The Role of the Magician

Recently, I made a Table of Practice for a new magician; this isn’t that uncommon a thing, and I do enjoy making them (and for a pretty economical price, hint hint).  For this specific Table, he requested I add the symbols of the 12 signs of the Zodiac on the outside bevel, much as I made one for my sister a ways back.  For comparison, the one for my sister turned out like this:

Table of Practice

And for the dude who recently commissioned me, the Table turned out like this (his photo):

Table of Practice with Clockwise Zodiac

The two Tables are essentially identical (the one for the recent commission has Tetragrammaton around the triangle, but that’s basically it), but the big issue here is the orientation of the Zodiac signs.  For some bizarre reason, I unthinkingly drew the signs of the Zodiac onto this recently-commissioned Table clockwise instead of counterclockwise.  The counterclockwise depiction is the most common, since it represents the view of the ecliptical Zodiac constellations from our point of view down here on Earth; so, for instance, if you look up into the night sky when Aries is at the midheaven, Pisces will be on the right of Aries and Taurus will be on the left.  I’ve made several Tables with this pattern, but this recent commission is the only one I’ve goofed on.  It’s weird, and I’m both embarrassed and confused at how this happened.  That said, for some reason it also doesn’t strike me as “wrong”, despite the weird orientation of it.

Now, I don’t want the rest of this to sound like some justification for my design mistake, but the orientation of the Zodiac here led me to some thoughts on the role of the magician or conjurer in a conjuration.  Consider that if we as humans view the Zodiac as going in a counterclockwise direction around the celestial sphere, then having them situated clockwise indicates that we’re viewing the Zodiac from the other side.  The Zodiac is part of the eighth sphere, the sphere of the fixed stars, and the only thing higher than the eighth sphere is the ninth, the sphere of the Prime Mover, also referred to as Kether or God.  By using a Table where the Zodiac is present in a clockwise pattern, we’re essentially viewing the spirits positioned within the Table from the same viewpoint that God perceives the cosmos and all within it.  And that’s where this gets interesting.

What do we, as conjurers and magicians and magi, do?  We take our divine birthright as children of the Most High and join with him in the ever-continuing act of creation of the cosmos.  We ask for the blessing of God to do what is Right and to enact our True Wills, thereby rejoining God in his infinite Grace.  We step into the role as agents of the Divine, of the Most Divine, to work with the spirits who are our relatives, who are our brothers and sisters from the same Source, and who endeavor to aid us as they aid the Divine themselves.  We, essentially, become a consciously direct extension of God and join with God.  I’m going to stop this little poetic waxing short of saying “we become God”, because we already are essentially part of the Prime Mover down in this little ass-end of the cosmos, but we come closest to it consciously when we do our Work.

There are points when working with the spirits simply does not work; as Fr. Rufus Opus has said, the general idea is “move  this or move me”, where either a thing desired is changed or made in the world or where we ourselves are changed if nothing else can be changed.  God, clearly, can change everything, since that’s pretty much his thing; nothing disobeys God, since everything is a part of God and works as part of the One, the cohesive Whole.  But, that said, by moving ourselves, we partake in that same action, and bring ourselves closer to becoming what we need to Be and do what we need to Do; in these cases, we bring ourselves closer to attaining and carrying out our True Wills.  This is also the same in all other instances when working with the spirits gets us results in the external world.

Being a magician can be a scary thing.  It puts you in control, and therefore gives you responsibility, over your life, your station in life, and what happens in your life.  These all have their own caveats and asterisks and conditions, of course, but generally speaking, being a magician raises you to the point of Divinity.  In that sense, why shouldn’t we view the cosmos as the Divine would?  Isn’t that the whole point?  Isn’t attaining Kether and bringing more Light down here the objective of working with Hermetic Qabbalah?  Isn’t purifying and rarefying ourselves the end goal of the Great Work?  Isn’t understanding things as they are without human ignorance clouding them the result of fulfilling the Oath of the Abyss?  Isn’t attaining eventual power, reunion, unity with the Divine the point of all this crap we’re doing?

Maybe drawing on the Zodiac backwards wasn’t that bad an idea from a philosophical standpoint, after all.  I certainly didn’t have it, but then, where do all Ideas come from, anyway?

Crafts from Christmastime

This past Christmas was kinda fantastic, you guys.  I took off about two weeks from work in the office, started it off with a low-key party at my boyfriend’s, spent a week in my ancestral hometown at my parents’ house dogsitting for them while they went to Maine to see the rest of the family, then returned to Northern Virginia for a good number of ribald New Year’s ruckuses and riots.  A pretty nice, relaxing, and recharging time; I didn’t do much in the way of ritual or practice, but it was fun all the same.  Now that I’m all recharged and refreshed, especially after that two-week conjuration ordeal I did recently, I’ll get back on my five-week conjuration cycle (and see how long I can maintain that again).

However, just because I wasn’t doing much in the way of practice doesn’t mean I wasn’t busy.  I busted out the woodburner, woodstain and finish, and a bunch of wooden placards and got to work making a whole slew of goodies to sell, some as commissions and some at the local store in Fairfax, Sticks and Stones.  Coming up with names or descriptions for them to sell at the store, making them friendly enough for New Agey-types and small enough to fit on the back of a business card, was about as soul-wrenching and fun as making the things themselves, in my opinion, but here’s what I got done:

  • Tables of Practice.  You know, the summoning circles with the names of the elemental archangelic kings and planetary angelic governors around the triangle with the cross, pentagram, and hexagram.  I use one in my own conjuration work, based off the Trithemius ritual.  I made four of them: two basic ones, one with “Tetragrammaton” around the triangle, and one with the signs of the zodiac on the outside bevel.
  • Divination trays.  These were inspired by my friend Raven Orthaevelve, another occult crafter (whose skill and art far surpasses mine).  They’re large wooden plates to hold runes, stones, crystals, or other small objects used in divination, kinda like the trays used in Ifa (opon Ifa).  The outside could have an abecedarium or some arrangement of symbols, and the inside could be divided up to assist in divination or for art.  I made four of these, each with a different style and script:
    • Runic tray: the Elder Futhark on the outside, with a triquetra on the inside with the names of the three Norns (Nordic Fates), decorated with an eight-spoked wheel and little faces representing the Norns.
    • Greek tray: the Greek alphabet on the outside, with a quartered square and latticework on the inside with the symbols and names of the four traditional elements.
    • Theban tray: the Theban script, also called the Witches’ Runes or Runes of Honorious, on the outside with a pentagram, the five elements, and five holy weapons of the magician’s altar. Definitely my most neopagan-friendly one, ascribing Swords to Fire and Wands to Air instead of vice versa (you know, the ceremonial/correct way) and including the Triple Moon in the center.
    • Hebrew tray: the Celestial Hebrew script on the outside with the hexagram and seven planets on the inside, each with their names written in mundane Hebrew.
  • Sator Square.  An ancient Roman charm that can be read forwards, up, down, or backwards to reveal the same text: SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS, a perfect palindrome and magic square of rank 5.  Used across the Mediterranean and European world for centuries.
  • Wand of Trithemius.  A rod engraved with “AGLA ON TETRAGRAMMATON” with a hexagram, a hexagram with a yod inside, and a cross on one side, and “EGO ALPHA ET OMEGA” on the other.  The standard wand from the Trithemius ritual, except using oak instead of ebony (because I’m not that resourceful).   Nothing too spectacular here.
  • Wand of Homer.  This was fun, and I really liked how it turned out: a wand bearing the Golden Chain of Homer on one side (an alchemical symbol describing the process of manifestation from and reunion with the Divine Source that is the Great Work of the alchemists) and the symbols for salt, mercury, sulfur, and azoth (the four alchemical principles) on the other.  Made of oak as well, I stained it with ebony (though it didn’t take as well as I’d hoped), inlaid it with gold leaf, capped the ends with brass, and set a crystal point on top.  It’s got a different feel than my other wands, and I almost don’t want to get rid of it.
  • Sets of runes and geomantic figures (geomes).  These are small little things, sets of wooden tokens with the Elder Futhark or the geomantic figures on them, for use in divination.  The store’s had a dearth of divination supplies, and apparently runes are in high demand, so I made three sets of those and one of the geomantic figures.  I’m going to borrow Les Cross‘ term for the figures, “geomes”, since that works pretty well and gives it a cooler sound.

Check out the pictures below, also put up on the Crafts page, for closer looks.  If you’re friends with me on Twitter or Facebook (yes, I succumbed and got another account after two and a half years, mutter mutter), you probably saw pictures of the unfinished projects as I made them.  If you’re in the area, consider stopping by Sticks and Stones and making a purchase!  If not, be it known that I take commissions now, so if you’re interested in something like this or something original, send me an email (polyphanes at gmail) and let’s talk about it.  Once we get the details sorted out and the design finalized, I’ll make it, you pay me, I’ll ship it, and you get it.

And the crafting isn’t quite over yet, either; a friend of mine who attended one of my workshops is gifting me an actual Gabon ebony dowel to make into a wand.  I cannot express how grateful and omg excited I am over this thing, not to mention the ebony shavings and sawdust they saved to use in future crafting projects (waste not, want not).  Plus, another two crafts for friends for gifts are in the works, a special type of summoning circle/ritual focus connected to a well-known dreamworld and a special cane with alchemical symbols and a poem in ancient Chinese script (bronze script and oracle bone script).

A Variation on the Trithemian Table of Practice

I was bored and decided to throw together a potential design for a customized Table of Practice, a kind of combined summoning circle and Solomonic triangle used to conjure spirits into.  This one is a bit more complex, and was based on ideas from using the Zodiac on a Table of Practice I made for my sister, a dream I had involving a more complex and circle-based form of the Solomonic Triangle of Art, as well as the three-ring arrangement from the Greek Sigil Wheel developed a few weeks back.  To me, it borders slightly on gaudy and cluttered, but since when have magicians ever had good taste?  There are a few blights in the design, but you’ll get the idea.

 

The Table of Practice as described by Trithemius is a triangle with an equal-armed cross in one corner, a pentagram in another, and a hexagram with a Hebrew letter yod in it in the last.  The triangle is circumscribed with a circle and the names of the four elemental kings; these names are circumscribed with another circle and the names of the seven planetary angels along with their planetary symbols.  All this is bound in one final circle.

This customized Table of Practice, however, has a few extra bits:

  • There’s another ring of names around those of the planetary angels.  These are the names of the twelve angels ruling over the Zodiac (Agrippa, book II chapter 14).  The signs of the Zodiac are also next to each angel name.  This helps incorporate the sphere of the fixed stars into the Table of Practice.  The Hebrew spellings of the names came from Tyson’s edition of Agrippa (note 13 on book III chapter 24).  I knew that there were angels ascribed to the signs of the Zodiac, but this is the first time I’ve ever come across or used their names; given their lack of attention in the grimoires I’ve found, I don’t know what they’d bring to the table (zing!).  Chances are one might normally talk to the angel Raziel of the entire sphere of the fixed stars (Chokmah) instead of the angels of the zodiac or the angels of the lunar mansions, but I don’t have experience of this yet.
  • The names of the elemental kings are written in Celestial and not Roman script, and also have the symbol for their ruling elements (Agrippa, book II chapter 7).  This reaffirms their nature as angels and clearly links them up to the four elements in no uncertain way.  Using the Roman or Hebrew scripts, though, might also be suggested since these are not, strictly speaking, celestial beings.  I went with Celestial for uniformity and angelicosity.
  • The three godnames Tetragrammaton, Elohim, and Tzabaoth are written around the central triangle in Hebrew.  This reflects one interpretation of the three godnames Tetragrammaton, Primeumaton, Anaphaxeton written around the Triangle of Art from the Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon.  This was done in Hebrew and not Celestial since, well, God is kinda higher and more-inclusive than any one sphere.  To that end, these could also be written in Paleo-Hebrew, Roman, or any other script.
  • The number of circles and bands drawn around the central triangle are now four and three, respectively, bumped up from three and two.  I like these numbers better, since they can now represent the four worlds of Creation and the three parts of the triune God.  A nifty side-effect of this kind of design.

I’m unsure about what changes in efficacy, strength, or style these changes would have on the Table, but it’d be interesting to try.  My current Table gets me decent results as it is, and I’d need to find an extra-large circular plaque of wood to fit everything on neatly, so I doubt I’ll be making one of these anytime soon.  If you ever wanted to experiment, though, have at and let me know how it turns out.  I also posted this under the Designs page for easy access; I’ll eventually go back and fix a few of the errors in the design and maybe change the design around for improvements.

Liber Omnipotentis sum, merdas magnificas facio

I think I’m finally starting to get a hold of this Jovian energy and power from the Gate rite a few weeks back.  In a fit of creativity and energy this past weekend, I decided to spend all day Saturday woodburning and staining several projects, up to and including a Triangle of Art (using Hebrew names instead of the faux-Greek names from the Key of Solomon, check the Crafts page) and a plaque of Nyan Cat for a friend in New York.  I love my crackhead friends.

In addition to that, I perked my lovely astrologer and Tarot reader sister‘s interest in conjuration, since getting in contact with the beings who actually manage the stuff she reads on could be a valuable resource for her to get more information.  Plus, she’s had a long-term interest in qabbalah and other similar interests as mine (she’s the one who got me hooked on Alan Moore’s Promethea, which you should TOTALLY read).  Since she didn’t have the tools for conjuration, I decided to make for her a Table of Practice and wand as early Christmas gifts.  My skills have improved since I did my own Table of Practice and wand, so she’s got a nicer set than mine.  The wand I made for her is slightly more “to code” per Trithemius’ Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals in that it has “AGLA ✡ ON ✡ TETRAGRAMMATON ✠” as well as “EGO ALPHA ET OMEGA” engraved and inlaid with gold leaf; my own wand has the letters simply woodburned on and lacks the latter phrase entirely.  Of course, since I don’t have any ebony dowels handy, I had to do with a few light coats of ebony stain.  (Protip: stain first with several thick coats, THEN engrave and inlay.)  The Table of Practice is nearly the same as mine, but I engraved the signs of the Zodiac on the bevel since there was just so much empty space and, well, my sister is an astrologer, after all.  Like this, the Table is a complete model of the cosmos: the sphere of the fixed stars, the seven planets, the four elements, and the three modes of existence all neatly represented on an upside-down wooden plate.

Since I was making a wand for her, I decided to make a wand for myself that was similarly “to code”.  However, the dowel I was using looked and felt weird, and it took a bit before I realized that it was particlewood and dropped it mid-burn in disgust.  Besides, I had already made a wand earlier that day, and a fancy one at that.  While investigating the logistics of carrying a magical staff around with me (as part of a kind of magician monasticism), I thought it appropriate to make a cane: suitable but still innocuous enough to not draw too much attention to myself.  Its construction was simple: take a 3′ dowel and affix some fancy wooden bits as a handle and butt with wood glue and a steel nail (there’s a hole in either cap).  It’s got the “AGLA ✡ ON ✡ TETRAGRAMMATON ✠” on it, but instead of “EGO ET ALPHA ET OMEGA”, I tried something different.  I remembered the word Azoth, the essential spirit in alchemy, related to the Ain Soph and the divine spark within all things.  It’s composed of the first letter of the Hebrew, Greek, and Roman scripts (A/א) and the final letters of each of these alphabets (Roman zed, Greek omega, and Hebrew tav).  I inscribed the letters Z, Ω, and ת around the butt of the cane, and the Egyptian hieroglyph for ox (which eventually became Phoenician alp, thence Hebrew aleph, etc.) on the top of the handle.  Envisioning each letter as a point in space, they form a triangular pyramid, the Platonic solid associated with fire.  For a final touch, I engraved the Shema (trans. “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one”) around the handle.  It’s a nice cane, but a damned awesome occult tool and has plenty of connections to fire (pine wood, gold inlay, steel nails, triangular pyramid form).  I’m excited to try it out, even if it is a bit big for indoor use.

Now I only need to learn canne de combat, and I’m gold.

Anyway, crafting all this made me realize that the space in my room and closet is not, in fact, boundless, and eventually I’m going to have too much stuff.  I don’t see any intrinsic problem with selling or gifting what I need to get rid of when it comes to occult tools, though, so in the future I’ll be posting about goods you might be interested in.  For instance, this staff I found it upright in a forest and modified.  It’s about 5’6″, shaved and oiled, engraved with “AGLA + ON + IHVH” on one side, the symbols from the Key of Solomon for the staff engraved on the other, A and Ω engraved at the top, and has a quartz crystal point glued into the top of the staff.  I’ve never used it and probably won’t, at this rate, but if anyone wants it, shoot me an email; price is $50 plus S+H.

Temples are really just for holding all your crap.

With the amount of stuff I’m accumulating and crafting, I need a much larger space to keep all of it, or even a separate building, like an insulated shed.  Hopefully I can get an extra room in my next apartment or house to use as a temple room or something.  Did you know that places like the Parthenon or other temples in the old Mediterranean were ancillary buildings as part of a more general sacred space?  They were used as warehouses to store all the loot they got from wars and worshippers alike.  The actual “temple” and sacred focus of the place was just a small stone altar, which the whole complex was oriented upon.  Funny how the temples get all the respect anymore.

First, the planetary talismans project.  All the talismans have been enmetaled, engraved, colored, and lacquered, with the Saturn talisman drying as I type this.  With the construction happily and mercifully done, and now that Mercury is direct and the Moon waxing, I’m printing out lamens for each of the planetary angels so I can conjure them and consecrate each of the planetary talismans I made.  My plan is to just start with consecrating the Sun talisman this Sunday and continue straight through to Saturday, asking each angel to consecrate the talisman with their planetary essence, as well as to begin the process of integrating its forces into my own sphere.  The Unlikely Mage generously helped me with formulating a request to the angels instead of going “Hey, sup Tzaphqiel.  I was wondering if you in your awesomeness would maybe make this wooden thing I made awesome like you.  That cool?  Sweet.”  If all goes well, I’ll have a complete set of talismans, and a complete altar, before too long.  A divination reading I did recently implied that there might be some delays with this, but we’ll see.

Not long ago I got wind from a local pagan blog that the well-known store Esoterica in Northern Virginia was going out of business.  S’a shame when that happens, but in this economy, it happens.  Everything there was on markdown, and so I helped myself to a number of goodies and ended up spending more than I feel comfortable admitting.  I will admit that I got, amongst other things, a rackful of herbs, a pair of selenite candleholders, and a selenite orb the size of a large orange (so pretty!).  Apparently, I really like selenite.  It’s easy on my eyes and I get a soothing feeling from it. It has connections to Taurus and the Moon, according to a few books I read, and is good for energy work and healing.  (If you know of any other uses or purposes for selenite besides looking really cool, please leave a comment below.)  In addition to all that, I got ten 1yd pieces of fabric for my working altar, one for each Queen scale color of the sephiroth for when I do planetary or qabbalistic rituals (using a dark natural linen cloth for Malkuth).  They’re all a little rough on the edges, so I want to get them hemmed up, maybe using the King scale for the threads.

The selenite orb didn’t come with a decent stand, so I decided to make one.  I had a spare circular wooden plaque lying around, into which I carved in a shallow pit and burned out more-or-less smooth.  Turns out that it fits both the selenite orb as well as my quartz ball I use for conjurations and, surprisingly, the stand itself fits the inner circle of my Table of Practice perfectly.  I decided to woodburn on some more symbols onto the stand (the triangle and its symbols from the Table of Practice, and the Tetragrammaton), which I’ll proceed to use in conjunction with the Table of Practice for conjurations.  With a little bit of stain and finish, the whole set looks kinda awesome.

I actually burned the inner circle before I did the pit, and just happened to make the pit the right size for its circumscribed triangle to perfectly fit inside the inner circle.  The whole thing was done informally with a compass and straightedge.  Without planning the size of the stand with reference to the Table of Practice or measuring the design for the triangle and circles, I almost have a hard time imagining it was just luck that things turned out as nicely as they did.  Almost.

As a side note, be wary when you ask an archangel to introduce you to a familiar spirit “harmonious and compatible with your temperament and self”.  You may end up getting one that likes to flirt with you.

Busy weekend

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, I’ve kept myself active over the last few days.

  • I realized that I shouldn’t interact with entities and elements that oppose each other in nature or temperament.  I conjured Auriel after working with Raphael, and I felt like hitting a brick wall at high speed (air + earth).  It’s helpful, though, and Auriel offered me advice to slow down before I hurt myself (I had a hard time keeping up with myself at the speed of thought I was going), but good lord.  Plus, going from omg-so-active-buzz to I-dun-wanna-move-gimme-cookies and back was a little rough.
  • Due to the insomnia I’ve had after my first encounter with Raphael, I’ve been staying up later and reading and doing a bit more in the evenings.  Late on Thursday, I sat down to some contemplation and walked around in my mind for a bit, around this hilly mound with grass in the mid-morning, over to a small wooden tower, then down into this deep tunnel filled with water.  I encountered an entity that told me to try calling up my genius on Sunday.  There were sun motifs all over the place, which was interesting.  (More on that later.)
  • A while back, I got an ice pick that I wanted to use as a Solomonic burin for inscribing stuff.  I consecrated it according to Frater Quaero Lux’s directions on Friday at dawn.  Pictures are up in the Crafts section.
  • I spent the night at the house of a friend and mentor on Friday night.  I’m also getting involved in a pagan mystery tradition, so this was a good chance to learn some of the basics I’ll need to know and practice; since it involved a fair bit of qabbalah review, it was pretty easy to connect different traditions into a more unified worldview.  Good dinner, too, in  Dupont Circle.  Afterwards, we went to Michaels so I could get a bunch of crafting supplies, and later, I bought even more supplies from Amazon to finish that fire wand project from before, amongst other things.
  • Saturday afternoon, once I got settled in, I spontaneously decided to make a Golden Dawn-style pentacle for my budding altar.  Instead of being clay, I took a circular wood plaque, plotted out the diagram, woodburned it, colored it, wrote the Hebrew names of earth-related things and their Rosy Cross sigils, and applied some stain and finish to it.  Pictures are up in the Crafts section.  It’s not entirely canonical according to GD practice, but it’s very close and only has what I consider minor stylistic derivations.
  • Earlier today, in addition to my normal routine and contemplating the King of Swords, I performed a conjuration of my genius in the day and hour of the Sun, acting on the hint I got from the contemplation on Thursday night.  I was able to conjure him, and I felt his presence, but the connection was very faint and I couldn’t really get much, not even an image of a seal.  It was like we were trying to communicate but we couldn’t get much across, or at least from him to me.  He appeared hooded or veiled, and we agreed that I should try this again some other time.  He did agree to help me out with dreams and recalling them, but for now, I’ll shelve working with him or other celestial entities.  Whether this is because I’m not yet ready to really talk with him or because of some temporary thing is unclear to me (I did become really sleepy shortly before the ritual), but I did reach out to him and make a connection.
  • Site-wise, I made a few new pages that describe gematria in Hebrew and Greek (under Skills) and about the creation of the Table of Practice and the aforementioned earth pentacle (under Crafts) with pictures.  I also uploaded the lamen templates for the angelic kings of the elements to the Design section.
Now if only the next set of coursework would come out soon, I could get on with building an altar.  Weapon-wise, I’m making the fire wand once I get all the supplies, I just finished the earth pentacle, and I have a fantasy dagger and old plain piece of stemware (I think it’s a sherbet glass) for the weapons of air and water, respectively.  Until then, onwards with the elements of air and fire!

Update on Ritual Tools: Crystal Ball and Lamen

So, despite that I’ve had this fancy Table of Practice for almost a month, it’s only been sitting on my shelf gathering dust. To use the Table to summon and communicate with spirits and angels, I also need some sort of scrying medium like a crystal ball (as Trithemius suggests), scrying mirror, or something along those lines. I could have used a small quartz crystal I’ve had lying around, but I wanted something bigger, more substantial. After thinking about my budget for a bit, I went ahead and splurged on a 2 1/2″ quartz crystal ball. It just got in the mail, and I’m pleased to show it off. (More photos at my Flikr photo set if you’re interested.)

Of course, as these things go, I’ve got a few more things to get or create. Trithemius also says to use an incense burner/tripod, which Frater RO does away with for summoning some spirits but not others; I’ll keep this on my wish list for now, along with a fine selection of resins and wood chips. For now, my normal incense holder and some sticks will work fine. The Wand I already have, and have been using for banishing in the meanwhile.

Another part of this whole summoning spirits business is the use of a lamen. It’s another kind of magic circle that is inscribed names of God, a Star of David, some number of pentagrams, and the names and symbols of what you’re summoning. It’s used to clearly mark what spirit you’re summoning and to call it to the crystal for a chat. Because Illustrator makes things pretty and easy, here’s an example of such a lamen (specifically, that of Raphael):

My design is based off Trithemius’, and it has all the same symbols on it. However, I made some changes to the design because the original didn’t have a proper feel or something. Specifically, I changed the spelling and spacing of some of the holy names (ESCHERCHIE became ESHEREHIE, wrapped the names completely around the circle, etc.), spelled the name of the spirit in Celestial instead of Hebrew, did away with the spirit’s name in Roman script, centered and enlarged the hexagram and pentagrams, and arranged the name of the spirit in its own circle around the hexagram. This makes a bit more room for spelling out the name of the spirit as well for the spirit’s seal. Frater RO and Agrippa say to have one pentagram for each spirit being summoned but never less than four (apparently one lamen can be used for multiple spirits at once), but since Trithemius has six stars around his lamen for just Michael, I wonder why this would be. All the same information is there and in a manner more pleasing to me, so I think it should work.

Trithemius says to inscribe the lamen on a piece of “virgin parchment” or a square of silver and to wear it on the chest as a pendant. Because silver’s a bit out of my price range, I’m opting for clean paper. However, because I don’t like the idea of having a piece of paper hanging around my neck, I’m fancying the lamen up by using a frame to hold the lamen, kind of like an oversized pendant.

My original idea was to use an unfinished wood circular photo frame, woodburn the names of God on the outside, and stain it; then, I’d swap out the symbols of the planet/spirit and bam, insta-lamen. The problem was that they don’t make circular unfinished wood frames, apparently. Circular photo frames in general seem to be rare anyway, and I only found three on the Internet after several days, none of which were suitable for my original idea. I bought one off Etsy from a guy who reuses old pieces of wood, and it turns out it’s the perfect size for such a thing to wear. I screwed a little hook into the top of the frame and crimped it so it forms a loop for a chain or cord to wear it on.

Making the lamens is what I’m excited about. Instead of just printing pieces of paper out, I’m thinking of consecrating or empowering the lamens of the planetary angels to more firmly link the lamen to their power. In addition to being a general beacon for the spirit, it could double as a talisman when I need it to, though I’d probably be better off using something more sturdy than paper.

This would be a three-step process: designing, printing, and consecrating. Designing the lamens is done in Illustrator and is easy enough to do. According to Trithemius, the lamen should be inscribed (printed) during a waxing moon in the day and hour of the planet whose angel will be evoked; this gives me a window of two or three days a month, with about three hours on each day available. This would yield a workable lamen.

Consecrating the lamen would be the last step, though optional by this point. I’d first make an infusion of an herb ruled by the planet in question, stain the paper in another waxing moon/planetary hour/planetary day, then let it dry. On the following waxing moon/planetary hour/planetary day, I’d suffumigate it in incense related to the planet and say some prayer or other over it. Alternatively, I could wait for a proper election for that planet to consecrate the lamen, but those may be sparse and I don’t know enough to calculate elections on my own. This would definitely charge the lamen, but since it was already charged by its creation at a decent time, this may be overdoing it. Wouldn’t hurt to try it, I suppose.

Update 4/26/2011: Turns out that the lamen design wouldn’t fly as I thought it might have. I kept the spelling changes of the names of God, but both the Celestial and the Roman names of the spirit in question are needed in order to summon both the spiritual and physical manifestations of the spirit. Makes sense. Below is an updated lamen of Raphael the angel of Mercury, more traditional than the above and much closer to that of Trithemius. I guess I should read things more closely and at least carry out the instructions given before trying to go do my own thing. I just finished making a new batch of templates for each of the angels of the planets as well as those of the kings of the elements (Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Auriel).

If you ever want to use a design or template of mine, feel free to ask. I’ll eventually get my website set up to host these things for the public domain.