Archive for the ‘magick and history’ Category
Greetings fellow Pagans!
I was recently invited to give a lecture on “ceremonial magick” to a local group of second degree Wiccans. After accepting the invitation, I took some time to consider what direction such a lecture should take. What about ceremonial magick would interest them, and how could I present it in a manner to which they could relate?
The answer came quickly enough: I would give them a condensed history lesson about the Western Mystery Tradition – covering the development of Hermeticism, the Hebrew and later Christian Qabalah, Rosicrucianism, Masonry, the Golden Dawn and Thelema. Finally, all of this would culminate in a discussion about the rise of Wicca and its interrelationship with all of the above.
In the lecture, I pointed out the influence of the Golden Dawn in Wicca’s magickal methods – such as circle castings, pentagrams, Watchtower guardians, the four Elements, etc. I discussed the impact of Regardie’s publication of ‘The Golden Dawn’ on mid-twentieth century occultism (Neo-paganism included). And I even discussed Gerald Gardner’s association with Thelema – drawing much from my old Thelemic Origins of Wicca essay.
Overall, I’d call the event a resounding success, and it looks like I’m going to have to come up with some ideas for a future lecture for the same group.
Meanwhile, in the days since the event I have discovered there is something in the air about this subject. I just received the latest edition of Hermetic Virtues Magazine, and wouldn’t you know it included a wonderful essay by Peregrin Wildoak entitled The Influence of the Golden Dawn in Wicca. I have been wanting to write that very essay for many years – but it looks like Peregrin beat me to it, and did it better than I would have done. I forwarded a copy to the Wiccan priestess who organized my lecture, so she could offer it as “further reading” to her students. (I also recommend you get a copy of the latest Hermetic Virtues to check it out!)
I sent a message to Peregrin, offering my kudos and asking if he had ever read my Thelemic Origins… essay. He said he had indeed read it, and even brought it up in a related lecture he had given: The Influence of Aleister Crowley on the Development of Wicca. Let me quote his reply here:
thanks for this
Yes, I read your very interesting article…and politely disagreed with its central thesis in another recent lecture Would love a counter argument if you wish
That certainly piqued my interest. I doubted he disagreed with my premise of a Thelemic influence upon the development of Wicca. So I read his essay to find his specific point of dissent. I discovered a quote from my essay in a section entitled Myth Number 3 – Wicca as an Outer Court to the OTO or a Thelemic Vehicle:
“I’ve come to understand that Gerald Gardner intended from the very beginning for Wicca to be a largely Thelemic system.”
Having read the entire article, I think I understand where Preegrin disagrees with my statement. The above quote could be taken in one of two ways: Either I understand Wicca was intended as an organizational Thelemeic (that is, OTO) vehicle, or that it was a philosophical Thelemic vehicle.
In fact, I meant the latter. I am not among those who have suspected Wicca was intended as an outer court to the OTO, or even an “OTO for the masses.” Instead, my view is that Wicca was (to an extent) built upon Thelemic philosophy.
Of course, Peregrin also disagrees with that premise – and to prove it he cites several departures from (or in some cases the absence of) Thelemic philosophy in the Wiccan religion. And he is correct – such departures and absences do exist, and he does a fine job of pointing them out.
However, to play devil’s advocate, I would also point out that Thelema was intended to be a highly individualized philosophy. Are not those who dissect the Book of the Law and nit-pick specific points of Thelemic philosophy supposed to be “centers of pestilence”? Is it not the one cardinal rule of Thelema that one should follow his own True Will no matter what? Given this nature of the system, I don’t find it so hard to believe that Gerald Gardner felt at liberty to take Wicca in directions that might conflict with any of Crowley’s writings.
Still, I will admit my statement that Wicca was intended as “a Thelemic system” might have been over-stating the case to some extent. (That essay was one of my earliest pieces, and not an example of my best writing.) I certainly don’t view Wicca as just Thelema with Neo-pagan overlay.
However, the influence of Thelema and its philosophies upon Gardner cannot be denied. (Nor, to be fair, does Peregrin attempt to deny them in his essay.) I see more of Thelema in Wicca than the mere “fleshing out of sparse material” that Gardner claimed it to be. I believe Gardner’s occultism was heavily Crowley-influenced – first through Crowley’s published writings, then during Gardner’s time with the OTO – and that this formed the foundation upon which Wicca was ultimately constructed. (Much in the manner that Thelema is founded upon Golden Dawn principles, while it is not “Golden Dawn” in and of itself.)
Though, it is true that Gardner was taking Wicca in directions that often left the greater Thelemic system behind, and that Doreen Valiente took it even further afield. I suspect the apparent disagreement between me and Peregrim Wildoak on this issue is largely one of semantics.
Greetings to my students!
After I gave my Ceremonial Magick classes in North Carolina (six classes of material packed into two sessions!), one of my students asked me to take her to the store’s bookshelves and show her my best recommendations for further reading. Now, back home in Florida, we are reaching the last few classes of the course – where we finally begin to take all the basic rituals, correspondences and theory and put them together in rituals of practical magick. Once we are done, I suspct my current students are also going to want resources for further reading and study.
Even outside of my classes, I know many of you reading this blog are solitary practitioners. And I’m sure you would also like to know which books I recommend to futher your understanding of the Western Mystery Tradition and the practice of Hermetic Ceremonial Magick.
So, I’ve made this blog entry for both groups of students and practitioners. Much like the post I made concerning books about Babylonian and Semitic myth and magick, I will here gather the titles that I have found most useful in my own Ceremonial Magick studies – both when I was a solitary seeker and even still today.
We are very fortunate today, in that we have dozens of great resources that seekers in previous generations have had to do without. I hope you will find this list useful in your studies.
The Essential Golden Dawn : An Introduction to High Magic - Chic and Tabatha Cicero
A great general introduction to the Western Mystery Tradition as a whole. It traces the historical development of the WMT and introduces the student to many of the basic theories and philosophies behind our magick. Some of the basic rituals are also included.
Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts – Donald Michael Kraig
This is where it all started for me! When I was handed my first copy of this book, I was already practicing my own intuitive forms of magick (much akin to Hoodoo, really). But after just one look inside this book, I knew I had found something vastly important and powerful. I made up my mind then and there to put myself through the (at the time) Eleven Lessons – and the rest is history. This is not specifically a “Golden Dawn” text, but it does focus on Golden Dawn rituals and techniques, and I highly recommend it as an introduction to the practical side of the Hermetic Arts.
Self-Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition: A Complete Curriculum of Study for Both the Solitary Magician and the Working Magical Group – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
The Ciceros created this resource with the solitary practitioner in mind. They gathered a very large amount of the Grade curriculum of the Outer Order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, then expanded it with extra-curricular study material. Then they created a ritual process of Self Initiation by which the solitary seeker can progress through the Grade material. The Self Initiation rituals will certainly not make you a member of an Order, but they will introduce you to the forces invoked in each Grade of the Outer Order. There are even quizzes at the end of each Grade, so you’ll know when you’ve incorperated enough knowledge to move on to the lessons of the next Grade. This textbook is so useful, it is even used as a study guide by students of the H.O.G.D. itself.
Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
There have been several different editions of this text under different names. You can also find the material split between Creating Magical Tools and Ritual Use of Magical Tools. The above-linked version is the one I found and used many many years ago – in fact I think it was the first Cicero book I ever owned. It outlines in exhaustive detail how to build all the tools, furniture, robes, talismans and other ritual paraphernalia associated with Golden Dawn magick. Though you certainly won’t have to build everything you find in this book to practice at home, it contains enough to set up a fully functioning Traditional G.D. Temple. Plus, it gives you the magickal theory behind each tool along with the rituals to conscrate and use them.
The Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot – Tabatha Cicero and Chic Cicero
This is a Tarot Deck, but it does come with a book. If you’re going to get into Golden Dawn magick, you’re going to be using the Tarot. And this deck is specially made for use in Golden Dawn ceremonies. (I still prefer the Smith-Waite deck for divinations, but this deck can’t be beat for G.D. work!)
The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites & Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order – edited by Israel Regardie
This is where it all started – at least for those of us practicing the Golden Dawn today. After 1900, the original Order of the Golden Dawn split into several different groups. One of them became the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, which still exists today. Another became the Alpha et Omega, which closed its doors sometime in the 1940s. And another became the Stella Matutina – which was the branch joined by Israel Regardie. The Stella Matutina closed most of its doors in the middle of the 2oth century. (Only one Temple remained, but it had changed its name to the Order of Smaragdum Thallasses – better known as the Whare Ra Temple – and operated secretly in New Zealand until 1978.) Before the bulk of the Stella Matutina Temples died away, Israel Regardie decided to save the Tradition by publishing the Order’s papers. This decision was controversial, but most today agree that it saved the Golden Dawn. This book is that publication – so you can see for yourself where it all began. This was the book used by Chic Cicero to found his own Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – which is by far the world’s largest and most successful Golden Dawn Order today. This book also serves as the “advanced manual” that takes you to the next step beyond the Ciceros’ Self Initiation… book.
The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic – edited by Israel Regardie
A good companion volume to The Golden Dawn above. This book contains a lot of early Golden Dawn material that didn’t make it into the first book.
A Garden of Pomegranates: Skrying on the Tree of Life – Israel Regardie, Chic and Tabatha Cicero
This is one of the books by Israel Regardie that the Ciceros greatly expanded and then republished for the modern student. It is an excellent exploration of the Tree of Life and the magickal and Hermetic concepts that it embodies. In my intro classes, I give you the basics of the Tree of Life – but this text will take you to the next level and beyond. It includes guided meditations to introduce you to the energies, correspondences, angels and other magickal beings associated with every Sephirah and Path of the Tree.
The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Magic – Israel Regardie, Chic and Tabatha Cicero
The is another Israel Regardie original, expanded and republished by the Ciceros. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorites. It outlines the psychological aspects of Qabalistic and Hermetic practice – that is how the material interfaces with and changes your psyche. While I am no fan of the “psychological theory of magick” that does not mean there is no psychology at all involved in its theory and practice. I describe it this way: Magick is not “a form of psychology” any more than an engine is “a car.” Yet, without an engine a car is just a dead thing and doesn’t get you anywhere. How magick affects your mind, and how your mind affects your magick, it extremely important to understand.
Godwin’s Cabalistic Encyclopedia – David Godwin
This is a wonderfully useful resource for anyone studying the Western Hermetic Qabalah. Godwin has gathered every Hebrew name and term he could find, given them in English and Hebrew characters, their Gematira values and explained what they mean. As an appendix, he has also included a copy of “Sepher Sephiroth” – which gathers even more Hebrew words and phrases according to their Gematria values. (Kind of a 777 for the Golden Dawn crowd.)
Prometheus Rising – Robert Anton Wilson, Introduced by Israel Regardie.
And speaking of understanding psychology, this book is an absolute must-read. It is an easy-to-understand operator’s manual for your brain – complete with exercises. And the concepts it teaches are, as I said above, extremely important to your own spirutal development and your successful use of that thing called Magick. ( I drew upon the material in this book in my own Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires.)
Ishtar Rising: Or, Why the Goddess Went to Hell and What to Expect Now That She’s Returning – Robert Anton Wilson
See above. I consider this to be the second half of Prometheus Rising. And, as the title suggests, this book focuses upon the sacred feminine within all of us – and even explains why magick and witchcraft have returned to our culture in a big way. Highly recommended!
(NOTE: I will soon be adding a list of traditional Qabalistic texts to this list, such as the Zohar and Sepher Yetzirah. Stay tuned.)
The following books were not part of my own early studies into Ceremonial magick, but I believe they are potentially useful to today’s students:
Experiencing the Kabbalah: A Simple Guide to Spiritual Wholeness – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
“Kabbalah, a spiritual system grounded in symmetry and logic, is rarely addressed in a format that is suitable for beginners. Experiencing the Kabbalah goes against the trend, however, by presenting both historical and practical information on the Kabbalah that focuses on experiencing this ancient spiritual system rather than just reading about it. Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero accomplish this through a sort of ritual drama that they call “Walking the Tree of Life.” It characterizes each Sephiroth (different aspects of the divine) of the Kabbalah as a person, from the stable Malkuth to the enigmatic Kether, granting readers a fuller understanding of the Sephiroth and the paths between them. Experiencing the Kabbalah is an innovative guide for beginners as well as informative reading for adept practitioners.”
Making Talismans: Living Entities of Power – Nick Farrell
“Discover the secret keys and practical techniques to turn mundane objects into “living entities of power,” bringing real change in your life. By pooling magical practices from shamanism, paganism, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, and Dion Fortune, Making Talismans offers training and techniques for performing advanced magical talismanic operations.”
King Over the Water: Samuel Mathers and the Golden Dawn - Nick Farrell
If you are interested in the history of the Golden Dawn, this is a great place to start. This book explores the life and times one of the founders of the G.D. without the usual lens of myth and legend surrounding him. Spoiler alert! Mathers was a fallible human being like the rest of us.
Mathers’ Last Secret REVISED – The Rituals and Teachings of the Alpha et Omega – Nick Farrell
The Alpha et Omega is the branch of the Order founded by Mathers after the original group split apart. This book is a good companion to King Over the Water, as well as Regardie’s The Golden Dawn. It contains the rituals used by Mathers’ A.O. before it closed its doors in the 1940s. Here, you can see how things were done in the A.O. as opposed to what the Stella Matutina was up to on their side of the fence.
By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life – Peregrin Wildoak
“The Golden Dawn (GD) system of magic is the main source of the esoteric and magical wisdom and techniques practiced in the West today. While the rituals and bare teachings of the tradition have been published for sixty years, the inner workings and esoteric keys that empower those rituals have largely remained unpublished or unexplored in contemporary works. By Names and Images remedies this lack by providing detailed and clear instructions for the visualisations, spiritual connections and energetic practices required for every major GD practice and ritual, as well as several unpublished techniques. Focusing on the meanings and use of sacred names and practical techniques of visualisation, the book thoroughly explores meditation and divination, purification ritual, invocation and evocation, grades of initiation, and direct experience of the inner realms. Also covered is an explanation of the Qabalah and its use as a magical framework. While the book is sufficiently practical and clearly explained to be of huge benefit to a newcomer to magic, its primary aim is to allow people already practicing the Golden Dawn system to do so more effectively, and to be touched by the amazing spiritual blessings the rituals offer.”
This list is certainly not exhaustive – I could have included many further books by authors like Pat Zalewski, John Michael Greer and others. And I could have included even more by authors like the Ciceros and Donald Michael Kraig. However, I think this list is certainly more than enough to give you a sound start and a well-rounded understanding of the Golden Dawn and its magickal tradition. It will also help you to avoid wasting your time and money on books that are of lesser quality, or just re-hashes of what has already been written by the fine authors listed above.
There is also a lot of good material still in the works, too – so I’ll likely be expanding this list in the future. Meanwhile, if this list isn’t enough to keep you occupied, check out this post listing the best Golden Dawn, Hermetic and Rosicrucian blogs out there – so you can keep your eyes on the ever-developing Western Mystery Tradition.
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Greetings Angel Magicians!
I recently submitted my latest book on Enochian magick. This one is a practical manual – a grimoire. The publisher loves it, and we are moving forward with the editing process. Plus, we’re considering ideas for titles and cover design. (And that is why I’m posting this – see further down.)
The book is intended to explain what Enochian Magick really is – especially for those who are just beginning to look into the system. It will serve as a study guide when you read more advanced texts AND it will serve as a functional Enochian Grimoire – outlining step-by-step how to perform all of the rituals for the Heptarchia, Gebofal (the Liber Loagaeth system) and the Great Table. (Much of this has never seen print before.)
It is in three parts – the first is a general overview of the history of the Enochian Tradition. The second part lays out the system as John Dee recorded it. The third part outlines the Golden Dawn recension of the material - including their use of the “Reformed Table of Raphael” and an overview of the Concourse of the Forces.
Both the second and third parts (the actual grimoires) contain the step-by-step instructions for performing the rituals. I don’t waste time on all the ciphers and word squares from which Dee decrypted the system, nor with endless quotes from the Dee journals. I do nothing at all to complicate what is otherwise a simple and straight-forward system of Renaissance Angel magick. I just lay out the system as Dee himself would have practiced it. Then I do the same for the Golden Dawn system. Both Dee-purist and Golden Dawn practices are kept entirely separate, and the differences between the two are plainly explained.
Now, the publisher has asked me what I would like the cover to look like. Personally, I would like it to be a classy cover – akin to what they used on the dust-jackets for The Angelical Language. I don’t want to use the Seal of Truth as that has been done to death. I love the cover of Don Tyson’s “Enochian Magick for Beginners”, but that’s been used. lol All in all, though, you can probably see what I’m getting at. Not too busy, not too pop, not too “Enochian” – I want it to reflect that this is a grimoire of Angel Magick.
So what do you folks think? What would you like to see on the cover of a book like this? In about a week I will send my best ideas to the publisher. Now is your chance to put in a word on what you would like to see as well. Let me know!
Some time ago, I was given a beautiful signed copy of Avalonia’s The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet: a 17th Century London Cunning-man’s Book of Charms, Conjurations and Prayers, edited by David Rankine. With several writing projects and public events to get through this year, it has taken me some time to finish the book and gather my notes for a proper review. Yet, I feel this book is important enough for me to return to it and share what I have found.
So, why do I feel this book is so important? Even better, you may be asking, why should you be interested in the obscure personal grimoire of some guy whose name you’ve never heard before? The answer to both questions is the same, and it comes in two parts. First, I will discuss who Arthur Gauntlet was and then I will discuss the particular treasure his grimoire contains.
Many of you may know that I have described Solomonic magick as a form of “urban shamanism.” Some have taken exception to my use of the term “shamanism” to describe a system of occultism that arose among city-dwelling Christians in the Medieval and Renaissance eras. Most readers, on the other hand, have understood that my use of the term was based on a strict definition of “shamanism” as a social role. In this sense, a shaman is a person who operates outside of Church or Temple authority, and serves his or her community as a liaison between common folk and the realm of spirits. They act as healers and exorcists, and perform spells for day-to-day needs: such as love, money, jobs, friendship, favor with authority figures, finding lost items, divination of the future, etc.
Based on that definition, I have contended that Solomonic mages have historically served the functions of the shaman for their communities. While modern wizards have a tendency to lock themselves away in private and work magick for their own needs, the stereotypical wizard of the past offered his services – usually for a fee – to the laypersons of his town or village. (Much as we see with local cunning men and women and folk magicians even today.)
The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet is a wonderful illustration of this very paradigm. Arthur Gauntlet was a physician of the early seventeenth century, living in a time when medicine still included the use of astrology, magickal talismans and images, and incantations alongside the mundane applications of herbal remedies and tinctures. He moved in circles we would today consider occult – knowing such men as William Lilly, William Laud and possibly even Alias Ashmole (who ended up in possession of Gauntlet’s grimoire and claimed to recognize the man’s handwriting). He also employed a skryer named Sarah Skelhorn, who worked with him until 1636 – the possible time of his death.
Without a doubt, Arthur Gauntlet offered his services – both as a healer and a magician – to his community. And what we have in his grimoire is a practicing wizard’s working notebook – not merely a manuscript intended for mass publication as we find in many of the more common grimoires (i.e. the Key of Solomon the King or the Lemegeton). Instead, The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet falls in the category of a true receipt book – a record of the spells and charms and occult wisdom of a Solomonic mage and healer actively plying his trade.
We can easily see the practical nature of this grimoire by looking at the included material along with the order in which it is recorded:
- On the very first pages we find general instructions for all magick as taught by Ptolemy and Cyprian.
- Following these are the preliminary prayers to God and Psalms for defense and success in all matters, as well as conjurations against all evil spirits, that Dr. Gauntlet was likely to have used at the start of any magickal or healing operation. These include a prayer “for thy Genius” – showing that Dr. Gauntlet understood the importance of invoking his Patron or Guardian Angel at the start of any magickal work.
- Next, we find several charms that, I wager, were used by Dr. Gauntlet somewhat early in his career. (Later sections of the grimoire will contain a larger number and greater variety of such charms.) In this section, we find charms for protection, making spent money return and one for healing a person sick with “worms in his body.”
- Following these are the “49 Aphorisms” copied entirely from the Arbatel of Magic. This is the first of many inclusions from more popular grimoires, showing that Dr. Gauntlet was always on the look out for occult manuscripts to further his own understanding of the magickal arts.
- Next we find a rather lengthy section dedicated to the evocation of angels into a shewstone – several examples of which include the use of a child skryer. (This was a common feature of Solomonic magick, though we know that Gauntlet employed an adult woman for this purpose.) After the instructions given for summoning the angels, several sets of instructions are given for employing the angels for various purposes: discovering theft, finding hidden treasure, curing sickness, obtaining prophecy, returning lost cattle, returning runaway servants and children, and defense against witchcraft.
This section continues with alternate methods of summoning angels for yet further purposes – such as protection, theft, love and pleasures of the flesh.
- Next we find another inclusion from a popular grimoire: this time from the Heptameron. Included are the instructions for creating a magickal circle, exorcism of the fire, information about the garment and pentacle (including several versions of such a pentacle), and the full evocation ceremony – complete with the “considerations” and conjurations for the angels and spirits of every day of the week.
- Following all of this is a lengthy section of text drawn from the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy – teaching general occult philosophy, characters and forms of spirits, creation of sigils and talismans, books of spirits, evocation, obtaining oracles, etc.
- Then we find several sets of instructions for binding spirits to crystals, and the skrying of the same.
- Next are several experiments of necromancy or summoning the spirits of the dead. The most lengthy of these operations will be of much interest to any of you have have read Jake Stratton-Kent’s Geosophia, because it involves conjuring the spirit of a recently deceased person to go and fetch a fairy named “Sibilia” – who is apparently one of the Sybils (Oracles) of Greek history and myth.
- This is followed, surprisingly, with an elaborate ceremony for summoning “Sathan” (aka Satan) for the purpose of divination upon any subject whatsoever. This is apparently based on the philosophy that Satan is the “god of this world” and should therefore know everything that happens within it. This section ends with the spirit-curses found in many Solomonic texts for entities that are disobedient.
- The following section includes instructions for making and consecrating a magickal wand – the only magickal tool that Dr. Gauntlet seems to have used in his work. (No swords or knives are mentioned.)
- Then we find a section of recipes for incenses appropriate to each planet and zodiac sign. An interesting point here is the fact that all of the planetary perfumes are to be made into “pills” – or small rolled balls. These are created by mixing the powdered plant materials with blood – and in each case the blood is taken from an animal sacred to the planet itself. Such as bat blood for Saturn, that of a white rooster for Sol, that of a goose for Luna, etc.
- The next section might be thought of as a companion to the Sibilia conjuration. This time, the conjuration is for a spirit named “Oberion” – who is obviously the King of Fairies Oberon. It is interesting to note that this ritual also includes an invocation of the “Kaberion”, who are likely the Kabiri of ancient Greek mythos.
- Next we find a section dedicated to various Psalmic charms that Dr. Gauntlet likely used and prescribed in his practice. These are similar to those found in Use of the Psalms or the Book of Gold. They include charms for healing weakness (exhaustion? consumption? fatigue?), protection from demons, easing colic in infants, gaining honors, eloquence, healing sickness and injury, aiding childbirth, overcoming accusations, discovering theft, exorcising demons, protection of children, stopping bleeding, cramps, curing epilepsy, etc., etc.
This same section continues with more charms that do not depend on Psalms, but instead upon characters, herbs, magickal images and the like. Their purposes are more of the same we have seen – such as the curing of several specific injuries and diseases. Among these are seven “images” (actually more like talismans) attributed to the seven days of the week – and therefore the seven planets – fashioned from different metals and alloys. Each is attributed to a particular effect – such as binding tongues, creating discord or love between couples, etc.
This final section of charms is very lengthy - apparently representing bits of useful magickal lore Dr. Gauntlet acquired along the course of his career. I suspect he would have gone right on expanding this last section indefinitely throughout his lifetime.
Overall, we can see clearly in the above a notebook that would have been in use by an active practitioner of the art – specifically one offering his services to others in his community. The arrangement of the text even gives us a clue into how Dr. Gauntlet went about his ritual process – starting with his preliminary prayers and invocations and the methods by which he (and his skryer) made contact with angelic entities. Then follow the various charms and lore he picked up in his own spiritual quest and professional career. Furthermore, we see in the collected philosophy and lore the progression of Gauntlet’s own understanding of occult philosophy – as he would (certainly after much searching) lay his hands on one grimoire after another and hand-copy the portions of them he felt were most important.
I must also point out that the practical nature of this notebook gives us a rare glimpse into the “nuts and bolts” of Solomonic magickal practice. Where the more popular “mass circulation” grimoires often give us only a broad overview of the methods employed, more often than not mixed with a large amount of mythos and fantasy, Dr. Gauntlet’s grimoire is more concerned with specific how-to’s of the practice.
Some of the best examples of this latter dynamic is found in the instructions for skrying – which are absolutely some of the best I have ever seen in print. While this text and many others give us the rituals to use in skrying angels and spirits, only this one among the classical texts gives step-by-step instructions on how to divine specific information from the entities thus evoked.
The first example is found on p. 117, “How you shall make your demands to the Three Angels And first for a Friend.” It concerns how to question three summoned Angels to tell you exactly where a friend of yours is at the time of the working. (Apparently, Gauntlet’s skryer Sarah used this method often enough to continue using it after his death. The introduction describes Sarah later working for a client who would ask her to divine whether or not her – the client’s – mother was at home before she would commit to taking a trip to visit her. Remember this was the day before the phone, or even the telegraph or mail service. It would appear that Sarah was accurate enough in this divination to remain in the employ of the same client for many years.)
In the instructions given on p. 117, we learn that one did not simply ask the angels “where is my friend so-and-so right now?” Instead, a specific process was undertaken: First one asks the angels to show a vision of the friend in whatsoever place he or she may be. The vision will be granted, but no place will be named. The skryer must then ask how far away this place is – “is it five miles away? six miles? seven? eight? ten? twenty?” etc – until an exact number is settled upon. Then the skryer asks which direction the location lies from the current location – asking “is it north from here? south? east? west?” Then the skryer must ask, “Is it such-and-such a place?” The place must be specifically named by the skryer, and possible locations are to be named until the angels answer in the affirmative.
On p. 118, “How you shall make your demands for Theft to the Three Angels” we are told to use the exact same process. First one asks to see the thief – so that a description of the person can be recorded. Then, to find the present location of the thief, one goes through the same sort of questioning one used to locate a friend. First how many miles off he is – naming different distances until one is affirmed. Then which direction, then naming specific locations until one is confirmed as the hideout of the thief.
Also on p. 118 we find “For Treasure hidden”, which uses a similar but more restricted process. One first determines the land wherein one believes treasure is buried. Then the process of elimination is followed as above – only using feet rather than miles.
On p. 119 we learn how this kind of divination is done “For Sickness.” Once the angels have been summoned, the symptoms of the sickness are explained to the entities. Then one asks if the patient is going to live or die. If it is divined that he will die, one then asks how long that will be in coming by naming different lengths of time. If it is divined that the patient will recover, one must then ask how that recovery will take place. Will it be accomplished naturally, or will the doctor need to apply medicines? If it is to be by medicine, then one must determine the disease by naming known maladies until the angels affirm the one afflicting the patient. Then remedies and treatments are to be named until the angels confirm the one(s) that should be applied. Then one asks how long the recovery will take – once again by naming different lengths of time.
What a perfect illustration of how divination is properly done! One can imagine using this technique with a divinatory device such as a pendulum, geomantic squilling, a toss of coins or any other method that can provide a “yes or no” answer to any question. At no point are the angels expected to simply state outright the location of the person or the nature and cure of the disease - but these must be divined one bit at a time until the answer is finally settled upon via a process of elimination.
As you can see, there are many treasures to be found in the Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet. I agree with the editor when he suggests, in the introduction, that this book shows the marks of a person who actually used this material in the real world. That is what makes this book so important. The nuts-and-bolts nature of the instructions give us a rare insight into how this kind of magick was really done – much akin to the few precious eyewitness accounts of such rituals that have been preserved in various journals.
But even those eyewitness accounts are second-hand at best – descriptions of what a person saw and thought they were seeing that gives us little insight into the motivations and skills of the wizard himself. (Imagine, for example, trying to describe to another what you saw a surgeon do during an operation. It would hardly amount to an instruction manual for surgery.) Meanwhile, The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet gives us a real view into Solomonic practice much akin to the eyewitness accounts, while also giving us the step-by-step instruction to do it ourselves.
Yet again – not long after their publications of The Veritable Key of Solomon, A Treatise of Mixed Cabala and The Book of Gold – Avalonia and David Rankine have provided us with another leap forward in our modern understanding of classical Solomonic occultism. Therefore I must urge you to pick up The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet – whether you are a student of cultural history or an active practitioner, you will discover treasures buried within the pages of this obscure physician’s personal grimoire.
Greetings fellow Wizard-Priests!
Years and years ago, back in my early days of study into Biblical history and the Qabalah, I gathered a set of awesome texts concerning Babylonian magick and religion. (Sadly I did not own them, but had checked them out from the local library – remember those?) Before I dove head-first into the Solomonic grimoires, I quite regularly invoked the Annunaki (Gods) of Sumeria and Babylon. I got outstanding results though Them – and that was before I knew how to properly build altars or work with them in a more traditional Pagan manner. (At the time, I was invoking them through a basic Qabalistic framework.)
In time, I left the Annunaki behind. It was largely out of respect, as I discovered that I didn’t know how to work with Them properly and that I should probably be focused more on the “Gods” of my own time and culture – that is the Archangels and Angels found within the Qabalah and the Solomonic texts.
Yet, I don’t think I said goodbye to them forever. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that I’ll return to Them again. That point was driven home a few years ago when Tabatha Cicero created her own Babylonian Tarot (for which, I am proud to say, I handed over to her all of my own research on Sumer-Babylonian language, myth and magick).
Now, the Annunaki have reached out once more to remind me They are there, and that They haven’t forgotten about me (or – that they don’t want me to forget about Them, as if I could!). Just recently, I stumbled across a website that offers many of the old books I used to create my own Babylonian practice – all of which remain to this very day some of the best books ever published on the subject. They are in PDF format and you can download them for free. I’ve created this blog post to archive the links for myself, as well as to share them with you.
Babylonian Magic and Sorcery: Being the Prayers of the ‘Lifting of the Hand’ – L.W. King:
The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia – R.C. Thompson
Also, going beyond just Sumeria and Babylon, these are some of my favorite books on Middle-Eastern magic:
Semitic Magic – R.C. Thompson
The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities of Ancient Israel – Mark S. Smith
The Hebrew Goddess – Raphael Patai
A History of God – Karen Armstrong
This list is by no means complete, but should be a great start for anyone interested in these subjects. I’m sure I”ll be expanding this post over time. So stay tuned!
In the Light of Shamash,
Greetings Theurgists! (That is, Invokers of Angels and Gods)
I’m back from my trip to North Carolina, and getting caught up on my email, forums, blogs, etc, etc. During the catch-up process, I found that someone had posted an interesting question to my Solomonic forum. You can read it below, but in short it asks if there is really a difference between Pagan Gods and Angels, and how the answer to that might impact how one works with either. I felt you guys might find my answer of interest:
— In firstname.lastname@example.org, “Priest of Iset” wrote:
I was just re-reading “Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires” to brush up on some basic skills and came across a statement in the book that I didn’t really pay attention to during my first reading and I was wondering if someone could elaborate a little more on this. Here is the page number and chapter. Ch.8 pg.241. It says, quote: “Theurgy literally means to ‘work with gods’, who are technically one and the same with angels.”
Upon reading this I was a little confused; does this mean that angels and gods are in the same hierarchy or does it mean that their functions and offices are the same. If either is correct, does this mean that you can build relationships with gods and goddesses in place of angels and get the same benefit? I am very open to opinions and interpretations.
Yes, Angels and Gods are essentially the same species of creature. “Angel” simply means “Messenger”, and they represent the same class of beings that were messengers, servitors, viziers, etc to ruling Gods in pagan pantheons. [I also should have added: Even in the Old Testament the angels were referred to as the "Sons of God", which mirrors other groups of Pagan Gods who were considered the "Sons of" or "Children of" a particular ruling Deity.]
Historically, many Angels descend directly from Gods. Michael (or more archaically: Mikhal) was an epithet of the Canaanite God of War and Plague Reshef. Reshef, in turn, migrated to Palestine from Mesopotamia, where we find him named Nergal – Lord of the Underworld and God of War and Plague.
Raphael has close connections to Hermes and Mercury. In their most ancient forms, Hermes and Mercury were closely associated with the underworld and sickness – and were therefore appealed to for healing. The occult symbolism of Raphael is undoubtedly Mercurial, but he is in fact the Healer of God.
In the Celtic lands, where the old Catholic Church was relatively “kinder and gentler” than it was in Europe, a great number of local Pagan deities became Saints and Archangels. Often, churches were built right on top of existing holy sites, and folks just went right on worshiping the God or Goddess (now called “Saint Whoever”) connected to that site.
Grab a copy of Gustav Davidson’s “A Dictionary of Angels” and read through the entries. You will quickly see how many Angels can be traced to older pagan deities.
Also, in practice, the methods of working with an Angel are no different than those for working with a God. Enter any Catholic or Orthodox Church in the world, and you will see several beautiful examples of altars to Saints (who include such as St. Michael, St. Raphael, St. Gabriel, etc). Those altars – that is the manner of making them – date back to altars for such deities as Zeus, Hermes, Aphrodite, Isis, Osiris, Ammon, etc, etc, etc.
Likewise, the folk methods by which families set up household shrines to Saints and Archangels date right back to ancient methods by which household shrines were established for local Gods.
Along those same lines, the methods of working with Angels in the Solomonic tradition can be traced back (in part) to the methods used by the ancient Sabians to invoke Gods like Marduk, Sin, Ishtar, Nebo, Shamash, etc. Their methods were the basis of the Arabic Picatrix, which in turn became foundational to the European grimoire tradition.
And speaking of foundations of the grimoire tradition, the Greek Magical Papyri are another great example. Those spells are chock full of invocations to various Egyptian Gods, whose format were then adopted by the Solomonic mages to invoke their Angels and Archangels.
In the Medieval and Renaissance times, it was not uncommon for magickal literature to mention “the God Michael” or “the God Gabriel” right along side of “the God Hermes” and “the God Helios”, etc. I believe you can read more about this (with quoted examples, of course) in “The Golden Dawn Journal: Book II.” I’ll have to find the name of the exact essay.
[Another important point to add here: the Judeo-Christiain hierarchies of Angels include the "Elohim" or "Dominations" - who were regarded as composed of the National Gods of all nations - basically suggesting that *all* Pagan Gods were in fact Archangels and Angels all along. On the other side of the same coin, many branches of Christianity believe that all Pagan Gods were/are in fact fallen Angels. As an example of the latter, look at the Goetia. There we find 72 "fallen angels", many of whom trace back to Pagan Gods.]
So, as you can see, there is a pretty smooth transition in history from “God” to “Angel” – but they are essentially the same creature. The concept that they are somehow different is attached entirely to the erroneous concept that Judeo-Christianity is somehow “original” and “different” from the religions that preceded them. It is equally attached to the fallacy that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are “monotheistic.” All complete bullocks, of course.
Greetings God-brothers and God-sisters!
Now this is a truly humbling experience. As many of you know, my Solomonic practice was greatly influenced (and in no small way made possible) by one of my oldest friends and teachers – the Santo Ochani Lele. I knew him long ago, when he was still a Gardnerian High Priest and maknig his first discoveries of Palo Mayombe and Santeria. After he became an initiate of those systems, I literally spent hours discussing magick with him – comparing and contrasting my beloved grimoires with his form of magick and witchcraft. Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires was largely a result of those discussions.
Now he is a famous Lucumi author and teacher, with his own thriving House full of bright-eyed young aspirants. He has produced an (ever-growing) library of books about the Lucumi faith and practices. And, recently, he floored me by contacting me for an endorsement for his latest work: Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices.
Heh. Ochani Lele coming to me for an endorsement! How do you like that irony? And, after reading the book, I couldn’t help but to write what turned out to be a mini-review – part of which will be printed in the book, and is already included at the head of the Editorial Reviews on the Amazon page. Ah, the circle of life….
Since my review had to be edited down to make it fit as an endoresment blurb, I felt it would be cool to publish the entire review here for you good folks to see. So, here it is:
The Lucumi faith – better known to non-initiates as “Santeria” – has been one of the most misunderstood and maligned subjects in Western history. Its practitioners have been labeled as satanists, animal torturers, criminals and ignorant followers of a “fake religion” – not to mention any number of outright racial slurs. The good news is that this is finally changing. The faith is growing faster now than ever before, admitting members from every race and creed and even having a massive impact on other religions and mystical practices. For all of these reasons, at this point in our culture’s spiritual development, the importance of “Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria” cannot be overstated.
For those inside the religion, it will doubtlessly be a useful textbook – containing not only the sacrificial rituals, but also information on the Orishas, what they eat, how to speak to them though divination, and the sacred mythos – or tales – that contain the true spiritual meaning behind the practices.
For those outside the religion, this book is an absolute must-read! You will find here secrets never before revealed to the outside world. But, more importantly, you will find a detailed history of the origins of the Lucumi faith, the rise of “Santeria” in Cuba and its further migration into the U.S. and beyond. You will bear witness to the long and hard fight for the religious freedom and equality of its practitioners (from its survival amidst unsympathetic slave-owners to landmark cases brought before the Supreme Court in our lifetimes). And, best of all, you will finally learn the true meanings and motivations behind the often-demonized practice of animal sacrifice. No worse than butchering animals for food, and in fact many degrees better in its humane treatment of the animals involved, it is a deeply spiritual tradition dating back thousands of years. You don’t have to practice it, nor even agree with it, to come to a better understanding of a religious mystery that has such profound and moving significance for those in the Lucumi/Santerian faith.
Ochani Lele has provided us with yet another magnum opus in his ever-growing library of Lucumi textbooks, instruction manuals and mystical explorations. If you study religious movements here in the West, you simply cannot ignore this book.
The book is going to be released in just a couple of weeks, so pre-order your copy now!
Greetings God brothers and God sisters!
Scarlet Imprint is now taking pre-orders for an awesome new book called:
This new anthology brings together authors and practitioners of various Afro-Caribbean and Western systems of occultism to compare notes on their traditions’ difference and, especially, similarities. From the Scarlet Imprint page:
At the crossroads the paths of magicians and worlds meet.
Grimoire and root workers, Hoodoo and Vodoun, Quimbanda and Ifa. A potent fusion is occurring, a second diaspora.
At the Crossroads tells the stories of what happens when the Western Magical Tradition encounters the African Diaspora and Traditional religions, and vice versa. It is a mixing and a magic that speaks of a truly new world emerging.
My own offering to this brew is called Folk Traditions and the Solomonic Revival. The above quote, actually, is a fair description of exactly what my essay is about. I discuss the current cross-semination taking place between the modern Solomonic movement and various folks traditions – such as Santeria, Voodoo and Hoodoo. I briefly mention the relationship these traditions have shared in the past, and then explore the important impact such folk traditions are having upon the current understanding and practice of the medieval European grimoires.
And this goes far beyond the magick of Solomon, too. This movement reflects a relationship between Westerners and magick that was lost thousands of years ago, but which is now re-emerging and flourishing throughout every aspect of the occult revival. It is having an effect on everything from the Golden Dawn and Thelema to Wicca and Neopaganism. My essay, and Crossroads overall, gets right to the heart of this new movement and why it is so vastly important for all of us.
At the Crossroads is going to be a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand what exactly is happening to magick in the Western world in the 21st Century.
Peter Grey – Preamble: Standing Still
Jake Stratton-Kent – Necromancy: the Role of the Dead in a Living Tradition
Aaron Leitch - Folk Traditions and the Solomonic Revival
Eric K Lerner – Eleggua; Eleggua’s Worlds (art)
Stephen Grasso – Open up the Gate
Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold – The Invisible City in the Realm of Mystery
Richard Ward – In the Shadow of the Cross
Drac Uber & Ivy Kerrigan - Libations for the Lwa
Michael Cecchetelli – Countermeasures
Humberto Maggi – Crossing Worlds
Ryan Valentine – A brief history of the Juju
Hagen Von Tulien – Soul Dream (art)
Kyle Fite – The Syncretic Soul at the Cross of Cosmic Union
ConjureMan Ali – Goetic Initiation
Christopher D Bradford – Nigromantic Putrfaction
Chad Balthazar – A Garden Amidst the Flames
Angela Edwards – Queen of Fire & Flesh (art)
Jake Stratton-Kent – Magic at the Crosssroads
Greetings Avid Readers!
The latest edition of Hermetic Virtues is finally out! It was published on June 24th, in order to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the consecration of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’s Vault of the Adepti. It even includes the very same signed announcement I published here (and which has appeared on blogs and forums across the ‘net).
And what’s more, it also includes an essay by yours truly called Two Thrones for the Golden Dawn. In the essay, I discuss the mythical structure of the Hall of the Neophytes and why we place the Coptic-Egyptian godforms in their traditional positions. Some groups have made changes to these godforms (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but I explain exactly why we choose to keep them where they where in 1888 when the original Order was founded. (What can I say? The HOGD is a traditional Order.)
I am especially proud of this essay because Tabatha Cicero made reference to an earlier version of it in a piece she wrote for the latest edition of the Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. In fact, her essay is what prompted me to get this one completed and published at last.
There are also essays and reviews by such big names as Chic Cicero (HOGD), John Michael Greer (DOGD), Nick Farrell (MOAA), Sam Scarborough (OSM), Jayne Gibson (HOGD), Eric Sisco (SRICF) and many more. If you want to see a great review of the entire magazine, check out Peregrin Wildoak’s blog.
If you get a chance, make sure to drop a note of congratulations to the Hermetic Virtues team and give them kudos for their own five year anniversary. We haven’t seen a magazine of this caliber since Gnosis – so let’s hope they stay around for decades!
Greetings Faithful Seekers of Ruby and Gold!
In just a few days – June 24th, 2012 – we will reach an auspicious date in the history of the modern Golden Dawn. It was thirty years ago on that date that Very Honored Frater Ad Majorem Adonai Gloriam – better known as Francis Israel Regardie – consecrated the Vault of the Adepti of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
At the time of this consecration, it was thought that the Golden Dawn current had long-since passed into history. Later, it was discovered that one last Temple of the Order (specifically from the Stella Matutina line) had survived in New Zealand – a Temple best known today as the Whare Ra. (That, at least, was the name of the house built for the Temple. The Temple itself was designated Smaragdum Thallasses.) The Whare Ra Temple operated in relative silence until 1978.
But the Golden Dawn was not finished yet! Already in America a new Temple was being formed by Mr. Chic Cicero. When Cicero learned that Israel Regardie – that last known living adept of the Stella Matutina – was still alive and well in Phoenix, Arizona, he decided to make contact with him. Regardie was impressed with Mr. Cicero’s efforts, and so traveled to the other side of the continent to see the new Temple for himself.
Just four years after the closing of Whare Ra (we might say one year for each of the Four Philosophical Elements), Regardie consecrated the Vault of the Adepti in America. He then initiated the first Adepts in that new Vault, establishing a fresh Golden Dawn current that has since become a world-wide movement.
Today, there exist many different Golden Dawn Orders – and all of us share a debt of gratitude to the Ciceros and Dr. Regardie for their selfless dedication in reviving the G.D. current for everyone. That is why I am deeply honored to be included in the following 30th Anniversary Announcement – in which we offer our thanks to Regardie and Chic and Tabatha Cicero for all they have done.
Below, you will see the names of many individuals, Temples and Orders that have come together for this simple – yet powerful – message of fraternity and gratitude.
NOTE: If you didn’t get your name, Temple or Order added to the above list in time, we hope that you will still join with us by posting the image on your own blog, forum or other media (digital OR print) – along with your own words of appreciation. If you do, send me a link!
Plus, everyone is encouraged to check out the Facebook Event Page for the Anniversary. There you can add your own comments of fraternity and gratitude.
In case you haven’t seen what a Vault might look like, check out this video:
Virtual Vault of the Adepti of the Golden Dawn
In Peace and L.V.X.