The Byzantium Flyers

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Exotica Noir

I once ran a dance club event called Byzantium at NowBar on Fridays in the West Village of Manhattan. It was my third weekly event, and arguably the best. Unlike the two which preceded it, I used the event as an opportunity to perform magical experiments related to publicity and mental influence of benevolent kinds.

The venue helped define an eclectic but strangely coherent musical style. It had Moroccan lamps, leading me to think we could lean into the Arabian Nights imagery which cropped up in the Goth genre (which generally was one of our major ingredients.) It also had futuristic furniture, tiki torches, and an artificial waterfall. Trip hop, techno, medieval revival, ethereal, shoegazer, industrial, and world music entered the sonic tapestry. The upper level had a lounge and we had poetry readings there at first, then art installations and live bands. It was thoroughly weird and unlike anything that had come before.

Magic was a part of my thinking from the start. I had been ruminating on the Orientalist imagery in Victorian magic, particularly that of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Theosophical Society, and the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. The artificiality of the usage of the exotic and the Other fascinated me; the forbidden and the liberational aspects as well. I saw strange parallels between this and the embrace of the Other in alternative cultures, and parallels between the remixing of cultural artifacts to alter consciousness and the blending of styles in contemporary World Dance and World Music. (I am entirely guilty in overthinking club promotion, but I really do think it is an unsung art form.)

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A member of the Golden Dawn was William Butler Yeats, better remembered as a great poet than as a magician. He wrote two poems, “Byzantium” and “Sailing To Byzantium,” which helped inspire the naming of the event. Yeats’ notion of Byzantium was of a distant land of opulence and the exotic, where all cultures blended and anything was possible. It was a fantastic realm somewhat unlike the historic Eastern Roman Empire, yet vastly more alluring and powerful than the reality. I wanted to sail away to Yeats’ Byzantium and bring my friends along for the ride. Every Friday night we embarked upon adventures.

I could wax nostalgic all day about the event and never quite capture its essence, or list all of the amazing people who made it possible. That’s not my point here, though. What is relevant is that while we were doing something innovative, we had a lot going against us.

Friday nights had been a dead night for Goth scene events at the time for several years. The fact that we were not truly a Gothic event only protected us somewhat. Our venue was small and we were in a part of the city most of our patrons visited infrequently. When we debuted, we had only one competing event. A few months later, we had eleven. Twelve events all competing for the same attendees and dollars. It was a swarm hungry for limited resources. Some were actively unfriendly and unprofessional to us. And try as we did, we were losing ground. We had to fight for every single attendee.

My prior two events had also struggled to get traction, and eventually ended. I was an accomplished magician, but had rarely used any magic to give my projects a competitive edge. So when Byzantium debuted, one of the first things I did was enchant the heck out of our flyers. And how I did that requires a bit of personal history.

Rootwork and the Greater Key of Solomon

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Years prior, a magical colleague of mine returned from a trip to New Orleans and began to whisper about something called “rootwork.” It took me a while to realize this was an alternate term for Hoodoo, which I had been practicing in a somewhat bastardized form for many years. I recognized that my knowledge was fragmentary, and so was hungry for every legitimate scrap of knowledge that I could find.

One of the things she told me was that the pentacles of the Greater Key of Solomon could be incorporated into Hoodoo candle magic to great effect. I did not believe her. I knew the grimoire well and the pentacles it described had to be created very precisely, according to the instructions. She urged me to try it her way before dismissing the notion entirely. I respected her, so I suspended my judgment and decided to give it a whirl.

At the time I didn’t know anything about petition papers, but nearly all of the magic shops in Manhattan used pull out candles and dressed them and carved them up, often also adding glitter. Since I couldn’t afford that on a regular basis, I used plain pour-in novena candles bought at dollar stores and supermarkets and used paint markers (mostly gold and silver ones) to carefully replicate the pentacle designs on the glass. I dressed the candles with Hoodoo condition oils and stroked around the paint to prevent them from smearing.

After three or four candles like this, I was convinced and converted. It was impossible for me to ignore how effective the Solomonic pentacles on the candles were. It was so effective that for over a decade it became a quickie solution for magical work. The method certainly wasn’t as potent as full Solomonic pentacles, but it was a lot cheaper and easier, and could be made rapidly as the need arose.

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I have made several conclusions from working this hybrid system of Hoodoo and GKOS pentacles. The pentacles of the Greater Key almost certainly precede the grimoire and its elaborate instructions, and are of the kind of power that even if created in imperfect conditions (like using paint markers on the side of a candle) they will still produce diminished but powerful marvels. I sometimes call them shadow effects.

Since then I have used this as a method of evaluating grimoires; if their pentacles or sigils activate a candle in a noticeable way, they’re probably really powerful when made with the full ritual requirements. If nothing happens after several attempts, the system is quite probably weak and ineffective. It saves me the effort of spending a year or two and thousands of dollars working through a grimoire to determine whether it’s magnificent and miraculous or merely a dusty hoax.

The Flyers

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After working through this method for a number of years, I was introduced to the usage of petition papers in Hoodoo, and other grimoires more popular in Hoodoo such as The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses and The Long-Lost Friend. I was slow to make the transition from using paint markers on glass to petition papers of pentacles under candles because I was, frankly, concerned about fire safety. But when Byzantium launched I had an idea of how I could experiment with a variation of this.

One of my long-term goals had been to coax the Goth scene overall away from the centrality of dance clubs and towards a salon culture by way of the literary gothic. I knew that the dance clubs were dying a slow and painful death, and having poetry readings at the event—very much a novelty—inspired me to design the Byzantium flyers as bookmarks. At the top was the Byzantium logo, a scan of some mysterious looking byzantine jewelry edited heavily in Photoshop. The middle plugged the various DJs, bands and musical styles of the week. And at the bottom was my experiment: the Mathers Greater Key of Solomon’s Fifth Pentacle of the Sun. On every flyer.

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“The fifth pentacle of the Sun. It serveth to invoke those spirits who can transport thee from one place unto another, over a long distance and in short time.”

Mathers notes: “The versicle is from Psalm xci. 11, 12: ‘He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands.'”

So, why did I use that particular pentacle? I suppose I could have used one for gaining wealth, but I was impractical at the time and didn’t see that as a pressing issue. I also wasn’t sure whether this would make the bearer of the flyer wealthy or me. If some of those flyers were in the possession of my rivals, it might even work against me.

What I did want was to ensure that my flyers were distributed far and wide. Getting flyers to as many people as possible back then was key to the survival of an event, and some promoters had been known to track down and destroy flyers of their rivals in the music shops where they most often could be found. Flyer saturation was key to the survival of an event, particularly one in an unfamiliar venue with an odd theme, which Byzantium certainly was.

I also liked the design, I admit. It looked mysterious. I didn’t want people to realize the flyers were actually magical; I wanted people to think I was just being artsy. I didn’t want my competitors to copy my idea. Aesthetics can be important, but they also can conceal one’s methods or intentions in magic.

Magic was my biggest edge over the competition. I’m good at a lot of things, but magic is what I’ve always been best at. When I’ve forgotten this, I’ve always regretted it; when I’ve made mundane aspects of my life magical, they’ve soared.

Things Get Weird, Things Get Wonderful

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Around the time Byzantium began to get hit by the worst of the competition, the magic began to manifest in earnest.

There had been signs of something strange happening earlier on. NowBar was a trans bar on most nights of the week, and was across the street from Meow Mix, a famous lesbian bar. Whenever our financial situation seemed to be in peril, we would unexpectedly get flooded by the regular clientele, but the lesbian bar would also empty out and drink our bar dry. At first I just thought lesbians and transpeople loved our event, but it did seem a little excessive—albeit very welcome.

Then the ancient famous photographer turned up. He worked for a major NYC magazine and his wartime work was spoken of with reverence by many in his field. He was in awe of Byzantium and assured me repeatedly that he’d never seen anything else like it, and that it was something he wanted to preserve for all time. I asked him where he’d heard of my event, and he told me that everyone was talking about it. I inwardly wondered who everyone was, where they were, and what were they saying. Hopefully nice things, right?

They weren’t the only ones talking, however. Our competition multiplied over and over, eventually to utterly absurd levels. A few of them had it in for us– the scene was very cutthroat back then– but most promoters just assumed there was some hidden untapped market that they wanted a slice of. Everyone and their cousin seemed to be opening up a new Friday event. Our attendance started to take a hit, but then strange things started to happen.

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For example, this highly fashionable couple approached me one night at the event with expressions of delight and wonderment. They told me that they were from Switzerland and had flown to America just to come to Byzantium. They had to tell me this several times before I realized they were sincere. I asked where they had heard about Byzantium. They told me that everyone was talking about it, even in Switzerland. Wow. Really? Fascinating.

Then an Asian man approached me at the event and told me he’d picked up a Byzantium flyer in Tokyo. He’d just had to come; it sounded amazing. Someone else found a Byzantium flyer on an airplane, and he changed his vacation plans to get off in New York instead to check it out. Over and over I began to hear about people discovering my fairly small event with a modest budget all around the world, largely through the instrument of my enchanted flyers turning up in the most unexpected of places.

To this day I have no idea how the Byzantium flyers ended up scattered across the world. I have no idea how the buzz about my event went so strangely viral on the eve of the year 2000 AD. But I certainly have strong suspicions of a magical nature.

What I am quite sure of is that the somewhat inexplicable buzz about our event which had spread across the entire world ultimately fed back into local attendance. It kept our struggling event alive for months and months, when everything seemed to be going against our little passion project.

Night Work

The enchanted flyers weren’t the only magical work (by far) that I integrated into Byzantium, but I still use those today and think of them as trade secrets. The other ones weren’t focused on publicity but making the environment fun, uplifting, and sexy. Considering how many people got laid in the NowBar lavatory and how fondly Byzantium is still spoken of today—all over the world apparently—I think they were pretty darn effective too. If you’ve been to my Green Fairy Parties in California, you’ve seen some of that other sorcery at work.

In spite of my magical and mundane efforts, Byzantium did not last forever. It might have done better if I hadn’t been so keen on lowering the cover charge to allow more people to attend; that gave us very poor financial reserves. The management at the venue expected us to become profitable sooner than we realized. The competition remained somewhat fierce to the end. Perhaps if I had focused on the business end more than the creative end, things would have lasted longer. But they wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.

It was a very successful event in creative terms and that’s what I really cared about. it was unforgettable and it injected some creativity into a scene which was stagnant. Our staff and regulars had also become a family. When management told us it was to be our final night, the head bartender– hired by the venue management– was so outraged that he quit on the spot. People really loved us, and I’m grateful for it.

Hopefully this little tale can inspire you to experiment magically, to improvise, and find new ways to make your life more magical and marvelous. Magic permeates everything and insinuates itself in the gaps between; this is where your hidden strength dwells.

 

Talismans of Trust

TALISMANS OF TRUST: Extremely dignified Mercury Ascending in Virgo with the North Node, with the Moon applying to a conjunction of Jupiter.

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This project was full of all kinds of surprises, great and slightly bad.

My lost emerald cabochon which popped out of its ring at ConVocation and I’d deemed lost forever was found right before the election taped to the side of a box with packing tape. I’ve observe that I often lose a talisman when the planet it’s based upon is in Fall, and I recover it when it is Exalted. That’s seemingly what happened here. My lost Mercury spirit came back home, right on schedule.

And then, about 4/5ths of the way through the electional window– after I’d engraved the ymages but right before I added the vegetal component– my street had an hour long blackout. So I had to finish the project by candlelight. I did end up adding the herbs to the rings after the planetary hour had ended, but thinking quickly I dipped the rings in a tea of the herb and finished the whole thing before Mercury was fully off the Ascendant. I think it should be fine. Other than that, this was a pretty great election.

Mercury was greatly essentially dignified. In Domicile, Exaltation, and Term. Mercury was making a loose sextile to a Benefic and moving reasonably fast. The Moon was slow but waxing and applying to conjoin with Jupiter (finally Direct and gaining speed.) For the early part of the election, the North Node was on the Ascendant, adding much good fortune. The Moon’s Sign Ruler was succedent, which is good. The Moon’s Mansion is suitable for works of love and friendship, which seems compatible as well. The electional window was about thirty minutes for engraving, cut off a bit by the end of the planetary hour.

For the larger talismans I chose the Picatrix frog acceptability talisman in Picatrix II:10.

If, under the influence of Mercury, you make the figure of a single frog on the hour of Mercury, with Mercury rising, in an emerald stone, whoever carries it will offend no one. To the contrary, everyone you meet will speak well of you and say good things about your works.

“MERCURY” was engraved across the middle of the frog, though in one instance the word was placed on the back.

For the smaller, I used the Latin Picatrix Mercury sigil, which resembles the standard Mercury symbol but has a stem between the “horns” and circle, and the lower cruciform portion is slightly squashed.

For the herb below the rings I used aniseed. For suffumigation I used gum arabic, cloves and myrtle. It did not burn terribly easily, but it worked after a few tries.

The incantation was the standard long version of the Picatrix Mercury petition.

Six emerald ring talismans in gold wire were made. One additional green agate ring talisman with gold-filled wire was made. One moss agate tie clip talisman was made. Two loose brown agate cabochon talismans were made– brown agates protect against injuries, especially if made into talismans. A pair of very unusual lodestone/magnetite talismanic cufflinks were made. And finally, one large emerald cabochon talisman was made.

Ultimately only the cufflinks got the sigil. The remainder all got the Mercury frog, even the brown agates.

 

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces @ PantheaCon 2015

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces at PantheaCon 2015:

 

Clifford Hartleigh Low’s lecture on the “Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces” at PantheaCon 2015. This class analyzes in detail Book II, Chapter 11 of the Latin Picatrix. This text instructs the student in the creation of thirty-six talismans of supreme power ascribed to the Zodiacal Faces (also known as Decans), while also containing some of the most mysterious passages ever written. This lecture describes many of these talismans and how to create them, and the discovery of the hidden meanings of the more cryptic passages which until now have not been revealed elsewhere. Discover why Cornelius Agrippa, Giordano Bruno, Abraham Ibn Ezra, and many others have found this chapter one of the most fascinating in all of magical and astrological literature.

This class is similar in content, but not identical, to the ConVocation 2015 lecture of a similar name.

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The Age of Black Magic: Step Fourteen

The Invocation of the Abomination in Crimson:

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This project of mine was © January 5th 2010, along with several “lighter” versions. It’s a malefic petition invoking the stellar hierarchy of Algol, with a viable talisman of Algol used as an initiatory token to call upon forces of wrath and punishment upon an enemy.

I wrote this a long time ago, and while my current relationship with the hierarchy of Algol is focused upon healing (and its virtues as a healing star co-ruled by Jupiter are wildly underestimated), I certainly think it is one of the most potent weapons in the SIM practitioner’s arsenal.

When it’s time to show no mercy, it’s time for The Abomination In Crimson.

“O mighty star Algol, I call to you by all your names: flickering Beta Persei, bloody Ras Al Ghul, blinking Rosh ha’Sautaun, terrible Gorgoneion, grisly Fifth Star of the Mausoleum, feared Tseih She: attune this talisman unto me and me unto it, so that I shall plumb all its mysteries, secrets, and wisdom, and master its full and perfect powers, wonders, and miracles, now and forever, whether I wear it or not, from now until the end of time.

“May your light and spirit dwell within it and dwell within me, for me to instantly command.

“Great and powerful star, make your angels, dæmons, and spirits of every kind subject unto me, obedient unto my every will, command and desire. You obediently and piously serve the One Most High, and by His command is your service invoked at this hour.

“So hear my words:

“I kneel before you and seek your favor and patronage; for the few in whom you find favor are saved, uplifted, preserved, and avenged; and all those in whom you find disfavor are swiftly devastated and punished.

“It is said that he who carries your talisman, your emblem of favor, vessel of your spirit and radiant light, is given the supreme power of protection and retaliation, so that all those who seek to harm him are thwarted perfectly; and their machinations, treachery, calumnies, theft, torments, incantations, sendings, witchcraft, bindings, curses, flame, poisons, blades, darts, stones, bludgeons or bullets will all alike turn back upon them and destroy them as they sought to destroy him. Savage star, grant unto me your succor and liberation.

“May their malice reflect upon them as excellently as the perfect mirror reflects light. ‘Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.’ I now ask that you magnify this power so that they are swiftly obliterated by their arrogant devices, and examples be made of them for all time. Seize them with your sharp teeth, and never let them go. Heap multitudes of tortures upon them, and smite them cruelly with a fatal stroke.

“Dismember and mutilate their corpses, and cause their remains to be polluted, desecrated, and shamed. Their dust and ash shall be blown to the four corners of the earth, until nothing of my foes remain but gruesome tales of warning.

“Multiply their spirits’ torments in the lands beneath, too. The wicked cannot escape your gaze; not even in death shall they be spared.

“You pitiless eye of revenge– stare ever deeply upon them.

“Mirror of enmity, I humbly beg that you grant me this power so that I shall be like the beautiful diamond; indestructible, reflective, luminous, and with edges ever sharp. Make me like the poisonous black hellebore; bringer of agony and death to those who would mistake it harmless. May I be more durable than mountain stone, yet supple as the deadly serpent.

“Leering visage, also grant me the virtues of invigorating mugwort; guarded against peril, secure in travel, vigilant, passionate, bold and quick.

“It is said that he who carries your talisman fears no injury to his members, for you keep them whole and safe from harm.

“Your talisman bestows success in petitions and requests made to princes, bosses, leaders, patrons, and any who have power over him; so that they shall quickly grant whatever it is that he asks.

“It bestows the wearer courage, vitality, and magnanimity.

“It grants victory in whatever contests or struggles to which he attempts, through war, gaming, sorcery, or any other thing. For with you, invincible star of destruction, your favored one is bold and mighty, and (subject to the will of the One Most High) nothing whatsoever beneath you can long obstruct his path.

“I beg that you also grant me all of these powers to their fullest perfection, and the wisdom to know how and when to use them.

“O slaughter star, eidolon of horror, eater of the dead, slayer of men, blinking eye of terror and blight, decapitator star, render of flesh, beacon of the tombs, depopulator of civilizations, ever-hungry star, savage patron of monsters, terrible light of doom, implacable bringer of ruin, father of devastation, flame of oblivion, lord of direst woe, luminous face of hate, gore-drinker, you whose gaze upon the waters turns it to poison, strangler star, mighty head of the adversary, hear my prayer and rend my enemies apart, moisten the earth with rivers of their spilt blood. Rejoice in the deaths of men.

“Grant me a portion of all your powers for I seek to be your [vassal, student, son/beloved/bridegroom, and] priest, and may I be a refraction of your invincible, terrible, and eternal light.

“Most supreme executioner in the celestial realms, you neck severer, invincible head taker, great hacker of limbs and seizer of life, man flayer, bone breaker, marrow sucker, gorger on entrails, corpse candle, heart gnawer, ruddy lamp of banes, you whose dripping blood sows vipers, blazing star of murder, torch of the piled up bodies, thirsty blade of vengeance, glint of annihilation, abomination in crimson, watchful dæmon of the void, ancient monster of monsters, you fierce exterminating angel, defender and avenger most puissant to your favored few, please find favor in me and accept my prayer, and go now and send forth your grisly throng and fatal glare to seek out my enemies wherever they may be found, and pierce their hearts with your terrible red rays and make them quake and fall, kill them wherever they may hide, set your gaze upon them in harsh judgement and spare them no pity whatsoever.

“May plagues like the ten of Egypt be at my ten fingertips to command and to curse them with every form of suffering and death, and may my hands throttle the throats of my enemies, and may I tear their heads off with these hands to demonstrate your power and fury, and cast their broken bodies down into cold and leaden death, and may I place their bloody heads on pikes at the gates of the cities in sacrifice and tribute to you, so that all may know of your power, and the consequences of incurring your terrible wrath.

“Burn thy seal upon my heart, upon my breast, upon my body, upon my soul, upon my spirit, upon my deeds, upon my destiny, upon my wrath, upon my fame, and upon my power.

“Grant unto to me the greatest secrets of lethal magics, the sorceries of the greatest and most terrible kind, irresistible and frightful, so I too shall be known as a light of annihilation, forevermore.

“Crown and adorn me with your majesty and gird me with your protection and arm me with your many instruments of obliteration, and all shall say throughout the ages that those who were set against me were destroyed by tortures most vile, and that I strode forth to victory upon their tattered corpses, and that I rejoiced amongst their bones. For you have made me so, potent and fearsome star Algol.

“Star of supreme misfortune, greatest malefic––

“Go forth as a fiend, but to me be an angel.”

The bracketed text regarding initiatory adoption, betrothal, or espousal by Algol and its hierarchy of spirits is only for persons compatible with this concept, and have been given permission by Algol through divination, dream or vision.

Though gender terminology throughout is male, it can be adjusted as appropriate.

Algol’s appetites are beyond all limitations.

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces @ ConVocation 2015

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces at ConVocation 2015

 

 

Clifford Hartleigh Low’s lecture on the “Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces” at ConVocation 2015. This class analyzes in detail Book II, Chapter 11 of the Latin Picatrix. This text instructs the student in the creation of thirty-six talismans of supreme power ascribed to the Zodiacal Faces (also known as Decans), while also containing some of the most mysterious passages ever written. This lecture describes many of these talismans and how to create them, and the discovery of the hidden meanings of the more cryptic passages which until now have not been revealed elsewhere. Discover why Cornelius Agrippa, Giordano Bruno, Abraham Ibn Ezra, and many others have found this chapter one of the most fascinating in all of magical and astrological literature.

If you find this video useful, please subscribe to http://sorcerer.blog and http://www.youtube.com/GrimoireTV , give thumbs up and Like posts. Your feedback matters.

Some Notes On Planetary Fragrances

 

Intersections of Scholastic Image Magic and Hoodoo

There are only the most circumstantial and speculative historical connections between Scholastic Image Magic and African-American Conjure, or Hoodoo, yet I have seldom seen two very different traditions create such amazing synergy when properly combined.

The most frequent implementations of this synergy I have used are the feeding of SIM talismans with Hoodoo condition oils in a manner similar to feeding mojo bags, the magnification of the power of Hoodoo oils, powders, baths and natural curios by placing them temporarily in the proximity of compatible SIM talismans, and the creation of Hoodoo formulae and mojos which incorporate astrological talismans.

To me, these are fairly straightforward combinations which make a lot of sense in the context of Al Kindi’s theory of stellar and terrestrial rays, and the odd fusions of celestial and natural magics which appear in the writings of Cornelius Agrippa.

But going beyond relatively fundamental research into further optimization of these hybrids is what I have begun to explore. These explorations include the usage of magical fragrances on the body as supplementation for suffumigations used in astral petitions which appear in Picatrix, and the selection of fragrances to extend and maximize the potency of SIM talismans one may wear or carry.

 

Planetary Flavors and Odors

Picatrix advises preparing for a planetary petition or talisman by consuming foods associated with that planetary hierarchy for as long as is manageable prior to the ritual. One manner of doing this in the case of Venus is by eating the animals of that planet such as goat, rabbit, deer or veal calf. Another is by using sweet and savory sauces. By consuming things that resonate with a particular planetary hierarchy, one harmonizes with it and, in a sense, one’s body gradually becomes similarly composed.

This process can be enhanced by using fragrances compatible with the planetary hierarchy in question, either by association through the incenses used in the suffumigation of the planet, like frankincense essential oil in place of frankincense grains for Solar rites, or the sensory similarity between the scent and the associated flavors, thus an intensely sweet and grass-spicy blend of scents for Venus.

For example, as William Lilly says of Venus:

In Savours she delightes in that which is pleasant and toothsome; usually in moyst and sweet, or what is very delectable; in smels what is unctious and Aromatical, and incites to wantonnesse.

Scent is associated with the Air Element and will help the magician both receive and project planetary power of the associated type. Suffumigations, and thus scents of all kinds, are a foundational pillar of SIM. The complexity and potential for their ritual usage is almost inexhaustible, as the many recipes for such in Picatrix reveal.

 

Hoodoo Considerations

This can be complicated by the fact that Hoodoo formulae have specific associations with olfactory signatures as well as sets of herbs and curios in the bottles. Hoodoo condition oil formulas have their own grammar and poetry, combining the meaning of scents and curios to produce unique variations of effect. It is my belief that the roots and curios produce terrestrial rays which are projected into the fragrances and impregnate them with signatures. When utilized, the Air element carries the scent and the signature of the curios into the wider universe to cause change.

When combining planetary work with Hoodoo, one can find some marvelous Hoodoo formulae which are entirely compatible with planetary work. For example, Commanding Oil and many of its cousins have strong Solar associations by scent, by function, by label imagery, and by curio. Placing a bottle of this near Solar talismans and then anointing yourself with it will not only give you a regal bearing that will accrue respect, but also make spirits of the Solar hierarchy find affinity with you and enhance the power of any Solar talismans you may be wearing.

 

Coherence Is Power

It is not an uncommon practice to use more than one Hoodoo fragrance at once. I use at least three daily: for protection, for prosperity, and for love or authority. Some Hoodoo products can be used for numerous purposes, like Van Van Oil and Fast Luck.

This can create problems with regard to planetary work.

When working in SIM styles of planetary magic, one needs to utilize objects or contexts where the particular planet or star’s rays can fully permeate and ensoul an object, person, situation or even idea. Much like X-rays pass through flesh with ease, bone more difficultly, and metallic lead hardly at all, everything has a different capacity to receive or absorb animating power from one or more stellar hierarchies. Gold receives the rays of the Sun and Saturn very well, and Mars poorly. A soldier receives the rays of Mars well, the Sun moderately, and the Moon and Jupiter poorly. An idea for a novel receives the rays of Mercury and the Moon well, and Mars and Saturn poorly.

This concept of “reception” permeates Picatrix’s theoretical discourses and causes confusion because the same term in English is used to describe certain planetary configurations. Reception is often understood to be (at least partially) a function of elemental qualities; so that things which fall under the power of the Sun have some affinity with those of Mars because both are hot and dry, and less so with the Moon which is cold and wet. Reception is a concept which replaces correspondence, so that every material or situation can become a vehicle for (or storage for) spiritual power, but to extremely variable degrees based on what flavor of celestial power is being utilized. It’s hardly ever a 1:1 association; that notion was borrowed somewhat sloppily from alchemy, which functions quite differently.

Another bottleneck on reception is whether any particular thing is a combination of two or more components together, and whether each fall under the same or differing celestial hierarchies. The more pure a specific planet’s associations are in any particular context, the stronger its hold over things in our world.

When planetary forces are mixed up too much, the power becomes muted and suppressed. It is the exact opposite of the notion of hybrid vigor. It is why magicians have done rituals to planets using consistent associations. The reason we don’t dress in blood red for Mars, use a Venereal incense, wear a brass crown of the mind for Mercury and black snakeskin boots for Saturn during a ritual to Jupiter and thereby gain the benefits of five planets rather than one is that this doesn’t work at all. It’s like riding a chariot with the horses running in completely different directions; you go nowhere fast.

When planetary forces are coherent and particularly pure, they have a greater ability to express themselves, much like a planet on the cusp of an Angular Mundane House. This is of course independent of Essential Dignity, so having Saturn in Leo expressing itself with maximal freedom is usually a terrible idea. One of the essential goals of celestial magic in SIM is to maximize this purity, or coherency. The effects become concentrated like a laser beam, and vastly more powerful.

This has relevance to the use of fragrances with planetary associations. If you use multiple fragrances, they should all have close associations with the planetary hierarchy you are working with. When you use scents that fall under two or more hierarchies, you will gain the benefits of each, but they will all produce muted results. If you instead use several magical scents that fall under a single planetary hierarchy, each will have greater power. Furthermore, any magics you perform when you have been using scents connected to a consistent singular hierarchy for days will be greatly enhanced.

 

Potentials

Scholastic Image Magic is a tradition which cannot exist in modernity without modification. While we practitioners aspire to be maximally Traditional, we all have necessary adaptions and minor heresies. Not many people are following Picatrix’s instructions on how to create an oracular head by waylaying a traveler and pickling their corpse, alchemical oil of feces sounds highly unpalatable, bullock sacrifices are expensive and challenging in an urban environment, and preserved antelope marrow is impossible to find, even on eBay. (I know. I’ve tried.)

Hoodoo has two qualities that make it useful to act as a plaster in the missing spaces where we cannot replicate what medieval and Renaissance men had access to. It is generally quite inexpensive; its most exotic ingredients are even less challenging than obtaining high quality lignum aloes. It is also a very successful adaption of traditional sorceries to the flora and fauna of North America, with reasonably well developed understandings of the signatures and properties of local resources.

But beyond this, magics of various traditions must to some extent exist in the same reality. Perhaps some operate on different planes of existence or operate on different principles rather than simply quirks of history, but there cannot be an infinitude of variants of magic which all function completely independently. Some must be capable of interacting, and interacting in a helpful manner.

I believe SIM and Hoodoo are among the most compatible in their interactions; an elegant collaboration of High Magic and Low Magic which wildly transcends the definitions and limitations of each.

The Age of Black Magic: Step Thirteen

Summoning Uncle Joe

In addition to the inclusion of blood relatives on a dedicated altar for ancestors, one may also provide offerings to the spirits of those who you admire or seek to call upon for aid. Saints are only one example of the Mighty Dead who one can call upon for help; calling upon the spirits of mighty magicians like Agrippa, Merlin, King Solomon, and Moses for wisdom and assistance is an ancient tradition.

Settings for Presidents such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are also well-established and useful. Roman emperors and Egyptian pharaohs were deified and venerated. Images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy hang in many homes for reasons far beyond the sentimental. They are appeals for aid—usually for help in matters related to their authority, fame, tutelage, and skills.

But you can go further than this. And a lot darker.

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Buy a Soviet-era memento of Josef Stalin from eBay, or a similar source. The older, the better; the more closely associated with Stalin or the Communist Party, the better. You want the strongest possible tether to him. A printout will just not cut it.

Place the personal concern in a shot glass on your ancestral altar and feed it curse materials like goofer dust, dead black widows, and other things of death and destruction. The rarer and the more dangerous, the better.

Make a spirit cocktail: any grain alcohol in which has been steeped thirteen cayenne peppers, thirteen guinea peppers and thirteen black peppers. Offer this every week until you are ready to make requests. Feed a dedicated shot glass with this to nourish and compel the spirit into fury and action.

I devised the following incantation for this purpose. You can alter it and improvise, but recite it at least once a week when you make offerings to the spirit of Josef Stalin.

Attend me at this hour of night! I [name] call into the open grave, into that silence profound, and draw forth the terrible and mighty spirit wherever he may be so that he may answer my prayer:

I call upon you, shade of Josef Stalin, by all the rights and privileges I possess. I speak for the humble and the broken that seek your intercession. The world above is in turmoil and only you can set things right. Not even death can temper your vast power. We all conjure you.

Awake in Spring! Awake in Summer! Awake in Fall! Awake in Winter! Awake by day! Awake by night! Rouse yourself from slumber, mighty Stalin, and forge the world anew by your power and your eternal name. The revolution is at hand! Awake, and slumber no more! Sentinel of dread, bringer of cold, hunter of men, seize every enemy of the cause and drag them down to deepest Hell in your iron teeth.

Mighty Stalin, supreme in wrath, arm yourself for war and cloak yourself in judgement; you slew the Nazis, and crushed the exploiters and the wealthy, and punished the many traitors. You tore out the tongues of those who spoke against you, and you made the greedy sup on ashes. Now is your time again.

In life you were an Angel of Death; in death may you live again. May all the lives you took give you power. Rise up from your grave and stretch the shadow of your mighty fist across the world; crush my enemies with your hammer, dismember them with your sickle, and fertilize the soil of the hopeless with red red blood!

I bind you to my command, hurting not me nor mine but diligently those whom we hate and will destroy! (Repeat the concluding binding thirteen times.)

It would be particularly appropriate to direct the wrath of the spirit of Josef Stalin at the Trump Administration and its supporters and enablers. That’s what I’ve been doing, in part.

If this is your goal, you may wish to be more specific about your desires in your incantation. I do advise that you not pull your punches. You don’t call up Uncle Joe for anything but the coldest, most brutal, most heartless of sorceries. Let his worldly acts inspire you. Impress him.

Nevertheless, regardless of your objectives or your personal political beliefs, having a working relationship with the spirit of the man who likely killed more people than any other in human history is highly beneficial to the work of a black magician and necromancer.