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Llewellyn Magick Blog: American Gods and Where Gods Come From   1 comment

Greetings Gaiman-ites!  (Is that a thing by now?)

 

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From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, June 28, 2017:

I’m willing to bet, if you are reading this blog, you have already watched every episode of the new hit TV series American Gods. Or, if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard a ton about it from your Paganfriends. And, seriously, *WHY* haven’t you watched it yet?? The first season is complete, and only eight episodes, so you can easily binge-watch the whole thing.

[…]

 

I strongly recommend both the book and the show. If you can read the novel first, and then watch the series, do so! However, this blog entry isn’t a review of either one. Instead, I want to delve into one specific aspect of the story’s underlying philosophy: where the Gods came from.

Read the Rest at:  https://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2017/06/american-gods-and-where-gods-come-from/

Posted June 28, 2017 by kheph777 in history, llewellyn blog, paganism, religion

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Making Goetia of Solomon Skrying Incense   Leave a comment

Greetings fellow Summoners!

00-seal of solomon

Today I would like to share something rare and precious: the making of the incense prescribed by the Goetia of Solomon – found in the Lemegeton.

I’ll explain exactly why it is both rare and precious in a moment, but let me first quote the relevant portion of the grimiore.  It is found after the long list of 72 spirits, under the ‘Maigical Requisites”, where the Secret Seal of Solomon (pictured above) is described:

This secret seal is to be made by one that is clean both inward and outward, […] It is to be made on a Tuesday or Saturday night at 12 of the Clock, […] When it is so made, fume it with alum, raisins of the Sun, dates, cedar and lignum aloes…

The list of ingredients, with its raisins and dates, might remind one of Egyptian Kyphi incense, as its base is made from raisins soaked in wine.  (It is certainly possible the Goetia is attempting to mimic that recipe, though there is no evidence beyond the shared ingredient.)  However, what truly makes this incense precious is the inclusion of lignum aloes.  Also known as agarwood, lignum aloes can only be obtained from the heart of an increasingly rare far-Easterm tree (aquilaria malaccensis). Furthermore, the aloes can only be obtained after the tree has been infected with a specific species of mold.  According to its Wikipedia entry, agarwood is one of the most expensive natural resources in the world – and frankly that was likely true even when the Lemgeton was written.  Today, some sellers of incenses have even ceased carrying it in the hopes of preserving the dwindling trees.

I was able to acquire several ounces of lignum aloes – though I had to import it from Indonesia.  In the bag, it looked much like any ground wood incense – like cedar, only slightly darker.  We immediately lit a censer, and places the tiniest pinch of the material onto the coal.  It has a woody smell (no surprise there) with perhaps a small hint of musk.  I would describe it as smelling like fresh dirt after a rain, because it does, but I don’t want to give the impression it smells anything like patchouli.  It’s not nearly as sweet as that.

As you see above, the perfume is instructed for use in the making of the Seal of Solomon (used to bind the spirits to the Brass Vessel).  However, once I had a small whiff of pure lignum aloes, I began to suspect it was intended for much more.  It made my head tingle as if a head-rush was about to begin, and gave me a somewhat stoned (“buzzed”) feeling – almost as if the world had shifted slightly and left me with a touch of vertigo.  The affects didn’t last long after the incense was gone.  I knew right then, lignum aloes (or agarwood) is a powerful skrying incense!  It could very well be intended for use during the evocations.

After that experience, I couldn’t wait to get the complete recipe put together and see what the result smelled – and felt – like.  So I went out and bought packages of raisins and dates – making sure they had no added sugar, sulfur, or other preservatives.  As it turned out the packages contained 7oz (rasins) and 10oz (dates) for a total of 13oz of fruit:

01-Raw Fruit

About 2/3 of the fruit shown here.

 

You might have noticed the Goetia includes a rather odd ingredient in the incense: alum. This is generally used as a preservative, and has the effect of slightly hardening fruits and vegetables that are soaked in it.  Its has an extremely sour taste, and was therefore popular in the making of pickles.  It was originally alum that gave pickles their snap when you bit into them.  (Due to health concerns, most pickles today do not use alum.)

It seems unlikely that alum would make a good ingredient in an incense – for both reasons of health and scent.  However, it seems quite likely the alum would have been included to preserve the raisins and dates.  And the proper way of doing that is to soak the fruits for several hours in water that has been enriched with alum.  The result can then be dried out and powdered, with the preservative already infused.

I didn’t use all the fruit in the first attempt, as it gets pretty bulky and I had to eventually fit everything onto a cookie sheet.  So I did it in two batches.  In order to maximize the contact between the fruit and the water, I gave it a good chopping beforehand:

02-chopped fruit

 

Then it was into a bowl of fresh spring water (NO tap water!) into which I had dissolved as much alum as it could hold:

03-Alum Water

04-fruit in water

Probably didn’t need this much water.  On the second batch, I just covered the fruit with water, plus a bit more.

 

I let them soak for about 8 hours the first time, but I found 6 hours to be more than sufficient for the second batch.  In both cases, it resulted in what looked like a bowl full of mushy sliced olives:

05-after soaking

Not actually olives…

 

These were then strained and placed outside on a cookie sheet to dry in the hot sun next to the “desert plants” section of my herb garden:

06-dry in sun

 

As it turns out, I did lose a few pieces of the above to birds and/or squirrels – but not much.  Next time, I’ll try to fashion a proper drying bed out of two screens: one on the top and one on the bottom, so air can get to all sides of the fruit (or herbs, etc) but animals can’t.

I made sure both batches had a couple of days out in the sun, to make sure they soaked up plenty of solar energy.  But it quickly got too rainy and humid (late spring in Florida!) to continue drying them outside, so I opted to complete the drying process in the oven inside.  It took a couple of days at the absolute lowest oven temperature setting.  Then the dried fruit went into the incense grinder:

07-grinder

The resulting powder was actually still a bit damp, so I spread it out on the cookie sheet and returned it to the oven for a few more hours.  In the end, 13 oz of fruit resulted in about 6 oz of powder, consisting of raisins, dates, and alum:

08-powdered fruit

 

After some testing of the different ingredients (I already had powdered cedar on hand), I decided it was best to use the following mixture:

1 pt Raisins & Dates infused with Alum

1/2 pt Cedar

1/2 pt Lignum Aloes (Agarwood)

The above is measured by weight.  It may seem odd that the fruit should be the greater ingredient, but remember it is denser and heavier than the powdered woods.  A single ounce of raisins and dates by volume is very little compared to the same weight of cedar or aloes.  For my first batch of Goetia Skrying Incnese, I used two ounces of the fruits and an ounce each of the cedar and lignum aloes.

09-finished product

 

The final result gives me the same “buzzed” feeling as the lignum aloes alone, plus it adds something between a musky and a fruity smell.  My wife at one point said it smelled like walking through a forest after the rain, and at another time said it reminded her of fruit cake!  In either case, it is definitely a musky and almost-heavy scent – doubtlessly quite suitable for chthonic evocations.  (My own familiars have already requested some!)

I will be consecrating this new incense on May 31st – the first Wednesday of the waxing Moon.    I don’t have a lot of this, and it will have to cost more than my standard incenses, but I will be offering it on Doc Sol’s site – so stay tuned either there or on the Doc Sols Facebook Page!

The 48 Enochian Keys (Angelic Calling 1)   2 comments

Greetings Enochian Students!

The following analysis of the First Angelical Calling (or Key) is excerpted from The Angelical Language: Vol I.  I plan to release all 19 analyses over several weeks.  Enjoy!

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The Angelical Calls are more than just keys to mystical gateways. In fact. they consist of a kind of biblical poetry – psalms, really- that appear to outline a connected message about the life of the Universe. However, exactly what that message says has been debated by Enochian scholars for decades (if not centuries). Like proper biblical literature, the wording is obscure enough that different readers see entirely different messages. Over the years, many have offered their own explanations of the “meaning” behind or within the forty-eight Calls. Here, I will present my own analysis of the poetry, and attempt to demystify the obscure language.

The poetry of the Calls appears to draw from a range of biblical literature. The first. third, and final Calls each contain very Genesis-like aspects- describing the establishment of the physical world as we know it. Calls two, and twelve through eighteen, are reminiscent of psalms or verses from the Song of Solomon- being invocations of the Divine through praise.

The Calls are generally classifiable as apocalyptic writings – which, like Loagaeth, commonly focus upon the cycle of time and the life and death of the Universe. Apocalyptic texts include such canonical books as Ezekiel. Isaiah, Daniel. and the Revelation of St. John. Calls four through fourteen, especially, remind me of verses from the Revelation, Isaiah, and so on.

The word apocalypse is an archaic word for “revelation”- especially in the spiritual/mystical sense. It is through such an apocalypse that the prophets Ezekiel, St. John, and (of course) Enoch were able to glimpse the Divine Throne.  It therefore makes sense that the Calls- and even Loagaeth itself- should be associated with apocalyptic literature. Not only were they received by Kelley and Dee via direct Angelic revelation (making them prophets in their own right), but the practice of the system (called Gebofal, see chapter 4) is intended to result in the revelation of mysteries. Not to mention the fact that the Angels associated the whole system with the Tribulation.

Finally, I must give some attention to the classical Gnostic influence upon these poems. As we have seen in previous chapters, there is an undeniable Gnostic imprint upon Dee’s entire system of magick.  For example, the “thirty Aethyrs” are apparently based upon the thirty Heavens of the Gnostics.  Just as we see in Loagaeth, the Gnostic aspirant was expected to ceremonially open “gateways” leading into the thirty Heavens, receive purification and baptism within each realm, and finally obtain ultimate reunion with God. (See the Gnostic text entitled Pistis Sophia for just one example.)

Meanwhile, the Calls seem to contain a direct Gnostic borrowing in their name for God: Iadbaltoh, translating as “God of Justice (or Righteousness).” This name is suspiciously close to the ancient Gnostic name of the Creator-Ialdabaoth. The etymology of this name is obscure: however, Gnostic scripture records Ialdabaoth’s title of honor as “The God of Righteousness.”

There is also a Gnostic literary style to the poetry. For instance, the Calls written from ladbaltoh’s viewpoint bring to mind such ancient writings as The Thunder-Perfect Intellect– wherein the Gnostic goddess Sophia speaks to her followers. (Remember that Sophia- or Wisdom- appears in Dee’s journals as the Mother of Angels: Galvah.)  The treatment of the Christos (“He That Liveth and Triumpheth”) in the poetry is also very Gnostic in its imagery.

However, I must remind the reader that the classical Gnostic texts we know today were unknown to Dee and Kelley. During their lives, the classical (or Sethian) Gnostic sects had long since been exterminated, and the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts in Egypt was hundreds of years away.

In the meantime, Gnosticism had lived on in the very foundations of Western esotericism-at the hearts of such movements and philosophies as Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, and alchemy. Its imagery survived in medieval and Renaissance engravings and the Tarot trumps. Its literature was a heavy influence upon canonical biblical texts (such as the Book of John and Revelation). Many of its mysteries were shared with and adopted by Jewish Merkavah mystics and Qabalists. And its Doctrines were preserved and taught by isolated mystics and secret societies.

There had also been a Gnostic sect within the Catholic Church for a time-founded by a Christian teacher named Valentinus- until it was also exterminated. It would appear that Valentinian philosophy was the primary source of Gnosticism for much of the West, including for men such as Dee.

With all of this taken into account, it is no surprise that the forty-eight Calls should bear the mark of Gnostic symbolism, without being technically classified as Gnostic literature themselves.

For brevity’s sake, I will conclude this introduction and proceed to the analysis of the Calls. In what follows, I have provided the text of each Call. Then, each is broken into “sections” of related passages, and I have included my commentary with each section. The commentary will include further references to the influences upon the poetry we have already discussed.

Call One:

“I reign over you,” sayeth the God of Justice, “In power exalted above the firmaments of wrath: in whose hands the Sun is as a sword, and the Moon a through-thrusting fire.”

Most of Call One appears to be composed of the words of God Himself. As we see in the line above, the speaker of the Call establishes that he is not speaking his own words, but those of the God of Justice (lad Balt or Iadbaltoh). By quoting the very words of the Creator at the time of their creation, the speaker is reminding the Angels of the promises they have made, and the commands given to them by God. (We shall see this elsewhere in the Calls.) The speaker is also proving that he knows these secret words, and thus establishes his own authority.

Remember that Call One is intended to move the “Kings and Ministers of Government” who are also the ‘First Seven”. These are likely the seven Archangels who “stand before the Face of God” as depicte’d in the Revelation of St. John and elsewhere. Among these seven planetary Archangels, those of the Sun and Moon stand as chiefs. The first line of the Call reveals that the God of Justice is so exalted (likely super-celestial as in Gnosticism), even the mighty Sol and Luna arc but tools or weapons in His hands- a sword and a “through-thrusting fire” (fiery arrow).

Which measureth your garments in the midst of my vestures and trussed you together, as the palms of my hands. Whose seats I garnished with the fire of gathering and beautified your garments with admiration. To whom I made a law to govern the Holy Ones, and delivered you a rod (with) the ark of knowledge.

In the first line above, the initial word “which” most likely refers to the Sun and Moon described in the previous line of the Call.  In the study of astrology, the path of the Sun and Moon across the sky is used to distinguish the twelve principal constellations from among the chaotic mass of stars. Because of this, the Sun and Moon are credited with bringing order to chaos, as well as the government of the planetary and zodiacal Angels. From the standpoint of astrology it is Sol and Luna who “truss together” the signs and planets (the kings and ministers of government).  It is they who mark out (measure) the paths of the stars through the vault of the Heavens-  the vestures (territories) of ladbaltoh.

The next line suggcsts that God has garnished the seats of Sol and Luna with the “fire of gathering.” This makes sense when we consider that the Sun and Moon are said to burn with a mere reflection of the Fire from Heaven.  The line then addresses the kings and ministers once again, and suggests that the Sun and Moon have “beautified your garments.”  The planets in our solar system are beautified by glowing with the light reflected from the Sun.

The next line seems to refer to the natural laws set by Iadbaltoh- those that govern the Holy Ones (Angels), and those which they enforce upon the created realm. As the kings and ministers of the Universe, they both hold the rod (scepter) of rulership and represent the ark (or storehouse) of all knowledge. (Remember that Dee was an astrologer, and regularly read the stars for knowledge.)

Moreover, you lifted up your voices and swore obedience and faith to Him that liveth and triumpheth; whose beginning is not, nor end cannot be; which shineth as a flame in the midst of your palace, and reigneth amongst you as the balance of righteousness and truth.

With the word “moreover”, Iadbaltoh changes the subject of his speech. He is, of course, still addressing the kings and ministers, but He suddenly appears to refer to a Divinity distinct from Himself- “Him that Liveth and Triumpeth.” This would seem to be a direct reference to the Christos– the Anointed One who descends from Heaven to take on a body of flesh and triumph over evil (“liveth and triumpheth”). In the Book of Revelation, the Christos conquers the physical realm and is established as eternal King.

We have already discussed the Gnostic Christos (also called the Logos, or Word). It is both self-created and eternal, both distinct from and part of the Highest God. The descriptive terms used in Call One to describe “Him that liveth … ” are typical of the Christos. He is described as eternal, and (in the same spirit of the Call thus far) is associated intimately with solar imagery. He “shineth as a flame” in the midst of the palace of the Holy Ones, as the Sun shines in the center of our solar system. Both the Christos in Heaven and the Sun in the celestial realm are the central pillar and balance. (Interestingly, Gnostic texts describe the Christos’ first act as that of bringing balance to the realm of the Aeons. It then descended to the physical realm, to do the same here.). Therefore, Call One serves to remind the Angelic rulers of the Universe that they have sworn themselves to both Iadbaltoh and the Christos.

Move, therefore, and show yourselves. Open the mysteries of your creation. Be friendly unto me. For. I am a servant of the same your God; the true worshiper of the Highest.

Finally, the Call ends with an evocational formula – or conjuration.  As we shall see, all of the Calls end with similar conjurations. All of them are spoken by the speaker of the Call rather than by a figure- such as God- being quoted within the Call. However, there arc a couple of instances where Iadbaltoh is quoted within the formula.

NEXT: Angelic Calling 2

Click here for The Angelical Language: Vol I at Llewellyn.com

Posted April 16, 2017 by kheph777 in enochian

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Llewellyn Magick Blog: The Many Magical Uses of Herbal Waters   Leave a comment

Greetings Fellow Witches!

 

magick_blog_updated

From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, April 4, 2017:

Herbal washes and waters are among the most popular tools used in traditional forms of shamanism and folk magick around the world. They have existed for as long as humans have known how to make herbal teas, but their uses go far beyond medicinal beverages. In fact, they are exceptionally powerful tools in any witch‘s arsenal—it might just be easier to list the ways in which herbal waters cannot be used than to list all of their diverse applications. Visit any botanica (shops that cater to African and Caribbean Traditions, such as Santeria, Voodoo, and Hoodoo) and you will typically find several shelves fully stocked with herbal washes for as many purposes as you can imagine.

Yet, for some unfathomable reason, they have been slow to work their way into modern forms of witchcraft. Perhaps this is due to the less-than-amicable relationship between most indigenous folk traditions and modern Neopaganism. In past decades, some aspects of the older systems (such as their focus on the dead and underworld, and their use of animal sacrifice) made many Neopagans uncomfortable. As a result, many things—even very useful things—that originate in those traditions were overlooked by Western practitioners.

Today’s witches and ritual magicians are much more open to magical items that might be found on shelves next to skulls and coffin nails. However, some of these, like herbal washes, are new and mysterious to modern students, who are often unsure exactly how they are intended to be used.

Read the Rest at:  http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2017/04/many-magical-uses-of-herbal-waters/

Are Spirits Detrimental to your Spiritual Path?   2 comments

Greetings Fellow Wielders of Magick!

magick_blog_updated

From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, March 23, 2017:

Regardless of whether or not an individual spell mentions the involvement of some entity, I would be hard-pressed to find a single operation that is not *greatly* enhanced by invoking the participation of my familiars, helpers, and patrons. Whether they are communicating with me (often telling me how to make the spell better), opening the Gates for me, arguing in my favor on the other side, carrying my spells to their targets, guiding me through some astral realm, or simply standing beside me in my Temple performing a ritual along with me—my spirits are involved in everything I do.

So there is the usual debate, and where I stand in it. Nothing really new there. But, then, tonight I heard something entirely new. Apparently, there are those who believe working with spirits can be detrimental to your magical and spiritual practice! It was suggested that relying on them serves as a kind of crutch, stopping you from developing your own spiritual and psychic “muscles.”

Read the Rest at:  http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2017/03/are-spirits-detrimental-to-your-spiritual-path/

 

 

Posted March 23, 2017 by kheph777 in blogs, llewellyn blog, Uncategorized

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Llewellyn Magick Blog: If You’re So Powerful, Why Aren’t You Rich?   Leave a comment

Greetings Hardworking Conjurors!

 

magick_blog_updated

From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, November 28, 2016:

 

Telling a magician they are “fake” because they don’t have money is like telling a doctor they are “fake” because they caught a cold. In other words, you absolutely don’t get how either magick OR money works. [—me]

Nothing gets occultists and skeptics alike talking more than the subject of money and magick. Without question, this is the primary point of attack for skeptics who want to believe magick is a fantasy, and anyone purporting to possess magical power is merely a deluded fool (at best) or an outright fraud scamming innocent dupes for cash. They point to mages throughout history, and even right here in the modern world, reminding us that occultists always tend to be poor or in need of cash. “If you are so powerful,” they ask, “then why aren’t you rich?”

I find these questions humorous, mainly because they are so pointedly disingenuous. The skeptics look at history and see the fact that occultists are not typically rich, and even that magick (especially sorcery) tends to proliferate in impoverished areas—but instead of making the obvious conclusion that magick probably doesn’t have anything to do with getting rich, they make up their own conclusion: “Magick isn’t real.” This would be like investigating Olympic sprinters, discovering that not a one of them can run a mile in two minutes, and thereby concluding professional sprinters are all fakes. After all, there is a cartoon mouse that can do a mile in far less time…

It’s not simply the fact these types are jumping to a ridiculous conclusion that makes this funny to me. It also speaks to something I’ve noticed across the board with atheists and skeptics (especially the outspoken ones): they always adopt the most outlandish and fantastical views of anything spiritual or mystical—taken entirely from Hollywood and fantasy fiction—and apply those views to the real thing. Hence, if Mickey Mouse can use a grimoire to conjure hoards of animate brooms to clean his master’s lab, then why can’t you conjure gold bars when you need them? Wizards in the Harry Potter stories can conjure food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities at will, so why can’t you? Doctor Strange doesn’t call on help from an “occult community” when he is in need or in danger, so why are you setting up a crowd-funding campaign? Shouldn’t the Dark Forces be taking care of you?

Read the Rest at:  http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2016/10/demons-and-pagan-gods/

Posted November 28, 2016 by kheph777 in llewellyn blog, magick

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Llewellyn Magick Blog: Demons and Pagan Gods: Re-evaluating My Stance   Leave a comment

Greetings Goetes!

 

magick_blog_updated

From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, October 4, 2016:

If you’ve been following my posts lately, you likely know I am in the middle (or, maybe, just the beginning) of an adventure into the realms of goetia.  It is, to be completely honest, my first time exploring this side of things. That’s not to say I haven’t made a few scouting missions into the underworld—believe me, I have stories!—but I have always considered myself primarily an “angel worker.” […]

When I wrote Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires I was still viewing the world through the lens of dualism. In that book, I describe a universe firmly divided between the celestial and the “infernal” (I wasn’t using the term “chthonic” yet). From that stance, I made a rather strong argument against the common occult idea that demons (or at least a number of them) were originally Pagan deities who have been demonized by Church propaganda. […]

But, what if we remove dualism from the equation?

 

Read the Rest at:  http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2016/10/demons-and-pagan-gods/

Posted October 5, 2016 by kheph777 in grimoires, llewellyn blog, solomonic

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