Sep 19, 2012

Are the grimoires dead wrong? Part II of III

The second argument regarding the practicability of grimoires is that these books were meant to fail. The authors wanted the knowledge to remain secret,  for fear of the Church and for fear of misuse in beginners.

I’ve stated before that the Church did not treat mercifully the necromancers that used divine names and Christian elements in their conjuration as opposed to those who did not. The last category is practically non-existent. You did not get a slap on the wrist by putting prayers in your grimoire. You put prayers in your grimoire because you were a devoted religious man, seeking power through the use of holiness, depending on what religion you practiced.   Jewish grimoires contain psalms and prayers, Islamic grimoires contain extensive surahs from the Quran, and there was certainly no Jewish or Islamic Inquisition to please using these.

The knowledge was supposed to be secret, true. But grimoires were secret themselves. The Sworn Book of Honorius was passed down in a straight lineage of masters and disciples, and if the master could not do that, he would have had it buried with him. The grimoires we have today were not published in great numbers in paperback format and advertised to make a profit or to increase one’s notoriety. Secrecy of the content was not the issue, as very few people could read, and if they could make out the letters somewhat, they were not learned men to speak Latin, and even if they were part of the scholarly world or religious world and knew how to read and speak Latin, they must have had enough money to buy or have a book bound and enough connections to get access to magical manuscripts. One simply could not go online and look for spells, one could not go to the local library and look for books on magic. You had to find a practitioner and either pay him well for his book of secrets, like Wierius might have done to obtain the Liber Officiorum from Cockars and T.R., or apprentice under a necromancer in order for him to teach you.  

Their authors did not fear that people who could misuse them were to read them simply because they could control their readership. He wouldn’t even fear rival magicians. The readers were not a mass of unknown people with whom the magician had no contact, but a select few that the necromancer would make readers of his own will. 

The problem of the Church was not so strict. Many of the readers, writers copyists WERE clergymen or monks, part of the Church! There is no problem if the book might have been found by a priest or a monk, as many of them professed an avid interest in them, even collected them. The problem was if the wrong clergyman would find them. Only few were so stuck up and righteous that he would grab your book and accuse you of witchcraft. If this was done, the book itself would have been burnt as well, not kept and read. Few inquisitors did read the books and extracted information used in their letters of accusation, but then they would burn them as part of the judicial process. The ones who did keep books kept them secret and they were sympathetic to the use of magic and many monks sold their books for fear of being discovered by their superiors to other monks. This is how Johannes Trithemius could assemble such a marvelous library on magic in the  short span of time he was an abbot in Sponheim. 

The grimoires were not false advertisers, but personal notebooks. True. There were active schools of magic in Naples, Athens, Salamanca, Fez, Toledo, Rome and perhaps many more. Not every piece of information in the course was recorded by the student, indeed. The author in question argues that the grimoires contain a bare minimum and much was left out. Moreover, much was added to confuse people, created blinds and specifically wrote them so that they would not work.
The said author does not know how a grimoire was used, I’m afraid. The fault does not lye necessarily with him, this part is a commonly overlooked detail and a forgotten element that nobody seems to remember. The grimoire was not just a simple notebook, but a consecrated object meant to make the rituals work. The most important part of the necromancer’s arsenal was the Book of Consecrations. This contained all the names of the spirits with their characters, plus a set of nine conjurations to be performed every day in a ritual of nine days meant to empower it. His was no mere hollywoodian Book of Shadows, but a powerful object meant to make it’s content effective. 


And a summary and incomplete content would not do. The experiment was to be written in full, with conjurations and actions, in order to be effective. A blind or lie would not necessarily render the information invalid, but quite the opposite, funny enough, it would make the blind true!
The grimoires are not ineffective in themselves, as the modern practitioners do not use the said book, the very manuscript that the magician wrote and kept and consecrated on his knees for nine mornings with exhortations and suffumigations, but published versions of them. They do not construct a Book of Consecrations, out of lack of information or rejection of the proper way of doing it, but work from printed, on-line or oral material. Some exercises are not bound to that process and are certainly effective, but most are. For example, the Book of Consecrations states that all experiments are useless until the necromancer puts it in his book and recites the orisons to make it effective. More even, any corrupted experiment was made viable again if it be put in the Book. This is mainly why magicians were not so avid to look for the meaning and etymology of the words of power used, they did not care if they said or write Saday, Caday, Sadat, Saddai, Seday or Saclay instead of the Hebrew name Shaday. Because every experiment, no matter how corrupted, would have become effective once copied in their private consecrated book.
From this point of view, the use of a grimoire as it is is not ineffective, but the lack of a personal grimoire consecrated according to the tradition that the desired experiment refers to.

Sep 8, 2012

Secret Jinn Report Review

This article is a review of Ishtar Publishing s Secret Jinn Report.

As many of you know, I share a special bond of work and friendship with the people over at Ishtar Publishing. This bond came second to my fascination of their books and my services as an illustrator were offered at the beginning of our collaboration as an attempt for a less then well-paid illustrator to get the books he dreamt of and could never afford. 

The efforts were successful and ever since, I ve been part of the Ishtar Publishing team I like to think, enjoying their trust and friendship and occasionally getting to constructively criticize or add good ideas that might help. I am in no way on their payroll and this way I can keep my honesty sharp and my opinions objective.  If something of theirs is good and trustworthy, I will back it up, and if something seems fishy or out of place, I either keep my mouth shut in order to not offend, or if it seems wrong, I will openly object to it.

So far, I haven t had the chance to test the second version, a thing that eases my mind a bit.

The document I am reviewing now is a wonderful piece of esoteric work. In the old days, books on magic would be passed down from hand to hand and some even flooded the market, such as the Marvelous secrets of little Albert or the Book of Honorius. These books, much like modern paperbacks on magic, magick, magickq, witchcraft and wishcraft, are by no means scarce, quite the contrary. Yet still some works were kept in manuscript form, passed to a select few or sold for huge amounts of money. We can read the very rare and secret Triangular Book of Saint Germain of which we have but two copies and in the Faustian literature we read how the author, said to be Faust, purchased the secrets of such and such talismans for good amounts of gold, from Holland or other countries. 

This document falls in the middle. It s not published as a regular book, to be circulate widely and the unsold pieces be tossed in the 5$ bin at major bookstores, but kept strictly for people soliciting it. It s also not as expensive as one might think, for in Muslim countries their price is sky high, as the very possession of such documents would earn you death by law. This is in no way a farfetched claim, and the reader can check for himself the legislation in Arabic speaking countries of magic and possession of magical literature.

The Secret Jinn Report is part of a series of documents put up by Nineveh Shadrach in which some missing pieces from other grimoires are granted to the reader. As we might suspect, and is the case with all grimoires, no one book contains all the theoretical structures, preparatory works, prayers, invocations, seals, sigils, signs, banishments and amulets necessary to the practitioner. No such book exists. Some are of the beginning level, like the Picatrix or the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, some are theoretical treatises, and others are filled with practical secrets. 

If the first category can be safely distributed to any one, the second is likely to be subject to careful examination. To cite a single example, the Book of Honorius of Thebes was kept a secret by every magician who possessed it, and only a few disciples could copy it faithfully or bury it upon the masters demise, it was not published widely and advocated as a book of secrets like other opuscules. The document we have here responds to the need felt by many readers to have a beginning base in jinn magic, with things not contained in any other published work.

As far as I know, the efforts of brother Shadrach to make Arabic magic available in the West are unprecedented. Besides the Picatrix, in a few rare and expensive editions, and some articles in a number of academic journals, the West lacks any information of Arabic magic, a tradition richer than ours in many respects.

If we take into account that almost all our grimoires and magical tomes stem in some way or another from the translations made in Spain of the Great Sages and of Arabic magic books, we can have a slight idea of the vastity of the subject. Only a small portion of the available magical literature was translated then, and that small portion became the wellspring of Western magic. From astrology, astronomy, divination by lots, necromancy, nigromancy, geomancy and summoning, to alchemy, medicine and poetry, the Arabic tradition loaned us quite a number of pearls which we have held in veneration for centuries, knowing little of the richness of the necklace from whence they were separated.

He Secret Jinn Report is not the Secret of Secrets coveted by magicians, nor is it the answer to any question of the would be sorcerer, but it is far more useful than any book on magic I could order and buy.  It s quite succinct and to the point, and it s content is not only rare and translated for the first time, but it s also accurate.

I believe a great deal of manuscripts are always consulted by brother Nineveh before bringing us a single version of one rite or another, as the book of the Berhatyah Oath will prove to it s readers, and I am assured that this is also the case.

What does it contain?  I believe I will not cause any distress if I would disclose that.

The first secret is the Jinn King of the Sun. As any reader of Arabic magic might know, the Jinn king presiding over the planetary jinns of the Sun is called Al-Madhab. But is this enough to contact him? Of course not. Here we have not only his true name and rank, but also his true seal, his genealogy and his nickname, along with precise information of how to gain his cooperation, a true treasure in and of itself.

  The second secret are 15 names of Asaf bin Berechiah. These are not contained in the Grand Key and are not translated in any work. Each name has a specific purpose, each one has a magical square, and the use of only a third of these names could bring more to the practitioner than any other grimoire out there, granted he would be willing to put effort into it. From the treatment of one s illnesses and those of others to the perceptions of the jinn and stoping vehicles in their paths, the names have a multitude of uses. 

Secret three consists of a wonderful method of detecting black magic and jinn where there is doubt of the cause.

Secret four is related to Iblis, the equivalent of Lucifer in the Muslim tradition.  It s the first time when I can find a comprehensive list of his descent (genealogy) and of his children. Yes, he does have offspring. Some of the most powerful jinn are said to be his descendants or direct children, one of the most powerful being Danhash.

Secrets five and six deal directly with jinn evocation, perhaps one of the most direct approaches I ve ever read.

Secret seven deals with the release of the resident jinn, a thing never taught in Western magic, but often cited in Arabic grimoires.  Most evocations fail because the resident jinn of a place, be it deserted cave or one s home, has not been dismissed and sent away temporarily, and he can often cause the evocation to fail. If somebody invites someone in your own house, wouldn't you try to keep them out?

And finally, the eighth secret deals with the magical ink needed in the writing of the talisman and figures, something that has always concerned me and now I can say I am thankful of finding.

I would deeply encourage anyone who is interested in at least one of these secrets to purchase it. I would not encourage you to buy it if it seems unfit for you, if you're only interested in modern spell magic and visualization, in obtaining results with lighting scented candles and saying a rhyming diddy or with pseudo-magical workings. This is the real thing. If conducting a ritual top to bottom without worrying and whining that it s too hard or it takes to long seems something impossible for you, do not buy it.

However, if you are indeed interested in true magic, the one that channels the power and effort you put in it to achieve your goals and the kind that takes time to learn, to practice and to realize, this is for you.

You can buy this and start learning the real thing, or with the same amount of money, you can buy a book on pseudo-magic that tells you that every thought you utter is magical and little to no effort is necessary to do magic. The only difference is that the first choice is honest and trusted, and the other is  a money making scheme based on flattering the ego of a weak student in magic that above anything wishes to be called a master or a sorcerer.   

Your choice.

Aug 20, 2012

Are the grimoires dead wrong? Part I of III

As I was browsing through the many leaves of the magical tome called the Internet, I came upon a very concise and strongly-motivated article that detailed the authors main motives for considering the traditional grimoires ”dead wrong”. As I hold this occult practitioner in high regard due to what he has acomplished so far and respect his freedom of expression, but also value the traditional systems that have undoubtably been very effective in my practice, I decided to write an article countering the author’s reason of dismissing the said grimoires and also exploring a few missunderstandings related to them.  I am by no means writing a rebuttal aimed at this person or his school, as that has proved in many cases throughout history more counterproductive and unwise for all parties, but merely explaining my own motives for employing the traditional grimoires. 

1.   The Chriastian biased perspective.
The author claims that most of the grimoires we now possess are published or translated during or after the 15th century, in full power regime of the Catholic Church, thus the old conjurations to the gods and demons have been painted over with prayers to the Christian God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary.  

 Why is this assertion wrong, in my view? For two reasons: the first is historical and the other is confessional. The historical argument is that in every age, in every culture, the forces employed by magicians, especially demonic forces, were called upon, exorcised and put to work by the magician not in his own name and authority, but in the authority of a greater god, of a suit of powerful supernatural beings of similar but lesser godhood or of a long litany of ancestors with great merits, be they heroes, saints, magicians or otherwise. It is a natural process of magic to be moulded after the religious view of the practicioner. 

In the Egyptian world, the priests would call upon the higher gods and their secret names to force the lesser gods or the demons of the diseases to dispell or retreat. In Mesopotamia, the same thing occurred. In fact, the story of how Silik-mulu-ki, the god of healing,  came to the aid of men in defeating the seven evil spirit princes (Maskim) with the help of the most terrible and secret  name of his heavenly father, Ea, is not so different from how 17th century German conjurors employed the aid of the healing Christ by means of the names of the Father, to conjure and subject the seven Electors of Hell to the sorcerer. We cannot say that the Faustian conjurations, created in a Catholic environment, are simply Christian rip-offs of the Akkadian incantations, because there is a great gap between the two and no connection whatsoever, but we could guess that they are similar constructs meant to obtain similar results for two completely different people, separated by time, space and dogma. 

Even before the rise of the Catholic Church, the gnostics countered the evil actions of the malevolent Archons with the authority of Jesus, or some, with the authority of the veterotestamentary God of Abraham himself, IAO. Still before the rise of Christianity as a religious and political power, in the fourth century A.D., the Testament of Solomon tells of how the wise king Solomon, a key element in all subsequent magical books and sagas, compels the demons with the help of the Judeo-Christian God. 

The religion of Islam is no different: Arabic magicians hold grimoires  that have never seen the scrutinous eye of the Inquisition or of the Vatican, yet constrain demons and djinn by the use of mystical names of God and by the powers of their frustrating angels, such as Mikhail, Jibril, Ruqail and Israfil, the same ones that European treatises conjure. While the Catholic magician empowers his rituals and conjurations by the 100 names of God   and 72 names of Christ, the Arab empowers his with recitations of the 99 names of Allah and the 28 names of power of the Barhatyah Oath. Is it quite so unbelievable that the Catholic will use quotations from the Bible, namely Psalms and Gospels, while the magicians and sorcerers of Yemen use their surahs from the Quran? 

Every religion has it’  s magicians, and every magician appeals to the utmost source of power known to him, namely, the God of his tradition. It is with  good reason that the sage Abramelin advises Abraham of Worms (another author of a 15th to 16th century devotional grimoire that had nothing to do with the Church) to not change his religion.  He states that every man or woman can attain the secrets of magic, be they Pagan, Muslim, Mosaic or Christian, with the condition of not renouncing his religion for the sake of another. This means the Sumerian, the Greek, the Egyptian, The Syrian and the English magician can set in motion the same forces with the same results, if they stick to the tradition that is most suited to them and has been empowered by other magicians of his own kind by trial, error and oath. 

That is why most grimoires of the traditional kind do not work for a large number of their employants. It is not the grimoires that are dead wrong, but the approach of the practitioner.  They are being attempted by people desiring to change their content, replace their names with others, employ other spirits with the same methodology, affix GoldenDawnish rituals and pseudokabbalism to where there once wasn’t any and disregard their requirements. One of the first reasons why the traditional grimoires do not work is that they are not being attempted by people of a similar paradigm to the one of the author: German and Italian grimoires are attempted by non-Catholics, Jewish grimoires are attempted by gentiles, Arabic grimoires are attempted by non-Muslims and worst, Babilonian curses and rituals are being performed by living people... The same goes with secret orders: a non-initiate may do Golden Dawn rituals all his life daily, if he is not accustmed with the Order’s philosophy, beliefs, rituals and initiatory currents, he will obtain little but mental illusions. 

The most flagrant transgression is when a grimoire writen in the spirit of a religion is atempted by an opponent of that religion or by a skeptic. A Christian grimoire will never have any effrect with an atheist or with a satanist. A grimoire employing the names of the Judeo-Christian God can not be reversed engineered to resemble a pagan conjuration and achieve results accordingly, no matter how well attested our analogies are and no matter how clever our religios philosophy may be. A satanist wanting to put into practice the Goetia or the Grimoire of Honorius would have to do something quite agaist his beliefs, like renouncing  Satan formally in a Christian ceremony, much the same way the Christians of the Middle Ages would want to give themselves freely over to the powers of darkness renouncing their Christian God  formally, in ritual desecration of the Cross, the Holy Host or of certain icons. The two are quite similar and it is quite useful to study the history of such ritual conversions to uncover their mechanisms and utility, beyond that of theatrical amusement of the wealthy and bored.  

 This brings us to the second argument, that is the confesional one. The Catholics wrote the grimoires! Yes, some of them were. The Jews wrote them! Yes, some of them were. Pagans, Arians, Nestorians, Orthodox, Catholics, Jews, Muslims wrote grimoires.  We use mostly Christian grimoires, with overwhelming influences. Most of the God names of our Christian grimoires come from Jewish sources. Most of the spirits’ names, as well. Some spirits of the air, like those found in the „Heptameron” and the „Liber de Annuli”, such as Varcan, Sarabotres, Zaaba and Maymon, are simply Western interpretations of the seven kings of the djinn, such as Burqan, Shamhurash, Zawba and Maymun. The Martian spirit Samax of the „Heptameron” is called „Rubeus Rex, Filius Diabuli” (the Red King, son of the Devil), an exact translation of the Arab name of the Martial King of the Spirits, Malika Al-Ahmar, bin-Iblis. Does this mean that the original spirits were painted over with Islamic dogma? Not in the least.

 The grimoires in use in the West today were indeed written by Catholics. But they were not disguised as prayers or composed in such a way to appease the Catholic Church, they were written like that because of the belief of the practicioner in the power of the said prayer. There is no falsity in these grimoires, they were all written to serve the purpose they advertise of serving. There were not only a lot of Catholic practicioners, but almost all magicians of the Middle ages were exclusively monks and priests, as Richard Kieckhefer quite eloquently proves in a specially dedicated chapter of his work, „Magic in the Middle ages” called the Clerical Underground. 

The Church as a whole did not look upon magic and grimoires with good eyes, quite the contrary. When discovered, such books were confiscated and burned and their employers accused of witchcraft. Should the said grimoires bare the names of God, of the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Christ, or portions of the Roman Liturgy mixed with the conjurations, the sentence was not milder and the author was not forgiven, but even worse, he would have been charged both with witchcraft and heresy, along with other chages as using the Holy Sacrament in magic and taking the Lord’s name in vain. By putting Cristian elements in the rituals he employed, the Catholic magician did not seek the clemency of the Catholic Church nor an excuse for his magic, but quite on the contrary, he was risking a lot more than mere witchcraft charges.

Jun 20, 2012

Grimoire manuscripts

Well... time to put my talents to good use.

As I m raising money for my lionskin belt and ring, I ll be auctioning some stuff on e-bay.

Not just books, but unique manuscripts made by me, both bound and copied.

First on the list, for the collectors of the genre, would be Grimoirium Imperium.

It s not about the content, which is readily available to anybody, but about the fact that they will be created, crafted and written by a practicing mage.

Tell me if this sounds good.

Apr 13, 2012

Golden Lamen: II


This should have actually been Golden Lamen 0. 
It s my first attempt to gild a seal made of tin.

The Original seal of Camuel:

The tin seal,  melted, cast and engraved personally :

And the end result, gilded with common goldfoil mixture (mixtion, in my country s iconografic tradition):

Apr 10, 2012

Gold Lamen

Since I am putting together my Theurgia Goetia equipment as faithfully as I can, I will need the gold lamen. Tricky busyness... Not only is a disc of god extremely expensive and beyond my current financial reach (right now ever a dinner out and a movie are out of the question, but I m quite optimistic), but it would be extremely hazardous to engrave.

The grimoires mention times not a few the seals of wax. Not only the Book of Abramelin the Mage and the Liber Juratus (Sigillum Dei Aementh) along with Dee s inovations of it, but also the books on planetary images such as the Liber de Angelis and the Munich Manual.

Nothing wrong with wax seals. This is one of the materials used for its purity and magical properties in a lot of rites, in molding statues, images, lamens and even rings (in the Hygromanteia), and it would resolve my dilemma in finding a suitable body for the seal using genuine gold foil.

Why use plaster, wood, epoxy or any other metal, when I can use good ol consecrated wax, after the traditional method?

This is the step by step procedure of making a seal out of wax, gilded in gold:

1. Get some rosin (colophony).

2. Ground the rosin to a fine powder. It s quite easily groudable, very brittle and dry, and it will yeald a fine, puffy, white yellowish powder, the same athletes use to powder their hads for better grip. Right now I only had rosin, I ll also try shellac as soon as possible.

3. Melt some wax. Genuine beeswax, from a good seller, not candle mixture or spermaceti or paraffin wax. Genuine beeswax is yellow to brown and has a honey scent that is really to die for.

4. Put the rosin powder into the molten wax and stir until all the rosin is melted in the wax. This will produce a harder wax, and this was used for seals on documents. Natural beeswax is very very soft and it will become softer if handled, let alone worn as a lamen, and the added rosin will prevent that. It also provides a more solid surface for engraving the characters, letting the burin or engraving needle sink evenly into it. Add a lot of rosin powder, don t be afraid.

5. Pour the wax mixture in a prefered mold. I do something else: I boil some water in a round tea pot and pour the hot wax. The water sinks and the wax flows up. Once hardened, the wax will form a perfectly round disk, with the same thinkness all around. And if you try to take it out, you will ruin it. Trick is sticking the pot with the wax and water in the freezer, after it cools down, for a few minutes. The Wax will contract and come out on its own. If the pot is not all roud, it might get stuck, though. For this I used a tin mold, poured the mixture in and after cooling I placed it in the freezer. It came right off.

6. After your disk is ready, wipe it clean, dry it a bit and engrave your design. In my case, the Pentagonal Seal of Solomon, but I ll do a test one with my own design on the spot.  It s better to engrave it while still cold. After it gets warmer, it will become  quite soft, even from the heat of your hands. 

This was done in a hurry, and I m not particularly proud of it, I only wanted to show you the process.

7. Enter the goldfoil. For this demonstration I will use less expensive faux gold, but for the genuine experiment I will certainly use real 24 karat gold foil.
Since the wax  acts nothing like wood or plaster used in icons, nor like paper or vellum treated with gesso, we will have to attach the foil to the wax in a different way. This is when it hit me: rosin wax is stickier than normal wax. 

7a. Gently dry the wax seal to remove any water or vapor.
7b. Gentry apply the goldfoil.
7c.Blow on it and caress it ever-so-slightly with some cotton or a soft fabric.
7d. After the goldfoil settles (would take you a few months trials, but it s way easier than engraving pure gold when difficulty is concerned) press with your thumb gently but firmly on each line and character. The heat of your hand is moderate enough to melt the wax and make the goldfoil stick, but gentle enough so as not to melt the whole seal or ruin the design. I tried a lamp and a blowdrier first, but the wax melted in both cases, and this is surely the safest method.
7e. Press it again softly with some cotton or a satin rag and rub it, in order to burnish it.
7f. Behold ye fynished result, to the glorye of the Almightye God!

OK, so it looks a bit lame and cheap on camera, but in real life it actually looks good. The camera tends to show every wax imperfection and every scratch the goldfoil catches even from rubbing with soft materials.

Hope you get it right and practice the process, as I did. NEVER try gold foil from the get go, always practice with faux gold.

I will test the effectiveness in my evocations this summer. 

N. B. This is NOT the actual seal I will use. I will never photograph and post my magical tools, only my replicas. I am a firm believer in the Secret of Practice.

Take care and let me know if this was helpful.

Feb 4, 2012

The Iron Chafing Dish

My search within the Lemegeton magical paradigm continues.

The censer in the Abramelin operation is a bronze or brass vessel, the censers of the Clavicula Salomonis are in fact four earthen pots to be placed in the four quarter, but what about the first two books in the Lemegeton?

The Ars Theurgia Goetia, which I will work on, has the same practical implements that need  to operate the Ars Goetia. This one states:

The other materialls is [are] a sceptre or sword; a miter or cap, a long white Robe of Linnen, with shoes and other Clothes for ye purpose also a girdle of Lyons skin 3 Inches broad, with all the names about it as is about the uttermost round [part of the] Circle, & also perfumes and a chafin [chafing] dish of Charcoles kindled to put the fumes into; to smoke or perfume yee place appointed for action.
Quote:  Of The Arte Goetia, J. Peterson (Ed.)

Now The Ars Goetia and Ars Theurgia Goetia are not very close to the Key of Solomon in regards of ritual and materials, but rather to the Heptameron and the Fourth Book. It actually borrows most of its conjurations from the Heptameron, with very little modifications, if any.

The Heptameron, (J. Peterson ed.)  informs us that the vessel can be either earthen, or iron:

 THe fire which is to be used for suffumigations, is to be in a new vessel of earth or iron;

  He ought also to have holy water from a Priest, and a new earthen vessel with fire,

 I chose to go with the iron censer for this. Its perfect for the magician on the budget and it has other advantages as well. 

The idea of this kind of chafing dish came to my while I was constructing the Arabic pomegranate tripod, and it seemed appropriate to use the same principle.

For my test I bought two stainless steel bowls, quite cheap, from the marketplace:

Took out three metallic pipes from my ”I know I ll need this stuff later on so I won t throw it out” pile:

And used a metallic hoop from my weight-lifts to hold them in place.

 Spread the bars evenly in a triangular fashion, put some coals in and TADAAA:

 Shiny new Solomonic Chafing Dish! For the Grimoire purist o a budget!

The vessel  is light enough not to bend or break the legs of the tripod, it s not that heat sensible so it will not crack or break like the ceramic one, it will heat itself too from the coals so that any perfume dropped in that misses the coals will still catch fire and smoulder, and the legs are long enough to keep the canvas circle intact.

As for the burning duration of the coals, I ve lit those an hour ago and they still burn nicely, and the frankincense tears still burn very well and I don t even have to blow on them. I ll update this to tell you how long they stay lit, but an hour is enough for an evocation.

Update: the coals last about 3 hours. More than enough for the preliminary preparations, the conjurations, the evocation itself and questioning of the spirit and for putting on the expelling thimimiatae (banishing perfumes) after giving the license to depart. 

Feb 3, 2012

Book Review: Magical Treatise of Solomon

I finally received my copy of The Magical Treatise of Solomon. The leather edition!!! 

Of course, I could not afford this kind of treasure on my own, and my payment for this book was done in work. Many thanks to my benefactor for his kindness and understanding, who shall remain anonymous.

This book is absolutely amazing in every sense of the word: beautiful binding, flawless golden letters stamping, great graphic quality and huge amount of precise information.  

It s the eighth volume of Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic Series published by Golden Hoard, translated by the very talented and knowledgeble Ioannis  Marathakis and forwarded by Stephen Skinner, and it should be its leading title since this treatise is the Greek origin of the European Solomonic Cycle, through the Key Of Solomon. 

It can be truly considered the missing link in solomonic literature, bridging the gap between the Testament of Solomon and the later works in the Clavicula Salomonis category, expelling the myth of the Hebrew origin of the Keys of Solomon in the European tradition.

The material is gathered from a number of Greek codices, unearthing information that has long thought to lie buried either in dusty manuscripts no one cold consult, either in special and scarece editions of scholarly studies.  

The information found in these manuscripts vary from one to another, but they contain basically the same information.
The most important tool that the artisan (magician) needs is the Knife of the Art. This is made from a iron that brought death and has a black handle made from goat horn. This is the granddaddy of the white-handled knife, the black-handled knife, the sword, the pen knife, the burin and of course, the athame. 

Contrary to modern pseudomagical neopaganistic views, this knife was not used to direct ”magical energies”, but had in fact quite a practical use.

Contrary to European grimoires that extended the ritual objects to the point of insanity, this tool served multile purposes with great success:
-it served as a tool to cut things
-it was the tool for tracing circles
-it provided a magical defense in some cases
-it sealedthe circle entrance
-it served as a burin (engraving needle)
-about a dosen more.

The Treatise goes on to say that the knife is used for killing and skinning the animals that needed to be slaughtered in order to make the parchment and the knife used to cut the reeds or feathers either for writing or for making the reed pen.

No blinds, no enigmas as to which tool should be made first, like in the Mathers Edition. 

The recepies might seem cruel and bestial, mixing various ingredients of mineral, animal and human provenence. It also clears away the answers to the blood in magic issue. Untill now, the exotic requests for the blood of various animals was considered by the so-called grimoire fundamentalists (like myself) just that, blood of certain animals, while modern users that abhorre the idea of blood thought it a code of some sort concealing diverse substances of vegetal origin. Thing is the weirdos who do things by the book were right. No matter how much we like or dislike the idea ( I myself am a vegetarian), the Treatise goes into detail of how, when and in what way should the magician draw the blood and use it in ritual, leaving no room for doubt of guesses.
It details the certain types of bloods, parchments, inks and incenses that the talismans of the planets require, adds original prayers to the planets in order to subdue them and offers a cornucopia of names of the spirits that rule the hours of the days, the parts of the world and other things of the sort, neatly arranged by the author in 23 delicious comparative charts.

It also presents the virtues of the planets, of the hours of each day, of the days of the Moon, of the zodiac, of the plants and much much more.
Two methods of evocation are contained in this treatise, each with its variations in the manuscripts, plus a hoard of individual experiments regarding divination, scrying, invisibility, lust, knowledge and the like.

We have seals, symbols, characters and practices that we had no idea of until now and the echoes of which we find in the later grimoires.

This book is truly a treasure to behold, to read and to have. I advise you to buy a copy until they run out. It is worth every penny.

Ioannis Marathakis
Ioannis Marathakis was born in 1973, in Athens, Greece, where he still lives. He has studied Theology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, where he attended classes on the history of religion, history of philosophy, ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew languages, as well as Byzantine literature and palaeography. As he was living in an environment where traditions such as the ‘evil eye’ and the ‘evil tongue’ still existed, he also developed an interest in the survival of such ancient notions and practices.

The so called Solomonike, or magical books allegedly attributed to Solomon, was a field where many of his interests converged. To name but some, it had a connection to the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, it was a major element of Greek folklore and, of course, the knowledge of Mediaeval Greek and Byzantine palaeography were absolute prerequisites for studying it. Since this was a book that nobody seemed to actually have seen, in his University years he turned his attention to the study of the relevant grimoires that had survived in the West. He finally tracked down the Magical Treatise, more than ten years later in 2004, and tried to formulate a critical edition together with an English translation, an attempt that proved to be futile, due to the diversity of the manuscripts.

It was not until 2010 that he decided to reorganize his material and translate the various manuscripts separately, something that led to the present publication. In the meantime, he published in Greek a history of the Solomonic literature, Searching for the Key of Solomon (2007), a web article concerning the history of the invisibility spells, From the Ring of Gyges to the Black Cat Bone (2007), and an introduction to the Treatise, under the title A Source of the Key of Solomon: The Magic Treatise or Hygromancy or Epistle to Rehoboam, for the web magazine Primordial Traditions (2009). 

Jan 28, 2012

Circle of the Art

I am building my magical circle for a series of operation from the Ars Theurgia Goetia, and sure enough, I need a circle. As I am sick of Crowley's rendition floating everywhere on the web, I decided to publish my own version for those in need of one, based on Peterson's Lemegeton, as close to the manuscripts as possible (no snake, no pretty colors), but adding the Hebrew script.

You can download it strictly for personal purpose. If you wish to feature it on your website or blog, please let me know or give the proper credits, it has been an immense amount of work with scarce resources.

For those of you who are not afraid to get down to the canvas and do the dirty work of actually painting your own Solomonic circle (yes, they can also be done by Yourself, not necessarily bought), I m including this guide to fit the letters: when completed, divide the circle in 4 quarters, then half, then half again, resulting 16 sections to better distribute the letters. After painting them in erase the pencil division lines  and start with the other figures.