurations inside on hard floors, so a different kind of brazier or incense vessel might be better instead.  Use whatever you have that’s convenient: a tripod with fireproof bowl (like what Fr. AC uses), a simple incense brazier, a stick holder, whatever.

No consecration of these is given in DSIC or any related text; incense is consecrated on-the-fly in many Solomonic texts, but that doesn’t seem to apply to the incense.  If the vessel is one made of iron or steel, you could use the consecration of the needle or other iron instruments from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 19) in a day and hour of Venus (?!) (or of Jupiter, when the Key of Solomon says to begin making the instruments but not finish them, or of Mercury instead of Venus according to one manuscript) or, more simply than that, a day and hour of Mars.  Mars might be good in general, since the purpose of the incense vessel is to support some sort of combustion to consume the incense.  More generally, you could just sprinkle the vessel with holy water before its initial use.

Candles
DSIC says to use “two holy wax lights”, which mandates two candles over any other source of flame-based illumination (like oil lamps).  Since most people nowadays use candles anyway with oil lamps being far rarer, this is fine and acceptable for modern practice (and is an indication of the relative modernity of DSIC).  If you wanted to be fancy about it, like Fr. AC suggests, you could use pure beeswax for them, but any wax would be fine, so long as the wax was new and fresh and the candles not previously burned for any prior work or need.  I personally recommend white or uncolored plain wax for this for general workings, as it also ties in well with the silver candle holders that are prescribed for their use, with white being both a color of the Moon and appropriate for all works for all planets.  Regardless, two candles should be used and prepared accordingly.

However, as Fr. AC says, you could switch them out for other candles colored appropriately for the planet aligned with the spirit to be conjured, if you want.  Frater AC also suggests that the candles, if to be used specifically for a particular planet, may also be anointed with an appropriate planetary or angelic fluid condenser, or oil, or some other substance to further align the candles to the spirit to be called in the conjuration.  I don’t like that approach, personally, and would rather add a number of smaller candles to surround the table and crystal in a number and color appropriate to that planet, both for extra light and as offerings, and anointing those instead.

Because DSIC says that the candles should be “holy”, this is where consecration for them is mandated, but no consecration is given.  The Key of Solomon gives a reasonable consecration of candles (book II, chapter 12), which is what I base my own consecration method on, to be done in the day and hour of Mercury while the Moon is waxing.

Candle Holders
The holders for the candles should be made of silver or otherwise silver-plated metal; barring that, any similarly high-polish, reflective, smooth candlesticks of a similar appearance would work fine, so long as they can hold the candles upright in a stable and fireproof way.  That’s basically it.

However, the Secret Grimoire of Turiel and Complete Book of Magic Science show similar candlesticks, much taller in height, one of which has the Tetragrammaton engraved on the base in Hebrew (יהוה), the other the name “Saday” in Latin script.  These same names in any combination of script (יהוה and שדי, Tetragrammaton and Shadai, etc.) may be used.

No consecration of these is given in DSIC, Turiel, Hockley, Heptameron, or other Solomonic texts.  However, an initial washing or sprinkling with holy water is recommended before their initial use.

Book of Spirits (Liber Spirituum), Pen, and Ink
We already discussed the nature of the Liber Spirituum, so between the physical description given in DSIC of it being made about 7″ and from pure white, unused, new paper (or vellum, or parchment, or whatever), I would most recommend the consecration process given as the first option by Agrippa (book IV, chapter 9).  Fr. AC gives a more thorough description of this in GTSC, in which he also references the Veritable Key of Solomon and other Solomonica.  Follow those instructions; I don’t need to explain them here, besides that they should be followed.

With such a consecrated Liber Spirituum, it would be ideal to have an appropriately-consecrated pen and ink.  For this, the Key of Solomon once again provides a wonderful consecration, whether to use on its own or use as a base for a derived consecration (book II, chapter 14).  The ink may also be consecrated appropriately, and may either be made general for use with all spirits, or may be made in special ways for each of the seven planets (such that you’d have a Mars ink, a Saturn ink, a Jupiter ink, etc.).  Recipes for these may be found elsewhere.

But, if you’re taking the simpler approach more of a Commentarium Spirituum, a record of conjurations rather than a proper Book of Spirits, then it can just be as simple as a new, unused notebook, or as fancy as a unique custom-bound journal.  Sprinkle it with holy water and flip the pages through some frankincense, if you want.  As for the pen, I recommend that you just use a new ballpoint pen of your liking; you can use the aforementioned Key of Solomon-style consecration if you want, or just do the same sprinkling/suffumigation with incense and be done with it.  Both the notebook and pen would most reasonably be consecrated in days and hours of Mercury while the Moon is increasing, just as the Key of Solomon instructs.  However, even with so little done for them, both this notebook and ballpoint pen are still considered consecrated, so they shouldn’t be used for mundane purposes after they’re consecrated.

Either way, Liber or Commentarium, keep it safe and free from inspection by the eyes of other people that you don’t explicitly trust.

Circle
DSIC doesn’t say what the circle should be drawn upon, with what it should be drawn, or how big it should be drawn.  Obviously, the circle should be on the ground somehow, but depending on your approach and the environment in which you’re working (outside, inside, hard floor, carpet, etc.), you might take a different approach.  You could use a tarp that you paint the circle upon, perhaps using extra bits to temporarily cover the empty quadrant for the spirit information, or paint it on in temporary/washable paint or ink that can later be washed out.

However, if you’re doing this on a hardwood floor or otherwise firm surface, and have the space and means to do so, then according to Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10), you would draw the circle directly on the ground in consecrated coal, though chalk would work as well.  Consecrating writing materials of this sort could be as simple as just sprinkling them with holy water and suffumigating them in frankincense or church incense, though I have my own method of consecrating chalk based on Key of Solomon consecrations for ink and pens that I’d prefer to use.  If you’re doing this outside on soil, then you’d inscribe the circle; given how we don’t have a dagger here for that purpose like what we’d use in the Key of Solomon or other Solomonica, the next best choice available to us if we don’t want to introduce a dagger into the ceremony would be using the wand itself.  This makes sense, especially as the wand is the DSIC replacement for the Solomonic sword, and given how Agrippa says to use the sword to inscribe pentagrams or triangles on the ground, and given how the wand is supposed to at least trace the DSIC circle, this is a natural use for the wand.  If you didn’t want to use the wand, however, then we might introduce a dagger into our DSIC methods, such as that from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel or the black-handled knife from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 8).

There are different diameters given in different grimoires; some say 9′ in diameter, others say 9′ in radius (meaning 18′ in diameter!), whatever.  Make the circle large enough for you and your needs, taking into account how much space you have available, whether you have a scryer with you, whether you need a table in the circle with you for supplies, whether you plan on spinning or lying down, etc.

The circle is consecrated in the process of the DSIC ritual by tracing it with the wand with the right hand, presumably (but not explicitly) clockwise, while reciting a short prayer.  Unlike the process described in the Heptameron or in Agrippa, DSIC does not say that one should sprinkle the space with holy water before entering it; I personally like adding in this approach, though it’s not strictly necessary according to DSIC, but one may also sprinkle the whole of the ritual area (both inside the circle and outside it) as a single whole temple space before even the first proper prayer of DSIC is said, reciting either Psalm 51:7 (as in the Heptameron) or 2 Chronicles 16:14-42 (as per Agrippa).


Oof.  I don’t like to make single posts this long (clocking in at around 5900 words!), but I figured this was the best way to get all this out at once in one fell swoop.  We’ll pick up next time on some other concerns leading up to implementing the DSIC ritual.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: On Constructions and Consecrations

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 the form and function of the magic circle and its likely Heptameron-based origins.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

I honestly didn’t mean to make this long, or this wordy, of a series of posts; what I thought I could simply discuss in a single post has (so far!) become eleven posts with about 40,000 words (more like 44,000 if you include all the quotations).  And we haven’t even gotten to the actual ritual part yet of DSIC; we’ve just covered the tools and implements of the ritual!  Holy yikes.  Still, before we get on to the ritual itself, there is one more tool-related thing I wanted to discuss: how to actually create and consecrate (where needed) all the implements of DSIC.

So, at this point, we know what we need, right?  According to DSIC, we need the following tools, supplies, and general bits of equipment:

These are all the implements we need according to the text of DSIC.  However, unlike other texts such as the Key of Solomon or Lemegeton, instructions for preparing all the above are badly specified: where specifications are given at all, some are extremely sparse while others are pretty detailed.  We did touch on some of the designs, specifications, and constructions of the above in our earlier DSIC posts, but before we get onto how to actually use all these things, this would be a good time to actually specify what we can, backed up with other sources like what’s in Agrippa’s Fourth Book or other texts.

Okay, so, what do we know from DSIC about the size, materials, and processes used to make everything?  First, let’s remind ourselves once more of our old friend, the DSIC illustration:

We’ve already gone over the designs, inscriptions, and the like for everything in earlier posts, so we can ignore those for this post.  Let’s focus instead on the materials and overall form of the materials as DSIC gives them.  Where I say “engraved” below, this may also be interpreted as “written”, “gilded”, or “inscribed”, depending on the materials to be used.

  • Crystal: quartz, about 1.5″ diameter, spherical, as clear as possible.
  • Plate: pure gold, size not stated (but likely about 2.3″ diameter based on image), circular (according to image), engraved on the front and back with divine names and symbols.
  • Pedestal: ebony or ivory, size not stated,  shaped and engraved like in image.
  • Table: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated.
  • Ring: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated (but likely that from The Magus‘ earlier illustration).
  • Wand: black ebony, size not stated, shaped and engraved as in image.
  • Lamen: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated, engraved as in image.
  • Circle: materials not stated, size not stated, shaped and engraved as in image.
  • Candles: wax, size not stated, must be “holy”
  • Candlesticks: silver, size not stated, shaped as in or approximated by image.
  • Brazier: materials not stated (though must be fireproof), size not stated, shaped as in image.
  • Liber Spirituum: pure white new/unused, vellum or paper, about 7″ long, shape not stated.
  • Pen: materials not stated, size not stated, shape not stated.
  • Ink: materials not stated.
  • Incense: materials not stated.

We don’t have a lot to go on here; DSIC leaves so many of these objects badly specified, if at all, but just says that we need them.  As a result, many people will have different interpretations of what needs to be done and now much work or style needs to go into all these things, as well as taking into consideration availability and cost of some of these tools and implements.  This goes doubly for other things that we might expect to see, based on other Western grimoires or Solomonic literature: robes, crowns, specific types of incense, and the like.  We just don’t have a lot.  We could bring in more things, though it wouldn’t necessarily be “strictly DSIC”, or we could use variants of the things, like using the actual tripod-style vessel for incense that Fr. AC uses instead of the stake-shaped one from the DSIC illustration, , or substituting the specific pedestal from the DSIC illustration with the one we saw from Frederick Hockley’s Occult Spells: A Nineteenth Century Grimoire.

Still, we know enough to get started.  Knowing what the ritual text of DSIC prescribes to use as tools, implements, and supplies is all well and good, but because this is a ritual text we’re discussing, and one that falls more-or-less within the Western grimoire and Solomonic traditions, we can’t talk about tool construction without discussing tool consecration; we can only get but so far if we discuss the purely physical materials involved without discussing how to not just make them but prepare them in a way appropriate for our needs.  Granted, not everything necessarily needs to be made in a magical or spiritual way, but it sure helps if it does.  This is the essence of consecration.

First, what do we mean by consecration?  The word itself literally means “make or declare sacred”, which seems straightforward enough, but how is this thought of from an occult standpoint?  Agrippa goes on at length in his Fourth Book on the topic (book IV, chapter 8), which is pretty well-phrased, in my opinion, so let me just offer a summary of what he says here so as to spare everyone the bother of an unnecessarily long quote:

  • All instruments and things used for magic should be consecrated.
  • Consecration is achieved through the power of the person performing the consecration and the virtue of the prayer used for consecration.
  • The person performing the consecration must live their life in a holy way and must possess the power of sanctification (i.e. consecration), both of which are achieved through “dignification and initiation”, and must also have a strong faith in both.
  • The prayer used for consecration must be suitably holy for the purpose, and such holiness may be derived in one of three ways:
    • From one’s own divine inspiration
    • From the power transferred to such a prayer by initiation or ordination into a spiritual tradition
    • From the sanctification and sanctity of calling upon, remembering, or referring to other things that are holy or done in a holy way, and may be related to the thing presently being consecrated.
      • For water: how God placed the Firmament in the “midst of the waters”, how God placed the font of water in Paradise from which came the four holy rivers to water the whole Earth, how God sent forth the flood to destroy the Nephilim, how God manipulated the waters of the Red Sea during the Exodus of the Jews, how Moses drew forth water from a stone, etc.
      • For fire: how God made Fire to be an instrument to execute justice and punishment and vengeance and expiation of sins, how God will command a conflagration to precede him when he judges the world, how God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, etc.
      • For oils and perfumes: how God decreed that the holy anointing oil be made and kept and used, how the name “Christ” itself indicates anointing, how the two divine olive trees produce oil for the lamps that burn continually before the face of God, etc.
      • For candles and lamps: how the altar of God contains a sacred fire for sacrifice, how there are seven lamps that burn before the face of God, etc.
      • For a circle or place: the sanctification of the Throne of God, Mount Sinai, the Tabernacle, of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies, the Temple of Jerusalem, Mount Golgotha, the Temple of Christ, Mount Tabor, etc.
      • For swords: how a sword was divinely and miraculously sent to Judah of the Maccabees, etc.
      • For books, drawings, writings, etc.: how God sanctified the Tablets of the Ten Commandments, how God sanctified the Old and New Testaments, the sanctification of the Law and of Prophets and of Scriptures, the Testament/Book/Knowledge/Wisdom of God, etc.
  • Some consecrations make use of divine names, holy seals, sacramentals of the Church, and other apparati of divinity to lead to a general effect of sanctification and atonement.
  • Every consecration should make use primarily of consecrated water, oil, fire, and incense.
  • Every consecration should be performed in the presence of some source of light, preferably from one or more consecrated candles (literally “holy wax-lights”, note the phrasing!) or lamps.
  • Every consecration of things that are profane, polluted, or defiled in any way should be preceded first by an exorcism and atonement in order to make them sufficiently pure so as to better receive the virtue of consecration.
  • Every consecration should be followed by a blessing upon the object, with the breath passing the lips (i.e. either spoken aloud or silently so long as breath is flowing).
  • Every consecration should be performed with one’s own holiness, authority, license, and need in mind, all performed earnestly and intently.

So much for the general ideas and notions.  In addition to the things to be remembered for a variety of consecrations, Agrippa also gives a few specific rules, too:

  • When consecrating a circle or other ritual space, the Prayer of Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 6:14-42) should be recited while sprinkling the area with holy water and burning sacred incense.
  • When consecrating instruments and “all other things whatsoever that are serviceable to this Art”, they are to be sprinkled with holy water, suffumigated in sacred incense, anointed with holy oil, sealed “with some holy Sigil”, and blessed with prayer, after having commemorated things that were made or done in a holy way as noted above.

And, moreover, he describes two other methods of consecration in addition to the processes and methods given above:

  • “Superstitious” consecration, by which the rite and act of consecration or collection of any sacrament in the Church is transferred to that thing which we would consecrate.
    • This is a little unclear to me, but it seems like when an object either comes in contact with something that has been duly consecrated by someone with the power to do so (e.g. touching a ritual knife with a consecrated Host of the Eucharist).
    • Alternatively, this could be when something is consecrated “by virtue of” some sacrament (e.g. “by the virtue of my baptism, may this dagger be baptized and made holy and fit for divine works”).
  • Vows, oblations, and sacrifice also produce a kind of consecration, given that they are representative of a pact or exchange of power and resource between the one who gives and the one who receives.
    • Whenever we dedicate something with intent and purpose, the thing becomes consecrated.
    • Examples include both physical things like incense, oils, rings, and talismans, as well as immaterial things like sigils, prayers, enchantments, pictures, and so forth.

Agrippa mentions at the end of this section in his Fourth Book that many of these topics about consecration are those “of which we have largely spoken in our third book of Occult Philosophy”, and it’s true; book III, chapter 62 basically touches all of the above, but pretty much everything from chapter 54 (“Of cleanness, and how to be observed”) to chapter 64 (“Of certain religious observations, ceremonies, and rites of perfumings, unctions, and the like”) are useful to read here for more information on how to perform these types of ceremonies and works.

But, on top of all that we get from Agrippa’s books (which is good at a high-level but poor for specific implementation), we also can build upon the vast majority of Solomonic and other Western grimoiric/magical literature which contains specific rites, prayers, exorcisms, and benedictions to be used for a variety of the tools called for in DSIC.  In addition to scouring for whatever we could get from the rest of Francis Barrett’s The Magus, of special note to us would be those of the Heptameron, the Liber Juratus Honorii, the Key of Solomon (especially book II which gives plenty of consecrations for a variety of tools and supplies), the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, and to a lesser extent, the Lemegeton, but I’m sure that there are various other texts that we could draw on for what we would need.

That being said, DSIC doesn’t really prescribe consecrations for many of the things that we need in the ritual, or when they do (especially the “two holy wax lights”), no consecration is given.  The way I think of it, there are three reasons for this:

  1. Some things are consecrated ahead of time, and DSIC just doesn’t specify them (e.g. the candles).
  2. Some things are consecrated “on the fly” in the process of the ritual itself (e.g. the crystal and the circle).
  3. Some things are consecrated “automatically”, whether by the natural virtues of the substances and materials from which they are made, or in the process of constructing them by virtue of the things (especially holy names, holy sigils, seals of spirits, etc.) written, inscribed, or engraved upon them.

And, when it comes to your approach to consecration, there are three ways you can go about it:

  1. Strict approach: if the text doesn’t say to do something, don’t do it.  Conversely, if the text says to do something, do it.
  2. Lenient approach: if the text doesn’t say to do something, you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, but you can bring in influences from other texts if desired.  But, if the text definitely says to do something, do it, at least as best as you can.
  3. Free approach: like the lenient approach (if the doesn’t doesn’t specify something, you can do something if you want to anyway), but if the text does say to do something specifically, you can take it or leave it, or substitute with another method or construction instead.

The thing about the free approach, even though the way I phrased it might raise some hackles or elicit some sort of immediate “ugh, newbs” response, is that it’s probably the most common approach by far, at least in some cases, because of how bad a job DSIC does at specifying most things.  Consider the pedestal: most people just omit it and fold the design elements of it into the table to produce a Table of Practice, which doesn’t properly match up with DSIC anyway, but which works all the same, as well as the fact that most people don’t bother with a Liber Spirituum or ring of Solomon.  Additionally, though DSIC (and all its predecessors and contemporaries) was written in a heavily Christian or Abrahamic occcultural sphere, many people tend to omit some of the phrasing or change it so that it’s least starkly Christian, or they’ll replace certain names with others to make more Hermetic or qabbalistic sense (e.g. using the divine name Shaddai El Chai in the conjuration itself instead of “blessed and holy Tetragrammaton” when calling upon spirits of the Moon, since that divine name is used for the sephirah Yesod, associated with the Moon).

If one were to take a grimoire-fundamentalist or grimoire-purist approach, then DSIC might be a disappointing text, because it leaves so much unspecified that goes against so much of what we’re used to in a complete grimoire.  For that reason, the strict approach becomes the least satisfying option to take, with the lenient approach becoming something more like what we see Fr. AC taking in GTSC.  For instance, Fr. AC anoints his crystal with an appropriate fluid condenser, references the “benediction of the lamen” and the invocations for the days of the week from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (specifically from Frederick Hockley’s A Complete Book of Magic Science) as well as using the weekday prayers from the Heptameron as the oaths for the seven planetary angels,  and gives plenty of tips on preparation, purification, and the like—none of which are found in DSIC, but which Fr. AC finds it beneficial to do regardless so as to fill in the gaps left behind by DSIC.  In this “lenient” approach (“lenient” only in the sense of bringing in more things to DSIC than are strictly present), we’d want to do more consecrations ahead of time than simply relying on on-the-fly consecrations for the few things that are made that way, or than by relying on automatic consecrations alone.

In all fairness, I don’t think the strict approach to DSIC is actually feasible, because DSIC is so high-level and bare-bones of a ritual implementation of conjuration that it really needs outside information and practices to make it more complete.  Yes, you could get by with doing what the ritual text describes and no more or less, but that’d be like reading some of the entries in the Greek Magical Papyri and thinking that those would be complete, too.  Consider the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios (PGM IV.1596—1715), which is my ritual implementation of what the PGM gives, which is only a prayer and nothing else; heck, anywhere we see “add/do/perform the usual” means that there are necessarily gaps that would need to be filled in.  I consider the DSIC in a similar light: it’s a great ritual framework for performing conjurations, but it’s a framework and structure that only has some specifications, not all the ones we’d need to have a fully fleshed-out ritual.  That’s where texts like Fr. AC’s GTSC and Fr. RO’s SS come into play, because they offer (more or less) full implementations of DSIC, complete with scripts, descriptions, instructions, processes, and the like.  However, because DSIC specifies so little, any two magician’s implementations of DSIC will most likely differ in some of the details, keeping only what DSIC actually specifies in common between them.

Okay, so, that being said, let’s take a look at the few consecrations provides us.  Of the tools and supplies that the DSIC text prescribes, only three things are to be consecrated on the fly, viz. in the order they appear in the ritual: the crystal used for conjuring the spirit, the magic circle, and the incense.  The crystal is consecrated by laying your hand upon it and praying over it, the circle is consecrated by tracing its boundaries with the wand, and the incense is consecrated by praying over them after it’s been ignited.  That’s pretty much it; we can get into the specific wording of these prayers in a later post, but suffice it here to say that this is all that DSIC provides us.  But, as far as these specific prayers are concerned, it’s clear that the author of DSIC basically took the exorcism/consecration/blessing of the incense from the Heptameron, but the Heptameron differs in the process a bit for the incense, and doesn’t use the same consecration of the circle at all, nor does Heptameron include a consecration for the crystal since the Heptameron doesn’t make use of any scrying medium.  The conjuration of the Ars Paulina from the Lemegeton includes a bit about the crystal, but though there are some similarities between this and what’s in DSIC, it’s not all that comparable.

That DSIC makes use of Heptameron prayers isn’t surprising; after all, we saw how clearly the Heptameron influenced DSIC at least as far as its magic circle design, and as we’ll eventually see, the overall process of the Heptameron can kinda be seen in DSIC, too.  However, it is surprising that DSIC, despite being indebted to Agrippa on so many other accounts, seems to almost ignore Agrippa’s prescriptions and methods of consecration, not even going as far as what the Heptameron does for the magic circle in sprinkling the magic circle or incense with holy water before blessing them.  And, considering that there are some similarities between the stuff in the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (aka Hockley’s A Complete Book of Magic Science), which is most likely roughly contemporaneous with DSIC, there’s plenty of stuff in there that might be considered parallel works, too, especially as Hockley was likely in touch with people who did both DSIC and Turiel stuff.

We don’t have a lot to work on with how little DSIC provides us, whether in terms of construction or consecration.  But we have enough to get started, and we’ll talk about actually making everything next time, and making it all fit for use.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Magic Circle and its Heptameron Origins

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 talked about the Liber Spirituum, the Book of Spirits, and how it might or might not be recommended for DSIC works if all you need is just a notebook to take notes.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

This time, let’s talk about the last big design element from the DSIC text: the magic circle itself.  Like the wand, the DSIC text doesn’t actually prescribe a design or list of elements to go onto the magic circle, it just says that we need to use one.  However, also like the wand, the illustration gives us the design information we need, so let’s pull up the DSIC illustration once more from Barret’s book:

It’s the middle circle in the whole thing, captioned as “the magic Circle of a simple construction in which the operator must stand or sit when he uses the Chrystal”.  Let’s analyze the design; what do we see?  We see another double circle design, with the space between the outer and inner circles containing the following symbols:

  • Four hexagrams, each aligned to one of the four directions of the circle (top, bottom, left, right)
  • The divine name “Tetragrammaton” (cursive typeface) in the upper left quadrant, written from the inside of the circles
  • The divine name “Elohim” (print typeface) in the lower left quadrant, written from the outside of the circles
  • The divine name “ADONAI” (print typeface, all caps) in the lower right quadrant, written from the outside of the circles
  • The symbol for the Sun and the seal of the angel Michael of the Sun in the upper right quadrant, written form the inside of the circles

I can’t explain the use of different typefaces and styles used for the three divine names on the circle; I don’t want to just outright say that they’re meaningless and just up to the whimsy of the illustrator, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case.  Additionally, the shift in direction from the upper two quadrants (names/seals written from the perspective of inside the circle) and the lower two quadrants (written from the perspective of outside the circle) almost certainly seems like an error to me; in almost every kind of magic circle I can think of in which the magician stands within, any contents in the design of the circle are written from the perspective of the magician inside not the spirits outside.  Fr. AC likewise seems to agree with me, and though he embellishes his circle from the DSIC illustration basis, he keeps the basic divine names written in the same typeface (he likes using blackletter) and all written from the perspective of the magician inside the circle.

For the three quadrants with divine names, he has three elements each:

  • The divine name written in Latin script
  • The same name written in Hebrew square script
  • The same name written in paleo-Sinitic/Phoenician script

In GTSC, he admits that “this was an inspirational modification on my part, but one that seemed appropriate to fill the space of the circle”.  I’ll also note that he uses YHVH in Hebrew/Phoenician scripts for transliterating Tetragrammaton, because, well, the Tetragrammaton is literally just that.  As usual, props to Fr. AC for aesthetics and balance (though my eyes rebel and revolt at the sight of blackletter).

However, there are others, like Fr. FC and Jason Augustus Newcomb, who use the DSIC illustration orientation, with Newcomb literally just basically using a gigantic printout of the circle, typefaces and all.  Fr. FC, on the other hand, redrew it, but also kept the typefaces relatively the same.

I don’t care for this approach, personally, but that’s just me.  I’d rather have all the names written in the same typeface and facing the same direction.

Then there’s the case of that last quadrant.  The DSIC illustration, since the text is focused on using Michael of the Sun as the exemplar, fills this last quadrant with two things: the glyph of the Sun closer to the top, and the seal of the angel Michael clockwise from it towards the right.  This suggests that this quadrant needs two things: the glyph of the planet and the seal of the angel.  That’s it.  Of course, if you wanted to add to it, you could; Fr. AC does just that, and adds the name of the angel (in both Latin script and Hebrew square script) and the signs of the zodiac that planet rules to this segment.  As with his additions to the other three quadrants, he says that he does “not think this is necessary for the strength of the circle, but it felt appropriate for the design”.

Now, how does one go about customizing the circle for different planets?  Some people draw out the circle in chalk or erasable/washable paint or some other nonpermanent material every time for each individual conjuration, while others like to have something more fixed, like a circle painted on canvas or carpet.  So how might one customize the quadrant for the angel-specific stuff?  The general approach is to make the base of the circle blank on that part, and make “covers” or “layovers” made of the same material to temporarily fix onto the circle to cover the blankness with the necessary information, or something transparent laid on top likewise to fill it in.  Other people use large firm boards that fit together, like flooring tiles, using one board for each quadrant, and just swap out the board for the angelic quadrant for each angel.

While I get the practical reasons for making disassembling/overwritten circles, and while the ingenuity delights me…it kinda weirds me out, to be honest.  We use circles because they provide an unbroken boundary, while most times, using objects such as disassembling boards or pinned-on quadrant segments causes a natural break to form.  I would rather just draw the circle out in chalk or have multiple circles painted on canvas carpets, but I also admit that neither are the most feasible of approaches for many people.  Do what you can; I would recommend most having a canvas with a complete circle painted on and a blank quadrant here, with thin pieces of fabric that can be pinned on securely and flatly that fill only the space between the inner and outer circle without breaking them or overwriting them.

Why would we use this sort of method of making custom circles for different conjurations?  The way I see it, the custom circle helps link us more to the spirit we’re trying to conjure, in a way that reinforces the connection that we make also by wearing the lamen of that same spirit.  Plus, in case things (for some reason) go awry, building such a circle that’s already aligned with the spirit can help deflect, ameliorate, or appease any harm they might cause or bring, in a sort of roundabout “hair of the dog that bit you” kind of way.

How big should the magic circle be?  Neither Agrippa nor DSIC says.  For yourself, make it big enough to do what you need to do; I’d recommend making the diameter as tall as you are plus about half a foot on either side.  So, for me, since I’m about 6’3″ tall, I’d ideally make my circle about 7′ wide.  That way, I have enough space to walk, sit, stand, and lie down in with ease without having to cross the boundary at all, with enough space to have another person in the circle with me as well as to have a small table for supplies and the like at hand.  Of course, for space constraints, you could just have it be a smaller circle that’s literally just a few feet wide, big enough for you to stand or sit in for the duration of that conjuration.  Not a big deal, I suppose; if you want to give numerological meaning to the size of the circle, you’re free to do so, but so long as it’s big enough for you to handle the task at hand, whatever size will be fine.

How should the circle be oriented?  While one might associate different names of God with the different directions (as I did in my own Circle of Art tarp project a few years back), there’s nothing in DSIC that suggests how to actually orient it, though a natural suggestion of aligning the four hexagrams with the four directions makes sense.  However, Fr. AC in GTSC says that, rather than aligning the hexagrams to the four directions, one aligns the circle such that the quadrant with the planet and seal of the angel lies directly between the magician (in the center of the circle) and the crystal.  I like this idea quite a lot, actually; with that, there’s this three-fold presence of the spirit in the ritual: once in the crystal, once upon the circle between crystal and magician, and once upon the magician’s own breast in the form of the lamen, all in a single straight line.  Plus, with the planet and seal of the angel positioned closest to the crystal, it would help facilitate their presence anyway in the crystal itself.  (This is, of course, assuming that the crystal and the rest of that set of equipment is placed outside the magic circle itself, following Fr. AC’s method.  This is the expected reading, but Fr. RO and Fr. Acher use a different setup, which we’ll discuss in a later post.)

So is that it?  This seems to be it.  Magic circle, done and figured out, right?

Of course not.

At this point, we should remind ourselves: fundamentally, what is the magic circle for?  Circles are for protection, especially from the harmful influences of demons and other malignant spirits; as the preface to the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano appended to Agrippa’s Fourth Book says,  “the greatest power is attributed to the Circles; For they are certain fortresses to defend the operators safe from the evil Spirits”.  But, as we touched on at the end of the last post, DSIC seems to be far more geared towards the conjuration of angels (even though it doesn’t necessitate that it only be used as such), which would suggest that we use more of Agrippa’s “good spirit” methods in his Fourth Book, which appear more theurgical and akin to the Arbatel.  Yet, parts of DSIC (the wand and the ring, the Liber Spirituum, and now the circle) are things that fall more into Agrippa’s “evil spirit” methods, which is far more Solomonic in nature.  If we’re working with “good spirits” like angels, then such a tool of impelling and such measures of protection would be unnecessary (and probably outright useless if push came to shove) when working with such spirits.  If we’re working with good spirits, then by using these things, we’re insulating ourselves from ambient malignant spirits or preparing ourselves just in case for a deceptive evil spirit to steal the place of the good spirit we’re calling.

Yet, DSIC is comparatively unprepared when it comes to “what to do if a spirit is stubborn”, so I don’t think the “just in case” reason above makes a lot of sense, nor does “general protection from ambient malignant spirits”; after all, it’s not like we’re necessarily more vulnerable in a conjuration, so why not always wear a ring of Solomon for the protection it would provide?  Moreover, why would Agrippa, who is otherwise pretty descriptive with his methods in the Fourth Book, say nothing about spiritual protection when working with good spirits?  If the spirits are as good as they say they are, especially if you’re working with angels, and even more the planetary or archangels themselves, then there’s nothing to fear since the angels themselves will defend and protect you, kicking out any deception or deceiving spirit in the process, no circle or ring needed.

Again, this ties into the weirdness of DSIC plainly being a mashup of both Solomonic and non-Solomonic techniques of working with spirits, sometimes conflating the methods described by Agrippa as some being for “good spirits” and others being for “evil spirits”; whatever texts the author of DSIC was referencing, Agrippa was only one of them.  This can also be evidenced in the weird phrasing of that caption, “of a simple construction”, which bothers me.  Unlike the specifications of the pedestal, table, wand, lamen, and the like, this part of DSIC would appear to give us some leeway in how the circle is designed.  Since most of the DSIC toolset and structure is heavily indebted to Agrippa’s Fourth Book, we can turn to there to see what Agrippa says about the circle design, just like we did for the lamen…except there’s not so much written about it as there is about the lamen.  Book IV, chapter 10 has “another Rite more easie to perform for calling forth spirits” that isn’t really connected to the parts that would use lamens or the other DSIC technique that the Fourth Book would anticipate, but this segment has a bit about it:

Then a place being prepared pure and clean, and covered everywhere with white linen, on the Lord’s Day in the new of the Moon let him enter into that place, clothed with clean white garments; and let him exorcise the place, and bless it, and make a Circle therein with a sanctified coal; and let there be written in the uttermost part of the Circle the names of the Angels, and in the inner part thereof let there be written the mighty names of God: and let him place within the Circle, at the four angles of the world, the Censers for the perfumes…

Later on, in chapter 12 on “calling forth evil spirits to a magic circle”, Agrippa gives a different design to be used for evil spirits as opposed to good spirits:

These things being considered, let there be a Circle framed in the place elected, as much for the defense of the Invocant as for the confirmation of the Spirit. And in the Circle it self there are to be written the divine general names, and those things which do yield defense unto us; and with them, those divine names which do rule this Planet, and the Offices of the Spirit himself; there shall also be written therein, the names of the good Spirits which bear rule, and are able to bind and constrain that Spirit which we intend to call. And if we will any more fortify and strengthen our Circle, we may add Characters and Pentacles agreeing to the work; then also if we will, we may either within or without the Circle, frame an angular figure, with the inscription of such convenient numbers, as are congruent amongst themselves to our work; which are also to be known, according to manner of numbers and figures: of which in the second book of Occult Philosophy it is sufficiently spoken.

And, later in chapter 13, a modification that some magicians make:

And therefore some use to make a Gate in the Circle, whereby they may go in and out, which they open and shut as they please, and fortify it with holy Names and Pentacles.

It doesn’t seem like that last bit about the gate influenced the DSIC circle any, so we can probably ignore it.  But the first two sections quoted seem more important, and if we were to combine the two into a single circle format, then we can gather up the following design instructions from them:

  • The circle should be written in consecrated/blessed/sanctified coal on the ground in a clean and pure place on a Sunday on a new Moon (or as soon afterwards as possible)
  • Four censers for incense should be placed at the four angles of the circle (north, south, east, west) (recall our earlier talk about the brazier and incense vessel)
  • The names of the angels (to be conjured? angels generally?) are to be written in the “uttermost” part of the circle
  • Divine names should be written in the “inner part” of the circle, including and especially those that rule or are connected to the planet associated with the spirit as well as the general names (as said before from the first part of our lamen discussion)
  • The names and characters of the spirit to be conjured
  • The names of the “good spirits” that rule over and can bind/thwart the spirit being conjured (especially if an “evil spirit”)
  • Any characters, pentacles, names, etc. as desired to further empower the circle
  • “Angular figures” according to the number of the planet of the spirit (consider how there are four hexagrams in the DSIC circle, hexagrams having six points, six being the qabbalistic number of the Sun)

In other words, it seems like Agrippa is giving us some huge leeway, indeed, when it comes to how we want to draw the circle, and though he gives so many options as to be vague, the DSIC illustration…doesn’t have a lot of this, nor does it clearly match up with what Agrippa describes.  So I’m not entirely sure that DSIC is actually drawing strictly from Agrippa here.

If the DSIC caption is describing its circle as being “of a simple construction”, then the logical question to ask is “simple compared to what?”  And that’s where I think it’s helpful to take a step back and consider what else the author and illustrator of DSIC might be drawing on.  We know that Agrippa’s Fourth Book is huge, of course, but when the Fourth Book was published, it wasn’t published alone.  One of the other texts in the volume that contains the Fourth Book is the well-praised and famous Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, which is a classic of the Solomonic tradition and has earlier origins, too, including an entry in the Munich Manual that I’ve translated from Latin and is extant in a few other texts that predate the Fourth Book, though not by a lot.  One of the most fascinating parts of this work is the complex magic circle design that the Heptameron says to make:

  • Four circles, with three rings of names
  • The innermost ring has the four divine names Tetragrammaton, Adonay, Eloy, and Agla
  • The outermost ring has the name of the “Angel of the Air” and their ministers that correspond to the planet of the spirit being conjured
  • The middle ring has the name and seal of the angel of the planet being conjured, the angels of that day, the sacred name of the season in which the conjuration takes place; the sacred names of the angels, head of the sign, Earth, Sun, and Moon that all pertain to that season; and the sacred name of the hour in which the conjuration is to take place
  • The inside of the innermost ring has the phrase “Alpha et Ω” (Alpha and Ōmega) written, with “Alpha” at the top and “et Ω” at the bottom
  • The two innermost circles have two lines running through them at a right angle aligned to the four directions

The classic example given in the text is the following circle, to be performed on a Sunday at the first hour of the day in springtime:

Granted that we can see some similarities between this method and what Agrippa describes, this is certainly not a simple circle, especially as the outermost and middle rings will completely change based on the season, hour, and day in which the conjuration is to be performed.  However, the Heptameron method seems to fix the angels/planetary spirits to be conjured to the day itself, so it would seem like it would discourage performing a conjuration of the spirits of the Moon in an hour of the Moon on a Sunday, even though the Heptameron also gives a list of hours of the days of the week and their presiding planets/angels, so I’m not sure on that specific point; if the Heptameron method does allow such a thing, then the angelic name, seal, and likely the other angels of the planet would also change.

All the same, take a close look at the innermost ring: three of the four names (Tetragrammaton, Adonay, and Eloy) are basically the same as those used in the DSIC circle (Tetragrammaton, Adonai, Elohim), with Agla (which is Hebrew acronym for the Hebrew phrase “atah gibor le-olam Adonai”, or “You, my Lord, are mighty forever”, itself treated as a divine name in many grimoires) being dropped in favor of having the planetary glyph and angelic seal.  It seems to me like the DSIC circle is a vastly simplified form of the Heptameron circle, keeping only most of the innermost circle, replacing one of the divine names with the planetary/angelic stuff, and replacing the crosses with hexagrams.  Whether the hexagrams are supposed to be specifically solar symbols (having six points, per Agrippa’s instructions) or are just meant as general holy symbols can’t be inferred from the DSIC text; everyone seems to take them as being general, and I’m not opposed to that approach, but if you wanted to take an Agrippan approach, you might use heptagrams for Venus circles, octograms for Mercury circles, triangles for Saturn circles, and the like.  Besides, it’s clear that the DSIC author/illustrator has a thing for hexagrams given their presence elsewhere on its ritual tools, so I think that hexagrams should be used in general here.

However, consider that the four outside pentagrams are aligned to the cross-quarters.  If we consider Fr. AC’s suggestion above that the quadrant of the circle containing the planet and seal of the spirit to be conjured is aligned to the crystal, then that would place the hexagrams in the DSIC circle at the cross-quarters, which would match with the Heptameron stars here.  And, if we consider that the innermost “Alpha et ω” was removed from the circle, it might be possible that the DSIC author removed this and put it on the back of the wand (“Ego Alpha et Omega”), so that the same element was present, just on a different item.  It’s not that much of a stretch.

Personally, I’m very confident in saying that the DSIC circle is a simplified form of the Heptameron circle, because there’s so much in DSIC that takes directly from the Heptameron in terms of the specific prayers and exorcisms that are used in both, especially when you hone in on the phrasing of certain things.   Plus there’s the use of the same angels and, at least as far as Michael of the Sun is concerned, the same seals for those angels as in the Heptameron.  And we know it’s specifically the Heptameron and not other extant closely-related texts like the Munich Manual because we see an association of Michael with the Sun, which is present in the Heptameron as published with Agrippa’s Fourth Book, yet Agrippa himself in the various Scales chapters of his book II gives Michael to Mercury and Raphael to the Sun—as did nearly every earlier and contemporaneous text up until the publication of this version of the Heptameron, it’d seem.  And that’s a really convincing point for me, too, although Trithemius did give Michael to the Sun and Raphael to Mercury in his own writings, such as in the Steganographia and De Septem Secundeis.  Odd, then, that Agrippa, himself a student of Trithemius, would revert to the earlier form, perhaps based on older and more common sources than what his teacher had provided him; perhaps there were too many differences in angels generally, as Trithemius also gave Saturn to the angel Orifiel and Jupiter to Zachariel, which don’t match up with the Heptameron angels or Agrippa’s angels.

To be fair, many of the things to be said according to the Heptameron closely follow a variety of other Solomonic texts, many of which tend to rely ultimately on the famous Liber Juratus Honorii, or the Sworn Book of Honorius (LJH).  This places DSIC in that same line of literature lineage, albeit in a much reduced and simplified form.  For a comparable text, probably one of the closest contemporaneous texts to DSIC-qua-Solomonica could well be the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (SGT), which itself is given in Frederick Hockley’s version of A Complete Book of Magic Science (CBMS).  Though it’s not exactly clear when this text arose, it’s clear that it’s not that old, and Fr. AC references this text in bringing in a few extra consecrations and blessings, such as for the lamen, which makes a good fit in general due to how closely related in time and content this is with DSIC.  Plus, there’s also a number of other strong parallels between SGT/CBMS and DSIC in some of the tools as far as the candlesticks and wand are concerned.  SGT/CMBS is a lot more in-depth and Christian in tone and approach than DSIC (ironic, considering how DSIC is attributed to a Christian abbot), and it’s probably from a different lineage of Solomonica than the DSIC and Heptameron are (probably more from a Key of Solomon line and which incorporates the Arbatel?), but it’s a good secondary text to reference for fleshing out and understanding DSIC more.

What makes DSIC fascinating to me is that it appears to blend LHJ-descended Heptameron-style (maybe with echoes of the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, itself from a more Grimorium Verum line?) Solomonica with Agrippa’s Three Books and Fourth Book, that latter which, although Agrippa was surely aware of Solomonic literature and practices when he wrote them (whether or not he was the actual author of the Fourth Book), isn’t directly tied into it.  And it presents such a simplified form of angelic conjuration compared to earlier texts that one might even call it dumbed-down; I’m reminded of some of the modern debates about whether to take the Fr. RO approach versus the Fr. AC approach, with some railing against Fr. RO’s RWC-/SS-style DSIC format, when the text itself is essentially a heavily-reduced mishmash of earlier texts.  I can quite easily and realistically imagine that, when Barrett published The Magus, the hardliners then would have the same complaints about DSIC then as hardliners today might have about SS.  Of course, is simplicity a bad thing?  Not by my standard, so long as it works.  Does DSIC work?  Yup, and that’s the important bit.  And the same could be said of Fr. RO’s style of DSIC, too; I can certainly claim to that.

At this point, we’ve basically covered all the physical implements of DSIC: the crystal, the pedestal for the crystal and the table to support that (or the combined Table of Practice if you want to take a simpler route), the lamens, the wand and book and candles and censer, and now the magic circle.  With all of the physical implements of DSIC finally described, what about making, consecrating, and using them?  This is where we start to both incorporate DSIC itself while departing from DSIC proper to flesh it all out as desired, and we’ll pick up on that next time.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: “Thy Little Book” and Oaths of Spirits

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 talked about some more of the simpler parts of DSIC, namely the nature of the candles and the incense holder to be used for the rite. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!!

Last time, we left off with a sly, snide comment about how the specific form and placement of the incense holder seems to be pretty variable, with not a lot of people seeming to stick to the exact specifications of DSIC; I noted that it’s an underutilized and underemphasized part of DSIC. But that pales in comparison to today’s topic, for which there’s no design shown in the DSIC illustration (so I don’t need to mar your eyes with that picture again), but which is given a surprisingly detailed description in the DSIC text (as far as anything in it can be considered detailed). In the ritual, at the point of having put incense in the brazier (or otherwise lit incense using whatever kind and vessel you have) and just before the conjuration proper, DSIC instructs us to do this:

…take out thy little book, which must be made about seven inches long, of pure white virgin vellum or paper, likewise pen and ink must be ready to write down the name, character, and office, likewise the seal or image of whatever spirit may appear (for this I must tell you that it does not happen that the same spirit you call will always appear, for you must try the spirit to know whether he be a pure or impure being, and this thou shalt easily know by a firm and undoubted faith in God.)

So we have “thy little book”, which is given the following specifications:

  • A book roughly 7″ tall (though no specification is given as to width or number of pages)
  • Pure white virgin (i.e. new and unused) vellum or paper

Additionally, we’re to have pen and ink ready to go at our disposal. The purpose of this book is so that we can write down the name of the spirit we’re conjuring, their character or characters (seal, sigil, etc.), their office, and “the seal or image of whatever spirit may appear”.

What DSIC is describing here is none other than a Book of Spirits, or in Latin, Liber Spirituum. This is described at length in Agrippa’s Fourth Book (book IV, chapter 9) to the point where I hesitate even quoting sections from it here, because Agrippa goes on at length about it. Though I strongly encourage you to just….read Agrippa, here’s a very brief summary of the points of what Agrippa is saying:

  • A Liber Spirituum is to be made, consecrated, and used for the conjuration of specifically evil spirits.
  • Made of pure, clean, new, unused paper (aka “virgin paper”)
  • Any pair of pages, left and right, are to be used for a single spirit
    • On the left-hand page is drawn the image (depiction, visualization, etc.) of the spirit
    • On the right-hand page is drawn the oath of the spirit that uses its name, “dignity” (office), and “place” (origin, role, function, etc.), underneath which is the seal of the spirit
    • Additional information, such as appropriate places, times, hours, planets, and the like for the spirit, should also be noted as discovered or agreed upon
  • Adorned with “Registers and Seals”, e.g. ribbon bookmarks containing glyphs representing the spirit
    • This helps the magician open up the book to any specific spirit as needed at a moment’s notice
    • This also helps prevent the book being opened up to any unwanted or undesired spirit that might harm the magician or those around them
  • This book should be considered and kept as a sacred object, lest it “lose its virtue with pollution and profanation”

If this makes it sound like something out of a movie, then you’re getting the right idea. The Liber Spirituum is essentially a magician’s own personal compendium of spirits, something far more sorcerous than a mere Book of Shadows. The book itself is essentially a rolodex of and cellphone for calling the spirits a magician has conjured, containing the contracts and oaths that he has made the spirits swear by so that they might remain loyal and truthful to the magician, with all necessary information so make future conjurations easier and swifter. Agrippa gives two ways to consecrate such a book:

  1. Whenever a new spirit is conjured for the first time to the magic circle of the magician, the spirit is to be bound into a triangle outside the circle. (This is pretty basic Solomonic stuff a la the Lemegeton Goetia.) With that spirit in the triangle, the magician calls upon the spirit to give their oath and bond to the magician, which is then recorded and consecrated in the book.
  2. Make the book the same way as specified above, but at the end of the book, write the different invocations, oaths, conjurations, bindings, and other prayers as one might use in rituals (like those in the Lemegeton Goetia, Heptameron, or other Solomonic texts) “wherewith every spirit may be bound”. This book then should then be “bound between two Tables or Lamens”, meaning that special lamens (not like the angelic lamens we discussed before, but more like the classic Solomonic lamens like the Pentagram of Solomon or Hexagram of Solomon) should be placed, engraved, or attached to the front cover and back cover, and on the inside covers as well (same or different). The spirits to be contained in the book are to be conjured with the oaths and prayers written in it to the circle “within the space of three days”. This book is then wrapped up in clean linen and buried securely (!) in the middle of the circle and covered, with the circle then being destroyed. The spirits called upon are then given license to depart. Three days later, the magician returns to that spot, makes a new circle, dig up the book, and without opening it, calling upon all those same spirits earlier called upon.

Agrippa says that the first way is preferred, since even though the second method is easier and of “much efficacy to produce every effect, except that in opening this book the spirit do not always come visible”. This suggests that the first method, though probably more laborious to conjure each and every spirit one by one separately and get their separate oaths written and sealed up in the book, gives more power and potency to the book itself.

As to how to use the book? Agrippa further continues that whenever the magician wants to work with one of the spirits with which they have an oath in their Liber Spirituum, all they need to do is open the book directly to that spirit’s entry (using the bookmark “Register”, not opening up to any other page), invoke the spirit by their oath they gave along with their name and seal, and simply go from there, giving license to depart to the spirit when you’re done with them. This effectively gives the magician a way to work more expeditiously and easier with the spirit, as once they have such an oath and bond with them, “without a Circle these Spirits may be called to appear, according to the way which is above delivered about the consecration of a book” (book IV, chapter 14).

So, what’s the purpose of the Liber Spirituum? When we work with spirits, we ask, oblige, compel, or force them to give us an oath and bond of theirs, complete with their name, office, role, appropriate times/materials/etc., and depiction, upon which we can rely to ensure their continued support and assistance at a later time. In doing so, we essentially enter into a formal relationship with the spirit, where the full formality of a complete conjuration ritual with circle and candle and incense and the like aren’t strictly necessary (unless deemed so depending on the nature of the oath to be made by the spirit and the nature of the danger of said spirit). Agrippa makes it clear that we only open the book when we need to, and then only to the select pages related to the spirit; the mere act of opening the book is a conjuration unto itself, which is why we need to use “Registers” or bookmarks to make sure we only open up to the right pages that we need and no other.

Now, of course, DSIC doesn’t really get into any of this except in the briefest of manners. It does say a bit more in the ritual text about how such a book should be used once a spirit is conjured and confirmed to be present:

Here let him swear, then write down his seal or character in thy book, and against it, his office and times to be called, through God’s name; also write down any thing he may teach thee, or any responses he may make to thy questions or interrogations, concerning life or death, arts or sciences, or any other thing…

However, DSIC leaves out all the spiritual powers of such a book that Agrippa takes pains to describe for us. As a result, many modern users of DSIC simply interpret this as little more than a notebook-like catalog of spirits, who they are and what their information is and the like, turning it into more of a record of works than a Liber Spirituum with real power and potency like what Agrippa describes. To be sure, Fr. RO doesn’t take this sort of approach at all in RWC, nor does he say anything about books or pens or ink or anything like this, though he does recommend taking notes after or during conjurations for our own recordkeeping (whether it’s in RWC, SS, his blog, or the old mailing list for RWC, I forget). For my part, I have two notebooks I use: one, which is really more of a binder than anything, holds laminated pockets for each separate lamen I use for conjuring different spirits, and the other is a spiral-bound notebook that I use to record the conversations I have with the angels, headed at the top of each entry with the name and seal of the spirit I’m conjuring, the date of the conjuration, any other information about the conjuration (Moon phase, planetary transits, weather, illness, etc.), and the details of the conjuration itself, what we discussed, and the like. I feel like this is a fairly common approach for those who write anything about their conjurations at all, just to keep a record of what was done, when, and with whom.

And then, of course, there’s Fr. AC, who dedicates a vast chunk of his GTSC chapter on the tools of DSIC to the Liber Spirituum. He goes into fantastic depth about how his process of making and consecrating one, its role in both the real practice and popular conceptions of magic, though he largely keeps to Agrippa’s design and process, even going into detail about the specific materials he used and his own experiences of using (or misusing) such a book. Going through Fr. AC’s blogs, I was able to dig up two posts in which he showed off two versions of his own Liber Spirituum, with the newer one bound in brown leather and the older one in black cloth:

Honestly, I don’t know what or even where to begin quoting Fr. AC on this, because he devotes a full eleven pages to GTSC to this topic. It’s a fascinating read, and he really goes to extreme lengths to make it abundantly clear how to make, consecrate, and use such a tool. Towards the end of GTSC, as well, he gives an example page from his own Liber Spirituum with his own selection for the oath used for the conjuration of Cassiel, the angel of Saturn, and a full account of a conjuration with the angel.

However…there’s something that really bothers me about the use of such a book with DSIC (besides the fact that it seems like a lot of work compared to similar practices, like the Heptameron, that don’t call for such a thing at all). While DSIC is literally titled “Drawing Spirits Into Crystals”, the text appears to be focused most on the conjuration of angels. Yes, it can be used for other spirits (as implied in some of the options given in the ritual text), but by and large, the ritual is focused on angelic conjuration, and indeed, this is largely the main purpose for DSIC in modern usage. If we consider this in light of what Agrippa is describing, well…Agrippa describes two kinds of conjurations, of good spirits and of evil spirits, and angels fall among the good spirits. And, in the chapters of the Fourth Book that involve such conjurations of good spirits, there is no mention at all of books, oaths, bonds, or the like. It’s only in the context of the conjuration of evil spirits are such things used or mentioned, and even Donald Tyson in his analysis of the Fourth Book agrees: “The Book of Spirits is a book used by goetic magicians to compel the obedience of evil spirits.” (He also gives a much more lucid and clear explanation of the construction, consecration, and use of the Liber Spirituum, which I also encourage those who are interested to read.)

While I’m not saying that a Liber Spirituum can’t be used for “good spirits” like angels, I do question whether it’s necessary or even encouraged to do so. By the nature of them being “good spirits”, Agrippa suggests that it’s not necessary (perhaps not even possible) to get them to swear oaths of this manner, probably because of their angelic and divine nature that transcends anything we mortal humans might make them do. It’s only when we deal with “evil spirits”, such as demons, devils, or any terrestrial, chthonic, or otherwise sublunary non-angelic spirit that we might want to use a Liber Spirituum in the sense of how Agrippa describes one. I question Fr. AC’s logic here when he uses a Liber Spirituum for angelic spirits; again, not that he can’t, but perhaps that he shouldn’t. Besides, the oath he gives for the angel Cassiel of Saturn is no more than the Heptameron conjuration for this angel, right down to the use of the final “&c.”, which I find an odd choice for such an oath.

However, backing Fr. AC up, the Magus includes an illustration of “a specimen of the Book of Spirits to be made of virgin Vellum”, which includes a depiction of the angel Cassiel complete with the Latin Heptameron conjuration, again right down to the use of the final “&c.”. So, while I find Fr. AC’s use of this approach to be odd, he is drawing precisely from the source materials itself; while I may not like it, I cannot say that he’s doing things wrong. Yet, at the same time, notice those two weird pentagram-like shapes on the illustration of Cassiel. These are the “penetrate” (“penetrans”) and “broken” (“fracta”) characters from Agripppa (book IV, chapter 4), which details the various characters of specifically evil spirits.

That the angel of Saturn might be considered an “evil spirit” is…honestly startling. Likewise, the whole illustration is plucked almost verbatim from the following chapter in Agrippa’s Fourth Book, the specific chapter on descriptions of spirits which technically all pertain to evil spirits. Putting aside the possibility that an angel of a malefic planet might be considered “evil” by nature of the planet, it seems like Barrett draws no distinction between angels (which I would presume to be “good spirits” according to Agrippa) and “evil spirits”, which kinda makes sense given how DSIC itself seems to conflate many of the aspects of Agrippa’s descriptions of conjurations of “good spirits” and those of “evil spirits”. So it could well be that DSIC is well and truly recommending us to use a Liber Spirituum for the angels in this light; this would make a lot of the confusion between Agrippa’s different methods, as well as our idea that the seven angels on the table should be put in the same ring as the four Kings, make much more sense, if it weren’t for the fact that making planetary angels (or any type of angels) into “evil spirits” still makes little to no sense to my mind.

Now, at least if you’re using DSIC for non-angelic conjuration, then yes, by all means, having a properly consecrated Liber Spirituum can be a great boon! Especially so, when you consider the plus of not necessarily having to go through a full conjuration process for spirits once you’ve already obtained their oath written in such a book. But even then, is it necessary? I would still say no. For one, DSIC doesn’t suggest any miraculous or spiritual powers to “thy little book” or that it can be used in such a way, but more importantly than that, there’s the penultimate prayer of the DSIC process, the license to depart. Note the bold section:

Thou great and mighty spirit, inasmuch as thou camest in peace and in the name of the ever blessed and righteous Trinity, so in this name thou mayest depart, and return to us when we call thee in his name to whom every knee doth bow down. Fare thee well, Michael; peace be between us, through our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Part of that license to depart is essentially a condition: “in the name of God go, and in the name of God, return to me when I call upon you again when I call on you in the name of God”. We’re essentially getting an underhanded agreement out of the spirit we’re telling to go, sending them on the way out and getting their promise in the process that we can just call on them “when we call [them] in [God’s] name” and, boom, they’ll appear. This is actually really sly when you think about it: we’re telling them to go and, if they take that option, that in doing so they’ve already signed the EULA to come back when we call on them. By virtue of the spirit leaving, they’ve already agreed to it, even if they’re already heading out the door. The dismissal and ensuing absence of the spirit has, effectively, become their signature.

Of course, what happens if the spirit doesn’t leave? Well, that’s where DSIC has nothing written about what to do, and we’d resort to the usual Solomonic literature like the Lemegeton Goetia or the Heptameron or the Bond of Solomon for exorcisms, threats, and the like, but so long as we limit ourselves to good spirits, we really shouldn’t have a problem. We can touch on this topic later when we get into the ritual process of DSIC (which…yikes, it’s been so long since having started this post series and we’re still not there?!), but for now, suffice it to say that I don’t think we need a physical object for the spirit to swear by when they can simply swear by them leaving the conjuration ritual area.

Now, there is the simple fact that DSIC is saying that we need to use a book for writing information about the spirit in. Sure! That makes total sense to me; nobody is going to argue with the benefit of taking down notes from our conjuration rituals, and admittedly, DSIC makes this book sound an awful lot like the Liber Spirituum of Agrippa, and by extension according to Fr. AC, similar books of spirits in other goetic grimoires and Solomonic literature. But it doesn’t necessitate such a book being used in that way; after all, it says “let him swear, then write down his seal…”, not “let him swear upon his seal”. After all, in the ritual text of DSIC, the “swearing” going on here is nothing more than the authentication of the spirit, that they really are who they say they are. That’s it, that’s all. DSIC, instead, says that the book should be used to “write down any thing he may teach thee, or any responses he may make to thy questions or interrogations, concerning life or death, arts or sciences, or any other thing”. It really does seem like the book for DSIC is less a Liber Spirituum and more just a Commentarium Spirituum, a notebook of records of conjurations.

In my view? You can use a proper Liber Spirituum if you want to for angelic or other “good spirits”, but I don’t consider it necessary, and depending on your cosmological and theological perspective, doing so may not even be recommended. But, if you’re going for a more goetic approach for using DSIC, then you may want to consider a proper Liber Spirituum to give you the extra edge, even though it, again, may not necessary depending on your specific goetic background and methodology.

But…well, now that I think about it, the same logic above about using goetic tools for non-goetic conjuration of angels in the sense of mixing up “evil spirit” methods with “good spirit” targets can be applied to the wand and the ring just as much to the Liber Spirituum. Remember that Agrippa doesn’t mention a wand at all in his Fourth Book, but instead the use of a sword with which one may threaten, impel, and force spirits to swear oaths or behave, which fits in well with Lemegeton- and Key of Solomon-type goetia; ditto for the ring, which is to preserve the safety and health of the magician by further reinforcing their divinely-granted authority and protection. Yet, if DSIC is focused on angelic works…then why? Just as Agrippa doesn’t reference the use of a Liber Spirituum when working with good spirits, he likewise doesn’t reference wands (or swords) or rings with them, either, simply just prayer (book IV, chapter 10), basically in a way like what the Arbatel suggests (which itself was presented in the same volume as the Fourth Book):

But in the end of these days, on the last day, you shall fast more strictly: and fasting on the day following, at the rising of the sun, you may enter into the holy place, using the ceremonies before spoken of, first by sprinkling your self, then with making a perfume, you shall sign your self with holy oil in the forehead, and anoint your eyes; using prayer in all these Consecrations. Then you shall open the holy Lamen, and pray before the altar upon your knees, as said above: and then an invocation being made to the Angels, they will appear unto you, which you desire; which you shall entertain with a benign and chaste communication, and license them to depart.

In that sense, if we’re just sticking to the seven planetary angels (or angels generally, or any entity in the “good spirit” class), then just as there’s (as I argue) no need for a Liber Spirituum, there’d be equally no need for a wand or ring, because these are more goetic tools that aren’t as suited for working with “good spirits” as they would be for “evil spirits”. There’s nothing saying you can’t use them, of course, but I feel like the argument isn’t strong enough for saying that you have to use them. If you’re going for demonic, “goetic”, or other entities in the “evil spirits” category, then yes, you should use the wand (or sword, or both) as well as the ring, but I think bringing them into angelic conjurations doesn’t actually do much.

I mean, consider: what are you, pitiful and God-reliant mortal that you are, going to do when Michael comes down in conjuration to some demand of yours and says “lol nah, fuk u“? Are you going to imperil Michael himself with your wand to step back and away from the crystal? Are you going to try binding the angel into a badly-made triangle and make him swear an oath to you that would supersede the very will of God that he embodies and exists to fulfill? Are you going to use your dinky ring of Solomon, engraved with Michael’s very own name, to protect yourself from the very same entity himself? Would that ring even do anything against him to hold him back? I would say that such an approach would be among the most laughable of circumstances if it weren’t for the horrifiyingly hubristic danger of trying to antagonize such powerfully divine and divinely powerful entities when they refuse to bow to your whims, bowing instead only to the whims of God. The approach would be different for working with the Lemegeton Goetia crowd, to be sure, but then, those wouldn’t be classed into Agrippa’s “good spirits”.

The only thing I can think of that might argue for the use of the wand and the ring in DSIC isn’t to work with and defend yourself from the spirit you’re conjuring directly, but from other spirits. After all, when engaging with the spiritual world…

…you may end up with a lot more clawing at your door than just the thing you called. That is, after all, why we trace the circle with the wand, to keep ourselves safe from malign spiritual influences, especially if we get a deceiving spirit instead of the one we called, and for the same reason why we wear the ring. But, heck, even the use of the magic circle itself isn’t called for by Agrippa for the conjuration of “good spirits” in a way that would line up with DSIC. It’s like DSIC keeps mashing up two main sources, one of which is clearly Agrippa’s Fourth Book non-Solomonic methods and the other something clearly far more explicitly and detailedly Solomonic, but DSIC doesn’t appear to be doing a great job at sorting this all out and making the mashup clean. It works as it is, to be sure, but perhaps it could work better if it were rethought and tweaked a bit.

Okay, enough on this topic. Just one more post about the design and purpose of the tools we use in DSIC, the magic circle, which will come up next, and then we can finally get into implementing some of this stuff above and beyond just talking about their roles, functions, and forms.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Candles and the Brazier

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 talked about some of the simpler parts of DSIC, namely the wand and the ring, and how other magicians have interpreted them.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

This is going to be a shorter post, I hope, because we’ve been going at a pretty strong pace, and it turns out there’s quite a lot to say, far more than I ever anticipated writing.  We’ll make this post a bit shorter, hopefully, and give ourselves a bit of a break.  First, a simple topic: the two candles.  The DSIC illustration shows “two Holy wax Lights used in the Invocation by the Chrystal”.  Let’s take a look at our old friend again:

A little later on in the DSIC entry of The Magus, there’s a secondary caption later on that says a bit more: “two silver or other candlesticks with the wax tapers burning”.  So we know we need two wax candles supported by silver candle holders, presumably with one placed on each side of the crystal, one to the left and one to the right.  There’s no mention of them, however, in the ritual text itself, neither of when to light them nor how to make them holy or consecrated.

Fr. RO doesn’t mention using two holy candles supported by silver candle holders in RWC, or even just a candle in general, but in SS, he says to use a lamp or tall candle, put behind and off to the side towards the left of the Table of Practice and crystal.  He describes this as:

This can either be a consecrated ritual Lamp that you use to represent the First Father in all your rites, or a candle stick that you use for the same purpose.  It can also be any tall candle.  I use white to represent the purity of the Source, but the First Father exists before any colors.

He additionally gives a short prayer to say when lighting this candle; suffice to say that it’s part of his own original methodology based on Hermetic devotions to God and not part of DSIC.

As for Fr. AC, he says in GTSC that he puts the two candles on either side of the table and pedestal, and that he uses two silver-plated candlesticks fit with tall beeswax taper candles, lit at the beginning of the ceremony.  He suggests that one might use colored candles depending on the planet (e.g. black for Saturn, green for Venus, etc.), and that they should be new and unused for the ritual (or, at least, I presume, not used for any other purpose besides angelic conjuration).  He also notes that, “although it is not necessary to do so”, one may also anoint the candles with an appropriate planetary/angelic oil, fluid condenser, or the like, as he’s experimented with and gotten good results from.  However, he doesn’t describe any formal consecration method for the candles, which I find kinda uncharacteristic of him in this case; perhaps I just didn’t come across it when going through GTSC.  At the end of GTSC, he also suggests and recommends the use of an altar candle lighter and snuffer, such as those used in formal church settings, so as to better reach them better and offer a bit more formality to the ritual.

For myself?  When I perform altar-based rituals, I use either one single candle (placed in the middle towards the end of the altar) or two (placed on either corner opposite me), supported by either wrought iron candle holders or silver ones, depending on the kind of work I’m doing; fundamentally, I don’t think the material of the candle holders themselves matters much, but that’s just me.  I typically use plain white paraffin-wax candles that, at minimum, I asperge with holy water before lighting, if not undertake a full consecration of them.  Since DSIC doesn’t offer much in the way of this, I developed my own form of candle consecration (and holy water, and this and that), based on various rites from the Key of Solomon; I recommend checking out that page for some of the things I do.  It’s simple, straightforward, and clean.  I light them at the start of every ritual I do at the altar, saying a prayer much like that found in DSIC or other texts like the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano (which is pretty similar), and snuff them with a candle snuffer at the end.  I think this is the most appropriate course, at least for myself; this fulfills the caption-based requirement that they be “holy wax Lights”, having undergone a prior consecration before the ritual itself, but since DSIC doesn’t say anything about it, well…fire is still Fire, no matter what, and Fire is holy by itself.

So much for the candles.  What about the incense holder?  The DSIC text, calling it by the generic phrase “vessel for the perfumes”, should e placed “between thy circle and the holy table on which the crystal stands”.  We’ll talk about the circle later on in a later post, but suffice to say here that we’re to stand in a magic circle (one is given “of a simple construction” in the DSIC illustration), with the crystal and pedestal on the table (or crystal on the Table of Practice, if you combine the table and pedestal into a single object) outside the circle, and the “vessel for the perfumes” is to be placed between the circle and the crystal.  An illustration of such a vessel is given in the DSIC illustration, with the caption “the Tripod on which the perfumes are put, & may be either held in the hand or sett in the earth”.  Oddly, the illustration looks nothing like a tripod to me; if anything, it looks more like a steak or torch with a sharp butt on the bottom, as if it should be thrust into the ground.  Plus, the caption is weird; it says that it may be held in the hand, while the text says to have it placed between the circle and crystal.  I suppose one could hold the vessel such that it sticks out beyond the bounds of the circle, but that seems both dangerous as well as super tiring for the magician.

Now, the vast majority of magicians, myself included, tend to just use whatever sort of incense holder we have available.  Fr. RO mentions nothing special about using a tripod or brazier or anything of the sort in RWC or SS, and simply says in SS that any kind of holder may be used, so long as the incense can be put somewhere during the ritual; in the SS version of the rite, Fr. RO places the incense burner behind and to the right of the Table of Practice and crystal, opposite the candle.  However, if we were to use a more strict interpretation of DSIC, the placement of this would be in front of the Table of Practice, between it and the magician.  That being said, I myself like having the incense burner either off to the side or behind the crystal, but that’s just me.  Admittedly, having the incense between the magician and the crystal would probably help produce visions in the crystal better in the eye of the magician or scryer, and I’ll probably take that approach in the future, but I still feel more comfortable with it behind the crystal.  We’ll talk about specific placements later on.

As for the type of incense, DSIC suggests using a flame that can burn incenses or perfumes; after all, charcoals, flames, and the like was what you had to use back in the day because such a thing as self-igniting incense (like stick or cone) just didn’t really exist as a thing.  However, since self-igniting incense is nowadays easily available, cheap, popular, and relatively safe to use, most people just use that for convenience and simplicity’s sake.  Likewise, Fr. RO says that the magician may use any kind of incense they might prefer, whether stick or loose or whatever.  For myself, it depends on what I have on hand and how much I want to do; if I feel like being simple, I’ll use my stick incense stuck in a brazier pot, and if not, I’ll use a self-igniting charcoal and drop some loose incense on top of it.

Now, all that’s the pretty common stuff that many people tend to do…and, as usual, Fr. AC takes a more strict interpretation.  In GTSC, he describes his tripod in depth, and actually gives a proper tripod shape to it instead of a weird stake shape.  After all, tripod-style braziers are ancient in many cultures, and give a pretty safe and convenient way to burn incenses or flames in a controlled way:

In order to keep a constant airflow, Fr. AC says that he uses a wire mesh to support some (presumably self-igniting) charcoals in the brazier.  He describes a bit more about his specific construction and the benefits to both stability, convenience, lightweight design, and safety, and it’s good knowledge to have.  He also describes the option of holding the vessel for incense to be “rather cumbersome and unnecessary”, opting explicitly for a “self-supporting censor [sic]”.  However, in line with DSIC, he says that the vessel should be placed between the circle and crystal.

There’s really not much more else to say.  Agrippa in his Fourth Book only says a bit about vessels for incense (book IV, chapter 10):

… You shall also have in readiness a precious perfume, and pure anointing oil; and let them be both kept consecrated. There must also a Censer be set on the head of the altar, wherein you shall kindle the holy fire, and make a perfume every day that you shall pray. …

To be fair, the rite of invoking spirits (or, at least, “good spirits”) described by Agrippa’s Fourth Book doesn’t precisely line up with DSIC, and here he says that there should be a censer placed “on the head of the altar”, which I interpret to mean the back of it opposite where we might stand (which gives a bit more credence and grounding to my own preferred approach of keeping the incense burner behind the crystal).  He also describes another use of censers later on in the same chapter:

Then a place being prepared pure and clean, and covered everywhere with white linen, on the Lords day in the new of the moon let him enter into that place, clothed with clean white garments; and let him exorcise the place, and bless it, and make a Circle therein with a sanctified coal; and let there be written in the uttermost part of the Circle the names of the Angels, and in the inner part thereof let there be written the mighty names of God: and let him place within the Circle, at the four angles of the world, the Censers for the perfumes.

Again, while we’ll get into the construction of the magic circle in a later text, here Agrippa says that there should be four censers placed at the four directions just inside the magic circle.  However, technically speaking, this is a separate ritual than the one described in the earlier passage, and is one that’s even more unrelated to DSIC.  Still, it’s informative, and as we’ll see when we talk about the magic circle, there is some bearing this has on the magic circle as used in DSIC.

What about the incenses themselves?  I mean, pretty much any and every grimoire and spellbook gives some variation of incense recipe, ranging from the simple and unoffensive to the truly arcane and noxious.  Fr. AC’s GTSC gives several sets of incense recipes for each of the seven planets, no less, all sourced from different texts, and any of them are pretty much fine.  So long as the incense would be appropriate for the planet and spirit you’re conjuring—frankincense is always acceptable for any spirit, even if only to placate and elevate them—you’d be fine.  I don’t think the specific incense matters, so long as you use it; customize it how you need or want to, or as appropriate for the specific aim of conjuration.  Because of the variability and abundance of incense recipes and choices, I don’t think there’s much worth in discussing that here in this post or even in this series of posts; just use the stuff.

That’s it for today!  Simple and easy, like I promised.  If the emphasis placed on the placement and type of censer/brazier/incense holder/vessel for perfumes seems underused and underemphasized in many modern applications of DSIC, just wait until the topic of the next post: the Liber Spirituum, the Book of Spirits!

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: The Wand and the Ring

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 wrapped up the design of the lamen, noting how to fill in the circles and with what names or seals you might need.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

Okay, so now we’ve reviewed some of the biggest things we know we need: the crystal, the pedestal and the table (or, if you combine them, the Table of Practice) and the lamen.  If only those were the only things we needed to discuss, but alas!  There are still even more things!  While we won’t get into all of them today, we can knock out a few of them in a single post, because there’s not that much to say about them—whether because they’re so straightforward or because whether there’s just not much written about them.

First, let’s talk about the wand.  We know we need a wand, because DSIC says so:

…take your black ebony wand, with the gilt characters on it and trace the circle…

And that’s the only instance in the ritual text of DSIC for using the wand.  There’s no description given in the text, but the illustration that accompanies DSIC gives us one:

The wand is the large stick on the left, a long thin cylindrical rod with the divine names “Agla On Tetragrammaton”, with a hexagram between “Agla” and “On”, a hexagram with a central Yod in it (like as depicted on the pedestal as well as described for the gold disc for the pedestal) between “On” and “Tetragrammaton”, and another cross after “Tetragrammaton”.  This depiction is also accompanied by the caption:

The Magic Wand to be used in Invocations by the Chrystal.  Write or engrave on the other side “Ego Alpha et Omega”.

So we know that there needs to be two sets of writings on the wand, which (as stated by the text) should be made of ebony with “gilt characters”, meaning that we need to use gold for all the inscriptions; you can just use gold ink or gold paint, or if you want to go the extra mile, engrave the ebony shaft and use actual gold leaf to gild it.

That’s basically it.  Fr AC, as usual, sticks to the design of this pretty exactly: a simple, straight, unembellished ebony rod with the characters applied in gold paint.  Nothing really that special to note, though I will note that the design of the wand he gives in GTSC omits the central Yod in the second hexagram, even if he includes it on the wands he makes and includes the mark in a separate diagram just before the completed wand design image.  A graphical oversight, I assume; the wand clearly should have the Yod mark (or, as Fr. AC claims, the Daleth mark) in the middle hexagram, as he makes on his actual wands.

However, instead of writing the phrase “Ego Alpha et Omega” in Latin as DSIC indicates, Fr. AC writes “Εγο το Αλφα και το Ω”, since he “decided to use the phrase and alphabet used in the Greek language for ‘I am the Alpha and Omega,’ as it seemed to be appropriate and stayed within the original context”.  Though he says that “end result turned out quite well”, there’s an unfortunate error in his design; as with the linguistic errors he made on on his version of the table, there’s a typo in the Greek here, too.  This phrase is taken from Revelations 22:13, which in Greek starts “Εγω το Αλφα και το Ω” (“Ἐγὼ τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦ” using polytonic Greek), using an ōmega instead of omikron for the first word.  Despite the minor though unfortunate typo (especially using such expensive materials as gold and ebony), I don’t disagree with using the original Greek phrase here, though some might find it weird to mix Greek script on one side and Latin script on the other.

Anyway, back to the wand design.  Fr. RO basically takes this same design and approach, but in RWC, he omits the reverse side of the wand; he doesn’t include “Ego Alpha et Omega” on the wand, just the three divine names with the three symbols.  He fixes this approach in SS, where he gives the three divine names with the three symbols on one side, and the phrase “Ego Sum Alpha et Omega” on the back; basically the same thing, with the word “sum” (“I am”) elided in the original statement.   Fr. RO also makes a note in SS: “Note that you don’t have to use a wand; you can also use your index finger, the finger of Jupiter”.  And that’s actually a really interesting point to make, because it taps into some of the symbolism of the wand: depending on your approach, it can be seen as a conductor’s baton, the caduceus of Hermēs/Mercurius, a drumstick to beat the sacred drum of the shaman, or a king’s scepter.  Fr. RO typically has a very Jovian-minded approach to his style of Hermetic magic that focuses much on kingship and royalty, but I don’t disagree with it: the wand is our symbol of divinely-entrusted Power.

For myself?  I originally used a simple version, made of no more than a carved pine dowel I got from Michael’s with just the front half of the inscriptions (since I was working from RWC at the time), which I then carved at the tip and stained and finished off with polyurethane, but I eventually made myself something much nicer from ebony, gold, silver, and quartz.  I described my approach to my wand on the craft page I made for it, documenting how I made it and my own design.  It’s not a close fit with DSIC, but it is based on it; I incorporated the symbols for the wand from the Key of Solomon, rewrote the divine names in Hebrew (אגלא, ון, יהוה), and replaced “Ego Alpha et Omega” with the word AZOTH.  No, it’s not by-the-book DSIC, but it fulfills all the same requirements and needs, and throws in a bit of traditional Solomonica as well.  (And, depending on your line of thinking, the symbols from the Key of Solomon can sometimes be read as highly distorted, devolved, and degraded Hebrew script for many of the same things we’d engrave anyway.)

However, looking at the three symbols on the wand, something does cross my mind.  We know that the illustrator for DSIC loves hexagrams: they’re present on the lamen (which, to be fair, is according to Agrippa’s specifications), they’re present in the magic circle (which we’ll get to in a later post), they’re present on the gold disc for the pedestal, and they’re present on the pedestal stand itself.  And now we see them on the wand, as well, but…I think it’s important to pick up on the fact that there are three separate symbols here on the wand, and the only time we see another set of three symbols is on the front side of the gold plate for the pedestal that has the pentagram, hexagram with central Yod, and cross with the name Tetragrammaton.  It occurs to me that the first symbol on the wand, the hexagram between “Agla” and “On”, might have been intended to be a pentagram and not a hexagram to match with the same symbols on the gold disc that supports the crystal, and that it’s a hexagram could have been a mistake on the part of the illustrator for DSIC.

It’s not clear, and Agrippa’s Fourth Book doesn’t describe the use of a wand at all, and this is the only instance of a wand described or used in the entirety of The Magus, as well.  It’s not clear where DSIC incorporated the wand from, and I’m not sure.  The closest thing I can think of, if not texts like the Key of Solomon itself, is a small description from the Liber Juratus Honorii, the Sworn Book of Honorius (LHJ):

But the wand should have four sides. On one side should be written “Adonay”; on the second side “Sabaoth”; on the third, “Hiskiros”; on the fourth “Emanuel”. On the middle of the wand make the pentagonal figure of Solomon, and where the wand is held, a cross, and thus it will be prepared for sacred and wonderful works.

If you think about it, this is kinda sorta like what DSIC has, if you squint a bit and cross your eyes.  But I do think that it’s significant to note the two symbols on the wand that LJH does describe: a pentagram “on the middle of the wand” and a cross “where the wand is held”.  If you reckon “where the wand is held” to be the bottom end of the wand according to the DSIC illustration, then we get a match with where the cross is placed on the DSIC wand.  The middle symbol of the DSIC wand is the hexagram with central Yod in it, but if you swap that with the blank hexagram and reinterpret the “figure of Solomon” to be a pentagram instead of a hexagram, then you’d end up with a modified form of the DSIC wand with a hexagram with central Yod in it, a pentagram, and a cross—the same set of symbols in the same order that DSIC gives for the gold plate inscription.

I dunno.  I think there’s a semi-convincing argument to be made there, but it’s inconclusive either way.  Looking at the Key of Solomon isn’t really helpful, as the wand described in that doesn’t match with any of this above, though Joseph H. Peterson of Esoteric Archives has the note for this section on their entry for the Key of Solomon:

The staff and wand seem to be interchangeable in book 2 chapter 7. See footnote 4. I believe these characters are nothing more than corrupted versions of the Hebrew characters “AGLA + VN + IHVH” found in TrithemiusScot’s magical texts have “Tetragrammaton + Adonay + Agla + Craton” on the wand. The staff and wand are conspicuously absent from the list of instruments in the Hebrew Key of Solomon as well as Ad. 36674.

How long should the wand be?  No description is given anywhere.  My default preference is the length from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger, fully extended in a straight line.  I find that to be a comfortable length, but it’s up to you.  Joseph H. Peterson has an article up on grimoiric wand lore over at Esoteric Archives, but even then, there’s not much.  Thesaurus Spirituum says one cubit (about 18″), Le Grand Grimoire says 19.5″, and some versions of the Key of Solomon say 24″.  So, pick something in the 20″-ish range and you’ll be good; it just so happens that the average person’s elbow-to-middle-fingertip distance happens to be in that same range, depending on your body’s proportions, so that might be the best standard to measure by, especially if you’re exceptionally tall or exceptionally short.  That said, I’ve seen some people use much shorter wands than this, sometimes even shorter than 12″, so there’s certainly room for variance.  As for thickness, perhaps as thick as your index finger at the knuckle, something with substance but nothing too unwieldy.

Now, all that being said, this assumes that the wand is held by the end with the cross symbol on it, such that the DSIC image shows the wand “pointed up”.  However, looking back through the old mailing list archives of Fr. RO’s RWC Yahoo! Groups, I find (almost seven years after the fact) that Fr. RO uses the wand with the cross-symbol end being the “point”; this is the original interpretation I used, as shown by my first wand.  In other words, the base of the wand starts at the start of the text “Agla…” and finishes with “…Tetragrammaton ✠” at the “point”; when I went to Hebrew script for my ebony wand, I kept Agla close to the base and the Tetragrammaton closer to the tip.  So, really, the DSIC illustration would seem to most conventionally be interpreted to have the wand shown “pointed down”; I think this makes the most sense, since we hold the wand where the text starts, and as the of the divine names text “continues” our reach, it shows the flow of both semantic meaning as well as power from our hands.  Others, however, found that it doesn’t matter for them, since the wand as shown has no actual “point” to it, so it may be used either way as a general rod of power.  Fr. AC doesn’t say which way the wand should be held, though the old promo video for GTSC at the 4:31 mark shows Fr. AC holding the wand in a similar way, with “Agla…” closer to the base and “…Tetragrammaton ✠” at the point.  Based on all this, we should hold the wand from the “Agla…” side, regardless whether we write the names in Latin script or in Hebrew script.

So much for the wand, but I do want to make one more note here: though Agrippa in his Fourth Book doesn’t really describe the use of a wand, he does describe the use of a sword for use in conjurations, mostly when performing conjurations of evil spirits (book IV, chapter 12)

And after all the courses are finished, then cease a little; and if any Spirit shall appear, let the Invocant turn himself towards the Spirit, and courteously receive him, and earnestly entreating him, let him first require his name, and if he be called by any other name; and then proceeding further, let him ask him whatsoever he will: and if in any thing the Spirit shall shew himself obstinate or lying, let him be bound by convenient conjurations: and if you doubt of any lie, make without the Circle with the consecrated Sword, the figure of a triangle or Pentagram, and compel the Spirit to enter into it; and if thou receive any promise which thou would have to be confirmed with an Oath, let him stretch the sword out of the Circle, and swear the Spirit, by laying his hand upon the Sword.

What Agrippa is describing here falls much more in line with classic Solomonic literature of using a sword to impel and threaten spirits, in this case using a consecrated sword to draw a triangle or pentagram into which the spirit is forced to enter so as to compel it to speak truth, making it swear oaths of loyalty and truth upon the sword.  As an implement of iron, the classic material for the bane of spirits generally and evil spirits especially, this makes sense, and recalls similar uses for daggers and other blades in texts such as the Key of Solomon.  However, DSIC doesn’t mention their use at all, suggesting a different origin or lineage of conjuration than the Key of Solomon or Lemegeton Goetia.  Still, it can make sense to think of the wand the wand as a replacement for the Solomonic sword, especially given their similar uses in Agrippa and elsewhere.  This, however, runs counter to what Fr. AC says about the wand in GTSC:

The wand is meant to be a representation of divine authority and command.  As such, it should be treated with the upmost [sic] respect and dignity at all times.  This is not and was never meant to be only a “director of the magician’s will.”  This is also not a “blasting rod” in which to threaten and subdue spirits with either.  It is wielded as an active symbol of holy diplomacy and ambassadorship.  When you invoke holy Archangels with this wand, you are doing so with the assumption of divine inspiration and permission.

Now…do we really need a wand?  Personally, in light of the absence of any other Solomonic-type tool of conjuration, I would say that we should.  But, if not, as Fr. RO suggests, using the forefinger, the “finger of Jupiter”, can work in some cases.  It won’t work for the proper Solomonic purpose of threatening impelling spirits (Mars, properly speaking, doesn’t have a finger associated to it, but the middle finger, given to Saturn, might work instead).  Will a non-DSIC wand work?  I think so, yes.  It’d be best to make it according to spec here, but I don’t think that it’s that important in the long run; a wand with some sort of holy names, or imbued with holiness somehow, is sufficient.

However, an argument can be made that, if all you’re using DSIC for is “good spirits”, then you probably wouldn’t need a wand at all; after all, Agrippa doesn’t mention the use of any such tool or implement in either of his conjuration methods for “good spirits” (either his prayer-based theurgic method or his ecstatic trance method), and even in his conjuration of “evil spirits”, he only uses a sword in certain circumstances.  If it weren’t for the single DSIC instruction of tracing the circle out with the wand (which is such a waste of an exquisite and exotic tool, made of ebony and gold as it is!), I would personally say that you wouldn’t need the wand unless you really wanted one.  It’s not like you can exactly boss angels around, nor can you impress them as being an emissary of the power of God when that’s exactly their own role.

What about the ring?  We can assume that this is basically a Ring of Solomon, but as far as DSIC is concerned, what exactly should we be looking for or aiming at?  Like the wand, DSIC only mentions it once:

Then taking your ring and pentacle, put the ring on the little finger of your right hand…

But, unlike the wand, DSIC doesn’t give a description of what the ring should look like.  Agrippa’s Fourth Book isn’t of much help here, either; there are only a handful of instances of the word.  Here are the relevant passages, with the important parts in bold text:

It is to be known also, that Vows, Oblations, and Sacrifice, have the power of consecration, as much real as personal; and they are as it were certain covenants and conventions between those names with which they are made, and us who make them, strongly cleaving to our desire and wished effect: As, when we dedicate, offer, and sacrifice, with certain names or things; as, Fumigations, Unctions, Rings, Images, Looking-glasses; and things less material, as Deities, Sigils, Pentacles, Enchantments, Orations, Pictures, and Scriptures: of which we have largely spoken in our third book of Occult Philosophy. (book IV, chapter 8)

But he that is willing always and readily to receive the Oracles of a Dream, let him make unto himself a Ring of the Sun or of Saturn for this purpose. There is also an Image to be made, of excellent efficacy and power to work this effect; which being put under his head when he goes to sleep, doth effectually give true dreams of anything whatsoever the mine has before determined or consulted on. The Tables of Numbers do likewise confer to receive an Oracle, being duly formed under their own Constellations. And these things you may know in the third book of Occult Philosophy. … Now he that knows how to compose those things which we have now spoken of, he shall receive the most true Oracles of dreams. And this he shall do; observe those things which in the second book of Occult Philosophy are directed concerning this thing. He that is desirous therefore to receive an Oracle, let him abstain from supper and from drink, and be otherwise well disposed, his brain being free from turbulent vapors; let him also have his bed-chamber fair and clean, exorcised and consecrated if he will; then let him perfume the same with some convenient fumigation; and let him anoint his temples with some unguent efficacious hereunto, and put a ring upon his finger, of the things above spoken of: let him take either some image, or holy table, or holy paper, and place the same under his head: then having made a devout prayer, let him go unto his bed, and meditating upon that thing which he desires to know, let him so sleep; for so shall he receive a most certain and undoubted oracle by a dream, when the Moon goes through that sign which was in the ninth House of his nativity, and also when she goes through the sign of the ninth House of the Revolution of his nativity; and when she is in the ninth sign from the sign of perfection. And this is the way and means whereby we may obtain all Sciences and Arts whatsoever, suddenly and perfectly, with a true Illumination of our understanding; although all inferior familiar Spirits whatsoever do conduce to this effect; and sometimes also evil Spirits sensibly informing us Intrinsically or Extrinsically. (book IV, chapter 11)

But when we do intend to execute any effect by evil Spirits, when an Apparition is not needful; then that is to be done, by making and forming that thing which is to be unto us as an instrument, or subject of the experiment it self; as, whether it be an Image, or a Ring, or a Writing, or any Character, Candle, or Sacrifice, or any thing of the like sort; then the name of the Spirit is to be written therein, with his Character, according to the exigency of the experiment, either by writing it with some blood, or otherwise using a perfume agreeable to the Spirit. Oftentimes also making Prayers and Orations to God and the good Angels before we invoce the evil Spirit, conjuring him by the divine power. (book IV, chapter 14)

None of these really seem to apply to DSIC.  The first passage kinda touches on the consecration of various things, but it’s nothing specific to conjuration, just of consecrated items in general.  The second passage deals with oracles and divination through dreams, and though it specifies a ring to be made for the Sun or Saturn, there’s nothing specific about that.  The third passage talks about dealing with evil spirits, but more in the case of working with them in a non-conjuration framework, such as through talismanic works.  So Agrippa doesn’t seem to help us at all for matters about the ring.  There’s exceedingly little in The Magus about it, too, and nothing specific for conjuration; there’s nothing in LHJ or other texts like the Heptameron, either, about rings.

My only guess is that the ring is an import from Solomonic literature like the Lemegeton Goetia (LG).  From that, we get the following design (first from Esoteric Archive’s version, the second from Mather’s later redrawing):

The older version on Esoteric Archives gives a short description:

This Ring is to be held before the face of the Exorcist to preserve him from The stinking fumes of spirits &c.

Mathers gives a more fuller explanation for the ring that I like:

THIS is the Form of the Magic Ring, or rather Disc, of Solomon, the figure whereof is to be made in gold or silver. It is to be held before the face of the exorcist to preserve him from the stinking sulphurous fumes and flaming breath of the Evil Spirits.

I bring up both designs here to point out something interesting: both rings have the three names “Tetragrammaton”, “Anaphexeton”/”Anaphaxeton”, and “Michael” on them, though Mathers describes this more as a disc, while the older version seems a little…funkier.  I think what the older version is showing is that “Anaphexeton” and “Michael” should be on the outside of the ring, and “Tetragrammaton” on the inside.  (As for the word “Anaphaxeton”, Enoch Bowen of The Occult and Magick blog put up a post some years ago about this word, and how he describes it as related to the more common divine name “Tzabaoth”, related to the heavenly hosts, and this would make sense with the inclusion of the name “Michael”, being their prince and commander.)  This design makes more sense than Mather’s design as a disc, but I suppose either would work.

As for the purpose of this ring?  LG mentions the use of a ring when interacting with certain spirits (using Mathers’ much more readable version for these quotes):

  • Beleth: “And thou must have always a Silver Ring on the middle finger of the left hand held against thy face, as they do yet before  Amaymon. “
  • Berith: “Thou must make use of a Ring in calling him forth, as is before spoken of regarding Beleth.”
  • Astaroth: “Thou must in no wise let him approach too near unto thee, lest he do thee damage by his Noisome Breath. Wherefore the Magician must hold the Magical Ring near his face, and that will defend him.”

The one big difference in use between the ring of LG and the ring of DSIC, namely which finger and hand to wear it on (DSIC says the pinky/little finger of the right hand, LG the middle finger of left hand), but I think the basic idea here is clear: it’s for the protection of the magician from poison.  Silver, after all, is well-known and has long been acclaimed to detect poisons by turning black, and is seen also as a way of nullifying poisons, hence why LG says to wear it before the face in order to preserve the magician from damage from the “noisome breath” (i.e. toxic, noxious, poisonous, deadly, or otherwise unpleasant fumes, smoke, gas, breath, or similar emission from the presence of the spirit).  This would seem, however, to contradict Mathers’ description that the ring could be made of gold when silver is clearly being relied upon here.

Now, Fr. RO doesn’t describe the use of a ring in his RWC or SS, but he does use a lead (!) ring (which he says works as well as gold or silver) based on Mather’s version in the form of a disc.  Moreover, he says that he uses this and other similar tools (the pentagram and hexagram seals of Solomon, basically other protective lamens from Solomonic literature) when conjuring one of the spirits for the first time, though he also says that he has “never had a spirit manifest in a stinking toxic cloud”.

In GTSC, Fr. AC does bring up the ring, but he makes the same conclusions I do: there’s nothing in DSIC to guide us except that we need to wear one on the little finger of our right hand.  However, Fr. AC does bring up something to my attention I missed: The Magus does, in fact, give an illustration of a magic ring, just not where we expected!  On page 106 (part II, chapter 18), there’s an illustration of a number of things: a few pentagrams and other geometric diagrams, an illustration of a sword, and, indeed, a magic ring!  (I blame bad digitizations from Google Books on why I didn’t spot this earlier.)

The ring given in this image is pretty simple: a simple band, with a bevel/jewel that has upon it a hexagram with a single dot (perhaps a precursor to the hexagram with central Yod we see elsewhere?).  This is a very, very simple form of the “seal of Solomon”, but it works for our needs, to be sure.  Fr. AC describes his implementation, where he found just such a ring, and goes more into the materials and uses for it, though he also takes the approach of the old-style LG and engraves “Michael” and “Anaphexiton [sic]” on the outside and “Tetragrammaton” on the inside.  This is basically my own approach, too, as I showed when I had my own ring of Solomon made for me some years back (using Hebrew instead of Latin, and replacing “Anaphaxeton” (or however you want to spell it) with “Tzabaoth” in Hebrew; there’s a hexagram with central dot engraved on the band underneath the sunstone.

To quote a bit of Fr. AC on the purpose of the ring:

The magical ring is a shield of protection and banner of obedience to all spiritual forces.  The ring is a perfect symbol of divine unity and the impenetrable armor of God.  To the spirit, there is no transgressing past this unified symbol of divine completeness.  It is recommended that the ring you use be brand new and used only for this operation.

Also, one more note about that picture from The Magus: the sword in that image bears striking resemblance to the wand from DSIC, even though this is from Barrett’s version of the Heptameron.  Barrett describes this specifically on page 110:

…and let the operator himself carry the sword, over which should be said a prayer of consecration: and on the middle of the sword on one side let there be engraven Agla †, and on the other side, † OnTetragrammaton †.

Fr. AC mistakenly interprets this to be a wand and not a sword, despite the text clearly saying that it’s a sword as well as the caption saying so as well.  Knowing that this is a sword and not a wand, we can pick up how closely Barrett (and the author of DSIC, if separate people) may have considered the DSIC wand to be to the sword here; in my mind, this weakens Fr. AC’s view that the wand is not a “blasting rod”, since it can and should be used as one should the need arise.  After all, many of the tools in magical practice are not necessarily used for one thing and one thing only, nor do they act as symbols that mean one thing and one thing only.  While that might be the case if you’re working from the Key of Solomon that has over a dozen separate implements, DSIC has so far fewer, and as we can see, the wand in DSIC is a distillation of both the Solomonic wand as well as the Solomonic sword, and thus can be used for either of the two in practice and in symbolism.

On that note, let’s call it a day for now.  We’ll pick up next time on two more relatively minor (but still important) parts of the DSIC toolset: the candles and the incense brazier.