Thoughts on Fr. Rufus Opus’ “Seven Spheres”

Over time, more and more people have turned to Fr. Rufus Opus’ (Fr. RO for short) book of planetary magic, Seven Spheres (SS), which was put out by Nephilim Press back in 2014.  Although not everyone might care for his writing style or approach to magic, Fr. RO does give people a taste in SS of what non-Golden Dawn Hermetic magic is and can be, providing a back-to-basics Hermetic cosmology largely outside (but still playing nice with) Hermetic Qabbalah and a way to directly interface with the planetary angels through conjuration in his own variant of the conjuration method in The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC) attributed to Johann Trithemius (which, if you’re still not familiar with it yet, you could do worse than reading my analysis of the whole thing).  Fr. RO has been working this system for a while, at least since 2006 when his blog Head for the Red was started, and began building up his own approach to planet-centric theurgy using DSIC around that time, eventually beginning to teach his system through the RWC system.  Eventually, he stopped admitting new people into the RWC, took some of the content from it, reworked it a bit, and published SS.  So, even though people can no longer get access to the RWC as it was (though, again, there are some who continue to provide it!), SS was intended as the more mass-available release of that, which Fr. RO (so I would assume) considers to be the distillation of the RWC.

As one of his active students at the time in his Red Work Course (RWC, which I now disseminate myself, along with a handful of others he’s licensed to do the same), I was excited for the book, and heartily threw my encouragement behind it, even on my own blog—and, coincidentally enough, exactly five years ago to the day.  Now, looking back five years later, for myself and SS?  I cannot truthfully say that I’ve actually worked SS.  What I can say I’ve done is the magic in RWC, which includes everything in SS and much, much more.  I have done everything in SS, oftentimes verbatim, just not according to SS.  By the time SS was published, I was already “done” with my planetary inductions through his Planetary Gates rituals, which was basically the entirety of the Green Work segment of RWC—heck, I was already “done” with RWC, having accomplished all that it set out to do and setting me properly on my own path with the techniques in RWC providing the bedrock for my road to be built.  Since I started studying under Fr. RO in 2011, I’ve done things according to his instructions as well as experimented with twisting them, breaking them, or outright replacing them with other methods that sometimes work better, sometimes not, sometimes just as well with different means.

I give this introduction and apology because, I’ve been thinking about SS as of late, and I want to share my thoughts about it.  It’s not a bad text and there’s a lot of good stuff in there, to be sure!  But I have a few significant issues with it that I find jarring enough—and dangerous enough—that I want to make some of my thoughts known for others to be aware of based on my own experiences and continuing education beyond RWC/SS.  Mostly, these issues keep being raised by a lot of people who keep asking me the same questions on Curious Cat or by email or in consultations with me regarding the system of magic presented in SS, and I keep having to reply to them over and over, so perhaps by writing a post about it, perhaps I can save us all a bit of time.

Perhaps the most overarching issue I have with SS is that many people take it to be a beginner’s text on magic, when I can’t really consider it to be such.  For many people, SS is their first glimpse of planetary magic or planetary conjurations (as evidenced by how often SS is brought up on /r/planetarymagic), and that’s fair!  Until the publication of SS, while obviously planetary magic abounds in the Western mystery tradition as a whole, there wasn’t a lot so easily or famously accessible that didn’t involve dragging yourself through Golden Dawn curricula or simpler “call on this planet to achieve X” spells and rituals.  SS provides many people with a more encompassing method of working with the planets and their ruling spirits in a more profound and potent way, providing self-initiations (what I now prefer to call “induction”) into the planetary spheres.  However, SS is just not written for beginners, even if that’s what Fr. RO may have had in mind.  Though Fr. RO may have distilled his RWC content into SS, in my opinion, he went way too far; RWC was a whole course of Hermeticism and magical practice that really did start you from scratch, while SS doesn’t do nearly as much, nor does it provide for a strong foundation to properly train people for conjuration, spiritual contact and communication, spiritual hygiene, ritual practice, or the like.  SS basically assumes you already have it and that you already have decent enough visionary skills to perceive spirits.  For this and other reasons, while RWC provides a true beginning for beginners in magic, SS doesn’t; thus, SS simply doesn’t qualify as a beginner’s text.  As a result, those who actually are beginners often find themselves skipping quite a few steps in the process to get to the Gates rituals Fr. RO describes in SS, which he had previously saved for the last phase of RWC.

More specifically, though, what I consider to be the most damaging aspect of SS from a methodological point of view to my mind is the time allotted for the schedule of conjuration and the process of planetary induction.  Fr. RO explains his conjuration schedule at the start of the “Ritual Planning” chapter:

It’s possible to go through the seven spheres in seven days, and it’s actually a lot of fun.  I’ve done it, and so have several of my friends and colleagues.  It can release a lot of power way too quickly, though, and it’s really not very safe.  I mean, when the forces that result in a complete transformation of your life are all moving at once, it can get…uhm, not fun.  Overwhelming.  One might burn out, in fact.

In theory.

As a result, the approach I recommend is paced a little more slowly.  If you follow the schedule I lay out below, it will take five weeks to go through all seven spheres.  This is still a pretty heavy pace for most folks, and it will completely transform your life.

The table below shows how the schedule will fall on the calendar.  You begin in Jupiter on a Thursday, and you finish in Saturn on a Saturday.  This schedule gives you about four days of rest between each right, and a little time to integrate the forces into your sphere and get used to them.  At the same time, it doesn’t give you enough time to finish materializing the forces you’ve released.  It keeps them in the formative state throughout the whole series of rites.  This is useful in making sure the current released in Jupiter is then woven through the other spheres to all aspects of your life.

He follows this with a table that looks like the following:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Jupiter
Mars
Sun Venus
Mercury
Moon (Saturn)

So, according to SS, you’re supposed to conjure the planetary angel of each planet for the first time in a span of five weeks, giving yourself four days of rest between conjurations.  This is a kinder (though still rough) approach than going through the seven spheres in seven consecutive days, which he and others (myself included) have done.  So, Fr. RO doesn’t recommend doing seven spheres in seven days, but rather seven spheres across five weeks.

Even as a kinder approach, that’s still fucking insane.

Fr. RO is no newbie magician.  By the time he published SS, he was already working the DSIC system for at least eight years (the earliest posts on his blog in 2006 reference Trithemius and DSIC), and had plenty of other experience with a variety of magical practices before that.  For all his flaws, perceived or actual, the man is at least competent in what he can do.  For him, going through a five-week cycle (or even a seven-day cycle!) of conjurations is straightforward and simple, but he wasn’t writing SS for himself: he was writing SS for other magicians, and many of those magicians don’t have nearly the amount of experience, stamina, spiritual hygiene skills, or practical know-how that Fr. RO and his circle of friends have.  To ask them to put themselves under that kind of spiritual duress, to me, is more than “a pretty heavy pace”, it’s outright dangerous.  And that’s the “kinder” approach he offers!

He talks a bit more about the expected results of doing this five-week ordeal:

Overall, it will take approximately six to weight weeks to perform the rites and have them all begin to really change your life.  By the sixth week, you will find that everything has become more intense, obstacles in your way have vanished, and that you’ve gone through more personal, spiritual, and mental growth than you have in years.  By the eighth week, the forces you’ve released will be materializing and being grounded in your kingdom.  You’ll find the physical results of the mental and spiritual growth making themselves “real” to you.

It might take a while to get back to a sense of normal.  It will happen though.  When it does, and you’re feeling safe, secure, and happy with how things are going in your life, consider starting the cycle yet again.  There is always more to learn in each sphere.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend anyone to undergo such a rapid process like this unless they’re already well-acquainted with the powers of the planets and already skilled at conjuration and other magical practices.  I’ve done my fair share (and sometimes continue to do so) of rushing through things, but let my burned hands be an indication here: there is no need to rush like this.  The planets will always be there, and you have time to go through them at a more reasonable, sensible pace—and there’s no reason to not give yourself as much time as you need to properly acclimate and adjust to these influences.  While I understand the urge to just dive right in, well, consider an actual 12′ deep pool.  You wouldn’t dive into the deep end without already knowing how to swim, right?  So if you’re not able to swim in magical works, or even how to tread water, why on God’s green Earth would you do the same with this?  Don’t do this.

When you begin the process of induction into a planetary (or elemental, or zodiacal…) sphere, you’re opening yourself up to a whole new realm of powers, entities, forces, and influences into your life.  Depending on your own planetary inclinations (which you can get a feel for based on your natal horoscope), you might find some of these to be easier than others, but none of them are ever truly easy.  You’re opening yourself up to the literal gods of heaven and telling them “okay, come on in, do your thing!”.  To just outright throw wide the doors isn’t leaping from the frying pan into the fire, it’s going from your lead safety suit into the nuclear reaction chamber itself.  It’s dangerous, even for the experienced, to push yourself so hard like this without giving yourself enough time to rest, recuperate, review what you did and where you made mistakes, acclimate to the new changes in your life, adjust to the powers in your life that weren’t there before, and just overall heal from the ordeal.  To rush that process is like not giving yourself enough rest after pushing yourself too hard at the gym: you stand to break yourself and seriously injure yourself in the process.

Also, from another practical standpoint?  Fr. RO only follows the system of planetary day and hour.  He ignores any other kind of astrological or zodiacal timing; that’s not uncommon for a lot of people in the Solomonic tradition as opposed to the astrological tradition, where such timing is more important (especially according to Francis Barrett himself, where he uses outright elections of the planets to time his conjurations).  However, something important I feel he leaves out is to at least consider the Moon.  At least for the purposes of this kind of planetary work, I think the phase of the Moon is critical for what we’re trying to achieve regardless of the specific planet.  While you could go crazy with it, the simple observation of whether the Moon is waxing (New to Full) or waning (Full to New) is sufficient.  Use the waxing Moon to bring things into the world (which is great for conjuring to a strong or even manifest appearance, talisman consecrations, blessings, etc.), and use the waning Moon to send things out of the world (better for diminishing things and some kinds of curse work, sure, but also for theurgy and spiritual initiations/inductions, since you’re the one being sent out of this world into higher ones).  So, rather than just using planetary day and hour (and of the two, the hour is far more important than the day), I think it’s also important to observe the Moon as well.  However, the Moon is only waxing for two weeks at a time and waning for another two weeks; doing the seven spheres across five weeks mixes the two up and can get you uneven results from your work.

So, all that said, here’s my recommendation as for timing:

  • In the day and hour of the planet while the Moon is waxing, conjure the angel of the planet and ask them to bring their influences into your life.  This gives you a good start to understand what that planet does in your life and world and sphere.  Ask for their presence and guidance, assistance in bringing themselves into your life, and whatever else you might need.  If you don’t get contact, try the conjuration again in another appropriate hour, but only while the Moon is waxing.  You want the waxing help of the Moon here to bring that angel down into our world so you can get a better connection.
  • Once you make contact and have formed that connection in that first conjuration, spend the next two or six weeks getting used to that infusion of planetary energy to acclimate to it, not conjuring anything else or focusing on any other force in a major way (except in cases of emergency).
  • After two or six weeks (six weeks is better), perform another conjuration of the angel of that planet in its day and hour but, importantly, with the Moon waning.  This time, review the past bit of time since you made that first contact, and ask for initiation/induction into the sphere of that planet, opening the Gate, entering into that sphere, and the like.  The first conjuration formed a connection so you can get a taste of what that planet does; this second conjuration provides the initiation/induction into that sphere to more deeply integrate yourself with it, and it with you.
  • Spend at least a month after this conjuration taking notes, observing changes, and getting used to the planetary forces.
  • After that, perform another conjuration of the angel of the planet; it doesn’t matter so much what the phase of the Moon is in so long as you can use it.  Check up on yourself with the angel, see what else you’re missing, explore through the gate of that planet some more, do some more work however you need, and lock those forces in.

This is a much slower process of conjuration-based initiation, sure, taking from one to three months per planet, yielding an overall timeframe of 7 to 21 months.  Sure, you could speed it up if you felt it necessary, or if a particular planet was easy enough to integrate into your sphere, or if you wanted to be faster just to be faster.  I favor more cautious routes nowadays, and there’s no harm in that; after all, there’s no rush, so why rush it?  And this is on top of the practice you need to get in before you even start working with the planets, too!  To simply give SS to a beginner when it’s not a beginner’s text and tell them “go through all seven planets in five weeks, seven days if you wanna, good luck, have fun”…while I see what Fr. RO was trying to achieve by this, and while I get the enthusiasm in making people better ASAP, I just can’t recommend this approach to anyone unless they’re absolutely sure about it, especially if they don’t have an actual teacher or mentor guiding them and nurturing them through the process.  And a book, by its very nature, cannot do that.

So much for time and scheduling.  There’s another specific issue I have, though, and that’s with the order of planetary work itself.  Fr. RO has a well-known bias towards the planet Jupiter; it wouldn’t surprise me to find out if he had an exceedingly dignified Jupiter in his horoscope, or one that was significantly bolstered by the placement of his Sun.  In addition to being one of the founding members of the Gentlemen For Jupiter, Fr. RO simply loves the planetary force and blessings of Jupiter. He places a huge emphasis in his magical work and philosophy around the notion of divine kingship, and builds his approach to reclaiming our divine heritage and spiritual immortality according to the philosophies of Hermēs Trismegistus from there.  And it’s not a bad approach!  I think we could all do with the reminder that we are children of God, endowed with the faculties and functions of God incarnate as humanity on Earth in a way that other spirits may not necessarily have the capacity for.

Now, I’m not one to yuck someone else’s yum, and I understand that we all have favorite planets, kinds or styles of working, and inclinations.  What one person likes, another person may not like; what one person is good at, another person may not be.  That’s natural and fair, so I’m not going to knock Fr. RO’s stringent and zealous focus on Jupiter here and elsewhere.  What I question, however, is starting the whole process of planetary induction with Jupiter.  I get where Fr. RO is coming from: according to him, in order to (re)claim your status and heritage as a divine king, you must first be anointed as such, and that comes about in the sphere of Jupiter.  But in my view, all the planets confer that, and all the planets represent royalty and rulership in different ways.  Fr. RO says as much, too, in SS, so it’s not like we can argue on that point, but I don’t think just up and starting with kingship for the sake of kingship is the best start without the proper context and training for it.  Yes, magic can and ought to be used to make our lives better in every possible way, that’s true, but kingship and royalty and rulership over your life is a long process, and I don’t think it should simply passed into from the get-go.

Personally, I don’t think everyone is meant to be a king; while we are all children of God made in his image (which is something true even from a Hermetic stance), I think Fr. RO’s emphasis on the divine heritage of humanity being inherent kingship is somewhat off the mark. Yes, we are always children of God, but not necessarily kings of men—and to rule your life is not necessarily to be a king of it.  I think this is a point that is easily missed: kingship isn’t about rulership.  To me, kingship is about the highest form of servitude and service that there can be; while a king might have power over their people, a king is also ultimately the servant to provide for the well-being of their people.  This is definitely included in the purview of Jupiter, to be sure, being the planet of righteousness and grace and mercy!  But this kind of noble service is often overlooked or forgotten, especially if you just up and start with Jupiter in a mania.  This is something that must be worked for and slowly understood, building up to the ability to properly serve others order to rule oneself.

From a more practical standpoint? Jupiter is pretty high up there in the heavens, and there are five other planets lower than Jupiter that are closer to us, and thus easier to access.  For magicians, and especially those new to conjuration and spiritual communication, I don’t find Jupiter to be a good planet to start with.  Instead, I recommend to start with the Moon, being the closest planetary sphere to us on Earth, and work our way up from there to Mercury, then to Venus, the Sun, Mars, and then to Jupiter and Saturn.  This is a properly theurgical approach of elevation and ascension through the heavens, as opposed to an arguably thaumaturgical descent and materialization down through the heavens into our world.  I mean, theurgy can absolutely be done “downwards” just as thaumaturgy can be done “upwards”, but for the sake of practicality, starting with the Moon makes the most sense to me.  This is especially the case for those whose psychic and visionary skills aren’t well-developed yet, as the Moon naturally rules over both.  By getting a firm foundation in the sphere of the Moon, it becomes easier to build up from there and reach into the higher heavens.  Additionally, the Moon is known to gather and collect the light of all the other planets, and so interfaces with them all in a way that no other planet does.  By starting with the Moon, not only do we develop a strong lunar foundation for ourselves, but we also naturally get a small taste or a whiff of every other planet in the process.

Now, Fr. RO released the original Gates ritual texts (e.g. Gate of Jupiter, Gate of Mars, etc.) on his blog in 2011, and did in fact start with the Gate of Jupiter.  However, in the Green Work section of the RWC, the first Gate text he intended for his students to take was, in fact, the Gate of the Moon; though he never makes this explicit, it suggests that he intended the Moon-upwards approach in RWC as opposed to the Jupiter-downward approach he gives in SS.  This ties into the same approach for the conjurations of the elemental angels (which he completely omits in SS), where you start with Earth (the lowest element) and work your way up to Fire (the highest element).  This is the approach I would most recommend more than anything.

But, also?  Saturn.  Fr. RO, in my opinion, gravely disrespects Saturn and its crucial role for us all, especially as magicians, and especially as a planet of magic, the occult, and mystery itself.  This ties into the earlier concern about the order of conjuration, where Fr. RO starts with Jupiter, works his way down to the Moon, and ends with Saturn.  Except…he doesn’t actually end with Saturn.  Note the table of ordering the conjurations above.  Fr. RO explains this:

Note that Saturn is in parentheses.  That’s because it should be considered optional.  You don’t need to go to Saturn until you feel completely and fully integrated as the King of your personal Kingdom.  You shouldn’t go to Saturn until you need to expand the borders of your Kingdom.

Saturn is not optional.  Period, point blank, full stop.  Saturn is as necessary as any and every other planet.  To ignore Saturn is to throw yourself into imbalance, become overweeningly arrogant and proud, focus too much on expansion and exuberance in a state of frenzy and mania, and can inflict some serious issues in your life.  Saturn is the planet of restraint and moderation, the planet of boundaries and borders. I get that a lot of people are scared of Saturn, being the greater malefic and all, but honestly?  All the other planets can be at least as malefic as Saturn.  To my mind, Saturn rules the things that are naturally inimical to human desire, but that doesn’t make them any less necessary or divine.  To use Fr. RO’s kingdom analogy, Saturn is the walls that ring round your kingdom, and holds everything in.  For Fr. RO, these walls should be expanded as much as you can when you’re capable of doing so.  And yes, Fr. RO does note that “walls support the roof, the dam stores the water, and the bones provide the support that lets us live as more than amorphous blobs”.  Fr. RO says quite a lot, actually, about the helpful and crucially, critically necessary role of Saturn in our lives and our Work—yet says here that Saturn is “optional”.  Even considering his understandable caution with Saturn and its spirits, I cannot agree with this statement.  Do not skip Saturn.  Never skip Saturn, just as you would never skip any of the other planets.

Sigh.  I think I’ve griped enough.  All in all, SS isn’t a bad book to work, but it’s not one for beginners, that’s for sure.  While I get Fr. RO’s rationale for structuring it the way it is, in my own experience and in comparison with some of the other systems I work, I still have issues with how SS presents the Work to be done.  In my opinion, his RWC content, from which the majority (but not all!) of SS was plucked, was and continues to be better for beginner and experienced magicians alike, especially in introducing them slowly and more fully through all the forces of the Hermetic cosmology.  For that reason, I’m happy to share the RWC content for those who ask, or redirect them to those who teach them more formally.  SS has its place in our modern magical literature, but I think we need to be clear about what that place is.

A quick note about Fr. RO’s old Red Work Courses and who’s licensed to share them

Another quick note in the midst of my own writing projects amidst my yearly hell season of too much going on…

As many people might be aware, Fr. Rufus Opus used to offer a series of ebooks and online classes about his take on Hermeticism, Hermetic practices, and angelic/planetary magic that he collectively titled the “Red Work Course” (RWC) that he wrote back in 2010 and 2011.  Much of this material was collected, condensed, and distilled into what eventually became his Seven Spheres book he put out in 2014.  However, back in 2016, he announced and clarified that he no longer sells access to those files and courses anymore (and, in the case of his old Planetary Gates ebooks, this was announced back in 2014 with the publication of Seven Spheres late that year).  Instead, in an email to his students from around the same time in 2016, he made an arrangement that he would make a test for his old students and, if he approved, he would certify and license them to use the old material he put out for RWC as they see fit.  His logic was that, at the time of him joining the A∴A∴, he wasn’t allowed to charge for teaching what they know, so Fr. RO stopped selling his old courses, but didn’t want to be unfair to his old students who paid for the stuff, so if his old students could show the ability to fully understand what he wrote, they could take charge and sell it or give it away as they chose.

Although a good number of the students from his old RWC mailing lists seemed to be all about the idea, I’m not sure what became of it for most people; it could be that many of his old students took the test, got Fr. RO’s blessing and approval privately and quietly, and kept it quiet since most of them aren’t much for teaching, or they never actually took the test.  However, there is a small handful of three people that Fr. RO has publicly gone on the record to announce as those that he has licensed to share his old RWC files:

  1. James Wood a.k.a. Spanish Moss, over at The Red Crown of Stars (who also heads up the Thicket of a Witch blog)
  2. Mal Strangefellow over at The Society of Royal Philosophers (who also heads up the Ordo Sancti Cypriani and the Church of Light and Shadow)
  3. Myself right here

If, after all these years (especially given how much I referred to it in my recent Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration posts), you’re interested in the RWC files and lessons, please contact one of the three people above at their respective websites.  We all have different teaching styles and requirements, so consider that as well.  James and Mal use a more active class structure or a group/forum structure closer to what the original RWC courses used with Yahoo! groups and mailing lists, while I tend to take a more hands-off approach with separate mentorship sessions as needed/desired by students.  James and Mal have roughly similar price points to what Fr. RO had for the RWC files, but I use a different method entirely; if you’re interested in getting the files from me, contact me about it and we can discuss from there.

While there may be others who are licensed that Fr. RO might have forgotten, the three people above are the only people that Fr. RO has himself confirmed to me to be licensed to publicly use his old RWC files as they see fit.  If you hear or see of any others sharing his coursework, please consider letting him or me know to confirm whether they are also licensed before getting anything from them out of respect for Fr. RO’s work.  If you yourself have been licensed and you’re not part of the list above, contact me and let me know when and how Fr. RO licensed you (email, Facebook post, etc.) to clear up any potential confusion.

P.S.: Mal Strangefellow, in an effort to encourage and reward people to choose legit sources and teachers, is offering 20% his enrollment fees for his version of the Red Work Courses to all my wonderful readers!  Just use the coupon-code POLYPHANES when checking out.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: A Postscript from Francis Barrett Himself

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

First, let’s just clarify what we’re talking about: this is a follow-up to our earlier discussions on the early modern conjuration ritual The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC), attributed to the good abbot of Spanheim, Johannes Trithemius, but which was more likely invented or plagiarized from another more recent source by Francis Barrett in his 1801 work The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer. Many who are familiar with it either read it directly from Esoteric Archives, came by it through Fr. Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) in either his Red Work series of courses (RWC) or his book Seven Spheres (SS), or came by it through Fr. Ashen Chassan in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (Fr. AC and GTSC, respectively).

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

Astrological Considerations:

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

Considerations of Place:

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

Considerations of Preparation:

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

Other Considerations:

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

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

Barrett also gives a little instruction that makes things interesting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Recap, Summary, Variations

Where were we?  We’re in the middle of…well, rather, we finally finished 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).  This whole time, 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 earlier today we released the last in this series of posts.  The only thing left to do now, I suppose, is to give a summary of what we’ve discussed in these 21 posts that had over 92,000 (!!!) words between them all; for comparison, this series of posts is nearly 63× the length of the actual ritual text of DSIC itself.

First, an index to all the posts in this series for ease of access:

  1. Introduction to DSIC, the various actors at play, and the crystal ball used to view spirits within
  2. The pedestal for the crystal, the design of the gold plate, and the pedestal’s likely basis in the ostensorium of Catholic Christianity
  3. Introduction to the table, and the debate and decisions behind using either the four kings or the four archangels on it
  4. The planetary components of the design of the table for characters, seals, names, and angels
  5. Assembling the different components of the table together into a coherent design
  6. The basic design of the lamen for the spirits and what the divine names to use on it
  7. The planetary and spirit-specific components of the lamens used for spirits
  8. The design of the wand and the ring used for the ritual
  9. The nature and form of the candles and incense vessel used for the ritual
  10. The Liber Spirituum and its necessary or unnecessary role in the DSIC ritual
  11. The design of the magic circle and both its and DSIC’s origins or connections to the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano
  12. The general ways to consider the construction and consecration of spiritual implements
  13. The specific concerns of materials, timing, and methods to construct and consecrate our DSIC implements
  14. Concerns about ritual attire and general preparations for purification before the ritual
  15. How to set up our temple generally, and specifically how to arrange the magic circle and conjuration altar
  16. How to orient the altar, set up the implements for conjuration on the altar, how to time our conjuration ritual, and whether to use a lamen or pentacle or both
  17. The ritual script and procedure for performing the DSIC conjuration ritual
  18. Advice on conducting yourself in the presence of spirits conjured and ideas on how to work with them
  19. Varying the prayer of conjuration itself to suit non-angelic or non-celestial entities to be conjured
  20. Guidance and advice on what to do when particular aspects of the conjuration ritual go wrong or unexpectedly
  21. Guidance and examples on how to adapt the language of DSIC to avoid Christian overtones in favor of alternate spiritual traditions
  22. BONUS: Francis Barrett’s own notes and approach to DSIC

So, what did we learn from this little blog project of mine we started back in May this year?  Let’s talk about some of the high points and conclusions we can draw, including some stuff that we didn’t place anywhere else in our earlier discussions:

  • The ritual text The Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals is attributed to the Christian abbot Johannes Trithemius of Spanheim, but was most certainly not actually authored by him.
  • DSIC was first realistically published, despite older origins, in Francis Barrett’s 1801 The Magus.
  • DSIC serves as an implementation of conjuration based on many of the ideas, structure, and designs provided by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim in his Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, referencing other entries in his earlier Three Books of Occult Philosophy.
  • DSIC takes Agrippa-style “good spirit” theurgic communion with spirits and combines it with Solomonic-style conjuration of “evil spirits”, especially from the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano (which was translated into English and published with Agrippa’s Fourth Book).
  • Some elements of DSIC seem to be more Solomonic in nature and conflict with the Agrippan/theurgic content, and vice versa.
  • There are now largely two modern schools of implementing DSIC:
    • That of the independently-trained modern Hermetic magician Frater Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) as he taught its use in his Red Work series of courses (RWC) and, later, his Seven Spheres (SS) book, which collectively take a fast-and-loose approach that combines or elides some elements of DSIC in favor of good results fast.  Fr. Acher of Theomagica, also an early adopter of DSIC, falls in line with Fr. RO.
    • That of the by-the-grimoire Solomonic magician Frater Ashen Chassan (Fr. AC), who takes a stricter approach as he teaches it in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (GTSC) to carry out all instructions and designs as close to the letter of DSIC as possible.
  • Despite the desire of many to perform ritual texts “by the book” or “to the letter”, oftentimes without incorporating other grimoires or literary influence, doing so with DSIC is not possible due to how little is actually specified and how it seems to reference other occult texts.
  • The sparseness of DSIC has necessarily led to wide divergence and variability—and as numerous discussions and debates—in how magicians apply DSIC, especially with a popular resurgence in occult literature and practice generally, especially from non-Western methods of occult practice that aren’t necessarily Christian or Hermetic in nature, which was the expected milieu of the audience of DSIC.
  • Based on Google searching and analytics, it honestly seems like there wasn’t any modern interest to speak of (at least, recorded or publicly discussed online) in DSIC up until the end of the first decade in the new millennium.  There is at least one reference to this ritual, or something close to it, being performed in the 1800s (based on the description of a similar piece of equipment, the pedestal and crystal, in Frederick Hockley’s Occult Spells: A Nineteenth Century Grimoire), but little other evidence that the DSIC ritual was ever widely used.
  • It is known that Poke Runyon, aka Fr. Thabion, did bring up DSIC in his Ordo Templi Astarte (OTA) classes at least in the 1990s, but he never went into this text in depth either in the class or in his texts, presenting it merely as an example of crystal-centric conjurations of spirits within a more Ars Almadel-focused approach.
  • Additionally (hat-tip to the splendid Cole Tucker who told me about this after this post went up originally), Fr. Achad discusses DSIC briefly in chapter IV of his 1923 work Crystal Vision through Crystal Gazing, but only at a high level and in the context of crystallomancy and the use of scrying crystals generally.  Though some people have encountered DSIC by this, it’s unclear how many or how often that has happened.
  • Besides Fr. Achad talking about it and Runyon discussing it, it’s unknown how popular this ritual was in modern Western occult practice (I can’t find anything online about it) until late 2006, when Fr. RO began documenting his use of the ritual online and using it in his RWC and his fundamental angelic conjuration ebook (no longer publicly available), Modern Angelic Grimoire, and its corresponding goetic text (soon to be republished), Modern Goetic Grimoire.  Heck, it wasn’t even available on Esoteric Archives until April 21, 1999 (when I was in, like, fifth or sixth grade).  This means that, in reality, the modern application (and adaptations) of DSIC was essentially pioneered by Fr. RO, with Fr. AC coming onto the scene later with a refocus on Solomonic grimoire authenticalism/purism/fundamentalism.
  • As has been shown by Fr. RO and by the actual experiences and implementations of many who came after him, DSIC is a highly flexible ritual, and given how sparse it is in details and specifics, it could well be better considered as a ritual template instead of an actual ritual.  This flexibility allows for adaptation, both in terms of tool use, prayer phrasing, and even the general context of spiritual or religious traditions, so long as a basic understanding of a hierarchical cosmology and framework of receiving and applying divine authority to work with spirits is maintained.
  • DSIC explicitly calls for there to be two people in the ritual, both a magician who conjures the spirit and a scryer who facilitates the communication of the spirit with the magician.
    • This is exactly in line with the vast majority of Solomonic rituals going back to Hygromanteia and PGM times, if not earlier, which call for scryers or other assistants for the magician to be present, just in case the spirit appears to someone else besides the magician.
    • This further allows the magician to focus strictly on managing the overall ritual and temple space, freeing them up to handle any eventualities should and when they occur, as well as handling other ritual needs such as incense consumption or notetaking.
    • However, even though this is a best practice, most modern magicians forego having any assistants or scryers, since we tend to operate independently and alone.  Whether you as the magician operate alone or with a scryer is up to you, depending on your own visionary, discernment, perception, and scrying skills.

Then there are a few great points that were brought up in the course of the discussions and comments of these posts:

  • From Pallas Renatus on the pedestal: if we take the use of the single Hebrew letter Yod as the single-lettered divine name of God per Agrippa and the hexagram as a generalized (solar?) symbol of divinity, then the hexagram with central Yod is a sign of the radiating power and divinity of God into all the cosmos.  Placing this symbol upon the pedestal at the top gives it the centermost and highest symbol of divinity in the whole ritual apparatus: God radiating power and light downwards into and through the four archangels so as to empower and elevate, but also constrain and bind, the spirit present within it.  It is, in effect, “a bare-bones form of what the Table of Practice tries to accomplish in [grander] form, but extended into the third dimension”.
  • On Facebook, Erneus from Magia Pragmatica mentioned that the “ten general names” of God from Agrippa (book IV, chapter 6), which are those that form the bulk of the divine names for the lamen, has an earlier origin from St. Jerome in his “De Decem Dei Nominibus” which he lists as El, Eloim, Eloe, Sabaoth, Elion, Ieje aser Ieje (treated as a divine name), Adonai, Ia (dominus), Iao (dominus), and Saddai.
  • Another great tip from Erneus was that the divine name On (from the wand design) isn’t a Hebrew name, but a Greek one (το Ων); this on its own wasn’t surprising, but he tipped me off that Agrippa himself translates On as Eheieh (אהיה) in book III, chapter 11.  This means that, should one use Hebrew for the three divine names on the wand, you’d end up with three four-letter divine names: instead of Agla On Tetragrammaton, you’d have AGLA AHYH YHVH (אגלא אהיה יהוה).  Along those lines, if one wanted to use something comparable to “Ego Alpha et Omega” (Revelations 22:13), you could use something like אני ראשון ואני אחרון from Isaiah 44:6 (“I am the first and I am the last”, aniy r’išōn v’aniy ‘aḥarōn).  However, given the emphasis on Hebrew godnames (with the exception of “Tetragrammaton”), it’s unclear whether using On itself, either in Roman script or Greek script (ΩΝ) or Hebrew script (ון) really should be replaced by a Hebrew translation or not.  This is a variant that I’d leave up to the individual magician to decide on (though I admit I do enjoy the look and feel of having three four-letter names on the wand, at least if Hebrew is used).  However, given the DSIC author’s familiarity with Agrippa, it can’t easily be explained why they wouldn’t just use a Hebrew name in this case instead of a Greek, if Agrippa himself equated the two.
  • In the post about orienting and setting up the conjuration altar, Fuzzy brought up a point about orienting the table (or Table of Practice) separately from the altar; in other words, regardless which direction the altar is oriented, the table (or Table of Practice) would always be oriented towards the East (or North, if you’re Fr. RO in SS).  To my mind, this would only really be important if you use the double-ring design of the table (or Table of Practice) that has a separate ring of names for the four directional entities (four kings or four archangels), because in the one-ring design, there’s no directionality to be had on the table (or Table of Practice).  It would be weird for me, however, to have the triangle face in any direction besides away from you—especially if you use this method and face West in a conjuration, where the triangle would be pointing right at you, which I consider to be energetically and spatially dangerous.  This also does away with the significance of how we arranged the names of the angels on the pedestal plate, which was meant to line up with the four directions when facing away from the magician; however, if we use any orientation of the altar besides East, that would necessarily have to be done away with, unless if we keep the orientation of the pedestal to the table the same.  I’m not sure how I feel about not keeping the table (or Table of Practice) unaligned with the altar, but that is another valid variation, I suppose, so long as you’re using a separate piece of equipment for the table (or Table of Practice) instead of it being the surface of the altar furniture itself.
  • On the same post, Aaron Leitch himself chimed in and suggested another option for orienting the altar of conjuration: orient the altar towards the direction of the planet itself.  For this, a skymap, compass, or ephemeris would be used, such that if you were to do a conjuration of the angel of Jupiter, and the planet Jupiter was positioned towards the north-northeast, you’d orient the altar towards the north-northeast.  This is basically the system used in other astrological magic texts like the Picatrix.  Moreover, Aaron suggests that whether the planet is above or below the horizon would also be significant so as to tap into the ouranic/celestial side of the planet when the planet is above the horizon or its chthonic/subterrestrial side when below the horizon.  This would give an excellent refinement when used in conjunction with the planetary hour besides simply using a diurnal or nocturnal hour.

But, even after we’ve discussed so much, there are still a few lingering questions that could still be answered by others better than me in the future, perhaps after more research or experimentation:

  • Who is the true author of DSIC?  I consider Barrett himself to be the most likely and obvious possibility, but it’s unclear whether he plagiarized this himself from another source or offered it as an original contribution under attribution to Trithemius.
  • Was DSIC written more as a distillation/simplification of the Heptameron taking influence from Agrippa’s Fourth Book, or was it the reverse, that it was written as an implementation of a combined “good spirit”/”bad spirit” approach from Agrippa, and filling in the gaps with the Heptameron?
  • What were the specific Solomonic influences that led to DSIC?  The Heptameron is a clear influence, but were there others?  How wide and how far back can we trace the Solomonic roots of DSIC?
  • What did the original author of DSIC have in mind for the design of the table, notably left out of the DSIC illustration?
  • How widely was DSIC used after its publishing in Barrett’s The Magus, especially when compared with other forms of conjuration used in Western occulture?
  • What would a full, detailed implementation of DSIC look like in a Iamblichean (or otherwise generally Hellenic) Neoplatonic adaptation?  A PGM adaptation?  An Islamic adaptation?
  • What would a non-Hermetic, non-Solomonic adaptation of DSIC look like?  Would such an adaptation even be possible without relying on a common hierarchical monistic/monolatric/monotheistic divine structure?
  • What would a full, detailed implementation of Agrippa’s theurgic communion with “good spirits” look like?  His ecstatic communion with “good spirits”?  His conjuration of “evil spirits” to a circle?  What other grimoires would most closely resemble Agrippa’s description of such methods?
  • What is the specific Hebrew letter inside the hexagram present on the gold plate, pedestal, and wand?  Fr. RO interprets it as a Yod, Fr. AC interprets it as a Daleth, and Jake Stratton-Kent interprets it either as a Daleth or Resh.  I’m in the Fr. RO camp of interpreting it as a Yod, which seems to be the most sensible choice, but we all know that Western grimoire authors and illustrators weren’t always the best at accurately writing the shapes of Hebrew letters.
  • Regardless of the specific letter used, what is the role of the hexagram with central letter on the plate, pedestal, and wand in the DSIC illustration?  What does the original author of DSIC mean to signify by it?
  • More generally, what is the original, specific role of the three symbols on the pedestal, that of the hexgram with central letter, pentagram, and cross?  Where did these symbols come from?
  • I’ve never been satisfied with a simple or high-level answer regarding the role of the four kings, nor why they would be mixed up in these ritual tools if it’s not a purely Solomonic approach; after all, Agrippa says nothing about them, even in his Solomonic approach, nor are these kings used in the Heptameron, so their inclusion suggests another source or influence entirely.  What is their specific role as far as DSIC is concerned?  How does that role compare to the four archangels?  What is the nature of this role at all?

Now, it’s clear that DSIC, beloved (or not) as it is by many modern magicians and conjurers, isn’t exactly the most clear, unambiguous, or detailed of texts, and that has led to a number of variations in how DSIC can be implemented—on top of the normal adaptations magicians make, anyway, due to laziness, convenience, availability of supplies, or differences in cosmological framework.  So, what about a summary of some of the more reasonable variants that we’ve either encountered or thought up in our endeavor?  We can’t account for every possible variation, but there are a number that even a strict reading of the sparse text in DSIC allows either due to vagueness or ambiguity in the text, or merely because it simply doesn’t say:

  • Using a quartz as the material for the crystal or using a beryl instead, or some other kind of crystal appropriate to the working (especially for the planet of the spirit to be conjured, e.g. citrine or orange calcite for the Sun)
  • Using a crystal that’s clear-colored or colored otherwise (probably a light tinge of red, especially if beryl is used)
  • Arranging the three symbols of the hexagram with central Yod, pentagram, and cross with the divine name “Tetragrammaton” in different orders on the gold plate or in the triangle on the Table of Practice
  • Using the hexagram with a central Yod on just the side of the angels on the pedestal or on both sides, replacing it with a cross, or using no holy symbol at all
  • Using a double circle for the table (or Table of Practice) with one ring of names, or using a triple circle with two rings of names
  • Using any of the following in any order for the planets on the table (or Table of Practice): name, glyph, characters (either Agrippa or Ars Paulina), number square seal
  • Using either one or both of the following for the planetary angels on the table (or Table of Practice): name, seal (usually from Heptameron)
  • Writing the names of the angels in Latin script or Hebrew for the table (or Table of Practice), as well as the specific spellings used in either language based on the source you’re working from (Agrippa, Heptameron, etc.)
  • The order in which the planets/planetary angels are arranged on the table (or Table of Practice) in the ring of names
  • Writing the table (or Table of Practice) design permanently (e.g. engraving, woodburning, paint), or just temporarily (e.g. chalk, coal)
  • Making the table (or Table of Practice) on a small, portable disc, or actually putting it onto/into an actual table surface for permanent altar use
  • Using only one set of divine names used on the lamen based on the DSIC illustration, or varying the names in accordance with the general/specific names based on Agrippa
  • The specific number of pentagrams used on the lamen if only one spirit is to be called
  • Putting the name and seal of the planetary angel in the center hexagram on the lamen, or putting the name and seal of the planet in the central hexagram with the name and seal of the planetary angel in one of the pentagrams
  • Making the lamens always circular in shape, or shaping the overall form of the lamens in a shape concordant with its corresponding planet (e.g. triangular for Saturn)
  • Using the simple hexagram style of ring, or using the Lemegeton style of ring
  • Using just the lamen for the spirit to be conjurated, or using such a lamen in addition to a separate pentacle (i.e. pentacle of Solomon) in addition to the lamen
  • If a separate pentacle is called for, then either wearing the pentacle affixed to the reverse the lamen or wearing/concealing it separately
  • If a separate pentacle of Solomon is to be worn instead of a lamen, then either wearing the lamen for the spirit, or putting it under the crystal
  • Making the lamens in different materials (silver generally, wax, paper or parchment, in metals appropriate for the planet)
  • Using an actual spike-/stake-like brazier or using a tripod brazier for incense
  • Using a properly consecrated Liber Spirituum, or just a generic notebook for writing down information from conjurations
  • Having a permanently-drawn magic circle (tarp, tiles, etc.), or just drawing one out in chalk or coal per conjuration
  • Writing the three divine names in the magic circle in different typefaces and facing different ways, or making them all face the same way in the same typeface
  • Orienting the magic circle to align the four hexagrams with the four directions, or orienting the magic circle such that the quadrant with the spirit’s seal faces the direction of the altar of conjuration
  • Wearing special ritual attire or spirit-specific costume for the ritual, or not
  • Engaging in preliminary preparatory practices involving fasting, abluting, purification, prayer, &c., or not
  • Placing the altar of conjuration outside the magic circle, or placing it inside the circle
  • Placing the altar of conjuration against a wall or in the middle of a room
  • Orienting the altar to face east always, or to face specific directions according to the planet of the spirit being conjured, or any direction at all that’s convenient
  • If using a table (or Table of Practice) separate from the altar of conjuration itself, always keeping the table (or Table of Practice) aligned to the four directions (if such alignment is meaningful based on the design) or orienting it in the same direction as the altar of conjuration
  • Keeping the altar of conjuration sparse (having only the table and pedestal/Table of Practice, crystal, and candles), or decorating it with other elements (e.g. tablecloth, more candles, talismans)
  • What time to begin the conjuration, i.e. starting the first prayer within the desired planetary hour or marking the start of the conjuration itself with the prayer of conjuration
  • Interpreting the three parts of the prayer of conjuration to be a single unit of prayer to be said at once, or each to be said separately in case earlier prayers did not bring the spirit to the conjuration and we need to spur them on faster

And then there are the variations that would or have already been made to account for individual magician’s divergent approaches to DSIC to account for material availability, personal inspiration, incorporation of ideas from other texts, a desire to be lazy or convenient, adapting the ritual for one’s own needs, erroneous understandings of the text carried on as workable practice, etc.:

  • Using a crystal, or using another form of scrying medium (mirror, water vessel, etc.)
  • Using a crystal shaped like a sphere or in another shape
  • Using a crystal that’s entirely clear or has inclusions in it
  • Using a gold plate to suspend the crystal, or using gold-like metal e.g. brass
  • Using a gold plate in the pedestal, or merely gilding or painting in gold the two sides of the pedestal
  • Using ebony or ivory for the pedestal, or using another material entirely for it
  • Making the pedestal in the church-shape (as in DSIC) or the sunburst-shape (as in Hockley’s Occult Spells)
  • Incorporating a hexagram with a central Yod on the pedestal, a cross, both, or neither
  • Using a gold band around the crystal instead of a gold plate suspending the crystal
  • Using a pedestal to support the crystal on top of the table, or using a Table of Practice that combines the design elements of the pedestal and table upon which the crystal is placed
  • For the Table of Practice specifically when not using a separate table and pedestal: using the four kings (Oriens, Amaymon, Paimon, Egyn) or using the four archangels (Michael, Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel), or even both
  • Incorporating extra elements onto the table (or Table of Practice), e.g. signs and/or angels of the Zodiac
  • Writing the name of the spirit being conjured outside the hexagram/pentagram on the lamen, or omitting it entirely
  • Using ebony for the wand, or using another material entirely for it
  • Writing the characters for the wand in gold, or using another material entirely for it
  • Using both “Agla ✡ On 🔯 Tetragrammaton ✠” as well as “Ego Alpha et Omega” on the wand, or just the former
  • Using a hexagram plus a hexagram-with-central-Yod plus a cross on the wand, or replacing the empty hexagram with an empty pentagram to match the three signs on the pedestal
  • Using a ring of Solomon following the Lemegeton model, the Barrett Heptameron model, or another ring entirely, such as the Agla Ring of John Dee
  • Using two candles for the conjuration, or one, or some other number
  • Using candles for the conjuration, or using oil lamps instead
  • Consecrating the candles (or lamps) before use, or not consecrating them
  • Using an actual brazier for the incense vessel, or using whatever is most convenient
  • Using loose incense that would be used on charcoals or in flames, or using self-igniting incense
  • Using the magic circle design in DSIC, or using another magical circle design e.g. the one from the Heptameron
  • Using a physical magic circle at all, or just tracing one out with the wand instead
  • Incorporating other design elements into the magic circle besides just what’s already there in DSIC
  • Consecrating the various elements and implements used in DSIC beforehand, or not
  • Operating with a scryer, or operating alone
  • Operating with non-scryer assistants, or not
  • Using lamens with multiple spirits on them to bring them all at once to the conjuration, or using chained summoning to bring them after a primary spirit has been brought to the conjuration
  • Using just the one prayer of conjuration from DSIC for all spirits of all kinds, or using varying kinds of prayers for specific spirits or specific kinds of spirits for the prayer of conjuration
  • Using the Christian-language prayers of the DSIC text itself, or using alternative adaptations to allow for non-Christian prayers
  • Including preliminary calls to one’s holy guardian angel, agathodaimōn, or supernatural assistant

Alright, that sums it up for this blog project.  But, before we call it quits, there is one last thing I wanted to share.  One of the variations we offered earlier in the post is a variation on the table that uses a proper “double circle” with but a single ring of names.  It’s something I wanted to return to, but there wasn’t much of an opportunity to fit in it anywhere else in our discussion.  Since I think this is the proper interpretation of the DSIC instructions, I wanted to give a better-designed version of that that contains the proper design elements of the planets and the four kings, all written in the Latin script.  Thus, this is what I would recommend for use as a table, plus the front (three symbols and Tetragrammaton) and back (four archangels) of the pedestal inscriptions:

And a secondary variation that could be used as a Table of Practice, based on some of the variations we discussed earlier as well, that I think best combines the design elements of the table and the pedestal into a single piece of equipment, again in the Latin script:

And also, a set of lamens for use with the seven planetary angels, using Latin script for the names, the names taken from the Heptameron, and using a custom set of divine names on the outer ring, both general and specific according to Agrippa:

And notes on the foregoing designs:

  • I standardized the spelling of all names to use the Latin letter I to render I, J, and Y (thus “Iehovah”, “Iah”, and “Iod” instead of “Jehovah”, “Yah”, or “Yod”), and likewise the Latin letter V to render U, V, and W (thus “Vriel” instead of “Uriel”).
  • I moved the divine name Tetragrammaton, split as it was before, but inside the triangle, under the three symbols and above the four archangels.  This way, all of the design elements of the pedestal are now within the triangle entirely, which makes more sense, instead of some being inside and some being outside.
  • I used the seals of the Four Kings from the Clavis Inferni, specifically based on those of the wonderful mage-artist Asterion of Practical Solomonic Magic from his February 2014 post.  I used the names of the Four Kings from the Clavis Inferni, too, which agrees more with Agrippa’s spellings from book III, chapter 24 rather than the spellings in the Scale of Four from book II, chapter 7, though I keep the directional (and thus elemental) associations from Agrippa rather than the Clavis Inferni.  “Maimon” here is used instead of “Amaymon” because Maimon is better attested in older texts and cuts down on crucial space usage.
  • I included two glyphs for each entity in the outer ring on the table/Table of Practice.  For the planetary angels, these are the planetary glyph itself as well as the Heptameron seal for the angels; for the four kings, these are the elemental glyph associated with their directions as well as their seal from the Clavis Inferni.  This satisfies the requirements of the design of the table without sacrificing clarity for the sake of space management, interpreting “seals or characters” for the planetary elements to refer to just the seal of the angels.  Although the DSIC spec only says to include the names of the four kings, I added in the elemental glyphs and seals for them to make the design consistent between the planetary angels and the kings.
  • I changed the direction of the planetary angels and kings on the one ring to start at the bottom and go clockwise in the proper descending order, starting with Cassiel of Saturn and going clockwise from there.  This actually makes it descending instead of technically ascending as in the earlier post.
  • Though I used the Magical Calendar for the seals for most of the angels, I pulled the seals for Sachiel of Jupiter and Cassiel of Saturn from the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano due to their relative clarity and, in the case of Cassiel, completeness.
  • Starting the ring of names at the bottom makes a sort of “gate”, with the most subtle spiritual force (Saturn) on the left hand and the most dense material force (Earth presided over by Maimon) on the right hand.  This organization, read clockwise, helps not only to draw spirits into manifestation under all the seven spheres and four corners of the world, but as we gaze into the triangle from the “bottom”, we can picture our sight “entering in” from the bottom, swirling around clockwise, and exiting once it makes a full cycle back out to us to bring into ourselves a manifest vision of the spirit being conjured.

As for me and my own practice, with any recommendations I might make of my own to implementing DSIC?

  • Ebony, ivory, and gold are fantastic if you can get them, but if you can’t, there are always workarounds.  Their presence certainly helps, but their absence does not impede.  Specifically, while ebony for the wand is ideal, I don’t think the material for the pedestal is at all that significant (as the text itself gives you a choice between ebony and ivory); the important part is the gold plate itself.  Plus, there are ethical issues involved in either material, with ivory often being illegally taken and harvested, and ebony increasingly becoming endangered.
  • Likewise, no, you don’t need a temple room if you don’t have the space or allowance for one.  It’s great if you can, and definitely something to aim for, but not having a dedicated temple space is not going to stop you from doing great magic.
  • The only reason to use a Table of Practice, in which you (according to the usual interpretations) pick either the four kings or the four archangels but not both, is to avoid using the pedestal.  Even if you can’t go all-out on a full ebony pedestal with solid gold plate, Fr. FC’s idea of using a simple painted band around the crystal is sufficient.  The design here matters more than the materials, I’d argue, and the design of the conjuration apparatus as a whole requires both the four kings and four archangels.  However, if you still wanted to forego the pedestal, you could still reasonably argue for using either set of names.
  • The most proper construction of the pedestal for the crystal, as I read and consider it, is to have the crystal exposed on the front side (with the three symbols and the divine name “Tetragrammaton”), but gilded or covered with smooth gold on the reverse (the side of the four names of the angels); this would explain the dark coloration of the crystal orb in the DSIC illustration that’s not distinct from the color of the plate itself.  The two candles should be placed on either side of the table, pedestal, and crystal and brought forward just a bit, not directly to the side, so that the light of the two candleflames can enter into the crystal ball, illuminating and reflecting it as a spherical mirror.  This is the most ideal setup; barring that, with the crystal exposed on the rear of the pedestal, one should have a third candle positioned directly behind the crystal, in addition to the two burning on the sides (which should still be positioned a little forward).  This latter setup would form a triangle around the crystal, and would provide light into it evenly from all three directions.
  • Make your tools large enough to be useful but not too large so as to sacrifice portability and flexibility, as always.  The specifics are up to you and your comfort.
  • Even though DSIC prescribes a specific kind of magic circle (a much-simplified form of the one used for the Heptameron), I don’t think it fundamentally matters, so long as a circle is used, even if just one traced on the ground.  Using a circle custom for the spirit to be conjured, however, can be beneficial in both forging a stronger link to the spirit as well as protecting against said spirit.
  • Use a pentacle of Solomon (I’m most in love with the one from the Veritable Clavicles of Solomon).  It shouldn’t be necessary, but it can always be useful, especially if things go sideways.  This pentacle should be worn on the body of the magician; if the lamen of the spirit is worn, the pentacle should be on the reverse, but otherwise, the lamen should be placed underneath the pedestal (sized appropriately to fit within the triangle of the table) or under the crystal (sized appropriately to fit within the triangle of the Table of Practice).
  • No need for a scryer if you don’t want one, but it can definitely help.  Ditto for assistants.
  • Over my own practice, I developed certain prayers for putting on the ring and also anointing oneself with oil before major works like this that I like using.
  • I cannot recommend enough the Prayer of Joseph the Visionary to use before scrying sessions, the prayer of which was shared once upon a time on Jason Miller’s old blog.
  • Likewise, a brief invocation of one’s holy guardian angel, supernatural assistant, agathodaimōn, etc. is extremely worth your time, no matter what kind of spirit you’re using.  Any such invocation would work, whether a traditional Catholic prayer, one from the Ars Paulina, or the one that Fr. RO uses adapted from the Headless Rite.
  • Take the preliminary preparation period seriously; don’t skimp on your daily prayers, purification, ablution, abstinence, and the like.
  • Build up on prior conjurations, especially if you want to take Fr. RO’s extreme methods of his one-week cycle of “Seven Spheres in Seven Days”, his five-week cycle of going through the planets in descending order, or a two-week cycle of going through the planets in ascending order.  Avoid heavy banishings done in the temple space beyond asperging with holy water so as to keep the resonance of previous works around.

Thank you all for sticking with me over these past number of weeks, and I hope you all enjoyed and learned from what we’ve discovered, discussed, and dreamt up!

And, finally, one last thing: despite the length and detail I went into regarding DSIC, and despite the repeated exhortations of many of my friends, colleagues, and family to do so, I have no intentions (at least at the present time) of writing an actual book about this topic.  Given that there’s already enough hard-published literature about DSIC courtesy of Fr. RO and Fr. AC, and between all the supplies and tools needed for implementing DSIC—even if one takes a bare-bones magic-on-a-budget approach—I figure that people have probably spent enough money on this ritual as it is, and my writing this and sharing it publicly on my website is as much for my benefit as it is for my readers.  If you need to, just bookmark this post, share it with your friends, and save it for ease of access to the rest of the posts in this series, or print out the individual posts and stuff them in a binder for your personal use.  However, if you found this series of posts helpful, thought-provoking, or entertaining and wished you could throw money at me anyway, consider throwing a few bucks my way through Ko-fi!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

It’s certainly not necessary or expected to do so, but it would help me continue my research, experimentation, and web-hosting, and any and every donation for what I share for free on my website is always deeply and sincerely appreciated from the bottom of my heart.  Alternatively, consider checking out what ebooks and services I have for sale, both on my website and on my Etsy!  That’s also a great way to support the things I do, stuff I make, and posts I write.  But, even if you don’t, your reading my blog and hopefully getting something of use out of it is honestly payment enough for me, and I thank you merely for being my reader and companion on this fun little Hermetic path we walk together.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Dechristianizing DSIC

Where were we?  We’re in the middle of discussing the early modern conjuration ritual The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC), attributed to the good abbot of Spanheim, Johannes Trithemius, but which was more likely invented or plagiarized from another more recent source by Francis Barrett in his 1801 work The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer.  Many who are familiar with it either read it directly from Esoteric Archives, came by it through Fr. Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) in either his Red Work series of courses (RWC) or his book Seven Spheres (SS), or came by it through Fr. Ashen Chassan in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (Fr. AC and GTSC, respectively).  I’ve been reviewing the tools, techniques, and technology of DSIC for my own purposes as well as to ascertain the general use and style used by other magician in the real world today, and today we can move on to other topics  Last time, we discussed how we might tackle certain problems that could come up in conjuration when things go sideways.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do When Things Go Wrong

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 what changes we might make to the ritual script of DSIC if we wanted with non-angelic spirits, especially those of a more demonic nature in line with traditional Solomonica.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

One of the reasons why I wanted to write up my own (far more long-winded than I ever intended) analysis and description of DSIC is because, at heart, I’m an engineer.  I went to school for engineering, specifically with a focus in computer science and software engineering and development, and one of my professional skills is that of a technical writer.  While I might take a more colloquial, conversational tone in my blog posts, those who are familiar with my ebooks might have picked up that I’m much more formal and logical when I write specific guides, because I am a lover of procedure, process, method, and methodology.  It’s why I was so exact in the individual steps in my DSIC ritual script, describing the specific placement and motions and gestures to be made that neither DSIC nor Fr. RO nor even Fr. AC went to such lengths to describe, because I like making sure that every single step of the ritual is clear for both myself and others so that the exact same process can be replicated even if you haven’t seen it before or been shown it previously.  I’d like to think that I’m doing the world a good and helpful thing this way, but only time will tell.

It’s because I’m such a lover of process and method that I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to what-ifs.  Besides just going over alternative designs or conjurations to account for varying theologies, cosmologies, theories, desires, and components that underlie our own individual approaches to DSIC, I can also be paranoid sometimes about “what if this doesn’t work” or “what if things don’t work how I wanted them to” or “what if something happens that wasn’t supposed to happen”.  And, unfortunately, neither DSIC nor Fr. RO (in RWC and SS both) nor Fr. AC (in GTSC) really talk about anything to allay such fears of mine; I’ve had to resort to my own research and experimentation, sometimes playing things by ear under just such a circumstance, so that I can (hopefully) come out at least no worse than I was going into the experiment.  Today, we’ll talk about what happens when you use the DSIC conjuration and things don’t go right.

Honestly, there are as many things that can go wrong (or, at least unexpectedly) that there are things that you would perform the DSIC conjuration for to begin with.  I can’t account for your own individual experiments, needs, or desires, so while there’s plenty to talk about for niche or specific cases, it’s only of necessity (and not wanting to drag this out any further) that I can’t go into every possible thing that can go wrong.  But, as far as the DSIC ritual script is concerned, there are a few things that we can talk about that you should be prepared for just in case they happen.

We will assume, for the sake of this post, that you’re performing the DSIC conjuration ritual as close as you can without needless modifications, and that you’re doing things as correctly as you can: you did the preliminary preparations and purifications, you said all the prayers right and gracefully, you’re calling upon a particular spirit within the proper planetary hour, and the like.  Even though everything should work out fine, there’s always the chance that they won’t, and you should be aware of your options to take when things go sideways—or don’t go at all.

When the Spirit Won’t Show Up
This is the most common thing that can happen for a lot of people: you start the ritual as normal, you recite the prayer of conjuration (attempt #1), and…nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Silence.  Null and void.  You wait a bit, you try to open your spiritual eyes and ears and mind, and there’s just nothing there to perceive.  The spirit just isn’t there.

In this case, try it again; recite the prayer of conjuration once again (attempt #2).  If, after waiting a bit again and silently listening and looking and perceiving, you still get nothing, recite it once more (attempt #3) and try perceiving the spirit again.  Don’t vary the prayers, don’t change anything else; if anything, light a bit more incense (not necessary if you’re using self-igniting incense), and just repeat the prayer of conjuration of the spirit up to three times.  Don’t try to trick yourself into seeing or hearing or perceiving something that isn’t there; if it’s there, you’ll know.

If the spirit still doesn’t show up after the third time, you can’t proceed with the authentication or communion of the spirit.  There are two courses of action you can take here, either one or both, if you so choose:

  1. Ask the spirit to specifically reveal itself to you in a way that you can perceive, whether by sight, sound, or any other sense.  Give it a chance to reform and reconfigure itself into a form that you can actually work with.  You can also, instead of this or in addition to it, either pray to God for help in opening up your mind and spiritual perception or ask for the spirit’s help in doing just that, just a touch, so that you can align yourself better with the spirit to perceive it better.
  2. Whether or not you can perceive the spirit, treat it like it’s there regardless.  State aloud what you conjured it for, give it a charge, and issue any requests you wanted to make.  Don’t go crazy and try to do any heavy scrying, pathworking, consecration, or anything like that, but if it’s something simple like intel-gathering or fixing a problem or helping with a situation, keep it clear, concise, and concrete.

Whether you took option #1, option #2, both, or neither, the ritual shouldn’t be outright aborted, but you should proceed to the dismissal of the spirit.  Even if you tried to conjure the spirit and swear that nothing showed up at all, there’s always the chance that something did show up and you just didn’t pick up on it, so as a matter of protocol, you should always give a license to depart.  Proceed with that normally, then wrap up the ritual as normal.

After the ritual, take account of what might have gone wrong.  Was the planetary hour correct?  Did you get the planetary hour right but the planetary day wrong (not that should matter, but it could)?  Was the planet that presides over the spirit maligned, harmed, impedited, or otherwise badly affected in any way?  Is Mercury currently retrograde?  Is the Moon doing something weird, like is it void of course or in the Via Combusta?  Did you not prepare for the ritual appropriately with ablutions, prayers, fasting, and purifications?  Did you use the wrong kind of incense?  Were you wearing anything different?  Did you set up different wards or protections on the temple space than normal?  Were you sick or getting over being sick?  Are you taking any different medications?  Have you made offerings to your ancestors, land spirits, and spirit guides lately?  Try to find out where things might have gone wrong, especially if you have a track record of successful conjurations, and see what can be improved upon in your general approach.

When the Spirit You Get Isn’t the One You Wanted
So you’re doing the conjuration, and you make the prayer of conjuration, and wahey! a spirit shows up.  But something’s off: you don’t get the resonance you expected, the spirit isn’t at all what you thought it would look or are used to it looking, and when proceeding with the questions of authentication, the spirit clearly and unambiguously says that it is certainly not the spirit you explicitly called upon, neither by name nor office nor seal nor nature nor function.  You got a spirit, but it’s not the one you called upon.  Although it’s rare that such a spirit will just randomly pop up in your crystal, it can happen, and has happened to me a very few number of times before as it has to some of my colleagues.  I can’t exactly trace why or under what circumstances—I find that performing conjurations during Mercury’s retrograde periods tends to cause a slightly higher number of weird events when dealing with a ritual that explicitly involves communication, especially when dealing with planets that are on the same level or higher than Mercury itself—but it happens.  So what should we do?

First, ask the spirit who and what it is.  In most occasions, the spirit just ended up there seeing a window of opportunity to hijack the conjuration ritual for their own ends, butting out any other spirit to take their place so as to get your attention.  Be polite and friendly, but don’t exactly be welcoming; after all, they weren’t the one you were calling, and they’re not the ones you invited.  Sometimes such a spirit has a distinct and honest need that you can help resolve, and in so doing, they’ll help you out in return, or they can facilitate other work for you.  Whether or not you agree to do so is up to you.  However you choose to resolve this, at some point, you’ll be done interacting with the interloping spirit.  Proceed to the license to depart and let the spirit go.  If you have sufficient time to do so, begin the conjuration process again starting with the prayers to conjure the spirit you wanted; otherwise, if you don’t have enough time before the chosen planetary hour ends, just wrap up and try again at another time.

It has also happened on at least one occasion I’m aware of that the spirit you got is related, connected, or commissioned to appear on behalf of the spirit whom you were calling.  In other words, the spirit you called didn’t show up, but sent another spirit in their stead to speak and act on their behalf.  Such a spirit would be a messenger or functionary of the one you called upon, a servant who can (usually) fulfill all the needs of the big-name spirit that you wanted.  In effect, so long as the spirit is who they say they are and passes the questions of authentication as such (obtaining their name, seal, and specific office for future reference), the ritual can proceed as expected from there, giving the license to depart to this new spirit.

This latter sort of thing happening, moreover, is probably more expected in the older Solomonic and angelic-conjuration literature, like Liber Juratus Honorii or Heptameron, given how many angels there are under each of the seven big ones for the planets, with all their angels of the air, alternate-primary angels, and the like, and the Secret Grimoire of Turiel itself gives an example of conjuring “Turiel, Coniel, or Babiel”, the messengers of Jupiter, and seeing who popped out, which just so happened to be Turiel.  Although not exactly like the situation described, it does show that, depending on your specific approach to conjuration and the sets of angels or spirits you’re working with, you may well want to focus on subordinate spirits rather than the big-named guys themselves.

When the Spirit You Get Isn’t who They Say They Are
Now we get to something actually problematic: you do the conjuration, you say the prayers, a spirit shows up, and it looks, talks, acts, and feels like what you expect.  Yet, when you proceed with the questions of authentication…something’s wrong.  They falter in their responses; their image goes blurry, distorted, or otherwise disfigured; they hesitate to reply, or give you no reply at all; the replies they give you aren’t at all what you expected, or could even reasonably expect, while still trying to keep up the overall identity of being the spirit you wanted.  It’s evident that the spirit that’s present came in wearing a mask of the spirit you wanted, and their real identity is showing through.  Now what?

Though we should try, as magicians who walk with good character and dignity and grace, to take a light-handed approach to resolve problems whenever possible, there are times when it’s necessary to use heavy-handed solutions to the problems we encounter—but, unless we have good cause to do so, it’s better to never be more forceful than necessary to resolve such a situation.  In this situation, we have a spirit who’s actively lying or deceiving you, and that’s not a great thing because, despite our consecrations and preparations and prayers we’ve made to ensure that such a spirit doesn’t present itself in our crystal, one has still made its way there.

At this point, we need to assert our authority as magicians who operate with the dignity, grace, and light of Divinity and set things back to right.  When a spirit tries to keep up a farce like this, this is where we make use of our wand as not just a representation of power but as a tool of it.  Referencing Agrippa’s method for dealing with spirits of which “you doubt of any lie” (book IV, chapter 12), take the wand and trace either a triangle (the shape of Saturn) or a pentagram (the shape of Mars) over the crystal (not necessarily directly on it, but towards it if you can’t reach it), and issue a command that the spirit be bound into the crystal and sworn to truth by the power of God (use whatever divine names you feel like, but especially both the general divine names as well as the specific ones for those two planets).  With such prayers as might be necessary pulled from other Solomonic literature, you might issue commands to impel the spirit to be truthful and honest and reveal itself in a way comely and appropriate for you; you might likewise recite prayers to God that he shine the divine, all-encompassing Light of Truth into the crystal and obliterate both all darkness and all deception that the spirit’s true form and nature be revealed unto you.  There’s no need to launch a full-out offensive against the spirit, but you do need to figure out who and what the spirit is and why they came into your crystal uninvited.

Once you’ve done so, proceed as before when you got something else you didn’t expect, but don’t be so willing or ready to treat it as an emissary of the spirit you were trying to conjure, unless it comes forward cleanly and honestly, swearing by God and upon your very wand (which you should have pointed directly and steadily at the spirit in the crystal, bounded by the triangle or pentagram you drew, this whole time) that it actually has—and that’s unlikely.  If you feel charitable or think you can put the spirit to work, that’s up to you; interact with it however you judge it best and wisest to do so.  Whenever you’re finished, whether or not you wish to actually work with the interloper, give it the license to depart and send it away.

While you could try to salvage the ritual at this point, starting over again from the prayer of conjuration of the spirit, it might be better to end the ceremony at this point with the proper closing, perform a full banishing of the temple space, sprinkle the crystal and all participants with holy water, and try again at another point in time.

When the Spirit You Get Won’t Swear Their Help to You
So we’re doing the conjuration, we say the prayers as we should, a spirit shows up, it’s behaving and appearing as we expect, it passes the four questions of authentication; so far, so good!  But when we get to the final question:

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

…the spirit says “no”.  Okay, well then.  Well, let’s try something different.

Note that I’ve changed this question from the original final question of authentication from DSIC, which went almost identically:

Wilt thou swear by the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou art truly NN.?

In other words, the original DSIC question only served to make the spirit swear that they were who they said they were; my version makes them swear that they are who they say they are and that they have come to help us in alignment with our goals.  I made this change specifically to correct what I felt was an oversight in DSIC that I think Fr. AC went too far with in GTSC by getting a full and formal oath sworn by the spirit that they come both honestly and helpfully.

So, let’s assume the spirit doesn’t agree to the combined identity-and-purpose oath we’re putting to them.  In this case, ask instead something that falls along the lines of the original DSIC oath (updated for modernity):

Do you swear by the blood and righteousness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you are truly NN. as you say you are?

If the spirit says “yes” to that, then good!  We’re making progress, and we still have some sort of oath that we can rely upon them by!  In that case, they came honestly, but they didn’t come for your sake or for the purposes that you called them for.  In other words, they showed up, but it’s not because of you.  This is a case where you need to proceed carefully, and ask humbly and reverently why they have come if not to help you as you have called them.  They could be on a particular assignment, mission, or task that involves you, or that your needs that you wanted to call them for are not legitimate in their eyes or the eyes of God.  Listen, inquire, and learn from them.  Continue the conjuration under these circumstances, and when done, close out the conjuration as normal.

But let’s say that the spirit doesn’t, won’t, or can’t swear by even the simple oath of just their identity.  Just as Fr. AC says, I too have never found a legitimate spirit hesitate to swear this or otherwise affirm it, but it can happen that this spirit just…won’t.  This, above and beyond any of the other questions, is the final and ultimate test of authentication.  If they can’t or won’t swear this, then they’re not the spirit you wanted, and are a spirit that’s just exceptionally good at deceiving you.  Fall back to the previous situation on what to do when the spirit you get isn’t who they say they are.

When the Spirit Just Won’t Leave
Now we get to a fun situation.  We’re in the ritual, we’ve said the prayers, we called down the spirit, the spirit is who they said they are, they’ve sworn their identity and their assistance to us, and we’ve had a grand old time communing with them and doing whatever it is we wanted to do with them.  Now, our time has come to an end, and we give them the license to depart…but they don’t.  Like, they’re still absolutely there.  They’re still present, notably and perceptibly present, above and beyond just residual echoes of their power and presence.  They can still respond to questions and commands—just, apparently, not your wish that they leave.  And you can’t properly close the ritual until they do.

Depending on the nature of the spirit, you can take different approaches.  If it’s something cosmic, celestial, angelic, and otherwise a “good spirit”, which is what many people use DSIC for, they’re almost never going to linger so forcefully like this, but there is a chance that they could.  In this case, though you might have finished your business with them, they haven’t finished their business with you.  Talk with them, investigate why they haven’t left when invited to, figure out what unfinished business might still need to be taken care of.  Let them have the ball for a bit, and let them explain themselves and whatever they need to let you know or do.  Heed it, agree to it (if reasonable) or work something out (if unreasonable), and then, once all is said and done, and that you’ve confirmed that everything is said and done, give the license to depart again.  So long as everything is, in fact, said and done, they’re not going to stay; once they’ve gone, then you can properly close down the ritual.

But if the spirit is of a different sort—something chthonic, terrestrial, demonic, necromantic, or the like—then you can certainly try the above as well; that’s still recommended!  But maybe they just don’t wanna leave, punk.  Maybe they like it here and find your temple a cozy place to be, and everything will all be fine, so long as you don’t kick them out.  It’s fine, go ahead and close down the ritual, everything’ll be fine.  Right?  Wrong.  Remember that, as the magician, you are to be in control of your rituals and ceremonies, and when you invite spirits to stay for a bit, it’s only for a bit, and they need to go when you ask them to.  If they don’t, then you need to make them go.

You can try a similar approach above with when the spirit you get isn’t who they say they are, drawing a triangle or pentagram upon the crystal and getting their forced agreement to leave.  You can issue commands of exorcism or banishing (the exorcism of the spirits of the air from the Heptameron, or the curse of the Lemegeton Goetia) combined with burning offensive incenses compounded of pepper, sulfur, pine, and the like to cast them out.  You could use a variant of the Bond of Solomon from the Munich Manual to force them to leave, basically constraining them anew (as you did similarly when you conjured them), except this time getting them to leave.  You could perform any number of rituals, ceremonies, or the like to get them to leave; I’ll remind you, too, dear reader, that the Headless Rite was itself originally a ritual of exorcism.

However, be careful when you pull out any sort of big gun or big stick (or even when using your wand as one), because things can get dangerous rather quickly.  For that reason, before you engage with spirits that could (or at least are more likely to) cause you problems, it’s recommended that you gain the oaths, support, induction, and blessing of the more benefic cosmic spirits (i.e. the seven planetary angels) before engaging with, say, goetic kings or princes or the like.  It’s also helpful—probably beyond literally anything and everything else—to have some sort of connection forged with your holy guardian angel, agathodaimōn, or supernatural assistant to help uplift and assist you, both in this and in all magical works.  You may also want to consider having a secondary lamen, such as the pentacle of Solomon from the Heptameron or the Secret Grimoire of Turiel, either worn separately, upon your girdle/belt/scarf, kept covered until as needed in such a rough situation, or have it drawn or affixed to the back of the lamen of the spirit you’re conjuring.  It might take more time and effort to be so prepared, but you’ll never complain if you are when you need to be.


Even though DSIC is a fairly straightforward and simple ritual of conjuration, there are a surprising number of moving parts to it, and though we don’t expect things to go wrong, things still can and do.  While we can’t account for everything that can possibly go wrong for every possible magician that uses it, we can at least note a few of the more common issues that can arise and have a set of procedures—or at least some notions or ideas—on how to either fix the conjuration or salvage it so that we don’t end up any worse than we did going into the conjuration.

At this point, there’s really not much left to talk about, but there is one topic that I know many people (including myself) would like to see discussed more.  As has been seen, DSIC is very much a product of Western Renaissance occulture, which were universally written with either pseudo-Jewish language, Christian language, or both.  But what if it weren’t?  We’ll talk about that next time.

Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do for Non-Angelic 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 discussed what to do once the spirit has shown up in the conjuration ritual and temple space.  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

The conjuration ritual of DSIC, it would seem, has been used chiefly for conjuring and working with angelic spirits, specifically those of the seven planets (regardless of what names you call them by depending on the specific source you’re working from).  This is both how Fr. RO uses his version of DSIC in the Gates texts of the Green Work section of RWC as well as in the subsequent SS book he put out, and is also the focus of GTSC by Fr. AC.  The DSIC text itself suggests that working with the planetary angels is its primary purpose, as it gives a list of planetary hours and their associated seven planetary angels at the end, and the ritual script of DSIC is written to use Michael of the Sun as the main example, using Michael’s name in the conjuration as well as a lamen of Michael of the Sun and a magic circle to be used with the seal of Michael of the Sun.  It also says, towards the start of the ritual text (my own emphasis in bold text):

And forasmuch as thy servant here standing before thee, oh, Lord! desires neither evil treasures, nor injury to his neighbour, nor hurt to any living creature, grant him the power of descrying those celestial spirits or intelligences, that may appear in this crystal

In what time thou wouldest deal with the spirits by the table and crystal, thou must observe the planetary hour; and whatever planet rules in that hour, the angel governing the planet thou shalt call in the manner following

for all celestial operations, the more pure and unmixed they are, the more they are agreable to the celestial spirits

Yet, the ritual text also suggests that spirits other than angels can be called upon in the ritual, too (again, my emphasis in bold text):

…and thou, oh inanimate creature of God, be sanctified and consecrated, and blessed to this purpose, that no evil phantasy may appear in thee; or, if they do gain ingress into this creature, they may be constrained to speak intelligibly, and truly, and without the least ambiguity, for Christ’s sake…

…that forthwith thou cast away every phantasm from thee, that no hurt whatsoever shall be done in any thing…

In the name of the blessed Trinity, I consecrate this piece of ground for our defence; so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here

Now, this being done in the order prescribed, 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

Now the most pure and simple way of calling the spirits or spirit is by a short oration to the spirit himself…

“In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I do desire thee, thou strong mighty angel, Michael, [Or any other angel or spirit] …

There’s also the fact that the text consistently refers to the thing being conjured is almost always “spirit”, far more rarely “angel”, even in the title of the text itself (“The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals”).  It is true that, yes, angels are definitely a kind of spirit, and the words “spirit” and “angel” can be used interchangeably when discussing an angelic text—but not all spirits are angels.  And although some of the references to “evil phantasms” or “evil spirits” above should properly be considered exorcisms to ensure the purity, sanctity, and protection of both the implements, elements, and participants in the ritual, it does suggest that DSIC can flirt more with “evil spirits” (as Agrippa might call them in his Fourth Book, as opposed to “good spirits” like angels or other celestial entities) than might be readily apparent.

The usual approach to using DSIC is to work with angels—usually the planetary angels from Agrippa or the Heptameron, as Fr. RO and Fr. AC do, but even including the Olympic Spirits from the Arbatel as I’ve often seen done, especially but not only by Fr. Acher in his Arbatel essays on Theomagica.  In this sense, DSIC can be considered a way to flesh out Agrippa’s conjuration method of “good spirits” (book IV, chapter 10), but DSIC doesn’t strictly implement what Agrippa says there.  Instead, DSIC seems to be an amalgam of Agrippa’s methods of working with both “good spirits” as well as “evil spirits” (book IV, chapters 12 and following), and in that light, further fleshes out what Agrippa says with the techniques and tools of the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano.  It’s also interesting to note that, in the 1655 English translation by Robert Turner, there’s an introduction to this entry that was included with Agrippa’s Fourth Book et al. that says that the Heptameron was specifically included to flesh out what Agrippa had written about such conjurations:

In the former book, which is the fourth book of Agrippa, it is sufficiently spoken concerning Magical Ceremonies, and Initiations.

But because he seems to have written to the learned and well-experienced in this art, because he does not specially treat of the Ceremonies but rather speaks of them in general, it was therefore thought good to add hereunto the Magical Elements of Peter de Abano: that those who are hitherto ignorant and have not tasted of Magical Superstitions may have them in readiness [and] how they may exercise themselves therein…

As we’ve shown at multiple points throughout this series of posts, DSIC is very much a combination of theurgic invocation and communion with “good spirits” as much as it is a Solomonic conjuration of “evil spirits”.  In that light, DSIC should be able to work with “evil spirits”—demons from various goetic texts, non-angelic entities like genii locorum, and the like—as much as it works with “good spirits”.  And there’s nothing, strictly speaking, that says you can’t do just that, or that DSIC as written would be insufficient for such works with them.  After all, we pointed out in the actual ritual script that some descriptors, adjectives, keywords, and names can be changed to suit not just any angel of any planetary or stellar sphere, but to chthonic, terrestrial, or other spirits, as well.  However, as DSIC says, “the most pure and simple way of calling the spirits or spirit is by a short oration to the spirit himself”, and though the prayer used in the Conjuration of the Spirit from DSIC is written in a sufficiently general way to be used for all spirits, we can replace this with prayers that are specifically geared to specific spirits.

First, a note about those prayers for conjuration.  The DSIC text uses three prayers to conjure a spirit, which we had as follows from our script writeup:

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

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

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

Fr. AC in GTSC breaks these out into three separate prayers, with only the first one required no matter what, the second one to be used if the spirit does not immediately show after saying the first, and the third one to be used if the spirit still does not show up after saying the second.  These effectively “spur the spirit to arrive to your altar quicker”, and does fall in line with many Solomonic texts that give subsequent calls for the spirit to arrive if they delay, tarry, or otherwise don’t show up at first.  I can see Fr. AC’s logic in separating these prayers out this way, but I prefer to treat them all as a single “unit” of prayer.  The main thing that keeps me from agreeing with Fr. AC’s approach of these prayers as subsequent “spurs” to the spirit is that, typically, Solomonic rituals typically increase these subsequent prayers with stronger language, threats, intimidation, and acts such as revealing pentacles, holding knives in fire, and the like.  In other words, we first ask nicely, but we drop niceness in favor of business, cordial then serious then mafia-style rough, as we need to make sure we get our way.  DSIC does nothing of the sort here, and I don’t read or interpret that last part of the conjuration prayer as any more threatening or intimidating than the first.  I recommend all three be read as a unit.

So, let’s say we want to vary the prayer for specific spirits.  Let’s start with one that’s dear to my heart: the natal genius.  This is a spirit—generally considered angelic and typically of a solar order given its association with one’s life though not necessarily solar in and of itself—who I consider to be the spirit that represents the “idea” of our incarnation in the world, the angel (or a spirit close enough to one) into whose lap we fall into as their ward in the process of our birth.  Agrippa describes this as one entity of the “threefold keeper of man” (book III, chapter 22), and whose name can be derived in any number of ways, though I prefer the method described later on (book III, chapter 26) of deriving the name from the letters associated with the degrees of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Part of Fortune, and Prenatal Syzygy points of one’s natal horoscope.  Contact with this spirit is great for learning more about one’s proper place and work in life, and though I don’t consider it equivalent to one’s holy guardian angel or supernatural assistant, they can share some of the same functions.  When I work with this spirit, especially for the first formal conjuration, I use the following prayer instead of the DSIC generic conjuration prayer after the circle is traced and the incense is set to burn:

O spirit NN., I conjure you in the holy name of YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath, in the name of the Logos, in the name of the Holy Guardian Angel!  Come now to this place and appear before me, speak with me, commune with me that I may have the benefit of your direct guidance.

O NN., you who were one with the Logos at the dawn of time, you who are Logos to me now, you who created Heaven and Earth for me, you who has watched over me from the moment of my birth, you who has called me to perform this ritual here and now!  I conjure you to appear before me.  I am XX., child of YY.  You have called me and I am here.  You have led me to this place and brought about all that has transpired in my life to be here calling to you now.  Come now and appear before me in the name of YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath.  I conjure you, o NN.; appear before me here and now!

In this prayer, “NN.” is the name of the natal genius, “XX.” is your own name, and “YY.” is your mother’s name (I like using matronyms in magic operations of this nature).  Note that we’re calling on the spirit specifically in the name of “YHVH Eloah v’Da`ath”, a qabbalistic name associated with Tiphereth and thus of the Sun.  Also, I want to say that I got this prayer from Fr. RO’s RWC, but I cannot for the life of me find it in any of the texts no matter how hard I try.  It might have come from his blog, one of the posts in the mailing list for RWC, or another source of his, but I swear that I didn’t come up with this prayer out of the ether.  (If anyone familiar with his sources, or related ones, can point me in the right direction as to where I got this prayer from, I’d be deeply appreciative.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t write this prayer myself.)

However, there’s another specific conjuration prayer that I do know Fr. RO gave earlier in the Black Work part of RWC, and that’s a conjuration of a genius loci, the spirit of a particular place, especially those centered or linked to a particular river, stone, tree, mountain, home, or the like.  From the third Black Work lesson, Fr. RO describes a much pared-down conjuration ritual, foregoing the usual formalities of candles, circles, and incense, and skipping ahead directly to the conjuration itself, incorporating a libation and offering of food and drink to be poured out and scattered at the specific points indicated in the prayer.  At this point, having brought the genius loci into the crystal with the offerings laid out, you’d then engage in communion with the spirit as usual, learning about the spirit, its name, seal, and so forth.  At the end, a pared-down license to depart is used, using the name of the genius formally for the first time, based only loosely on that of DSIC:

O spirit of [land, tree, river, community, &c.], come to me!  I call upon you by the four angels of the corners of the world, by Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel!  I call upon you by the four kings of the world, by Oriens, Egyn, Paimon, and Amaymon!  Come now and receive this offering of [drink].  Come now and receive this offering of [food].  Come now and appear before me in this crystal, that we may speak and understand each other.

NN., I thank you for coming.  Return to me when I call you by name and by seal, come quickly from wherever you may be, and let there be mutual peace and prosperity between us until the end of our days.

Though Agrippa would probably take issue with Fr. RO’s approach, Agrippa would also probably take issue with DSIC itself.  Just as DSIC plays pretty loose and fast with what Agrippa describes in the Fourth Book, so too is Fr. RO playing loose and fast with DSIC.  Yet—as I can myself attest—this method of working with genii locorum can and does work!  In retrospect, however, I would recommend going through a more formal process that more closely resembles Agrippa’s method of working with “evil spirits” (circle, incense, no triangle or crystal), or eschew it all in favor of a more direct, diplomatic approach of approaching the spirit of a place without any conjuration at all, but just making devotional offerings and getting to know the spirit on their own terms.  Fr. RO, as I interpret it, was introducing people who were brand new to the notion of working with spirits using simple tools and spirits nearby them without them doing a full conjuration yet, but working up towards it later.

Then there’s Fr. RO’s other text, Modern Goetic Grimoire, which he (like the rest of his ebooks) no longer sells but (unlike the rest of his ebooks) I neither share nor bring up at length, especially because the man is heading towards publishing it formally in a new and revised version.  In his (earlier?) approach to goetia, Fr. RO used a hybrid approach that combined some of the tools and techniques from the Lemegeton Goetia with DSIC, replacing the DSIC magic circle with the one from the Lemegeton, incorporating the pentagram-style pentacle of Solomon to be on the reverse of the seal of the spirit (made in the Lemegeton-style instead of the Agrippa-style lamen), and using a generally DSIC approach to setting up the conjuration ritual but replacing the actual prayer of conjuration with one styled heavily after the first conjuration of the Lemegeton Goetia (the one using the names Beralanensis, Baldachiensis, Paumachia, and Apologia Sedes).  Because the Lemegeton Goetia and Heptameron are both Solomonic texts that share very closely-related forms of this prayer, and because the DSIC is itself a derivative of the Heptameron, one could easily use the Heptameron prayer (either as it is or in an altered form) to conjure “evil spirits” in the sense of demons like those found in goetic texts.  While I won’t share Fr. RO’s version of the prayer, this is one that I think follows a little more closely with the Heptameron while still being true to the DSIC format.  Using NN. for the name of the spirit to be conjured:

In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, by Beralanens and Baldachiens and Paumachia and the seats of Apologia, by the most mighty kings and powers, by the mightiest kings and strongest powers, by the most powerful princes, by the Spirit of Liachida, o you minister of the Tartarean seat!  Hear me, o NN.!

O chief prince of the seat of Apologia in the ninth legion, I desire you and call upon you, o NN., by the power of Almighty God, by the will of Him who is called Tetragrammaton … the holy God, the Father, He to whom all creatures fall obedient, that you come forth here to this place and now to this time, taking your place to appear visibly before me in this crystal, taking upon yourself a peaceful, visible, affable, and comely form.

Come forth, o NN., in the name of God whose mighty and true Name—YHVH—being resounded makes the elements to be overthrown, the winds to shake, the sea to recede, the fire to be quenched, the earth to tremble, and all spirits above the Earth, upon the Earth, and under the Earth cower in fear and confusion!

Come forth, o NN., without delay, quickly, quickly, immediately, immediately, from wherever you may be, from any part of the world, from whatever form or nature you take, in the name of the true and living God—Helioren—that you might manifest and reveal to me that which I desire, answering my demands in as far as I shall not transgress the bounds of divine Mercy and Goodness by requesting unlawful knowledge.

Come forth, o NN., and stay not where you are, delay not for any cause, doing nothing but coming to me to assist me in my desires and needs, in the name of the Lord God—Bachac rushing upon Abrac, Abeor over Aberor—all for the glory and honor of His divine Majesty, He who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.

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

O Lord, by Your Name have I called NN.; suffer him to administer unto me, that no iniquity be done and all harm flee from me, so that all things in Heaven and on Earth may work together for Your honor and glory, to whom with You the Son and the Holy Spirit be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion.  Amen.

This is my own mishmash of the Heptameron conjuration prayers of such spirits—with my own modifications to structure and grammar—put into the same overall framework as the DSIC conjuration prayer.  Of course, incorporating such prayers for such spirits might be a bit too much for a pure-DSIC approach to handle, so I would still recommend that either you use the the pentacle of Solomon (either hexagram-style or pentagram-style, though I would recommend using the hexagram-style) on the reverse of the lamen of the spirit to be called in this way, as well as having offensive incenses compounded of peppers and sulfur and the like.  Just in case things go wrong.

Now, I don’t mean to limit DSIC to working with just angels, demons, or spirits of the land; the format of DSIC is solid enough, grounded in Agrippa-style theurgy and Solomonic-style conjuration (though sometimes coming across as confused as to which it wants to be or do more of), to be used for truly any kind of spirit.  While the specific conjuration prayer used by DSIC is phrased generally enough to be used for any kind of spirit, we can play around a bit with modifying it or replacing it with other prayers that are specifically geared to specific kinds of spirit or even to specific spirits themselves.  In doing so, we begin a process of reincorporating DSIC into a more traditionally-Solomonic milieu or take it further away into a more animist, theurgic, or other style of approaching and working with spirits.  The above examples show that DSIC can be altered in just such a way—but they are only just a few examples that show what can be done, not to indicate the limits of what could be done.  Other spirits that don’t fall into the categories above should have their own prayers written specifically for them; heck, even specific angels themselves could have their own specific prayers used to conjure them, if one so chooses.

I mentioned at the end of the goetic-style DSIC conjuration prayer that maybe we should include a few other things in the ritual, like proper pentacles and offensive incenses and whatnot, just in case things go wrong or when a stronger arm is needed than might otherwise be desired.  Hopefully it doesn’t have to come to this, but…well, what if they do?  DSIC doesn’t tell you what to do for backup plans or contingencies, nor does it give you any “plan B” for when things don’t go as you expect.  We’ll talk about that next time.