Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: Orientation, Setting, Timing, and Lamen vs. Pentacle

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

The reason we needed to figure out how to arrange the altar and the circle in the temple room is because we need to know how to actually position the altar within the overall temple space itself. Agrippa says that the “table or altar” should be “set towards the east” (book IV, chapter 10), which implies that the altar should be placed against the eastern wall of the temple space. However, if we place the table against the wall, then we can’t really use Fr. RO’s method of including the altar in the circle because we can’t really reach the bounds of the room behind the altar in that way. However, I have a way around this, based on something I learned from one of my pagan friends years back; instead of tracing the circle with the tip of the wand on the ground, one traces a circle with the tip of the wand pointed upwards at the edges of the room where the walls meet the ceilings. This is good for consecrating a whole room as a temple space, and can incorporate an altar positioned against the wall if needed, since one cannot walk or continually trace a circle behind the altar on the ground in such a case.

However, that method of pointing-up is an inspiration of my own that also goes against the DSIC instructions of tracing the circle on the ground. In all fairness, it is more likely that the altar should be placed against a wall, and the easier reading of DSIC suggests the circle for the magician to be placed in front of the altar and not containing it. To use another inspiration of my own, this time from my espiritismo (Cuban-style Kardeckian spiritism) practice, we place the boveda (altar for spirit guides and ancestors) against a wall because the wall acts as a natural “gate” through which spirits can enter. Having the altar positioned in front of a wall would agree with that notion, as well. Again, it’s not from DSIC nor from any Solomonic text I’ve ever read, but it does make sense in that regard. However, I don’t think that consideration is necessarily one to have ourselves beholden to; if you prefer the conjuration altar to be in the middle of the room, it’s not like the spirits will have any more difficulty reaching the crystal there than if it were a only a few inches from a wall.

Now, Agrippa says that the altar should be set towards the east; we might interpret this as being placed against the eastern wall, but if we were to use another interpretation that isn’t unreasonable, we might also read this as Agrippa saying that the altar should be set such that the objects on it are arranged towards the east, whether or not the altar is put against a wall. In other words, we’d arrange the altar so that we’d stand to the west of the altar facing it towards the east. This is also reasonable, and would allow us to trace a circle around the altar as in Fr. RO’s method. So, again, there are different approaches here based on how you want to interpret Agrippa, and either way works, whether you put the altar up against the eastern wall of a room or have it set up such that you face east when you sit before the altar.  This also matches up with pretty standard Christian practice (pre-Vatican II in the West and Catholic world), where traditionally the whole church would be oriented towards the East, and the priest would stand on the western side of the altar facing the East to perform the Eucharist.

But does our ritual direction always have to be east? Agrippa says so, and after all, this is the direction of the sunrise, and is the direction that churches are supposed to be oriented towards, as the sunrise is the direction of Light entering the world, which has definite Christological overtones. But it doesn’t seem like this is the case when implemented by different authors, or at least, not always. Fr. RO in his old Modern Goetic Grimoire arranges the items on the altar in a way that doesn’t suggest the altar is set towards the east, but more like to the north or the south (and, I’d argue, towards the north):

Set up the Table of Practice on a surface you can sit in front of and comfortable gaze into the scrying medium. Place whatever you will be scrying in the center of the Triangle. Place the Wand to the East of the Table of Practice, and the Incense to the West.

Yet, in his White Work section quoted above, one should face east in the astral temple, which suggests that the altar itself is aligned towards the east. However, in another twist, in SS, the illustration he gives of the altar is very explicitly oriented towards the north, which is why he has the Table of Practice in SS set up with the archangel Gabriel at the “top” of the triangle, which he later replaced by Egyn the king of the North. This puts Michael/Oriens at the right of the Table of Practice to the East, which is where Fr. RO puts the wand at rest on the altar. This, combined with the odd order of planetary angels around the edge of the table, as noted before when we discussed the planetary stuff for the DSIC table, ties in with his understanding of the forces associated the four directions according to Agrippa’s Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7). That Fr. RO faces north as a rule for his conjurations might be surprising, but consider that his style of implementing DSIC involves a brief invocation and empowerment taken from the Headless Rite of the Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist (PGM V.96—172), which is a staple of Fr. RO’s general magical practice. The Headless Rite instructs the magician to face north, which is the old direction of eternity and immortality in old Egyptian belief (and which we discussed here, here, and here when we talked about the pole stars in PGM magic). For Fr. RO, this is the default magical direction above and beyond any other.

But instead of defaulting to either the east or the north, we might consider using the other directions for specific types of conjuration. Fr. AC in GTSC gives a different direction for each of the seven planetary angels, but some with directions I can’t figure out where he got them from. Stunningly, Fr. AC gives a URL to the Archangels and Angels website (AAA) in the book for “the most reliable correspondence charts concerning these angels”, but while the link he gives is deformed, I was able to find the proper page here. (Note that you would need to use the links at the top of the page which get you the angels of the planets, not to the planetary links to the bottom which get you different correspondences). These webpages do include directions for the angels, but they don’t cite any sources for what they have listed as information, nor do they match up with any other list I can find.

The Liber Juratus Honorii (LJH) gives a set of directions for the angels of the planets (image courtesy, of course, of the wonderful Joseph Peterson of Esoteric Archives):

In addition to that, the Heptameron gives directions (“winds”) for the angels of the air for each of the seven days of the week (i.e. the seven planets), and then there’s Fr. RO’s method of using the four cardinal directions for the four elements from Agrippa’s Scale of Four and how the seven planets are allocated to that (book II, chapter 7). Here’s a table showing the different sets of directions I’ve found for the seven planets and their corresponding angels:

Agrippa LHJ Heptameron AAA
Saturn North North Southwest North
Jupiter West Southeast South Southwest
Mars East South East South
Sun East East North West/South
Venus West Southwest West North
Mercury North Northwest Southwest Northeast
Moon South West West West

Still, even checking through texts like Stephen Skinner’s Complete Magician’s Tables and going through all the texts I can think of that might touch on this, I can’t find anything that matches up with the AAA/GTSC directions. It would honestly shock (and outright appall) me if Fr. AC just uncritically used what some website says without a grimoiric source to back it up, and I’m definitely going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this that there is a legitimate grimoiric or scriptural source for these directional correspondences and accept them as having validity and not just some new-age woo behind them. Still, if anyone knows where AAA got their source from for the directions for the planetary angels, please do let me know either by email or in the comments, and I’ll update this bit of the post if and when I find out; I’m stumped and don’t know where this set of directions came from.

Also, as it turns out, Aaron Leitch wrote a blog post of his own not too long ago about the planetary rulership of the winds and what directions they should be ascribed to, taking a look at the Heptameron and LJH and correcting them to better fit with astrological and zodiacal paradigms, which gives us even more food for thought.

In any case and at any rate, in the end, when it comes to setting up the altar, we can pick a particular direction to have the whole shebang face, such that we face that same direction when seated in front of the altar:

  • Orient the altar to always face east for all spirits (what Agrippa instructs, under a Christian influence).
  • Orient the altar to always face north for all spirits (what Fr. RO instructs, under a Hermetic-Egyptian influence).
  • Orient the altar to face a particular direction associated with the planet of the spirit being conjured. Which direction you face depends on the direction specified by whatever text or correspondence system you’re working with.

Honestly, any of these systems work; I can see reasons and rationales for each of them. Use what’s most comfortable and convenient for you based on your setup and the space you’re working in. I’ve used East for the vast majority of my conjurations, but I’ve also used West and South when I had my temple set up with my altar pushed up against the wall to the only direction I had space for it with equally good results. If you find the direction to face to be important, face the right direction; if not, don’t worry about it. It can help, to be sure, but for the purposes of DSIC, if you can’t manage it, don’t sweat it.

Now that we know what direction the altar should face, what needs to go on top of it? Not much, honestly: the table (if separate from the actual altar table itself) with the pedestal and crystal (or just the Table of Practice with the crystal, if you’re taking that approach) and the two “holy wax lights” i.e consecrated candles set in their candlesticks. That’s all that needs to be on the altar, if you want to take a strict DSIC interpretation, like what Fr. AC describes and has shown before on his blog.

In that approach, in which you’d (most likely) have the magician standing in a circle that does not include the altar, you’d have the vessel for incense placed (most likely, as Fr. AC says) placed between you and the crystal in the space between the circle and the altar. Everything else (the incense itself, wand, ring, lamen, Liber Spirituum, pen, paper, etc.) would be with you inside the circle. For this reason, Fr. AC recommends you have a little table or shelf with you in the circle to hold all these items so that they’re ready and within arm’s reach without simply being put on the floor. Fr. AC also recommends having a stool or chair with you so that you’re not just standing the entire time, which can double as a place to hold the various DSIC instruments, too.

Alternatively, if you take the approach of drawing the circle around the altar, like what Fr. RO suggests in RWC and SS, then the altar that has the table and crystal and the two candles itself may serve as a place to put the incense, wand, and the like. A simple layout, not quite what Fr. RO describes in SS but which builds off of the stuff in RWC, is one that I shared a while back, using a simple IKEA LACK sidetable as my altar, at which I kneeled facing the East, with my notebook and extra supplies (just barely visible) placed underneath the altar:

In any case, the altar for conjuration doesn’t need to have a lot of stuff on it, and in general, the fewer things on it, the better. I would recommend using an otherwise cleared-off space that doesn’t have any unnecessary tools, talismans, statues, or other items on it that aren’t directly related or pertinent to the conjuration to be performed.

However, it can sometimes be beneficial to augment the altar a bit by including things resonant with the planet or the spirit you’re trying to conjure. For instance, using an appropriately-colored altar cloth, placing images of the seals or characters of the planet or the geomantic sigils associated with that planet on the altar, surrounding the table with the crystal with candles (smaller than the “two holy wax lights”) in a number or color appropriate to that planet, flower petals or other paraphernalia to beautify the altar for the spirit, and the like is often a good choice that I can’t not recommend. Consider this simple arrangement I used for the angel Tzadqiel of Jupiter, with hand-drawn images for the geomantic figures Acquisitio and Laetitia as well as the planetary number square seal for the planet itself, along with my personal planetary talisman of Jupiter:

Towards the end of the post on purification and preparation, we mentioned how Agrippa says that, in all the days leading up to the ritual, we should enter into our temple space and pray before the altar that we’re to perform the conjuration at, keeping the lamen covered with clean, white linen, which we are to then remove on the day of the ritual itself (book IV, chapter 10). Now, granted that the DSIC method of conjuration doesn’t match up with this prayer-based theurgic communion with “good spirits”, we can take this approach as well:

  1. On the evening before we begin our preparatory/purification pre-ritual period (however long that might be according to what you can manage and the severity of the ritual), set up the altar for conjuration with everything we would need, including the lamen of the spirit to be conjured. Cover the crystal, pedestal and table (or combined Table of Practice), and lamen with a veil (ideally of white linen). If desired, the ring and wand may also be covered as well.
  2. On the first day of the preparatory period, light the candles and begin your fast.
  3. On each day of the preparatory period as well as the day of the ritual itself, ablute, and pray at the altar while burning incense. Keep candles lit on the altar this whole time, lighting new candles from the flames of the old if necessary.
  4. On the final day of the preparatory period as well as the day of the ritual itself, keep a stricter fast than before.
  5. On the day of the ritual itself, anoint yourself with holy oil on the forehead and the eyelids, pray as before, then lift the veil from the altar and perform the conjuration ritual.

Now, that’s the ideal procedure, based on Agrippa’s recommendations from his Fourth Book; nothing is said of preparation for ritual like this in DSIC proper, but it’s certainly a good practice. However, if you can’t manage having an altar set up like this throughout the preparatory and ritual period, then don’t; set up the altar when you need to immediately before the ritual. However, I do think the preparatory process of fasting, ablution, and prayer should still be done, and although it’s best if it’s done at the altar of conjuration itself, it doesn’t need to be. If you have another shrine or prayer table you use for your daily prayers, just use that instead, or just kneel anywhere is convenient, quiet, and private for you every day and perform your prayers that way. Do what you can.

Of course, knowing when and how long to engage in our preparatory period necessitates knowing when the ritual itself will take place. This is the most straightforward thing we’ve talked about yet: use the planetary hour of the planet associated with the spirit. I’ve already written about planetary hours before, and they’re a staple of Western magic and astrology by this point that most people are already aware of, and that there are guides and calculators and apps that calculate them for you for any date and location, so I won’t get into it here. Suffice it here to say that we need to time the ritual for an appropriate planetary hour. Note that I’m only saying “planetary hour”, not “planetary hour and day”; you don’t need to wait for an hour of the Moon on Monday to perform a conjuration of Gabriel of the Moon, because any hour of the Moon on any day of the week will be enough. It might be better to perform such a conjuration of the lunar angel on both the hour and the day of the Moon, but it’s not necessary, because the hour is more important than the day.

Why do we know that only the hour matters, and not the day? Because the end of DSIC gives a list of the ruling hours and planets of each hour of each day of the week without specifying the ruling planet of the day itself. Plus, the DSIC text only talks about the hour itself:

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

(After noticing the exact hour of the day, and what angel rules that hour, thou shalt say:)…

More importantly, based on the way DSIC is written, the hour only matters for the actual conjuration prayer itself (the part starting “In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I do desire thee, thou strong mighty angel…”). This implies that we actually begin our prayers, setup, circle-tracing, and burning of incense in the hour leading up to the planetary hour we need for the conjuration, and the exact moment it becomes that planetary hour, we can issue the call for the appearance of the spirit. I don’t personally like this approach—I prefer to start the very first prayer of the DSIC ritual within the specific planetary hour we need—but, technically speaking, the moment that matters for the spirit we want is when we give the precise call to that spirit.

So long as you have the planetary hour correct, no other timing really matters. Of course, that’s not to say you don’t need to account for other factors that can increase the potency or efficacy of the ritual: planetary day, lunar phase and speed, retrograde motion of planets, declination of the Sun, planetary elections, eclipses, stars rising or culminating, and the like may all be taken into account as valid reasons to time a conjuration specifically to achieve a particular end. Heck, even taking into account the weather or the specific place you’re performing the conjuration can (and often will) make a difference. This is especially the case if you’re not just conjuring a spirit for the sake of communion and communication, but if you’re getting them to do something specific for you, such as consecrating/enlivening/ensouling a talisman or giving them a charge to take care of a particular task for you. However, in general, the planetary hour is the only thing you need to have right; everything else is a bonus, and while those bonuses can often be worth your while, they’re still just extra.

There is one last consideration, however, based on something we mentioned way back in the first post on the lamen design. We need to remember that the DSIC text says to put on “the pentacle”, not “the lamen” or “the holy table” like what the DSIC illustration says. Nobody has ever said or suggested anything else but that the pentacle refers to anything but the lamen, as even Joseph Peterson of Esoteric Archives says in his notes on the ritual that “the lamin [sic] is also referred to in the text as ‘the pentacle'”. This makes sense, as there’s no other mention of anything else that could be the lamen in the ritual text itself. However, we know that DSIC builds on earlier Solomonic literature like the Heptameron, which does clearly have a pentacle, as do other texts such as the Veritable Key of Solomon or the Lemegeton Goetia (both a hexagram and a pentagram, the hexagram to be saved until needed if spirits become disobedient and the pentagram to be put on the reverse side of the seal of the spirit to be conjured), as well as the Secret Grimoire of Turiel (which, paradoxically, does call it a lamen and has a distinctly different form than the others).

It could be that DSIC really isn’t referring to the lamen when it describes the pentacle to be worn in the ritual, but to an honest-to-God pentacle as used in other Solomonic literature. (Credit goes to the excellent Reverend Erik Arneson of Arnemancy and My Alchemical Bromance for raising this possibility to me.) In which case, we would need to get one of those and prepare it properly, made in a day and hour of Mercury (or those of the Sun or Moon, at least for the pentagram-formed pentacle of Solomon from the Lemegeton Goetia) with the Moon waxing (or, according to the Veritable Key of Solomon, when the Moon is at first quarter or last quarter), on new clean white paper or parchment (or, alternatively, on a square plate of silver, according to the literal instructions in DSIC itself), sprinkled with holy water and anointed with holy oil. When putting it on, one may recite the “Benediction of the Lamens” from the Secret Grimoire of Turiel over it.

But if that’s the case—that we’d need a proper Solomonic pentacle instead of an Agrippan-style lamen of the spirit to wear—where should the lamen of the spirit go? There are two options that I can reasonably see. The first is a synthetic approach: we still make and wear the lamen as normal, but we put the pentagram-formed pentacle of Solomon from the Lemegeton Goetia on the back of the lamen. The side for the spirit should be made in the day and hour of the planet for that spirit, but the pentagram on the reverse side should be made in a day and hour of the Sun, both sides made when the Moon is waxing in the same lunar month. Only once both sides are finished should the lamen be sprinkled with holy water, anointed, suffumigated, etc. to finish it off before it can be used in conjuration by being worn.

For the second approach, we make one of the hexagram-formed Solomonic pentacles as desired above and wear that at the appropriate step, but let’s follow Agrippa’s suggestion instead that the lamen for the spirit should be placed on the conjuration altar. Where on the conjuration altar should the lamen be placed? Considering how DSIC diverges from Agrippa on this point, there’s no one good answer; we could simply place the lamen on the altar in front of the crystal on the altar. However, something better comes to mind: put the lamen on the table under the crystal. If you’re using a pedestal, place the lamen for the spirit in the center of the triangle directly underneath the pedestal base; if you’re not using a pedestal but a Table of Practice instead, simply place the lamen underneath the crystal. The lamen, then, would not be made to be worn with a hole and strap put through it, but instead should be sized to fit cleanly within the triangle on the table (or Table of Practice). This way, the spirit to be conjured would not only be drawn into the crystal by the prayers and direction of the magician, but drawn further by its own name and seal down into the crystal in the triangle itself, acting as a symbolic magnet to draw the spirit down into the crystal from the celestial realms—or, alternatively, to draw it up from the chthonic realms into the crystal. This is actually a really neat idea, and one that makes total sense, providing a neat blend of both the usual Solomonic technique and technology of pentacles as well as the Agrippan method of using the lamen as a focus for conjuration and communion with the spirit themselves.

These options, of course, are nowhere discussed in DSIC, nor have I ever encountered anyone ever suggesting them. But they are valid alternatives that are still within the realm of reason and possibility for DSIC implementation, given the ambiguous wording of the ritual text itself and the historical and literary context from which it arose. It’s something to play with and experiment, to be sure.

On that note, I think we’re good for today. We’ve gotten up to this point, and now, having discussed all the tools and supplies and layouts and setups and preparations, we’re actually (finally) ready to discuss the prayers and structure of the actual conjuration of DSIC. We’ll do that next time.

Ritual Calendar 2018

I realize that the last ritual calendar post I made was back for the year of 2015.  It’s been a while, I guess, and…gods above and below, a lot has happened.  Between getting a new job, buying my first house, leaving that new job to go back to my old one for unpleasant reasons, receiving several religious initiations and starting new projects of my own, and the whole ordeal of initiation into La Regla de Ocha Lukumí with the ensuing one-year-long iyaworaje, it’s…it’s been tough.  Like, a lot tough.  Somehow I made it through, and since I’ve gotten this far, I see no reason why I should stop.

But, yanno…the year of the iyaworaje kept me away from pretty much all magical ritual, it being a mandated year of rest, recuperation, and assimilation to the initiation of Ocha.  The new job I got in 2015 wrecked my mental health to the point where I got panic attacks for the first time in my life, and the whole house buying and moving thing in the first part of 2016 had me pack everything up (literally and metaphorically) to get it moved over.  Between all those things, I haven’t really had much of a chance to do as much with any of my temple gear.

In many ways, I’m starting over fresh.  So, let’s think fresh, shall we?  Here we are at the end of 2017, and it still being Mercury retrograde right now, it’s a good time for me to take stock of everything I am and everything I have, where I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going, what I want to keep doing, and what I want to newly do.  Besides, a lot of my writing is focused around what I’m doing, and if I’m not doing a lot, then I don’t have a lot to write about (as my long-time readers have noticed, glancing back at my post counts from month to month).

With that, let me get the easy part of all this out of the way first: thinking about dates and times for the coming year of 2018.  As usual, I’m being as thorough as I can, both for my sake (just in case, even if half this stuff will hardly be thought of but which might be useful for my upcoming projects and whims) and for others and their own projects.

Dates of astrological solar movements:

  • Sun ingress Aquarius: January 20
  • Sun midway Aquarius (Imbolc): February 3
  • Sun ingress Pisces: February 18
  • Sun ingress Aries (Ostara, spring equinox): March 20
  • Sun ingress Taurus: April 20
  • Sun midway Taurus (Beltane): May 5
  • Sun ingress Gemini: May 21
  • Sun ingress Cancer (Litha, summer solstice): June 21
  • Sun ingress Leo: July 22
  • Sun midway Leo (Lammas): August 7
  • Sun ingress Virgo: August 23
  • Sun ingress Libra (Mabon, autumn equinox): September 22
  • Sun ingress Scorpio: October 23
  • Sun midway Scorpio (Samhain): November 7
  • Sun ingress Sagittarius: November 22
  • Sun ingress Capricorn (Yule, winter solstice): December 21

I’m already using the Sun’s entry into the four cardinal zodiac signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) to mark the solstices and equinoxes, so it makes sense to me to use the Sun’s halfway point in the four fixed zodiac signs (Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio) to mark the cross-quarter days instead of the Gregorian calendrical method common to much of neopagan practice (where these are marked as the first day of the second month in the season, e.g. May 1 for Beltane).  The dates between the solar method and the calendrical method are fairly close, being off no more than a week from the popular observance of them.

Dates of lunar movements, to track the phases of the Moon and when it starts a new cycle of lunar mansions:

  • Full Moon, first of winter: January 1
  • New Moon, first of winter: January 16
  • Full Moon, second of winter: January 31
  • New Moon, second of winter: February 15
  • Full Moon, third of winter: March 1
  • New Moon, third of winter: March 17
  • Full Moon, first of spring: March 31
  • New Moon, first of spring: April 15
  • Full Moon, second of spring: April 29
  • New Moon, second of spring: May 15
  • Full Moon, third of spring: May 29
  • New Moon, third of spring: June 13
  • Full Moon, first of summer: June 28
  • New Moon, first of summer: July 12
  • Full Moon, second of summer: July 27
  • New Moon, second of summer: August 11
  • Full Moon, third of summer: August 26
  • New Moon, third of summer: September 9
  • Full Moon, first of autumn: September 24
  • New Moon, first of autumn: October 8
  • Full Moon, second of autumn: October 24
  • New Moon, second of autumn: November 7
  • Full Moon, third of autumn: November 23
  • New Moon, third of autumn: December 7
  • Full Moon, first of winter: December 22
  • Moon ingress Aries I: January 22
  • Moon ingress Aries II: February 20
  • Moon ingress Aries III: March 17
  • Moon ingress Aries IV: April 14
  • Moon ingress Aries V: May 11
  • Moon ingress Aries VI: June 7
  • Moon ingress Aries VII: July 5
  • Moon ingress Aries VIII: August 2
  • Moon ingress Aries IX: August 28
  • Moon ingress Aries X: September 24
  • Moon ingress Aries XI: October 22
  • Moon ingress Aries XII: November 18
  • Moon ingress Aries XIII: December 16

Other astronomical and astrological phenomena:

  • Perihelion: January 3
  • Aphelion: July 6
  • Southern lunar eclipse: July 27
  • Northern lunar eclipse: January 31
  • Southern solar eclipse: February 15
  • Northern solar eclipse I: July 13
  • Northern solar eclipse II: August 11
  • Mercury retrograde I: March 22 through April 15
  • Mercury retrograde II: July 26 through August 19
  • Mercury retrograde III: November 16 through December 24
  • Venus retrograde: October 5 through November 16
  • Mars retrograde: June 26 through August 27
  • Jupiter retrograde: March 8 through July 10
  • Saturn retrograde: April 17 through September 6

Regarding the Grammatēmerologion, the lunisolar grammatomantic ritual calendar I set up as part of my Mathēsis work, we enter January 1, 2018 with the day letter Ν, the month letter Η, and the year letter Ζ, in the ninth year of the 69th cycle starting from the epoch of  June 29, 576 BCE, and June 14, 2018 marks the first day of the year of Η, the tenth year in the 69th cycle.  Given the above dates of the New Moons during 2018, the following are then the Noumēniai (first day of the lunar month) and Megalēmerai (days where the letters of the day and month are the same) for the coming year.  There are no Megistēmerai (days where the letters of the day, month, and year are the same) in 2018.

  • Noumēnia of Θ: January 17
  • Noumēnia of Ι: February 16
  • Noumēnia of Κ: March 17
  • Noumēnia of Λ: April 16
  • Noumēnia of Μ: May 15
  • Noumēnia of Ν: June 14 (new year of Η, tenth year in the cycle)
  • Noumēnia of Ξ: July 13
  • Noumēnia of Ο: August 12
  • Noumēnia of Π: September 10
  • Noumēnia of Ρ: October 10
  • Noumēnia of Σ: November 8
  • Noumēnia of Τ: December 8
  • Megalēmera of Ι: February 26
  • Megalēmera of Κ: March 28
  • Megalēmera of Λ: April 28
  • Megalēmera of Μ: May 28
  • Megalēmera of Ν: June 28
  • Megalēmera of Ξ: July 28
  • Megalēmera of Ο: August 28
  • Megalēmera of Π: September 27
  • Megalēmera of Ρ: October 30
  • Megalēmera of Σ: November 29
  • Megalēmera of Τ: December 30

Movable festivals and holidays whose dates are not fixed to the Gregorian calendar:

  • Hermaia: March 20
  • Asklepeia: March 24
  • Dionysia: March 26 through March 31
  • Thargelia: May 20 and 21
  • Protokhronia: July 13
  • Aphrodisia: June 17
  • Nemeseia: August 16
  • Chanukah: December 2 through December 10

Notes on the movable festivals follow.  For the Hellenic festivals, lunar months are numbered according to the solstices/equinoxes and not according to the Grammatēmerologion system, so as to better match up with historical and modern Hellenic pagan practice.

  • Protokhronia (lunar new year according to the strict old Greek reckoning) takes place on the first Noumenia after the summer solstice
  • Hermaia (Hermes’ festival) takes place on the fourth day of the tenth lunar month after the summer solstice
  • Aphrodisia (Aphrodite’s festival) takes place on the fourth day of the first lunar month after the summer solstice
  • Dionysia (Dionysos’ greater festival, a.k.a. Anthesteria) takes place on the 10th through 15th days of the third lunar month after the winter solstice
  • Asklepeia (Asclepios’ festival) takes place on the eighth day of the third lunar month after the winter solstice
  • Nemeseia (feast to propitiate the dead) takes place on the fifth day of the third lunar month after the summer solstice
  • Thargelia (festival of Artemis and Apollo, combining agricultural, purificatory, and expiatory elements) takes place on the sixth and seventh days of the second month after the summer solstice
  • Chanukah (the Jewish Festival of Lights) lasts for eight days starting with the 25th day of Kislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew lunisolar calendar

The following are holidays and feast days associated with the saints and sacred events of Christianity, both canonical and folk-oriented.  Because these dates are tied to the Gregorian calendar, they happen on the same calendar date every year.

  • Epiphany: January 6
  • Our Lady of Candelaria: February 2
  • St. Isidore of Seville: April 4
  • St. Expedite: April 19
  • St. George: April 23
  • Our Lady of Montserrat: April 27
  • Mary, Queen of Heaven: May 1
  • St. Isidore the Laborer: May 15
  • St. Rita of Cascia: May 22
  • St. Norbert of Xanten: June 6
  • St. Anthony of Pauda: June 13
  • St. John the Baptist: June 24
  • St. Peter: June 29
  • St. Benedict: July 11
  • Daniel the Prophet: July 21
  • Enoch the Great Scribe: July 30
  • Our Lady of the Snows: August 5
  • Santissima Muerte: August 15
  • Samuel the Prophet: August 20
  • Our Lady of Regla: September 7
  • Our Lady of Charity: September 8
  • St. Cyprian of Carthage: September 16
  • Our Lady of Mercy: September 24
  • St. Cyprian of Antioch: September 26
  • Sts. Cosmas and Damian: September 26
  • Michaelmas: September 29
  • Guardian Angel: October 2
  • St. Francis of Assisi: October 4
  • All Hallow’s Eve: October 31
  • All Saints’ Day: November 1
  • All Souls’ Day: November 2
  • St. Barbara: December 4
  • St. Lazarus of Bethany: December 17
  • Adam and Eve: December 24

Other holidays, feast days, and memorials tied to the Gregorian calendar:

  • Feast of Benjamin Franklin: January 17
  • Feast of Alan Turing: June 7
  • Feast of Nikola Tesla: July 10
  • Feast of Carrie Fisher: October 21
  • Feast of Carl Sagan: November 9
  • Memorial of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau: January 27
  • Memorial of the Orlando Pulse Shooting: June 12

I’m sure there’re other festivals, memorials, holidays, and party times I’m forgetting or declining to list, but I think this is a good start.  If you have any you’d like to contribute, correct, or introduce me to, feel free in the comments!

All in all, I think this is a good start.  Now I need to figure out what I’m actually doing; now that I know the perimeters and boundaries of my time, I can begin the process of allotting it as I need and want.  So, with that, here’s looking to a splendid rest of this year, and a wondrous, awesome 2018!

2015 Ritual Calendar and Prospective

2014 has come and gone, and now we’re in 2015.  Awesome!  I hope your hangovers have worn off by now.  While we’re currently regretting our poor life choices from poured drinks from a few nights ago, we may as well review some of our goals and actions from last year.  So, how was last year?  Fucking rad, really, and busy.  Really busy.  Some of the highlights from 2014 include:

  • Probably most notably, I ended up starting on a new theurgical method called mathesis.
  • I gave my first talk at an occult conference to my occult peers!
  • I was on the air giving readings and talking about geomancy and things!
  • I attended a conference on Hermes/Mercury at the University of Virginia (posts one, two, and three).
  • I began working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch, patron saint of magicians and necromancers, and held a large party in his honor on his feast day, as well as raising $1000 for the Malala Fund in honor of the good saint.
  • I started selling ritual jewelry, published several ebooks, and have begun taking other commissions on my Etsy shop.
  • I began a devotional practice to the seven archangels.
  • I began practices to several more Greek gods that I’ve invited into my home, notably Aphrodite, Hephaistos, Hestia, and Apollon.
  • I moved to a new house with the love of my life and good friend, which helped me with building a new temple as well as amplify my occult practice.
  • I began studying astragalomancy and the work of the Arbatel.
  • I completed a month-long Psalm 119 working (with more side-effects than anticipated).
  • I somehow managed to keep sane and hold down a standard office job to fund my odd hobbies and so much wine.
  • I got involved in the usual spats and drama common to nearly all magicians.

If you recall the prospective from last year, I had several goals I wanted to achieve.  How did I do?

  1. Get more physically active.  Moderately successful.  I’ve been sticking to Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido at the local Ki Society dojo for the better part of the year, with a month away here and there to take care of family, moving, and the like.  Plus, I’ve recently gotten re-enamored by the mobile game Ingress, which encourages walking and outdoor exploration.  That said, as my waistline can attest, that hasn’t really done much for my weight or body fat percentage, so I’m not doing something quite right yet.  Still, it’s an improvement, and I was able to make it to Fifth Kyu (the first graded rank) in the style of aikido I practice this year already.
  2. Conjure the angels of the fixed stars.  Not successful.  I barely made the conjuration time for Malkhidael, the angel presiding over the sphere of Aries, and pretty much dropped that off from there.  I didn’t exactly need to do this, but it would’ve been nice.  I had too much else going on, and conjuration generally has been at the back of my mind as I’ve gotten involved in other projects.
  3. Buy and move into a new house.  Sorta done!  Unfortunately, I simply don’t have the resources at this time to outright buy a house.  Instead, my housemates and I moved into a house that we’re renting, but the place is so remote and the landlord so detached that, for all intents and purposes, we own the place.  Moving was a pain, especially with the now-apocryphal stories of guinea hens and U-Haul issues, but we’re well-situated and love where we live.
  4. Start working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  As I’m sure a number of my posts from 2014 can attest, this has been wildly successful.  Not only have I started to work with the good saint of magicians, but I’ve written two ebooks on him, written a chaplet and litany in his honor, held a huge feast day party for him, held a fundraising drive in his name, and have been generally empowered and blessed by his presence and aid in my life.  Still have so much more to do and to involve him with, but this is no bad start, indeed.
  5. Start working with my ancestors more.  I’ve started to maintain an ancestor altar containing a few trinkets and ashes of print-out copies of photos of my ancestors, and have gotten into a groove of making regular offerings to them as well as involving them in regular conversation and chats.  I haven’t put them to work yet, but then, I may as well get to know them again slowly.
  6. Translate more Latin.  I didn’t do any Latin translation this year.  This was low priority, anyway, but those books won’t translate themselves and nobody else is doing it, either.
  7. More trance work.  Besides some light scrying here and there, yeah, nope.  Whoopsie.  I really do need to get my ass in gear with this, but it takes time that I simply don’t have without going on a dangerously low amount of sleep (which doesn’t help anything).

Now that we’re in the start of 2015, what are my plans?

  1. Get more physically active and drop some goddamn weight.  I’ve stayed at my current weight, which is about 50lbs too many, for a year now.  There’s no reason for me to stay at this weight.  I will lose those 50lbs and will keep them off from now on.  The idea is simple: daily walks and exercise, regular aikido practice (which I desperately need to get back into after having fallen out of practice for several months), and watching my food and drink intake.  Magically, all the planets can play a part: Mars for discipline, Saturn for helping to keep myself to a minimum when needed, Jupiter for being gracious and having only necessary wealth in terms of food, Mercury for managing my health and metabolism, Sun for managing stamina and health, and so forth.  But, really, at the heart of it is just watching what I put in my face and what I do with my body.
  2. Begin working with the demons from the Lemegeton.  This has been something on the docket for a long time now, but I’ve never really gotten around to it.  The approach I plan to use is that of Fr. Rufus Opus’ Modern Goetic Grimoire, a Lemegeton-spinning of the Trithemian conjuration ritual, and the tools and approach are generally the same to those in his Modern Angelic Grimoire, with the changes well-known and highlighted.  The first demon I’d like to work with is Orobas, specifically suggested to me as a beginner-mode spirit who can help with getting introduced to the rest of the spirits, but there’ll be plenty of work for them anyway.
  3. Undertake the Arbatel conjuration of the Olympick Spirits.  I’ve got the seals done and the text learned, so now it’s just a matter of going forth and conjuring the Olympick spirits.  I’ll finish planning my approach in the coming weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see how this complements or conflicts with my previous conjurations of the planets and their angels and what the angelic alliances I’ve built up to this point can contribute.  I like Fr. Acher’s approach of seeing these conjurations as initiations into the spheres, which is the point of Fr. Rufus Opus’ Gates rituals, but done in a different way.
  4. Study and prepare for baptism within the Apostolic Johannite Church.  Yes, this is a thing that I’ve figured would help buff out my practices with Saint Cyprian of Antioch, the seven archangels, and a variety of other spirits I work with.  No, this doesn’t mean I’m giving up my Hellenic or mathetic practices.  Yes, I believe that these different spiritual traditions can, if not dovetail in a completely complementary way, buff each other out.  I have my reasons.
  5. Begin learning and working with spirits within the tradition of Quimbanda.  During my vacation at the end of 2014, I got a consulta from a Tata Quimbanda which was fascinating and gave me no end of things to work on, and also gave me information on my personal and working Exus and Pomba Gira.  I plan to begin building relationships with these spirits, and something about the tradition snagged me and I have an eye on initiation, though that’ll be a ways off.  First things first: begin understanding this tradition at the direction of my tata friend.  My work with Saint Cyprian, who plays a huge role in Quimbanda, can also help, and I’ve resituated my altar of Saint Cyprian on top of a small cabinet which will house my Exus and Pomba Gira.
  6. Continue developing the study of mathesis.  This is going to be a life’s work, so long as I can keep doing it.  This will involve lots of research into Platonic and Neoplatonic occultism done back in the day, as well as whatever Pythagorean information I can get my hands on.  This is probably going to end up as a more meditative and contemplative practice than hands-on occult conjuration, but that might be for the best.  It may have applicable uses elsewhere and would dovetail nicely with other Hellenic practices, to be sure, but that’s not all entirely up for me to decide.

With that, let’s start talking about dates, times, calendars, cycles, holidays, festivals, and other chronological phenomena!  You can find the whole post after the jump, or you can jump to the individual sections you’re interested in with these links:

  1. Grammatēmerologion, the lunisolar grammatomantic ritual calendar
  2. Weekday cycle
  3. Astronomical and astrological phenomena
  4. Movable festivals and holidays
  5. Festivals and holidays fixed to the Gregorian calendar

Continue reading

Grammatomantic Ritual Calendar vs. Planetary Hours

Of all the ritual tools I possess, the most important one isn’t even really a tool at all, since it’s intangible.  I have a hard time calling it a technique, since it’s not really a skill and it’s something I have to work with in order to make use of, like a resource.  It’s the matter of timing, and it’s crucial to much of my magical and devotional works.  Whether it’s being as specific as timing something to a 30min window for a rare astrological election or just being lazy and doing something at some point during a week of the waxing moon, timing is something that can easily make or break a good ritual, so it’s important to understand the rules of occult timing properly for any magician.  Any ritual, heck, any activity whatsoever can be augmented and benefitted from looking at a clock and using a few mental rules or simple charts, from conjuring one of the cosmic leaders of creation to organizing your wardrobe; it pays, sometimes handsomely, to learn how to time things magically.

By far, the most common system I’ve seen of occult timing is the system of planetary days and hours, which is such common knowledge among Hermetic magicians and traditional astrologers that I don’t see a need to rehash it in full here.  Suffice it to say that each of the seven traditional planets (Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) are each associated with one of the days of the week (Sunday with the Sun, Monday with the Moon…).  Each planetary day starts at sunrise, and there are 12 diurnal hours (1/12 of the total time between sunrise and sunset) and 12 nocturnal hours (1/12 of the total time between sunset and the next sunrise); each of these are assigned one of the planets, as well, in a repeating order.  Times when the planet of the hour matches the planet of the day are exceedingly good for working with that planet, such as conjuring the angel or daimon presiding over the planet, while combinations of different planetary hours with different planetary days can yield interesting and refined times for specific acts (a la Jason Miller’s Advanced Planetary Magic).  This system of hours and days may look complicated, and if you’re having to calculate it all out by hand then it can be a headache at times, but there are plenty of tools to help you calculate planetary hours, so you don’t really have an excuse to be ignorant of them.  This system has been used for over a thousand years, and comes up time and time again (sorry I’m not sorry) throughout Western occult literature, so it behooves you, dear reader, to become familiarized with the system if you’re not already.

Remember, however, that you can’t have the planetary hours without the planetary days, and the planetary days is a repeating cycle of seven.  Seven is quite a popular number in occulture, spirituality, religion, and mysticism, and the system of planetary hours/days is a complete system on its own that can augment anything and benefit anyone.  The problem I have, however, is that I’m starting to use a totally different cycle of timing, my lunisolar grammatomantic calendar for Hellenic and mathetic rituals.  This is a cycle of 29 days (in a hollow month) or 30 days (in a full month) following the passage of the Moon in its synodic month, where there are three decamerons of 10 days, with the final decameron having 9 days if it’s a hollow month.  In each decameron, eight of the days are associated with one of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet, one of the days is given to one of the three obsolete Greek letters, and one of the days is unlettered (with this being the omitted day in hollow final decamerons).  I’ve been using this calendar for great effect lately in doing my mathetic letter meditations, scrying sessions, and rituals with the Greek gods above and below, and it’s a system I plan to continue using and refining as I continue developing it and my own mathetic practice.

The issue arises when I try to combine the two systems; it doesn’t really work.  Neither 29 nor 30 are multiples of 7, so they don’t really overlap except in complete cycles of each other (so thirtyish weeks or sevenish lunations, and the lack of specificity and exactitude here bothers me).  Add to it, the grammatomantic calendar doesn’t prescribe offerings and sacrifices on the days associated with the seven vowels, instead giving them to the seven planets themselves.  Thus, the first day of the lunar month, the Noumenia, is given to the letter Α, and thus to the planet of the Moon, regardless of what the day of the week might say it is; same case for the fifth day being given to Ε and thus to Mercury, and so forth.  Thus, the grammatomantic calendar affords another kind of planetary association to the days, though much more spread out than the system of planetary days.  It’s not something I’ve fully explored yet, being used to the system of planetary days and hours, but I plan to in the near future.

The problem, as you might have guessed, is that these systems don’t overlap very often.  For instance, if the Noumenia is the day associated with the Moon, and we’d like to find Noumeniai that are on Mondays to link the planetary day of the Moon with the grammatomantic day of the Moon, the next one is coming up on Monday, December 22, 2014; the next one after that is Monday, September 14, 2015, nine months apart!  Add to it, the system of planetary days and hours is pretty much a solar system, timed according to the rise and set of the Sun in patterns of seven.  The grammatomantic calendar (which I really need to find a shorter name for, perhaps γραμματημερολογιον, “grammatēmerologion”?) is lunar and follows its own patterns, which are frustratingly irregular by solar notions of the passage of time.  The two systems, simply, aren’t compatible to be mixed like that.

This only gets worse once we start reckoning letters for periods longer than a day.  For instance, the lunisolar grammatomantic calendar can give a letter to every lunar month, as well, but note that, because of the mismatch between the number of days in a synodic month and the number of days in a year, some years will have 12 months (hollow years) and some will have 13 (full years).  If we assume that every year has 12 months, then we assign every month in a two-year period one of the Greek letters in order, with the thirteenth month in a year receiving no letter.  How do we figure out which years need 13 months and which only need 12?  We look to the Metonic cycle of 19 years, 12 of the years being hollow (12 months) and seven of the years being full (13 months) in a particular order.  If we use a dual Metonic cycle of 38 years, then we have 24 hollow years interspersed with 14 full years.  We can assign all the hollow years in the dual Metonic cycle a Greek letter in order, leaving the full years unlettered.  However, with a month of 29 or 30 days, a year of 12 or 13 months, and a cycle of 38 years, none of this can be easily matched up with a system of seven days.  Thus, if one dual Metonic cycle starts on a Monday (year Α, month Α, day Α all falling on a Monday), the next time that will happen is in approximately (but maybe not exactly!) 266 years, which is 7 × 38.  A rare occurrence, indeed!

In that light, let me qualify my previous statement: the system of planetary days and hours, on its own without considerations of other systems of time, can be used by anyone to benefit everything, given a more-or-less Western or Hermetic understanding of the cosmos with seven planets.  The grammatēmerologion system uses the same seven planets, but is otherwise incompatible with the system of planetary days and hours.  Thus, they can’t really be used in tandem except by happenstance unless you have months (at a minimum) or centuries (if you want the whole shebang) to wait for a syzygy of letters and planets and days to occur.  I admit that I’m a little grieved by this, but I can’t say I’m completely surprised by the result.

So where does that leave us?  Honestly, my best solution is that it doesn’t matter.  So what if the systems don’t match up right?  They don’t need to!  They’re independent systems working on their own; there’s nothing wrong with that.  The system of planetary days and hours, of course, is definitely vetted and used across Western occulture, and it’s both simple and highly refined to achieve powerful results all on its own.  The grammatēmerologion system works, although it is experimental and used pretty much only by me and my household, yet calls upon the same forces.  So what if it calls for lunar rituals on a Tuesday?  According to the grammatēmerologion system, we don’t even have Tuesdays or any of the other days of the week; we have decamerons of ten days each based on the phase of the Moon, not (what might plausibly be argued) artificial cycles of seven days.  A debate between the theoretical efficacy of planetary days and hours versus that of grammatēmerologion is akin to arguing which set of elements is better to use, the Empedoclean/Western set of four or the Chinese system of five.  Arguing about it doesn’t make sense, since there’s no common ground to link the two together and compare or contrast against.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’ll break out my conjuration tools and call down Gabriel at sunrise on a Tuesday just because it happens to be the first day of the lunar month.  Planetary conjurations in the Trithemian-Solomonic-Hermetic system make use of the system of planetary days and hours, and I’m not one to force Gabriel to work with a system that he (nor the enclosing system he finds himself in) hasn’t vetted or agreed to.  Yes, I can just conjure Gabriel during a planetary hour of the Moon on a Tuesday, but that’s still relying on planetary hours and days.  Rather, in order to stick with the grammatēmerologion system in mathetic ritual and that system alone, a different approach to working with the planetary energies and forces is suggested here, one that can work with the seven planets as understood in Hermeticism as well as not being tied to the system of planetary days and hours as much of Solomonic work tends to be.  That’ll afford a deeper area of research, which can easily tie into my devotions as well as other offerings and sacrifices made throughout the rest of the grammatomantic lunar month.

Zodiacal Timing Review

Not that long ago, I made a post about retooling planetary hours for zodiacal hours.  I suggest you read over it to figure out where I’m coming from, but basically, one substitutes the planet ruling over a particular hour with a zodiac sign it rules, viz. a masculine sign if it’s a diurnal hour and a feminine sign if it’s a nocturnal hour.  It’s a pretty straightforward extension of the system, I thought, and I wanted to show it off before I start putting it towards use for a year-long project I have planned: conjurations of the 12 angels of the Zodiac signs, each done while the Sun is in the appropriate sign.  That way, by timing a particular conjuration to the zodiacal hour on the planetary day most closely associated with that sign, I thought I could get a better or more refined, though limited, timing to perform the conjuration.  While Iophiel is the angel presiding over all the fixed stars, different subsets are known for different effects, each with their own angel, just as there are individual angels of specific fixed stars as well as the lunar mansions.

Alas, though, my system of zodiacal hours is apparently not the best way to do things.  Last Tuesday at dawn, I conjured Malkhidael, the angel presiding over Ares, and learned about zodiacal conjurations generally as well as the nature of the sign of Aries as well as of the fixed stars in general.    When it comes to the conjurations of zodiacal angels, however, timing to the hours isn’t that preferred.  While it can be done, it’s obtuse and not the preferred way to come in contact with them.  Rather, the best time to perform a zodiacal ritual for something like a conjuration, according to Malkhidael, is when the sign in question is “brightened”.  When asked for an explanation of this, he clarified that a sign is “brightened” when it is either on the ascendant (rising) or on the midheaven (culminating), so about when the Sun is at heliacal rising or zenith while the Sun is in that particular sign.

This…actually makes a lot of sense, since these two points are hugely empowering when it comes to astrological elections.  In fact, that’s backed up in several sources, such as Agrippa (book II, chapter 30 and 31, as well as book I, chapter 41):

…when they are in Angles, especially of the rising, or Tenth, or in houses presently succeeding, or in their delights…There is the like consideration to be had in all things concerning the fixt stars…

…Now the manner of making these kinds of Rings, is this, viz. when any Star ascends fortunately, with the fortunate aspect, or conjunction of the Moon…

The significance of these locations is widespread in astrology.  Both the ascendant and midheaven are angles, with the ascendant representing the location where planets and celestial objects rise into the sky from the underworld (going from complete obscurity due to the Earth to visibility and light), and the midheaven representing the zenith and highest point of the sky (where everyone and everything can see the object).  If I go with a strictly solar timing of zodiacal rituals with this, calling on a particular sign only when the Sun is in that sign, then that gives me the hours of sunrise and solar noon when we’re in that particular sign.  I have a strong hunch that the same would work when the Moon is present instead of or in addition to the Sun in that particular sign, which would give me more options throughout the year.  Even then, though, I could just go with the sign itself rising or culminating without regard to what’s in it, which would give me about one hour twice a day to work with that particular sign.

Ah well.  The best part about working with experiential sciences like the occult is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  At least I got my answer early on in this series of workings about this particular technique, and now I have some principles to help guide my future work.

From Planetary Hours to Zodiacal Hours

Finally, now that it’s officially spring (the Sun entered Aries back on the 20th), I’m starting a year-long project.  No, it’s not the Abramelin, because I don’t need to do that at this point.  Rather, it’s a series of new conjurations for me to learn more about that most mysterious of spheres, that of the fixed stars.  I plan on doing conjurations of each of the angels ruling over the signs of the Zodiac this year, each angel while the Sun is in its proper zodiac sign, and learning and integrating myself more with the sphere of the fixed stars.  After all, I started with the elements, then I moved onto the planets; the stars are simply the next step, as I see it.  There are multiple ways one could go about this: work straight-up with Iophiel, angel ruling of the sphere of fixed stars as a whole; work with the 28 angels of the lunar mansions; or work with the 12 angels of the Zodiac signs.  I plan on doing all three, but this year I want to focus on the zodiacal angels, since they’re more familiar to me.

Of course, I can’t do much ritual without getting all my ducks in a row.  I plan on studying the signs first from another magical perspective, then getting my gear together and making a lamen for these particular angels, and so forth.  One important ritual is timing, and timing to the zodiacal signs is…interesting.  Planetary conjurations rely on planetary days and hours, which is pretty straightfoward, but I’m unsure about the signs.  Astrological common sense says I should do a conjuration while the sign is rising or culminating (ascendant or midheaven), but given my work schedule, that may not always be possible.  Since we use planetary days and hours to circumvent the use of proper astrological elections for the planets for ritual purposes, I wondered why we don’t have a similar system in place for the signs of the Zodiac.  So I made one up.

For those who have been living under a rock, let me describe the 12 signs of the Zodiac and how they correspond to the planets.  Of course, I’m working only with the seven traditional planets, so throw out what you know about Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, since they don’t come into play here.  Before continuing, you should learn about what the planetary hours are, because the zodiacal hours are just an extension based off them.  To describe only what’s needed about the zodiac signs at a very high level:

  • There are seven planets: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.  Of these, the Sun and Moon are called luminaries, since they’re bright enough to light the world.
  • There are 12 signs in the Zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces.
  • The luminary planets rule over one sign each; the nonluminary planets rule over two signs each.
    • The Sun rules over Leo.
    • The Moon rules over Cancer.
    • Mercury rules over Gemini and Virgo.
    • Venus rules over Taurus and Libra.
    • Mars rules over Aries and Scorpio.
    • Jupiter rules over Pisces and Sagittarius.
    • Saturn rules over Aquarius and Capricorn.
  • Each sign has one of the four elements, so there are three Fire signs, three Air signs, three Water signs, and three Earth signs.
    • Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are all Fiery.
    • Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are all Earthy.
    • Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are all Airy.
    • Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are all Watery.
  • Each sign is either masculine or feminine, so there are six Masculine signs and six Feminine signs.  Masculine signs are either Fiery or Airy, and Feminine signs are either Watery or Earthy.
    • Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius are all Masculine.
    • Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces are all Feminine.

Got it?  Good.

All we do to develop the zodiacal hours is we replace the planet ruling over an hour with its corresponding zodiacal sign.  So, any hours of the Sun become hours of Leo, and any hours of the Moon become hours of Cancer.  So far, so good, but what about the other planets that rule two signs each?  For that, we look at whether a given hour is diurnal (daytime, between sunrise and sunset) or nocturnal (nighttime, between sunset and sunrise).  If an hour is diurnal, we use the masculine sign; if nocturnal, the feminine sign.  So, a diurnal hour of Mars becomes an hour of Aries, while a nocturnal hour of Mars becomes an hour of Scorpio.

It’s really that simple.  So, a complete table of zodiacal hours for each day of the week would look like this:

Hour Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 Leo Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius Libra Aquarius
2 Libra Aquarius Leo Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius
3 Gemini Sagittarius Libra Aquarius Leo Cancer Aries
4 Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius Libra Aquarius Leo
5 Aquarius Leo Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius Libra
6 Sagittarius Libra Aquarius Leo Cancer Aries Gemini
7 Aries Gemini Sagittarius Libra Aquarius Leo Cancer
8 Leo Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius Libra Aquarius
9 Libra Aquarius Leo Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius
10 Gemini Sagittarius Libra Aquarius Leo Cancer Aries
11 Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius Libra Aquarius Leo
12 Aquarius Leo Cancer Aries Gemini Sagittarius Libra
13 Pisces Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer Scorpio Virgo
14 Scorpio Virgo Pisces Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer
15 Leo Cancer Scorpio Virgo Pisces Taurus Capricorn
16 Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer Scorpio Virgo Pisces
17 Virgo Pisces Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer Scorpio
18 Cancer Scorpio Virgo Pisces Taurus Capricorn Leo
19 Capricorn Leo Cancer Scorpio Virgo Pisces Taurus
20 Pisces Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer Scorpio Virgo
21 Scorpio Virgo Pisces Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer
22 Leo Cancer Scorpio Virgo Pisces Taurus Capricorn
23 Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer Scorpio Virgo Pisces
24 Virgo Pisces Taurus Capricorn Leo Cancer Scorpio

So, how would I go about using them?  Simple enough: for a ritual invoking Aries, I’d do the ritual in an Aries hour, or a diurnal Mars hour.  Of course, there’s some leeway with this; Mars hours are generally good, as are those of the Sun (the Sun is exalted in Aries, after all).  Same goes for all the other planets.  It’s a simple thing, really, but it’s another refinement that I might experiment with.  The logic makes sense, but what really matters is whether it works.  If the angel of Aries doesn’t care whether he’s evoked in daytime or nighttime, for instance, or whether he cares about planetary hours at all, then this system isn’t needed generally.  Since the sphere of fixed stars is higher than those of the planets, timing may not be a crucial factor generally.  Let’s find out!

2014 Ritual Calendar and Prospective

2013 has finally come and gone, and now we’re in 2014.  Awesome.  How was last year?  Fricking amazing, lemme tell you.  Between a good amount of spiritual work and crafting, my first full year with my fantastic boyfriend, and no small amount of education and adventuring, 2013 really wasn’t bad at all.  Now that we’re in the start of 2014, what are my plans?

  1. Get more physically active.  The past few months haven’t been kind to my waistline and it’s starting to show, not to mention that a number of the spirits are getting on my case about treating my body better.  To that end, I’m changing up my daily and weekly routine to get in some more exercise (running and basic weightlifting), as well as beginning to take aikido classes.  I’m specifically choosing aikido with the Northern Virginia Ki Society, not just due to the estimable opinion of my good friend, occult crafter, and martial artist Raven Orthaevelve, but because it will help in my energy manipulation and meditation skills.  Add to it, it’s something that I’ve always had an interest in but hardly had the chance to take it up when I was younger, so I may as well.
  2. Conjure the angels of the fixed stars.  This past year, I finally contacted Iophiel, the angel of the fixed stars and the angel of the eighth sphere, which was an amazing experience.  However, I’ve barely had time to investigate that sphere, and since it’s the most unfamiliar and complex of the spheres I’ve yet encountered, I want to spend some more time working with the forces of the stars as a whole as well as individual segments.  To that end, I want to start a year-long project by conjuring the angels of the fixed stars; not just Iophiel, but each of the angels of the Zodiac (as the Sun enters each sign) and the angels of the lunar mansions (as the Sun and Moon enter each lunar mansion).  This will amount to about 40 new conjurations, with about three or four new contacts being made a month.  I’ll start this project once the Sun enters Aries at the spring solstice this year, kicking off the solar new year with new conjurations.  This will provide a new wealth of information, I’m sure.
  3. Buy and move into a new house.  I’ve lived at my current apartment since I got out of college almost four years ago, and while I’ve enjoyed my time here, it’s time to move into somewhere better.  I’m investigating the possibility of actually taking out a mortgage and buying a house for myself, my boyfriend, and two of our friends; since we’re all into magic and the occult in our own ways, that should prove to be an interesting arrangement indeed!  I’ll need to start talking to my agency’s HR department as well as some of the angels and gods for the help I’ll need, too.  This will definitely help me, personally, to have more space for my magic work as well as begin more intense devotional practices with the gods and spirits.  Speaking of…
  4. Start working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  Saint Cyprian of Antioch is the patron saint of pagans, sorcerers, and magicians; need I explain further?  Although no longer recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Cyprian of Antioch (not to be confused with Saint Cyprian of Carthage) is well-known by some Nordic communities of magicians as well as by many Portuguese, Brazilian, and Caribbean occultists.  His ties to some ATR deities will help bridge a possible spiritual gap between me and my boyfriend and his godfamily (a group of ATR practicioners and initiates), too, as well as help give me a more solid footing when dealing with spirits of the dark and the dead.  And speaking of the dead…
  5. Start working with my ancestors more.  My interactions with people of ATR faiths has shown me by force how powerful our ancestors can be in our lives.  This isn’t just to say those of our family who’ve passed away in our lifetimes, but literally all of them going back to the furthest distant reaches of our genesis, even to the gods or elves or chaos or what-have-you.  I’ve started a small shrine and practice to my ancestors on my main devotional altar, but it’s just a tiny squished corner for now.  Once I get the space, I plan to setting up a full altar for them and getting to do more research for their names, pictures, and preferences.  This will be made more convenient since I’m tasked with repairing my mother’s old computers, which have books’ worth of genealogical information on different branches of my family.  Weekly chats and offerings to them would be the minimal practice here.
  6. Translate more Latin.  My boyfriend got me one of the most complete and thorough books on European geomancy ever written, the “Fasciculus Geomanticus” written by Robert Fludd in 1687.  This is about 650 pages of dense late medieval Latin replete with very deep geomantic lore and technique compiled by one of Europe’s most famous masters of the art.  I plan on translating this in full, perhaps even submitting it for publication or cannibalizing it into my own work on geomancy.  Who’s to say?  Maybe even both!  Other works in Latin might be translated, too, pending advice and suggestions from my dear readers.
  7. More trance work.  This is something I’ve tried off and on again since I pretty much started magic, but I haven’t really made much progress or even much of a concerted effort.  Entering states of trance, engaging in astral projection, and being able to dream lucidly is still high on my to-do list, so I’m going to devote myself to trance work on nights when I don’t work out and don’t have other magical work to do.  This, combined with the above things, basically necessitates I keep a strict routine for myself with putzing around on the Internet reserved mostly for when I’m at work (hah!).

So, without further ado, the calendars and timings for things for the year of 2014.  First, the updated conjuration cycle:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 Raphael
(Air)
Tzadqiel
(Jupiter)
2 Michael
(Fire)
Kammael
(Mars)
3 Michael
(Sun)
 Auriel
(Earth)
Haniel
(Venus)
4 Raphael
(Mercury)
Gabriel
(Water)
5 Gabriel
(Moon)
Iophiel
(Fixed Stars)
6 Personal
Angels
Tzaphqiel
(Saturn)

In the past, I was going on a 5-week cycle of the angels, with all the elemental archangels being done on Wednesdays (as my work schedule lets me work from home then).  However, this past year, I finally gained contact and initiation from Iophiel, the angel of the fixed stars of the 8th heaven, and wanted to allow more time for that as well.  Further, due to some of my other scheduling constraints, I wanted to leave my Fridays and Wednesdays mostly clear of magical work except as necessary.  Thus, I expanded the conjuration cycle to six weeks instead of five, moving the conjurations of Iophiel and my personal angels (natal genius, Holy Guardian Angel, and angel of occupation) to the weekend between the conjurations of Gabriel of the Moon and Tzaphqiel of Saturn.  Further, I also moved the elemental archangel conjurations to other days instead of Wednesdays.

Next, the lunar month cycle:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
New
Moon
Arktos Ritual,
house cleansing
and blessing
General material
consecration
Monthly
Hermaia
First Quarter
Moon
Full
Moon
Full Moon Ritual
Last Quarter
Moon
House
cleaning

Generally the same as last year.  I observe a monthly ritual for Hermes every fourth day of the lunar month, and I use the day before through the day after the New Moon to clean, cleanse, banish, and reward my house.  I also set aside time on the New Moon and Full Moon for certain celestial rituals, assuming the weather allows for it.  Not much of my normal work revolves around the revolution of the Moon, but it does help in getting a few things done here and there.

Of course, no schedule observing the stars could be complete without a list of planetary retrograde dates. Below are all the retrograde dates for Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury that take place sometime during 2014. Of these, only Venus and Mercury are of any real importance, but still.

  • Saturn retrograde from March 2 through July 20
  • Jupiter retrograde from November 7 2013 through March 6 2014
  • Jupiter retrograde from December 8 2014 through April 8 2015
  • Mars retrograde from March 1 through May 20
  • Venus retrograde from December 21 2013 through January 21 2014
  • Mercury retrograde from February 6 through February 28
  • Mercury retrograde from June 7 through July 1
  • Mercury retrograde from October 4 through October 25

Other astrological and astronomical phenomena:

  • Sun ingress Aquarius: January 20
  • Sun midway Aquarius (Imbolc): February 3
  • Sun ingress Pisces: Febuary 18
  • Sun ingress Aries (Ostara, spring equinox): March 20
  • Sun ingress Taurus: April 20
  • Sun midway Taurus (Beltane): May 5
  • Sun ingress Gemini: May 21
  • Sun ingress Cancer (Litha, summer solstice): June 21
  • Sun ingress Leo: July 22
  • Sun midway Leo (Lammas): August 7
  • Sun ingress Virgo: August 23
  • Sun ingress Libra (Mabon, fall equinox): September 23
  • Sun ingress Scorpio: October 23
  • Sun midway Scorpio (Samhain): November 7
  • Sun ingress Sagittarius: November 22
  • Sun ingress Capricorn (Yule, winter solstice): December 22
  • New Moon, first of winter: January 1
  • New Moon, second of winter: January 30
  • New Moon, third of winter: March 1
  • New Moon, first of spring: March 30
  • New Moon, second of spring: April 29
  • New Moon, third of spring: May 28
  • New Moon, first of summer: June 27
  • New Moon, second of summer: July 26
  • New Moon, third of summer: August 25
  • New Moon, first of autumn: September 24
  • New Moon, second of autumn: October 23
  • New Moon, third of autumn: November 22
  • New Moon, first of winter: December 21
  • Perihelion: January 4
  • Aphelion: July 4
  • Northern lunar eclipse: April 15
  • Southern solar eclipse: April 29
  • Southern lunar eclipse: October 8
  • Northern lunar eclipse: October 23

Festivals and holidays whose dates move around:

  • Hermaia: March 5
  • Asclepeia: March 9
  • Dionysia: March 11 through March 16
  • Purim: March 15
  • Pesach: April 14 through April 22
  • Aphrodisia: July 1
  • Rosh haShanah: September 24 through September 26
  • Yom Kippur: October 3
  • Chanukkah: December 16 through December 24

Other festivals and holidays whose dates don’t move around:

  • Veneralia: April 1
  • Feast of St. Isidore of Seville: April 4
  • Feast of St. Expedite: April 19
  • Feast of Mary, Queen of Heaven: May 1
  • Mercuralia: May 15
  • Feast of St. Benedict: July 11
  • Festival of Venus Genetrix: September 26
  • Feast of Saint Cyprian of Antioch: September 26
  • Feast of the Angels (Michaelmas): September 29
  • Birthday: October 8
  • All Hallow’s Eve: October 31
  • All Saints’ Day: November 1
  • All Souls’ Day: November 2
  • Feast of St. Lazarus: December 16
  • Saturnalia: December 17 through December 23
  • Christmas: December 25

Notes on the above lists:

  • I’m already using the Sun’s entry into the four cardinal zodiac signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) to mark the solstices and equinoxes, so it makes sense to me to use the Sun’s halfway point in the four fixed zodiac signs (Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio) to mark the cross-quarter days instead of the Gregorian calendrical method.  While most other occultists and pagans will use the normal calendrical dating, I’ll stick to my solar dating and tie it to the cycle of the Sun instead.  The dates are fairly close, at least, being off no more than a week from the popular observance of them.  The calendar dates of these cross-quarter days are the 1st of the month the astrological date occurs in (thus May 1st for Beltane).
  • The period between All Hallow’s Eve and the astrological Samhain is a big deathy week for me that I’ll probably make a big to-do for the dead.
  • Similarly, the period between Saturnalia and the winter solstice will be a roughly week-long period of partying and fun.
  • Yes, dear reader, I do count my birthday as a festival, not least because it usually coincides with Columbus Day (a federal holiday, and thus three-day weekend).
  • The Jewish festivals are things to mark one of the cultures I come from.  While I’m not very observant, I try to make these things a small reminder of what some of my ancestors have done.
  • While the Roman festivals are tied to the normal calendar, the Greek festivals move around due to their being tied to the lunar months.  By my reckoning, the Hermaia (Hermes’ festival) takes place on the fourth day of the tenth lunar month after the summer solstice; the Aphrodisia (Aphrodite’s festival) takes place on the fourth day of the first lunar month after the summer solstice; the Dionysia (Dionysus’ greater festival) takes place on the 10th through 15th days of the third lunar month after the winter solstice; the Asclepeia (Asclepius’ festival) takes place on the eighth day of the third lunar month after the winter solstice.

With that, let’s get 2014 rolling!