Clarifications on Terms for Symbols

It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people badly use terms in an occult context.  To be fair, different traditions may use certain terms in particular ways that are specific to that particular tradition, which may or may not differ from normal use.  Other groups treat some terms completely interchangeably when, strictly speaking, the terms signify different things.  Generally, however, there’s not much rigor in how people use specific terms, and end up misusing them (through their own ignorance and confusion) or abusing them (to intentionally mislead or annoy others).  I’d like to clear up a few things and offer some of my definitions for particular terms used in an occult context, this time focusing specifically on terms used for different types of symbols.

For any of these terms, “symbol” is the highest-level term I can think of for any of these following terms.   If you’re not sure what kind of symbol a particular thing is, just say “symbol”.  Everyone understands that.  Not everyone understands what a particular person means by “sigil” or “rune”, however.  Granted, these words are given with my personal definitions, and again, may not be those used by other traditions.  However, for the sake of having a regular inventory of words with specific, unambiguous meanings, here’s how I use these particular things.

Glyphs are symbols used to indicate a basic thought or sound.  In other words, a glyph is much like a written-down word.  Individual letters communicate sounds; individual numerals communicate numbers; individual Chinese characters communicate sounds or concepts or words; the glyphs for the planets, zodiac signs, elements, and alchemical concepts communicate those things and only those things.  Glyphs are essentially a generalized notion of a letter in an alphabet; they are characters in a writing system that includes letters, numbers, punctuation,  labels, and so forth.  Glyphs may or may not be used in an occult context; for instance, these words you’re reading right now are composed of glyphs (letters and punctuation of the English alphabet), but so is an astrological chart (the symbols used to denote the planets and Zodiac signs) or a computer science textbook (punctuation and numerals and diagrams to indicate logical connections or mathematical operations).  Glyphs may be used one at a time (using the symbol for the Sun) or in combination with other glyphs (multiple letters to spell out a name).

Seals are symbols that are invented as a complete unit or are received from a spirit.  Seals cannot be decomposed into more basic things, but are a whole unto themselves.  They are symbols that are not generated according to a particular rule or composed according to sacred geometry.  They are simply abstract symbols that refer to something.  Importantly, especially in my own work, seals are “revealed” or given unto someone by a spirit or person to refer to themselves; seals are an abstract “body” to give an idea a graphical or visual form.  Consider the symbols used to refer to spirits in the Lemegeton Goetia; these are not composed of more base units or other symbols, but are whole things unto themselves.  These are seals, and often have no origin besides “this is what I was shown to use and has no rhyme or reason beyond that”.  Seals are to constructed diagrams what barbarous words of power are to words in the dictionary; they may not have any communicable meaning that us humans can understand, but they work.

Sigils are symbols that are constructed according to a particular algorithm.  Think of the standard way of creating a letter-based sigil according to Agrippa (book III, chapter 30) or as used in modern chaos magic, or like with my own shorthand system.  Alternatively, consider the sigils used for the planets with their planetary intelligences and spirits from Agrippa (book II, chapter 22), which are lines drawn over the qameas of particular planets and playing connect-the-dots with the gematria values of individual letters of a name or word.  Sigils are symbols created according to a defined set of rules (combine these letters, connect these numbers on this qamea, etc.).  They are not always artistically made, although the algorithms used to generate a sigil may have some leeway for style and innovation.  A painting may incorporate sigils, but a sigil is not made of pictures; a sigil is a geometric, abstract form composed or generated from glyphs.

Runes are letters of the writing systems used for Germanic languages prior to the introduction of the Roman script.  In other words, runes are no more than letters of a particularly old style of European alphabet.  These can be classified, generally speaking, into two families: the Scandinavian futhark (both Elder and Younger, together used between the 2nd and 11th centuries) and the Anglo-Saxon futhorc.  There were medieval runes used in some astrological contexts, but generally runes stayed out of Hermetic and Western ceremonial stuff.  However, a particular alphabet known as Darlecarlian runes was in use until the 20th century in a small province in Sweden, but this was certainly the exception to the historical abandonment of runic writing.  There are other systems of writing and symbols that are runiform, such as Old Turkic and Old Hungarian, but these bear only a superficial resemblance to Germanic runes, and are not technically runes on their own as they belong to a different writing system, culture, and geographic area.

Pentagrams are five-pointed stars.  That’s it.  Nothing more than that.  You can only really draw a pentagram one way, regardless of orientation.

Hexagrams are six-pointed stars . Again, nothing special here, but there’s a bit more complexity.  The Star of David is nothing more than a hexagram composed of two overlapping equilateral triangles, which is what’s usually meant by “hexagram”.  The unicursal hexagram is another type, though it’s not original to Crowley by any means; the mathematician Blaise Pascal depicts it in one of his works from 1639.  The “elemental hexagrams” shown in the Key of Solomon (book I, chapter 3) are not, strictly speaking, hexagrams (with the exception of one); they are configurations of two triangles each that do not, necessary, combine to form a proper hexagon.

Pentacles are not stars.  They are not necessarily pentagrams, nor are they necessarily hexagrams.  Pentacles are more of a system of symbols that work together in unison for a particular goal; they are something usually, but not always, more elaborate than a sigil and are not necessarily combined in an algorithmic way.  Consider the pentacles from the Key of Solomon (book I, chapter 18), or the Elemental Weapon of the Earth as used in the Golden Dawn, or the protective lamen with the pentagram and extra symbols used in the Lemegeton Goetia, or that used in the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano.  Pentacles are, essentially, the physical version of a graphic design composed of one or more symbols, often including letters and names, and arranged in a method more akin to sacred geometry than algorithmic combining or tracing.  Pentacles are tangible objects, things you can hold and touch and wear.  All pentacles are talismans, although not all talismans are pentacles.  For instance, a talisman engraved in a circular stone may have the design of a fish surrounded by Hebrew words can be considered a pentacle, but a talisman of a stone fish with words engraved on it is not a pentacle.  Pentacles are generally round, flat objects such as a circular piece of paper or a metal disc that have a design engraved, painted, drawn, or otherwise inscribed upon it as a graphic design of a system of symbols.  Pentacles are not oddly-shaped things like carved statues or rings or wands, despite its talismanic properties or designs on them.  Although the words “pentacle” and “pentagram” are related and were originally used interchangeably, the word “pentacle” started to be used for any magical talisman in the form of a pentagram or hexagram starting in medieval French.  An alternate etymology combines this with an older French word for pendant, pentacol or pendacol, or something worn around the neck.  Indeed, most pentacles are typically worn around the neck as lamens, which is probably the most correct use of this word in my opinion, but can easily be expanded to other (typically circular and flat) objects with a system of magical symbols inscribed upon it.

Tetragrammaton (more properly the Tetragrammaton) is another word for the four-letter name of God, Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh or Yahweh or Jehovah or whatnot.  The word is Greek and literally means “the thing of four letters”.  It is a title to refer to the sacred name of God, akin to the Hebrew haShem “the Name”, but is often used in Hermetic and Solomonic work as itself as a sacred name of God.  However, this is nothing more than a word composed of individual letters; the word “Tetragrammaton” does not refer to any pentacle or other occult design.

Search Term Shoot Back, August 2015

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of August 2015.

“how do we summon spirit astaroth to appear physically” — Carefully.  Summoning a spirit, whether to physical manifestation or just to spiritual presence, is no joke, and takes a lot of practice, study, and dedication.  Summoning a spirit to physical manifestation is even less of a joke and something that, as I see it, is nearly never necessary.  It’s all well and good if you can pull it off, but I see it as a kind of bragging right if you can do it; it requires strict fasting, serious self-empowerment, a good relationship with the spirit, intent focus on the ritual, and a huge expense of energy that…honestly, most people can’t afford and have no need to spend.  If you can do it, great!  If not, don’t worry.  So long as you can bring them in enough contact so you can communicate and perceive them, you’re doing what you need to do.  Anything more is cool.

“big cork anal prison” — Nope.

“runes that look like sigils” — I’m not sure what your idea of “sigil” means here.  To me, a sigil is a symbol that refers to some concept, word, name, entity, or intent that has been graphically encoded through a mechanical means, such as through a qamea sigil or a sigil wheel or simple combination of letters.  Seals, on the other hand, are symbols that refer to some concept, word, etc. that are obtained or revealed directly from a spirit, and are not generated through any conscious process.  Many people use the terms interchangeably, though I find the distinction helpful in my work.  So, sigils can take many forms, but runes are more or less fixed with a few variations based on era and geographic origin.  Perhaps you mean the system of bindrunes, a ligature (or, I suppose, letter-combination sigil) of two or more runes?

“crystal ball uses” — Crystal balls have many uses, and some of their more common uses are seen everywhere in our culture.  However, I’d like to go over some of the more arcane uses that only the most dedicated crystal users might consider applying crystal balls for, as it’s not always apparent how to do so.  Paperweight.  Decoration in a fountain.  Regift for a new age friend.  Drain stopper.  Candle snuffer.  Meat tenderizer.  Foot/back massager.  Game piece.  Cosplay costume component.  Laser light scatterer.  Blunt trauma weapon.  Anal bead/ben-wa ball.  Body modification implant.  Dough spreader.

“oil lamps less soot” — I wrote a post on how to use oil lamps for great effect in home and ritual, but a few points probably need restating for clarity.  There are several ways you can use an oil lamp with less soot: trim the wick before using it so that all the worst charred parts of it are removed, keep the wick low enough so that you have a big enough flame without it trying to use too much fuel at once, use a clean and pure wick made of natural cellulose or linen with no chemical additives, use clean and pure oil with few chemical (natural or artificial) additives.  Mineral oil tends to be good, but that’s because it tends to be pretty neutral in most respects, as well; olive oil would produce some soot due to its natural compounds, but the higher grade the oil, the better quality flame you’ll get.

“how should fiery wall of protection oil be applied to home” — Different traditions and practices will tell you different things, and even within a tradition, you may have different ways to apply oil for different oils.  For me, I apply Fiery Wall of Protection oil in a small cross on every threshold or lintel in the house: everywhere there’s a gate, doorway, or windowsill that leads to another room or to the outside, I put the oil towards the top and center of that threshold.  If I’m going all out, I’ll also anoint all doorknobs, latches, air vents, drains, and the like just to cover every possible means of ingress or egress from the house.  Alternatively, you could use a five-spot pattern (a dab on each corner and once in the middle) on every window and door, or anoint four large iron spikes (railroad spikes are perfect) and nail them into the ground at the four corners of your house.  The possibilities are endless!

“working with seals of iupiter in virgo” — Assuming you’re working with the Pentacles of Jupiter from the Key of Solomon (book I, chapter 18), I’d go with the consecration instructions given for each pentacle.  Mind you, Jupiter is weak in Virgo (detriment), as he’s opposite his domicile sign of Pisces, so Jupiter isn’t particularly happy about being there.  However, if the pentacle was well-made at a time good for it (day and hour of Jupiter at a minimum), then I’d think it’d be good to use whenever with little change in effect otherwise.  Thus, I wouldn’t want to make anything particularly under the planet Jupiter while he’s in Virgo, unless I really needed his specific influence where no other planet or means of obtaining something could work; in other words, unless it’s an emergency that only Jupiter and nothing else can fix, I’ll probably look elsewhere for help.  The same goes for any Jupiterian working.  Mind you, Jupiter spends just under a year, give or take a few weeks, in each sign.

“how do you spell your name in angelic script?” — First, note that nearly all forms of “angelic script” tend to be different 1-to-1 ciphers (or “fonts”) of Hebrew script; Celestial Hebrew, Malachim, Passing the River, and Paracelsus’ Magi script all follow this trend.  Thus, although these might be considered alphabets, they follow the same rules and have the same number of letters as Hebrew does.  To that end, you’d want to first learn how to spell your name in Hebrew, then use your preferred angelic script.  The big exception to this is Enochian, which was transmitted to John Dee and, although it claims to be an original proto-Hebrew Adamic language, follows the same rules as English spelling and grammar of his day.  However, Enochiana, although technically angelic, tends to be in a whole different field than the rest of the angelic stuff, and may not correspond semantically to other types of angelic work.

“ancient human giant cocks” — As I like to say, there’s nothing new under the sun; I claim that humanity has been pretty much the same today since the dawn of civilization or the dawn of language, if not the dawn of humanity itself some 60,000 years ago.  Sure, we have newer things to play with, complicated systems we’ve engineered, and a variety of abstract philosophies to lose ourselves in, but we’re still fundamentally the same.  This goes for penis size, too; I can’t seem to find any information on historical penis size, but I assume they’re more or less the same size today as they were for ancient humans.  If anything, penis sizes are probably, on average, larger today than they were in earlier eras; several cultures of the past considered smaller penises to be ideal, as they’d cause less vaginal/anal stretching and, thus, less tearing in sensitive tissue, which would lead to fewer rates of infection; similarly, huge cocks were something reserved for the gods, and even then, only in a sense of comical debauchery or intimidation (cf. guardposts with an ithyphallic Pan).  As we’ve gotten better about hygienic practices, internal tearing due to getting on a huge dick hasn’t been as much a concern, so there’s a little more bias now towards going for guys with bigger cocks, and if that’s genetic, then there’s a slight evolutionary trend for more well-endowed guys.

“how to conjure smaller angels” — Use a smaller triangle.

“what do occultists think of the kybalion” — Different occultists will give you different opinions.  Some occultists love it for its own virtue, some love it because it’s a “gateway text” that gets people into heavier and more interesting forms of occultism.  I personally detest the thing and would rather see all copies of it used for toilet paper.  It’s not Hermetic, despite what it claims, as its points and “axioms” are distinctly modern, and instead have its origins in the 19th century New Thought movement.  All of its major points and cosmological theories are either derived from modern New Thought stuff, or are only tangentially and convolutedly connected to actual Hermetic teachings.  I honestly find it to be a waste of paper and ink, and as its usually one of the first texts newbies encounter in the occult (for one unfortunate reason or another), it can lead to some really messed up ideas that ill-prepare them for serious education in Hermeticism.

“how to bless my pentacle in santeria” — Oh, honey.  You are doing everything so wrong.  You don’t; further, you don’t even, do you?  Because I can’t.

Search Term Shoot Back, February 2015

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of February 2015.

“saturn%25252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252bsabbath” — Oh really, now?  I’m not sure why you’re using the % sign so much in that query (%25 is a common way to represent the % sign itself in some encodings), but…I mean, Saturn is in a little bit of everything, Hermetically speaking, so yes, you could represent how closely something is associated with Saturn as a percentage?  I guess?

“where does wiccan writing come from” — You likely mean the Theban alphabet.  This script was adopted at some point by people in Wicca, though I’m not sure when or why.  It was given as a magical writing system for the Roman script by Agrippa (book III, chapter 29), and we find this same script appear in Johann Trithemius’s Polygraphia, which makes sense as Trithemius was Agrippa’s mentor.  However, this script predates Trithemius, originating in alchemical cipher scripts of medieval and Renaissance Europe.  Trithemius claims that it started with Honorius of Thebes (yes, the same one after whom the Sworn Book of Honorius is named after) “as given by Pietro d’Abano”, though d’Abano gives no such reference.  There are some theories that the Theban writing system was loosely based on Georgian script or Ethiopian script, though these still seem far-fetched to my mind.

“hermetic how consecrate a orisha” — You don’t.  End of.  Orisha are not part of the Hermetic tradition; they’re part of the African diasporic religions that originate in Yoruba culture and mixed with European Christian saint veneration and American indigenous traditions, like Cuban (Santeria) or Brazilian (Candomble).  If you want to consecrate a vessel for an orisha, you’ll need to be part of those traditions, which keep those methods and tools as secret mysteries one has to be initiated into.  If you want to approach an orisha on your own, you can do that in a way not unlike calling a Greek or Roman god or a planetary power, but you’d do best to approach them in the way they’re traditionally called.  Go to your local botanica or ile to ask more.  Besides, the Hermetic tradition is jam-packed with spirits of all kinds, types, names, and histories all their own.  It’s a complete system and framework for approaching the cosmos, and even though it can incorporate or understand other traditions from within itself, there really is no need to borrow so liberally from other traditions just because you want an exotic flavor in your own work.

“what happens when you summon hermes” — I wouldn’t know, since I don’t make it a habit to summon or conjure gods.  I invoke them and call upon them and invite them to be with me or to help me, but I don’t conjure them in the way I conjure an angel.  That seems presumptuous of me, especially since Hermes is usually pretty busy and comes at his leisure and choice rather than my forceful summons.

“what spirit should be my first conjuration?” — Personally, I suggest a spirit close to you.  Land spirits of places you frequent often, such as a park or an office building, or even your own home, are fantastic.  Ancestor spirits and people from whom you’re descended are also easy to come in contact with, and being their progeny, you already have an in with them that makes for an easy contact.  If you want to go with angels, I suggest Uriel, not just because Uriel was the first angel I went with, but because Uriel is the angelic king associated with Earth, and thus the angel closest to humanity and the world we live in.  The important thing is to not reach too far, but to pick something easy and relatively safe for conjuration so that you begin to get the feel for what feels right in a context like that.

“how to position candles when conjuring a seal” — I’m not sure about the positioning, but I’m rather more intrigued by your attempt to call forth marine mammals into being with magic.  Seals can be a very good source of fragrance and fuel materials, to be sure.

“was pope gregory or psuedo dionys first wirh archangel names” — Neither, actually.  There are references to seven archangels, and archangels generally, that predate Pope Gregory and Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite by centuries.  We find Michael in the Book of Daniel and Raphael in the Book of Tobit, and we find more extensive archangel names in the Books of Enoch, all of which were written long before the births of Greg or P.-D.

“wiccan language” — You mean English?

“summoning ghost rituals aaaaaaaaaa” — Dude, it’s not that scary.  Relax.

“sigils greek gods” — The Greek gods don’t really have seals or sigils of their own; they simply weren’t worked with like that, and the use of seals is very much a later thing.  We find the use of barbarous words of power and celestial characters in magical writings from the PGM, sure, but nothing like a “seal” like what’s given in the Lemegeton Goetia.  Rather, the Greek gods were usually called upon and prayed to, perhaps using a statue or other sacred image of them as a focus.

“occultic gay love bonding” — I’m game for it; I’m always for using magic for getting laid and getting paid, and all the better if you live happily ever after.  Thing is, since most people are straight, most magic is, too.  Doesn’t mean that queer/gay/trans/agender magic is wrong or trivial, though, though it is hard to come by.  There’s one spell from olden times I know of specifically for male-male love, but that’s about it.  Generally speaking, any romance or love spell you can think of will work as well for same-sex or agendered relationships as it would for different-sex relationships.  However, if that ritual uses very gendered elements (one partner has High John the Conqueror root and one partner has Queen Elizabeth root, or there’s some combination of a phallus and vagina candle), you may want to change those as desired for the proper effect.

“kybalion is male focused” — Ugh.  The Kybalion is hardly focused at all, and among modern texts, it’s basically swill.  If your only issue with the Kybalion is that it tends to focus on men or masculinity (I guess?), then you need to get out more or read more texts, because there are many more problems in the Kybalion than just that.

 

 

Practical Arbatel: Names and Seals of the Olympic Spirits

So now that I’m getting seriously interested in the Arbatel, I suppose it’s time to start reviewing what I know and what, exactly, it is that I’ll be doing and conjuring.  Most of the Arbatel is focused on being, basically, a good magician, which for all intents and purposes is to be a good Christian.  The basic virtues of piety, faith, love and honor of God, helping out your fellow man, and the like are what’s really expounded in the text, with most of the aphorisms of the Arbatel written on these subjects and how to effect them in one’s life.  That said, the Arbatel contains an introduction on the conjuration of seven Olympic Spirits, each associated with one of the seven planets and each possessing a certain number of spiritual legions of their own, as well as particular secrets that they can reveal to a magician who lives properly and is worthy of those secrets.  So, yes, there will be conjuration involved in this project (yay!), but it’ll be of a different kind than I’m used to (ooh!).

As the text reads in the Third Septenary (III.16), the names of the seven Olympic Spirits are given in the Latin alphabet as Aratron, Bethor, Phaleg, Och, Hagith, and Phul.  While I’d normally be okay with using these names as they are, my penchant for using literally anything other than the Latin alphabet whenever possible has led me to attempt a Greek transliteration of these names.  After all, when using Greek, I can tweak my spelling of things and get a better understanding of the isopsephy and stoicheia behind the names, perhaps leading to something a little more appropriate than what might be naïvely spelled.  Add to it, by beginning to incorporate more Greek into my conjuration work, I can perhaps make inroads into developing a system of mathetic conjuration that would augment and build up the rest of mathesis.  Besides, with these Olympic Spirits being Olympic and with many references to the text suggesting a pseudo-Greek origin to the system, it might befit us to use Greek anyway instead of Roman or Hebrew.

Happily, such a Greek transliteration of the Arbatel names is already given by Stephen Skinner in his Complete Magician’s Tables (M.42 through M.50, particularly M.43).  There, he gives the names of the seven Olympic Spirits, as well as their isopsephic values, as Αραιθρον (341 = 11 × 31), Βεθορ (186 = 6 × 31), Φαλεκγ (558 = 18 × 31), Ευχ (465 = 15 × 31), Ηαγιθ (31 = 1 × 31), Οφιιλ (620 = 20 × 31), and Φυλ (930 = 30 × 31).  These spellings are a little odd for me, however, as is the isopsephy involved.  For this, Skinner explains:

Immediately a pattern becomes obvious, confirming the accuracy of the orthography.  All the names are based on 31 or αλ ‘AL’ in Greek, and are therefore a carefully constructed formula, not just random mediaeval names, as most people previously assumed.  Even the grand total of all the values comes to 3131.  The Greek names of the Olympic Spirits also form a key to Crowley’s Liber AL vel Legis, although one of which Crowley was perhaps not aware, a key that I do not believe has been published by anyone else to date.  I intend to postpone the explanation of that material to a later time.  Suffice it to say that they are a significant key to Liber AL vel Legis.

Furthermore, the multiples of 31 are in themselves significant.  Apart from the factors 15, 20, and 30, the remaining factors form a significant Middle Pillar formula:

1 + 6 + 11 = 18, can be interpreted as Kether + Tiphareth + Daath = ih (10 + 8) or Arrow (in Greek).  The path so traced out is indeed the Path of the Arrow.  The key numbers for these spirits are therefore:

  • Hagith = 1
  • Bethor = 6
  • Araithron = 11
  • Phaleg = 18
  • Och = 15
  • Ophiel = 20
  • Phul = 30

In all honesty, mixing Golden Dawn and Thelemic works into a text 300 years their senior is a dicey proposition, and I don’t think that there’s much to link the two, even if it had been in the Golden Dawn’s scope to do so.  Add to it, I haven’t seen these spellings or this reasoning anywhere else, and the spelling and pronunciation in Latin or in German (since we can claim that the Arbatel is definitely a German work of occult literature) are quite different from the pronunciation given in Skinner’s transliterated Greek, and his use of “Araithron” instead of “Aratron” is unusual, since the Arbatel clearly only gives Aratron.  Add to it, Skinner’s claim about the sum of 1 + 6 + 11 = 18 associated with arrows makes no sense to me; “arrow” in Greek is τοξευμα (common antique word), οιστος, βελος (preferred modern word), ιος, ατρακτος, πτερον, or γλθφιδες, the isopsephy of any which is anything but 18.  Likewise, the Hebrew word for “arrow” is חץ, which still doesn’t add up to 18.

Given that Skinner’s transliterations weird me out and that his reasoning is sketchy, even though they do have that oddly nice consistency with the number 31, I think it might be better to take another look and develop a new set of Greek names for the Olympic Spirits.  Of course, transliterating what are essentially barbarous names between Greek and Roman isn’t always easy, so we often have multiple alternatives available to us.  For transliteration, I’ll only use the names given in the Arbatel itself; other books, such as the Secret Grimoire of Turiel and the Complete Book of Magic Science seem to be much later inventions, and the Arbatel would appear to be the first published text with the names and seals of the Olympic Spirits.

  • Aratron: The “-on” ending here strikes me as being omicron-nu, since most second declension neuter nouns in Greek have this same ending.  Thus, a straightforward transliteration would be Αρατρον (622).  If we were to use a theta instead of tau in the name to get Arathron, courtesy of Skinner’s suggestion, we’d have Αραθρον (331), but this seems to be a stretch, since I find no reason why we should use a theta if it wasn’t indicated in the source text, although it is likely as a more German pronunciation of the name (a slightly harder “t” than tau in German would provide).  Thus, we’ll use Αρατρον.
  • Bethor: The “-or” ending in this name strikes me as being omega-rho, since only a very few words in Greek end in omicron-rho.  The real question then becomes whether we use epsilon or eta, giving us either Βεθωρ (916) or Βηθωρ (919).  For me, Βεθωρ seems more likely; 9 + 1 + 6 = 16, and 1 + 6 = 7.
  • Phaleg: The ending here should be a simple gamma, not kappa-gamma as Skinner suggests, since that was a comparatively modern innovation to represent a hard “g” sound.  Thus, we’d end up with either Φαλεγ (539) or Φαληγ (542), based on whether we use epsilon or eta, and of these, Φαλεγ seems the more likely spelling.
  • Och: Depending on how we transliterate “o” as either omicron or omega, we could get Οχ (670) or Ωχ (1400), or even Ωοχ (1470) as Skinner proposes as an alternative to his Ευχ (465), although Skinner mistakenly gives the isopsephy of Ωοχ as 930 and not 1470.  Of these four names, Ωχ appears to be the cleanest and most likely.
  • Hagith: Greek doesn’t represent aspiration, so we really should be transliterating “Agith”.  This is fairly straightforward to transliterate, Αγιθ (23), with no other options available to us unless we really change things up, like replacing iota with eta for Αγηθ (21).  Thus, Αγιθ it is.
  • Ophiel: This is the most Judeo-Christian “angelic” appearing of the names, and Judeo-Christian angelic and otherwise theophoric names ending in “-el” in Roman are typically written as “-ηλ” in Greek.  However, the initial “o” could be either omicron or omega, giving us either Οφιηλ (618) or Ωφιηλ (1348).  Alternatively, if we use epsilon instead of eta, we could get Οφιελ (615) or Ωφιελ (1345).  Of these, I find Οφιηλ to be the most likely; .
  • Phul: There are only two options here, depending on what kind of “u” we want, either the French “u” represented only by upsilon, or the long “u” represented by omicron-upsilon, giving us either Φυλ (930) or Φουλ (1000).  However, Φυλ appears to be the more straightforward and reasonable of these.

Thus, for our Greek names, we’ll use Αρατρον (622), Βεθωρ (916), Φαλεγ (539), Ωχ (1400), Αγιθ (23), Οφιηλ (618), and Φυλ (930).  Altogether, the sum of the names isopsephy yields 5048.  While these names don’t have the consistency of a repeated number as Skinner’s names do, I also find these far more likely spellings to use of the Olympic Spirits.

Now that we have our names settled, it remains to figure out the seals, and happily, there’s pretty much nothing to figure out.  The seals given in the Arbatel are clear and consistent, and there are excellent modern renditions given by Asterion on his art blog.  I plan on using his seals, which are essentially the same as those given in the grimoire itself, but a little more squared up and cleaned up.  Normally, in conjurations, I make a Trithemian-style lamen bearing the seal of the spirit in a central hexagram with six pentagrams around it, the name of the spirit around that, and thirteen names of God around that.  However, I didn’t want to use the Trithemian design for these conjurations, since I wouldn’t be using the Trithemian ritual and also because the lamen format is fairly overkill for the Arbatel-type of conjuration, which is essentially minimalistic.  I took into account other lamens that other magicians have made for the Arbatel, such as Fr. Acher’s lamens for his Arbatel operations, but decided against anything too fancy.  Instead of using a psalm, series of names of God, or parts of the prayer from the Arbatel, I decided upon the Greek phrase:

Την ημερα και την ωρα του XΧΧ καλω σε ω Δαιμων Ολυμπικε !
In the day and in the hour of XXX I call upon you, o Olympic Spirit!

Thus, if I were to call upon Aratron, I’d use Κρονου, “of Kronos (Saturn)” in the XXX spot; if Bethor, Διος; if Phaleg, Αρεως; and so forth.  Alternatively, I prefer to use the planetary titan names that I’ve mentioned before when first pondering a Greek kabbalah, so instead of Κρονου I’d use Φαινω, “of Phainon”, etc.  A note on this, however: the planet Venus was considered to be two stars, Eosphoros (Dawn-bringer, Venus when it rises before the Sun in the Morning) and Hesperos (Evening Star, Venus when it sets after the Sun in the evening); either of these names could be used, when the proper phase of Venus applies, or you could use the general name Phosphoros (Light-bringer, a general name of Venus).

And, yes, as someone pointed out on Facebook, the use of the word “δαιμων” may raise some eyebrows here.  The text itself, which is a German work originally written in Latin in the 1500s, used the Latin word “pneumatica” to refer to the spirits, and doesn’t use the word “daemon”.  However, lest people think I’m confusing the Olympic Spirits with the types of spirits found in the Lemegeton Goetia, the word δαιμων refers to any natural power, force, fate, or entity, not unlike what’s connoted by θεος.  It was only with the development of Christianity that the word δαιμων began to pick up distinctly negative connotations, leading to our modern word “demon”.  The Renaissance use of the word πνευμα plus the connotations of the Christian Πνευμα το Αγιον, then, picked up what δαιμων left behind, going from a meaning of breath-like life energy to a force of nature as a discrete nonphysical entity.  Now, when I developed this phrase, I found the word δαιμων to be a perfectly acceptable word to use here, especially considering what the Olympic Spirits are proposed to be, but if they themselves wish to use the word πνευμα, I have nothing against changing the phrasing here.

With all that in mind, I made the following set of lamens for my use in my upcoming Arbatel work.  Assuming the Olympic Spirits themselves don’t mind them, I don’t see why I shouldn’t use them, though it’s unclear how best I could use them, either as something to wear as I would in other rituals, or as something to place the scrying medium above, but that’s for another post.

Search Term Shoot Back, July 2014

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of July 2014.

“sigil in cock by zodiac” — I don’t even know what this means, or why I got this search term among the most common this month looked for across several days.

“can i burn kameas in ritual work” — You can, but I have the feeling it’s not always a good idea.  Kameas are magic squares, a numerical and numerological method of representing the essence or power of a planet.  Effectively, they emanate the same “vibration” or power the planet itself does, though in a weaker and more transmitted way.  The kameas are talismans in their own right, no further consecration needed (though more consecration can always help).  Burning things in ritual work almost always has a connotation of sacrifice, like burning hell money for the ancestors or bleeding a pigeon out over a fire for Hermes (it’s a thing), so burning a kamea as an offering could be done, but I don’t immediately recognize for who or what.  I mean, if you want to dispatch a particular force, you could burn something like a name paper or a photo, but the kamea on its own is just the planetary force.  Chances are you want to use and direct that force, not just send it out without guidance or instruction, so burning it might not be the best idea.

“art deco and orgone accumulators” — To be honest, I like dieselpunk a lot more than steampunk; environments like those of Bioshock are a deep pleasure to me.  Dieselpunk is a cyberpunk derivative that focuses on art deco and early 20th century interbellum (1920s to 1940s) period aesthetics and technological appearances.  Think of the style of the Empire State Building in NYC, the almost hieroglyphic engravings from the 1930s on public buildings lauding the labor movement, the classic Rolls-Royce fancy cars, and even old jukeboxes, and you’ll have a grasp of art deco and dieselpunk aesthetics.  As for how this connects to orgone accumulators, that’s anybody’s guess, but I suppose one could make an orgone accumulator using a dieselpunk or art deco theme.  At that point, you’re just applying visual art to tech, so it’s not really going to change the tech itself much.

“invocation of sphere of the prime mover” — I can’t imagine there to be one.  The Sphere of the Prime Mover is Divinity unfiltered itself.  The sphere of the Earth has its prayers and invocations of worldly spirits, ancestors, and demons; the spheres of the planets have their hymns and songs, such as those of Orpheus or the Picatrix; the eighth sphere of the fixed stars has the Hymns of Silence and, when the mood is right, glossolalia.  The Eighth Sphere is the highest place (or the lowest, when seen from the point of view of Divinity) where we can still have distinct thoughts and impressions, wordless though they may be except through pure Logos itself.  Anything higher than that, and all distinctions, impressions, and ideas go out the window; you’re in the realm of the Monad at that point, where there’s really nothing but the One: everything, nothing, both everything and nothing, neither everything nor nothing, all of the above, none of the above, and something else entirely.  The only invocation I can think of to this highest of spheres is to ascend to henosis/apotheosis and speak whatever the gods speak among themselves, or whatever God speaks to Itself.  Understandably, people tend to not survive this or take multiple lifetimes to achieve this, so exceedingly few people have likely had the chance or seen the point to utter such an invocation, since there’s literally nothing we can utter to even approximate or connect to the glories of the Infinite with our finite speech.

“how to pray sator square” — The Sator Square is an old type of magic square talisman, with the words “SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS” written in a 5 × 5 grid, which can be read up, down, forwards, and backwards.  Its palindromic nature, as well as its grammatical plausibility in Latin, have made it a powerful magical tool, even appearing as a pentacle in the Key of Solomon.  However, it’s never really meant to be prayed; it’s a talisman to be engraved, simple as that.  You engrave it on stone or write it on paper and keep it around; you can throw it into a fire to put it out or keep it in your house to prevent fires, for instance, no further consecration needed.  There’s a theory that the Sator Square was used by clandestine Christians in the early Roman Empire to identify themselves, since if you rearrange the letters you get the word “Paternoster” (Our Father) written twice in a cross intersecting at the N, with two leftover As (alpha) and two leftover Os (omega).  So I suppose you could pray the Lord’s Prayer over it, but that’d be stretching it.

“orgone accumulaors and cold water fusion” — Uh…um.  I’m a Hermetic magician and software engineer, not a physicist in any sense, so it’s hard for me to speak much about this particular combination of topics.  What I can say, however, is that the two don’t really mix in any conceivable way.  Orgone energy is a spiritual substance, an ambient life force pervading the universe.  Cold fusion is a hypothetical (not even theoretical!) means of achieving nuclear fusion at room temperature, as opposed to the millions of degrees required for normal fusion.  There’s no accepted or agreed upon theory that permits such a reaction to occur, and all the science that permits this is convoluted, fake, questionable, or some mix of the three.  No, I’m not a fan of trying to use cold fusion to solve the energy crisis of our time, and no, I don’t think that it’s the key to our continued technological progress.  Neither, for that matter, is orgone energy, which is such a radically different thing that it’s like asking what effect eating cake at nighttime has on the catalytic converter of my car.

“orgone accumulator collects neutrinos” — Again, another weird physics query involving orgone? Granted that I don’t have a physics background or degree, but Randall Munroe of XKCD fame does, and he’s mentioned neutrinos before and how utterly transparent they are to normal matter.  Quoth he, “[l]ook at your hand—there are about a trillion neutrinos from the Sun passing through it every second”.  A single neutrino might, on average, hit an atom in your body once every few years, if you’re lucky.  It’s just about laughably implausible that anything can conceivably collect neutrinos, since they almost never touch anything material to begin with.  Orgone energy isn’t physical, either, so it accumulates something that is actually intangible and unphysical, as opposed to something that’s just about completely intangible and physical.  This is definitely one of the odder orgone-related queries that’s led here, especially since I don’t recall having talked about neutrinos or subatomic particle physics before on this blog.

“what is the difrence between solomon sommoning ritual and high magic summoning ritual” — Er…this is a surprisingly complex question to answer and involves a bit of history.  Summoning rituals (and all their variant terms) are common to just about any and every path of magic: you’re calling upon a spirit to be present for some reason, you do your business with them, and you send them away.  Every path of the occult that recognizes the existence of independent spirits (and even then, some that don’t) has a means to converse with spirits in this manner.  “Solomonic summoning” likely refers to the type of conjuration given in the Key of Solomon (though it focuses mostly on talismanic operations) and Lemegeton Goetia (though there are several other parts to the Lemegeton that work with other types of spirits and systems), though it also includes other types of conjuration in the same vein such as the Heptameron and Trithemius’ Drawing Spirits into Crystals.  This is all largely an offshoot from the Hygromanteia of Solomon, an old old grimoire that even I haven’t had the chance to read yet, along with other older books such as Sepher Raziel, Liber Lunae, the Picatrix, and so on.  In a sense, “Solomonic” magic is, if not synonymous with post-classical Western Hermetic magic, a label for a large subset of the field.  “High magic”, on the other hand, is a weird term, and the earliest use of it I can think of off the top of my head is from the title of Eliphas Levi’s book he published in the 1850s, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie or “Dogma and Ritual of High Magic”.  His magic was a derivative of Solomonic material and some quasi-“pure” Hermetic stuff, but is generally synonymous with the same.  Used in modern parlance, however, I feel like “high magic” is anything involving elaborate ritual, tools, or setup, as opposed to “low magic” or the “simpler” or more “vulgar” applications of candle magic, application of herbs and powders, and folk magic.  In other words, “high magic” is often given the image of learned wizened wizards in towers speaking to entities through arcane circles, while “low magic” is given that of an old illiterate grandmother witch cooking up brews and doing divination for the village.  It’s a really bad distinction to make, because I see no reason to stick to just one or the other, and a ceremonial magician like myself can often get lazy or see no reason to be so elaborate when simpler and easier methods exist to achieve something.

“seals to control angel” — One doesn’t control an angel.  In my understanding, and based on what I’ve seen and witnessed, angels are God-made-miniature, collectively forming the “cells” of the Divine Will.  Angels exist to carry out the will of God; their will is God’s will and God’s will is their will.  To say that they have desires for anything else is nonsensical; whether they have free will or not doesn’t matter for them, since they only operate to carry out the functions of the cosmos, which is the desire and will of God.  So, if you were to control an angel, that would imply control over the will of God, which is just a touch hubristic.  Just as you can’t tell God what to do, you can’t tell an angel what to do, either; they’ll acquiesce only inasmuch as your demands are in line with the will of God.  It’s very much a “move this or move me” type of deal; either something is to be done (in line with the will of God) or something to you is to be done (also in line with the will of God).  This is why it’s so important to maintain holiness, virtue, meditation, and prayer when working with angels, because the closer your will is with that of God, the more what you want will happen, because it’s already supposed to happen, though not always effortlessly or with the most ease.  After all, it’s also God’s will that everybody is to achieve salvation (I claim), but there’s a lot going on the world to fight against that effort.

“summon a demon spirit ‘through the internet'” — While I’m not saying it’s impossible, I doubt one could simply conjure a spirit of any kind with the press of a button, like a “Purchase Spirit Now” button for PayPal.  I mean, say you press a button that runs a program to conjure a spirit.  What would the program output?  What would receive the output?  What connection would the internetizen be making with the spirit to be conjured?  What would meaningfully differentiate this operation from the person just writing out “I want to summon spirit X” on paper and leaving it at that?  While that could work, it won’t for the vast majority of people and practitioners; getting into the right mindset, building oneself up through prayer and spiritual preparation, focusing on the sphere of the spirit to open a connection, and so forth are good things to do when preparing to conjure a spirit.  Once all that’s done, I suppose clicking a button would be the same as saying “In the name of the Blessed and Holy Trinity, I conjure you, X…” with a comparable amount of gravity and weight, but at that point, why even bother with the Internet at all, especially when you may not be assured internet access?  With words alone, you can summon spirits wherever you can speak; you can only click PayPal buttons wherever there’s a usable internet connection.

“similarities between greek god hermes and males that are a leo/virgo cusp” — If the other search entries I repeatedly get are any indication, maybe it’s being endowed with a huge cock?  I dunno.  Hermes is a god, and Hermes the god is not identical to Mercury the planet, the zodiac signs of Gemini or Virgo, the signs where Mercury is strong.  There’re plenty of correspondences between them, sure, including analytical minds, a skill for communication, and a knack for travel or traversing distances mentally or physically, but Hermes himself is not a Virgo.  Hermes, according to the Homeric myth and Athenian belief, is born on the fourth day of the tenth lunar month, or sometime around April, which would make him an Aries or a Taurus, depending on the exact lunation sequence in the Metonic cycle.  Then again, Hermes is also an immortal god, so I doubt astrological influences would affect his divine nature much the way it does to humans.

“where can i fine satanic ritual manuals and conjuring?” — I hear E.A. Koetting has some good comedy routines, but I’m trying to be thrifty with my money and spend it only on things that have meaning.

“lbrp of dragon” — If you’re faced with a dragon, I’d personally suggest you use a bigger gun than a banishing ritual, especially the LBRP (or as one of my friends jokingly calls it, Le Burp).  Drawing out that banishing pentagram of Earth isn’t going to do much against, you know, fangs and claws and what’s likely to be a more than a ton of scales and flesh rending your own.  But hey, I’m just a simple magician, what do I know?

Search Term Shoot Back, February 2014

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of February 2014.

“+dearth spell magick on my self” — If you meant “dearth” as in famine and scarcity of resources, that’s fairly easy, though people tend to work prosperity magic for themselves rather than poverty magic; invoke Saturn to keep your means and resources restricted, banish all forces of Jupiter and Venus, and invoke Mercury to lead all good and providing things away from you.  If you meant “death” magic, well, dearth and death go hand in hand, so you could similarly invoke Saturn again for that, but really?  You want to use death magic on yourself?  You may want to read up on actual and reasonable necromancy first, hon.  Try giving Tomekeeper a good read, to start with; he’s working on his necromancy book, “Ars Falcis”, too.

“runes to supercharge labradorite” — Labradorite was discovered by European peoples in the late 18th century, long after runes had been used, and even longer after they had been used for magical purposes (except for the occasional astrological text).  Thus, there are no real runes to work with labradorite, though I’m sure associations could be made between runes and stones nowadays that are based off traditional lore.  If you meant “rune” in the broader magical sense of “a magical operational symbol”, then which symbol you’d want to use is entirely up to how you want to “supercharge” it.  Personally, for empowering things generally, I just like setting things out in the Sun and Moon for a lunar month or so, or praying over it, or using an astrological election to consecrate them, or so many other methods.  Symbols themselves are nice, but how are you going to use that symbol?

“the psalms and ‘planetary hours'” — This is actually a really interesting idea.  I don’t know of any system that corresponds the planetary hours to particular psalms; there are seven planets and seven days, so there are 49 distinct day-hour combinations, or 98 if you consider diurnality (e.g. day solar hour on Monday vs. night solar hour on Monday), while there are 150 psalms, so there’s no easily notable matchup between the two.  However, I do know that the Christian Books of Hours and breviaries often have sets of prayers, especially the psalms, to be used at different times during different days, following a set of canonical hours that are not unlike the calculation and setup of planetary hours.  Combining the two might be an interesting project for a Christian planetary magician.

“does criss angel consider planetary hours in his magic” — Criss Angel is not a magician.  It’s like, yeah, a person with a Ph.D. in Mongolian literature and the person who gives you medicine at the clinic are technically both called “doctors”, but they’re nothing the same; likewise, his “magic” and my magic are not the same thing, and he is not a “magician” like how I’m a magician.  Criss Angel is a performer and illusionist, and his stuff has nothing to do with the magic Hermeticists, ceremonialists, and other actual magicians do.  Thus, I strongly doubt he even knows about planetary hours, much less considers them in his “magic”.

“conjuring spirits within you” — Generally a poor idea, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.  If you’re an expert in it, you might end up with something like the Santería ocha ritual, where you’re initiated and have a spirit share your headspace with you from then on.  At worst, you’ll end up performing Crowley’s Choronzon experiment, and with probably even worse results than he got.  It’s like if I wanted to get to know you better, I’d meet you out for coffee or something, not immediately say that I’m gonna share your bed with you for cuddles and conversation.  You’d be far better off conjuring spirits in a space set aside for them, like a Solomonic triangle or Table of Practice.

“how to properly bless a blade for satanic ritual” — This is contradictory on several levels.  Blessing indicates that you want to consecrate something and make it holy, which is the work of God.  Satanic rituals (if you’re taking this in a theological direction) indicate that you’re buying into the entire Judeo-Christian framework with the enmity and opposition between God and Satan, and then deliberately picking the losing side of the battle.  First, that’s stupid because it’s already been prophesied in the tradition that Satan comes from that he’s not gonna do too well in the end, nor for that matter any of his followers; second, Satan is by definition unholy in the Christian theme of things, so anything that’s blessed cannot be used for a satanic ritual, nor does Satan have the capacity to bless things.  You could desecrate something that was once made holy, sure, but that’s not the same thing.  Blessed things tend to hurt rather than help in such works, not to mention showing yourself to the spirits as a stupid whiny brat who’s probably still in high school who wants to be some spookeh dark warlock of uber powerz.  I’m not your guy for that kind of BS.  And while an argument could be made that Satan exists as a god alongside God, you’re suddenly straying into a weird dualist theology a la Zoroastrianism (where even that religion’s dark god fails in the final days) that is no longer Christian nor satanic, and you better have a lot of mythos and power built up for your new god to have the capacity to bless things in his own name, which is already empty without the backing of the Judeo-Christian mythos and religion behind it.

“sphere of the fixed stars symbol” — The various spheres of heaven have many symbols associated with themselves: the planetary symbols, symbols of their ruling angels, and the like.  However, the sphere of the fixed star is weird in that it doesn’t have a symbol, or rather, it doesn’t have any one symbol.  Using the symbols of the signs of the Zodiac together can work, and similarly those for the lunar mansions (the astrology program ZET has a set based on the Vedic mansions which I’ve heard work well); there are also .  In visualization exercises, I tend to just visualize the starry sky itself as a symbol, but I’ve also asked Iophiel, the angel ruling over the sphere of the fixed stars as a whole, for a seal for which I can conjure and commune with him.  There are also seals for a few of the fixed stars themselves, but that’s not for the whole sphere.  Qabbalistically, the sphere of the fixed stars is associated with the second sephirah Chokmah, so the number 2 and anything pertaining to it would work on a numerological standpoint.

“how do you drill a hole in orgonite” — Get a drill and some orgonite, then drill a hole into the orgonite using the drill.  The fact you have to ask shows that you might need something stronger for your mental and spiritual well-being than glittery congealed robot vomit, anyway.

“english sharthand” — Dear gods, I’m so sorry.  You may not want to scratch your ass next time you have indigestion.

“free geomancy readings” — While I don’t offer free readings often, I sometimes do if I’m doing a promotional deal or a devotional act for the gods.  In the meantime, I charge $30 for a normal geomancy reading.

“angelic symbol” — There are so many of them,  I don’t know where to begin.  You can even get original ones for your own use from the angels themselves, you know; this is how I developed my own set of seals for the elemental archangels (Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel) since no common symbols for them exist.  That said, the notion of a symbol is pretty wide-ranging, especially when this deals with spirits; the spoken or written name of the spirit, an image of them, their numbers, their colors, their elements or planets or celestial forces, the seal or graphical logo, all of these things are their symbols, and wherever those symbols are, so too is that spirit, and vice versa.  Y̹̖̰͖̥ͨ͛͘O̡͚͋̊ͬ͂͌̀̊U̢͎̲̲̟̼̭̥̤̅ͧ͘ ̸̛̺̻͚̺̠͎̰̘̽͞ͅA̜̩͎̣͔̅̊̑̌͟R̷̢̫̖̫̓̌͌̕E͗̈̈̂͂̍̌̏҉̠̗̣̟̪̺̭ ̤̟̟̼̳͈̖̃̅̓͐̌́̐͜N̨̩̖̘͈̽ͅE̩̺̱͓̥͍͐̽̔̽̽͑͠V̸͕̩̭̼̖̤̻̂̈́ͭ̀̾̚E̴̛̻̙̠̺̺̖̱̅̀͛̎̐ͫŖ̤̌̌̿͆̈́ͮ͒͟ ̶̼͊̇ͪ̄͋T̘̮ͯ̽̓̍̉ͣ̉͢͞R̜̞͒̓̆̋ͣ͜Ü̪̙̳͍̜̗̹͈͛̉͟L͗̋̿ͦ̓̄ͮ͢҉̝̻͎̮̻͙̞Y̪ͯͦ ̰͉̞̹̞̪ͫ͡A̛̳̥̘̠̭̥ͩ̍͌̍ͭͨ̌̌̀L͍͍̜͙͙͙̮͉̎͌͆̄̈̄̆̀̚Ő͍̗̩̝̼ͯ̀̑̏̅N̵̪̠̆ͫ̈́͑̋͊͋̀E͚͉̳̠̯̱̮ͯͨ̇̔͜

“badass calligraphy alphabet” — Why, thank you.

“spirit wife ritual” — I’m…not really sure.  I assume this means that you want to make a spirit your wife, so good luck with that.  I might suggest talking to an angel to assign you such-and-such a spirit who’s compatible with you in all regards, mentally and sexually and emotionally and etc., then perform some sort of bonding ritual between you and the spirit assuming that it’s amenable to such a thing.  I guess.

“how to summon hermes” — Hermes is a god, and one of the few gods given permission in Greek mythos to be given permission to go anywhere and everywhere; further, the Homeric Hymn to Hermes notes that he cannot be constrained by force or binding.  To that end, unless you’re the king of the gods Zeus himself, I don’t think you have permission or business to summon Hermes as you would other angels or demons.  You can invoke him and offer him sacrifice, performing a ritual to invite him down to a sacred or sanctified place, but that’s by no means a summons to the god.  Even I, as his priest and devotee, have no business saying “Yo, Hermes, get your wingy ass down here, I got shit for you to do”.  This is a clear case where invoking and evoking have different natures, and you want to invoke a god rather than evoke them.

“what symbol did gabriel put on solomon’s ring” — I don’t really know where the symbols on the Ring of Solomon came from. There are two major versions of this ring in Western magic: the one from the Lemegeton Goetia, and the one from John Dee.  The former has the names “Michael, Tetragrammaton,Anepheneton” (or “Michael, IHVH, Tzabaoth” if you use an interpretation from Greekish names to Hebrew like I did for my own ring).  The latter is commonly known as the PELE ring, so called because it has a circle with a V crossing the top and an L at the bottom, bisected by a horizontal lines, with the letters P, E, L, and E at the four corners clockwise from the upper left.  However, Dee’s books say that the angel Michael, not Gabriel, gave him such a design, and the Lemegeton remains silent on the matter as far as I can read.

“what does it mean when lighting a spritual candle and the wick lets out a poof” — I love how this was described, first of all.  As for “poof”, this could mean different things.  If you mean that it sparked or crackled, I might say that this means a spirit came by and inhabited the candle, and is set to work on the job; more materially, this might mean that there are impurities in the wick or pockets of gas or air that perturb the flame.  If you mean that a puff of smoke came out of the candle, I might say that this means there could be difficulties in getting the work done on your own; materially, that there are carbon impurities in the wick that create a sooty deposit.  Both of these can be avoided by trimming the wick down to a short length, say 1/4″.

Constructing a Lamen for Conjuration

Recently, I had someone ask me for help in creating a lamen for use with the Trithemian conjuration ritual.  While the original text doesn’t go into details about it, it says that “the pentacle may be either wrote on clean virgin parchment, or engraven on a square plate of silver and suspended from thy neck to the breast”.  In other words, the lamen used in conjuration is a type of pentacle or talisman worn, and this talisman is associated with the spirit to be conjured by writing the name and seal of the spirit upon the lamen.   It’s very similar to wearing the seal of the demon to be conjured according to the Lemegeton Goetia, so the idea is the same, though its execution is a little different.

For one, the lamen used in this conjuration has thirteen names of God written around the edge; I’ve explained these names in an earlier post.  Within the names of God is the name of the spirit, its seal, a hexagram, and at least four pentagrams.  The original form of the lamen, say for the angel Michael according to Trithemius and Fr. Rufus Opus, has it follow the general pattern:

Lamen of Michael, angelic governor of the Sun

Here, the name of the spirit is written twice, once in Hebrew (Celestial, in this case) outside and above the hexagram, and once in Roman script inside the hexagram with the seal, with four pentagrams surround the hexagram.  Why four?  It’s unclear, but we have a strong hint from Cornelius Agrippa (book IV, chapter 10) (emphasis mine)

Now the Lamen which is to be used to invoke any good spirit, you shall make after this maner; either in metal conformable, or in new wax, mixt with species and colours conformable: or it may be made in clean paper, with convenient colours: and and the outward form or figure thereof may be square, circular, or triangular, or of the like sort, according to the rule of the numbers: in which there must be written the divine names, as well the general names as the special. And in the centre of the Lamen, let there be drawn a character of six corners (Hexagonus); in the middle whereof, let there be written the name and character of the Star, or of the Spirit his governour, to whom the good spirit that is to be called is subject. And about this character, let there be placed so many characters of five corners (Pentagonus), as the spirits we would call together at once. And if we shall call onely one spirit, nevertheless there shall be made four Pentagones, wherein the name of the spirit or spirits, with their characters, is to be written. Now this table ought to be composed when the Moon in increasing, on those days and hours which then agree to the Spirit. And if we take a fortunate star herewith, it will be the better. Which Table being made in this manner, it is to be consecrated according to the rules above delivered.

So it seems like the spirit in the hexagram isn’t actually the spirit we conjure, but rather the ruler of the spirit.  So, if we were to call upon Nakhiel, the intelligence of the Sun, we still have Michael’s name and seal in the hexagram and the name and seal of Nakhiel in all four pentagrams.  If we were to call upon the intelligence Nakhiel, spirit Sorath, and three angels from the choir of Virtues, we’d have five pentagrams around the hexagram, each with a different name and seal according to the spirits we summon.  Considering the size of the lamen, this gets way too complicated way too fast.  It’s easier to simply deal with the spirit ruling over the sphere we’re coming in contact with and have them in the conjuration to bring the other spirits we wish to commune with.  For some reason, though, there should always be at least four pentagrams.  Why?  It’s never really said, but the number four has plenty of oomph in it, so maybe it’s just a numerological thing; it’s unclear.

So why do we have the name of the spirit both in Hebrew and in Roman outside and inside the hexagram?  It’s never really said, and both I and Donald Tyson (who published an updated version of Agrippa’s Books of Occult Philosophy with notes and commentary) think this is an error, or at least unnecessary duplication.  In either case, the name should be the same no matter what script you use.  If one uses Hebrew on the outside and Roman on the inside, the names should accord given the writing system they’re written in, only using Roman script inside the hexagram and some other script outside.  I think they should be different scripts, so if the script used originally for the spirit was Roman, you might consider the use of Theban script outside the hexagram.  It gets real crazy real fast, admittedly.

Because of the confusion with the designs, between the number of pentagrams to use and what names should go where and written in which writing system, I decided to come up with my own version of the lamen, based more on Solomonic and Goetic practice.  This was a while back, and I wrote a post about it before, but my versions have worked fine and clear for me.  For example, contrast the following lamen of Michael to the prior one:

Lamen of Michael, angelic governor of the Sun

The differences between this lamen style and the Trithemian one aren’t that many, really, but they’re important:

  • The name of the spirit is written in another ring around a central circle using only one language most appropriate for the spirit
  • Always use six pentagrams around the arms of the hexagrams, points facing outward.
  • No Romanization of the spirit’s name.
  • Center hexagram is embiggened and centered in the central circle.
  • Godnames rotated 90° so that El is aligned at the top.

To reduce confusion, I only write the name of the spirit once around the hexagram and pentagrams, using the inside of the hexagram for the spirit itself and leaving the pentagrams blank.

One thing that can be clearly deduced from Agrippa and Trithemius is how to make the lamen.  For timing, the lamens are to be made while the Moon is waxing in a planetary day and hour appropriate to the spirit.  Thus, lamens for spirits of the Sun should be made on Sundays in an hour of the Sun, those of Mars should be made on Tuesdays in an hour of Mars, and so forth; this is pretty simple, and fairly basic as far as talismanic creation goes.  As for materials, this is where you can really go crazy; I use heavy fancy résumé paper, color the border with gold leaf, and color the insides of the stars and hexagrams according to that planet’s associated colors per the Golden Dawn color rules.

New Lamen Collection

I use simple circles for my lamen designs, though I’ve made other sets before that use different polygons whose number of sides accord with the numbers of the planets, e.g. a triangle for Saturn, a pentagon for Mars, and a nonagon for the Moon.  I use a circular shape since I have a circular wooden picture frame I modified to act as a lamen holder, but having your lamens be punched with a hole in the top is also totally workable.  Instead of paper, you might use parchment, or you might go really fancy and use colored wax made with essential oils of herbs associated with the planet, or go all out and make silver, gold, or other metallic lamens that accord with the planet.  While this isn’t strictly necessary (I haven’t had problems using even plain uncolored copy paper lamens), it’ll help over time to strengthen the contact between you and the spirit, but so would putting more effort with a simpler construction.  Of course, if the spirit isn’t planetary or doesn’t really care, you can use whatever method you want for making the lamen so long as it works for the spirit.

So what about the seals inside the hexagrams themselves?  It’s easy to find seals for Lemegeton goetic demons or the angels of the planets, but what about the seals for some arbitrary spirit?  It can get awkward, I admit, if you only have a name and no seal.  One route you can go by is using some sort of sigil generator to make a seal for the spirit based on its name; if the name is in Hebrew, you’d use the Golden Dawn Rosy Cross sigil wheel, and if it’s in Greek, you might try my own sigil wheel for the Greek alphabet based on stoicheiometric principles.  If the spirit is associated with a particular planet, you might use the qamea (magic square) of that planet to generate the names, which is how Agrippa gets his seals for the planetary intelligences and spirits (book II, chapter 22).  If you have any familiarity with modern magic techniques, you might make a simple sigil based on the letters themselves a la chaos magic.  Alternatively, you might not use any seal for the spirit at all, but actually ask for a seal directly from the spirit themselves; this is my approach to them, and how I got my seals for the elemental archangels.

Don’t forget that, despite their role in conjuration, lamens are simply talismans, and should be made according to the same rules and upheld to the same maintenance you’d use for other talismans.  These talismans will help link you to the spirit and its sphere to aid in conjuration, communion, and communication, and so should be made with that spirit and sphere in mind.  Although it’s traditional to wear the lamen in conjuration, I’ve seen some magicians (including Fr. Rufus Opus in his more modern style of conjuration) just use a metal talisman placed on the Table of Practice itself, so you still have freedom to experiment here.  Make the lamen with the spirit you want to communicate with in mind, following a simple premade layout for names and seals, and you’ll be good to go.  You might want to wear it, place it on the conjuration circle itself under the scrying medium, or simply set a candle atop it; so long as you use the lamen, you’ll be bringing the spirit down for conjuration.