I doubt that money is the root of all evil, but the lack of it can feel like hell.
Magic to manipulate prosperity precedes the invention of currency, and there’s no sign it’s going out of style any time soon.
As long as people wish for more than they have, practical wealth magic offers solutions.
This class is a broad survey of magical techniques and traditions that draw and keep money.
Whether you’ve wanted to conjure a spirit to find buried treasure, win a lottery, get a raise, inherit a fortune, invest like a pro, get an edge over your business rivals, enchant an ever-full purse, sustain your lifestyle, or even beat the house in Vegas, I have some amazing and effective spells to teach you that you won’t find anywhere else.
Solar Sapphires, Planetary Antipathies, and Substitutions
The Picatrix, De Radiis Stellarum, and Three Books of Occult Philosophy are closest to broad textbooks of this tradition of astrological magic, but they are not meant to be used entirely by themselves. Both canonical texts of astrological magic and their partners, the manuals of traditional astrology, repeatedly state that the student must go beyond a mere rote understanding of formulae and considerations. The following step is the internalization of celestial functions, then a series of flashes of insight revealing why things are as they arranged, and finally the integration of the practitioner into their proper spiritual hierarchy by the attainment of Perfect Nature and the maximization of their unique potential.
Authors are quite evasive about the aforementioned epiphanies for good reason; they allow teachers to recognize genuine insights arising from their better students that stand apart from the shallow mimicry that is the hallmark of pseudo-intellectualism, and they protect the secrets of the art from immature people who are at high risk of abusing it. The Science of Images has reputed power within it so vast that it can collapse entire civilizations if deployed with precision and ill intentions. Based on some of my experiences, I am certain that this is no idle boast. Some of the difficulty is deliberate in these texts, because of the gravity of that power falling into the wrong hands. It was the reasonable hope of the guardians and transmitters of this tradition that intellectual mastery developed roughly in tandem with emotional stability and personal responsibility.
Nevertheless, this has led to an incredibly steep learning curve for mastery of Scholastic Image Magic for modern students. Some of this is accidental and needs to be remedied, and some of this is very appropriate. As an example of the latter, it’s critically important that a student be fully immersed in the traditional worldview, and at least provisionally set aside the modern worldview, so they may navigate deeply within this paradigm. This commentary is, I hope, an additional guide through one of the more important winding passages deeper into the heart of this complex system of magic and mysticism.
Let us begin with something highly counterintuitive and use it as a pretext to dive into some of the more practical and mystical secrets of the operations of celestial magic.
Solar Sapphire Talismans
During the latter Solar talismanic election I covered in the preceding post, I alluded to a second set of talismans which were created at the same time. In addition to the bloodstones, I created two sapphire talismanic rings and a loose gemstone sapphire talisman. The herbs when applicable and suffumigations were identical. One of the rings is mine, and one ring and the loose gemstone will eventually be sold to clients or given to friends.
The inspiration for this talismanic project came from Eric Purdue’s masterful new translation of Cornelius Agrippa’s Book One of Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Agrippa frequently has long lists of gemstones, materials and animals which belong to the various celestial hierarchies but less frequently highlights the particular powers attributed to each within that particular hierarchy’s context. Agrippa gave very special attention to the gemstone he calls heliotrope that we believe is modern bloodstone, but also gave great attention to a gemstone called hyacinth in the J.F. translation. Eric Purdue, I believe correctly, provisionally identified hyacinth as modern sapphire. And with it come a list of powers which only apply in a Solar context; they are only activated when made into Solar talismans.
“Sapphires also have a solar virtue against poisons and pestilential vapors. When carried [the person] is rendered safe and acceptable, brings wealth and talent, and strengthens the heart. When held in the mouth, [sapphires] exceedingly cheer the mind.” –TBOC, Agrippa I:23, Eric Purdue trans.
Before I break down the rather long and fascinating list of powers attributed to Solar sapphire talismans, I must make mention of something of which most traditional (and Vedic) astrologers and readers of medieval lapidaries are quite aware. Sapphires have an extremely ancient and strong association with the planet Saturn, vastly more than the Sun. The association between sapphires and Saturn is so strong that due to what appears to be a confusion with lapis lazuli, the latter is associated with Saturn among other planets—sapphire appears to mean blue stone in Sanskrit and lapis lazuli means the same in Latin. Though the Sun and Saturn do rule a few things in common, such as the metal gold and kingship, they are in most other ways complete opposites. There’s nothing obviously Solar about sapphires; they are hard and usually dark stones—an obvious choice for the harsh, implacable, and dim Greater Malefic. Materials having multiple rulerships are not unusual, but this instance stands apart.
Lapis Lazuli with Pyrite Inclusions
The Secrets of Antipathy
So is it a mistake? I’m quite sure it isn’t. It’s a phenomenal example of celestial antipathy which is described in Picatrix in more general terms about talismans which attract and repel animals.
“The effects upon animals are twofold—that is, one is to gather them and increase their number, and the other is to disperse and repel them. These are appropriate for different times, as they involve different motions—that is, there is a time for gathering and growth, and a time for dispersing and repelling. This may be considered under the heading of the opposition of degrees. In stones a certain supreme secret is hidden, that is, when any animal—that is, if you want it to depart—is hot in its nature, the stone ought to be cold; if the animal is moist, the stone ought to be dry, and vice versa. From this it should be understood that if you wish vipers and wasps to flee, the work ought to be done in cornelian and diamond and the like; but if they are cold by nature, such as scorpions, beetles, flies, lice, and things similar to them, work with hot stones such as malachite and crystal, and in bronze and gold and the like.
“This is for the working to make them flee. Workings to draw and increase them ought to be done with things that are harmonious and pertinent to them, as in working with vipers, you should work with gold and bronze and similar things. All this happens because of the harmony of complexion, the direction of movement, and the diversity of conjunctions and substances. The figure and form ought to be in the form and figure of the animal for which it is made, as a figure for mice in the shape of a mouse, one for serpents in the shape of a serpent, or one for scorpions in the shape of a scorpion.” –Picatrix IV:4, Greer-Warnock trans.
When Picatrix uses phrases like “a supreme secret” it’s not just talking about talismans that act as mosquito repellant. It’s an attempt to draw the discerning reader to a very important general principle that can be applied to a much wider set of circumstances. Picatrix uses language like this in other sections, such as the chapter on the manufacture of the thirty-six talismans of the Faces, to hint at a fairly radical reinvention of Neoplatonic cosmology that I have lectured upon previously. It is a test, an attempt to challenge the reader to learn a deeper lesson that is both mystical and extremely useful.
One of the concepts Picatrix describes elsewhere is what it sometimes calls reception; the capacity of a material to absorb celestial rays of a particular type. Some materials are receptive to the rays of many hierarchies. Emerald is receptive to Spica, Jupiter, Mercury and Moon. Silver is highly receptive to nearly every hierarchy because of the virtually ubiquitous and special role of the Moon in talismanic elections. Others are mostly inert, like clay and to a lesser extent human flesh. (Clay talismans really do not work, and in spite of the obvious allure talismanic tattoos aren’t especially viable.)
Parallel to reception is temperament or temperateness; in modern expressions, the capacity for something to manifest normalcy in contrast with manifestations which are abnormal and disruptive. Jupiter is the most temperate planet and usually signifies positive normalcy and health, and Mars is probably the least temperate planet and usually signifies disruption and injury. Materials belonging to each of these hierarchies often share these attributes, but can increase or decrease them or channel them in a particular direction.
Related to the preceding are sympathy and antipathy; some materials attract and repel species based upon their inner natures. But what Picatrix is hinting at is that it isn’t just animals that can be attracted by gemstones of one type and repelled by another, but also types of people, and finally even types of events. That’s where it gets really interesting.
And that is how we return to sapphires.
Analyzing the Solar Virtues of Sapphires
Solar sapphire talismans have the following powers:
They neutralize poisons.
They protect against contagious diseases i.e. “pestilential vapors.”
They render the bearer safe from harm.
They render the bearer inoffensive and pleasant.
They attract riches.
They magnify skills.
They grant courage and health or “strengthen the heart.”
They act as antidepressants, especially if sucked upon.
Now you can tell why I prize these talismans at least as much as the bloodstone ones I created along with them. Fame, glory, constancy, invisibility, and restored youth are really great but the eight powers listed above are possibly even more valuable for the average person.
What’s even more interesting is what these powers tell us about sympathy and antipathy in celestial magic.
Generally speaking, the Sun is not the planet one would expect a cure for poisons from; that’s more often associated with Jupiter. The Sun is nearly as temperate as Jupiter and they both grant vigorous health and presumably a resistance to contagions. The Sun often can accomplish the works of Mars and vice versa, so the Sun can protect—especially from witchcraft and evil spirits. The Sun co-rules gold, which for most of history was currency and thus can attract riches. The increase of skills may make sense because the Sun is fiery and fire quickens as it illuminates. The Sun definitely can grant courage and often is associated with the heart. Finally, the Sun can certainly act as an antidepressant; St. John’s wort has been known to be ruled by the Sun since at least medieval times because of this property. However, in spite of a temperate planet endowing a quality of normalcy, the Sun is less associated with blending in than standing out; often in a highly aggressive manner. The Sun is the king, and the king likes to conquer.
I believe there’s something else at work here:
Saturn rules poisons
Saturn rules contagious diseases.
Saturn rules infirmity.
Saturn rules ugliness and things which are essentially unpleasant.
Saturn rules poverty and desperation, in spite of the co-rulership of gold.
Saturn rules senility and stupefaction.
Saturn rules fear and cowardice.
Saturn rather famously rules melancholia.
I think what makes far more sense is that the function of a Solar sapphire talisman is to ward against many of the negative attributes of Saturn, because of the fundamental disagreement of natures between the hierarchies of the Sun and Saturn. The Sun is hot; Saturn is cold. The Sun governs all that is light and bright; Saturn rules all that is dark and shadowy.
It’s a fantastic example of how one can use the materials of a dissimilar hierarchy to neutralize the negative effects of a planet or star. And it’s one of the greater secrets of this system of magic.
The seven traditional planets often have peculiar relationships with each other, as illustrated in the 45 aphorisms that are said to be derived from the Secretum Secretorum:
“38. The Sun abhors those things that pertain to Saturn, and the things that pertain to the Sun are abhorrent to Saturn.” –Picatrix IV:4
There’s a long list of substitutions and antipathies in this chapter that are less pertinent, but must be memorized to attain mastery in this art. There are no shortcuts on this one.
This system of planetary pairings appears in the passages on planetary petitions as well.
“If you find yourself in contemplation and sorrow, or in melancholy or grave illness, in anything just named, or in any thing that has already been mentioned as belonging to Saturn, and you ask for something that belongs to his nature, you may seek it from him in the manner we describe below, and you may also help yourself in your petition by means of Jupiter. The essence of all these petitions is that you should not seek anything from any planet unless it belongs to his dominion…
“Seek from Mars what is consistent with his nature, such as petitions against soldiers, officials, fighters, and those who busy themselves with warlike acts; and on behalf of friends of kings, and those who destroy homes and citizens, and do evil to humanity, killers, executioners, those who work with fire or in places such as stables, litigators, shepherds, thieves, companions on the road, liars, traitors, and the like. Similar, ask him concerning infirmities of the body from the groin downwards, and also for phlebotomy, accumulation of gas, and the like. In these latter petitions you may also help yourself with Venus, for the nature of Venus dissolves what is closed up by Mars, and repairs what he damages…
“Seek from Venus all things that pertain to her, such as petitions of women, boys, and girls, daughters, and generally everything pertaining to the love of women and carnal copulation with them, art, vocal and instrumental music, telling jokes, and all those who give themselves over to worldly pleasures, those who engage in vices, male and female servants, brides and grooms, mothers, friends, sisters, and all those similar to them, and in these petitions you may also help yourself with Mars.” –Picatrix III:7
It also should be observed at this point that Jupiter and Saturn are oppositional in nature but are (slightly counterintuitively) “friends” with each other. The same is true of the hierarchies of Mars and Venus. The cliché of opposites attracting is reflected in celestial symmetries or harmonies. I believe that this system of substitutions using planets of oppositional nature but mutual amity goes even further than what Picatrix states explicitly. It says that Jupiter can substitute for Saturn but not the reverse; it may be a somewhat reasonable assumption, however. To learn more about planetary substitution, we must look elsewhere.
For that, we turn our attention to the other Luminary: the Moon.
The Moon Serves the Sun
In Picatrix II:10 there’s a wonderful miscellany of planetary talismanic recipes, one of which I’ve made but never quite understood until fairly recently.
“If, under the influence of the Sun, you write the figures below in a sedina stone with the Sun rising in the first face of Leo, whoever carries this stone will be protected against the lunar illnesses that come from the combustion of the Moon.”
Combustion (a close conjunction of a planet with the Sun) is deemed to be the worst planetary affliction according to William Lilly and is generally accepted as such in traditional astrology, with some uncommon exceptions. The combustion of the Moon is especially dire; it often signifies death and destruction in elections, and a variety of challenging health concerns in natal charts.
The more conventional suggestion would be to use a talisman of an afflicted planet in a person’s natal chart as a remedy, but here we see something very different. Here the suggestion is to double-down on the influence of the Sun. It seems counterintuitive because the Sun is overwhelming the native’s Moon, but it is logical if the Sun and the Moon have a similar relationship as Jupiter and Saturn have, and Mars and Venus mutually share in the petitional instructions cited above.
Indications that this is the case between the Sun and Moon are scattered throughout Picatrix.
(As I am writing this, Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” just began to play on Pandora. Everything is connected.)
“The Nabatean sages have said that the power and works of the heavens and stars are from the Sun originally, and this is because they see and understand that the Moon helps him (that is, as much as is in her power), while the Sun does not need her effects, nor those of the other planets; and similarly, the five other planets follow the Sun in their effects and obey and are humbled by him, and proceed in their aforementioned effects according to the dispositions of the Sun. In the same way, according to their opinion, all their effects are primarily rooted in the Sun, and the other six planets help him by their effects. Similarly, the fixed stars are the Sun’s handmaidens, and serve, obey, and are humbled by him, and while they help him with their effects, this is not because of any need that he has of them.” –Picatrix III:8
“Our sages say likewise that the virtue of the fifth quality [the Moon in a perfected conjunction with the Sun] has a similar effect to the effect of the Sun, and this is a very great thing and a noble quality. They say that all composite bodies receive from this the virtues that they ought to have, nor should it be understood from the foregoing that the Moon causes virtues and workings differing from those of the Sun; rather, the Moon reveals the Sun’s influence and brings forth works accomplished by the Sun; nor do these appear until the Moon manifests those things that were previously concealed, and illuminates what had previously been in obscurity.” –Picatrix II:3
One of the ways Picatrix conceals secrets of talismanic magic is by describing electional considerations and the composition of talismans and suffumigations in what superficially appear to be abstract cosmological relationships. To a person immersed in the worldview espoused by the author, ultimately there is no difference between these things; or at least there is a profound sympathy.
What Picatrix is saying here is pretty radical.
While most talismanic and petitional elections depend strongly upon the condition of the Moon and to some extent the planet on or ruling the Ascendant, if a major significator in the election is the Sun the role of every other planet is greatly diminished. The manifestation might be subtler with a weak Moon, however. In theory, one could create a benevolent Solar talisman even if the Moon was afflicted catastrophically. I personally wouldn’t take that chance unless it were an emergency, but in the earlier of the two Sun in Aries elections I described in the last post the Moon was slightly afflicted. It is because of Picatrix that I felt this was inconsequential.
This is a special case regarding the Sun and the Sun only. Tropical astrology is not heliocentric; it is geocentric. But it is what I call heliophilic. It gives a very special significance to the role of the Sun, and it has powers unique among all the planets. It is not merely the strongest planet—something seldom stated in canonical texts because it really is taken for granted—but it has a central role in the cosmos as the bringer of order, the primary source of visible and astral light, the liminal mediator between the world of Forms and the Sublunar sphere, and of the four seasons that sustain all life. Thus, through the Sun, the equinoxes and solstices define the positions and properties of the Zodiacal Signs and the essential architecture of the universe and time itself.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this somewhat serpentine journey through the world of Scholastic Image Magic which started with Agrippa’s Solar sapphires, has taken us through the complex relationships of planetary pairings, and finally to the fundamental supremacy and centrality of the Sun. Traditional celestial magic conceals a lot of secrets of both a practical and spiritual nature, and as we solve the puzzles it sets before us in the canonical sources, the aspiration is that our own personal disjointedness is transformed into a more coherent spiritual being.
I’m cheating a little by letting you in on some of the glimpses of the treasures that I’ve uncovered. I’m hoping that you’ll forgive me for bending the rules a little; that you’ll return the favor someday to myself and others, and that you’ll use this knowledge wisely.
No one can perfect any of the works of traditional astrological magic without passing on some of the illumination that one receives, much like the Sun illuminates each of the planets and they transmit their light and fill all of their hierarchies with vitality and power. It’s more than a metaphor; it’s the essential connection between consciousness and cosmos that produces magic and our experience of reality itself.
Sun in Aries Talismans for Healing the Infirmities of the Head
Scholastic Image Magic Talismans in Medicine
Contemporary research into the distribution of texts on magic in medieval and Renaissance England suggests that theurgical and necromantic texts were concentrated in monasteries, but texts on Scholastic Image Magic were concentrated in the libraries of physicians. This does appear to indicate that physicians had a particular interest in astral magic and probably were also one of the few occupations which would have had the necessary background in astrology to make use of it. A survey of the breadth of the canonical literature of Scholastic Image Magic does suggest a preponderance of formulas for talismans which were used medicinally. While theurgical and necromantic rituals for longevity, relief of ailments, prevention and cures do exist, going back as far as the Testament of Solomon and ancient Mesopotamia, the additional emphasis is notable in SIM.
Part of this is simply that the boundary between medicine and magic has been quite blurry up until relatively recently in history, and both traditional medicine and Scholastic Image Magic have had an astrological basis. We may speculate, however, that astrological talismans may have had a special efficacy in an era not otherwise known for medical advancement.
This has been a significant interest of mine: the use of magic to prevent, treat and cure diseases, and extend animal and human longevity. The greatest successes in my experiments have been relatively recent, and involve Scholastic Image Magic talismans applied directly to patients or a variety of medicinal substances exposed to their proximity become secondary talismans and are then brought to the patient and ingested or otherwise applied.
In all cases I must note that these treatments were in the form of complementary therapies. I am not a physician and do not pretend to be one, traditional or modern. At no point during my experiments have I or would I ask a patient to alter their treatment from whatever their doctors require. Nevertheless, I do think that talismanic remedies have very special merits and are quite deserving of revival and extensive research.
Though many of these cases deserve their own separate blog post, I have used talismans to help patients with a variety of conditions which include metastatic brain cancer, ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), c. diff (clostridium difficile) infections, erectile dysfunction, fevers, migraine headaches, and even the common cold. In every instance the talismans seemed to improve outcomes; often quite dramatically. As someone who once was studying to become an M.D., I understand how bold these claims sound and I stand behind them.
The prevention of disease and resisting the aging process is a less glamorous side to this system of magic, but I wear talismans for these purposes at all times. When you are young and healthy, talismans which procure love and wealth and vengeance and knowledge and power are the most seductive. When your body doesn’t quite work the way it used to, those priorities shift very quickly. As a former caregiver that is comfortably in his middle age, the use of magic to improve vitality and extend life has been a front burner project for about a decade, and things grow more interesting and promising every year.
Another reason why medical magic fascinates me is that it is results-oriented and in many instances easy to validate. If a technique has a statistically significant rate of improving outcomes in diseases which are hard or impossible to treat, it is one step forward in making the case that magic is not quackery or delusion, but objectively real and of immense value.
The Mystery of Zodiacal Talismans
When I first immersed myself in the study of astrological talismans I was surprised by an unusual omission. Talismans of many sorts for the seven planets had their own recipes; over 70 for the Decans or Faces, well over 100 options for the Lunar Mansions, and many other varieties. But there was no mention of talismans which corresponded to the twelve Zodiacal Signs. I bitterly concluded that this was not accidental; that the Signs themselves had no power unique to them except when combined with a planet or point which activated it. That the Signs were simply too passive in their cosmic function to create viable talismans with unique properties. I was disappointed, but reconciled myself to this interpretation.
When John Michael Greer and Christopher Warnock translated the Picatrix and I began studying it, I finally came across Zodiacal talismans. They weren’t anything I was expecting, however. They were a series of medical talismans, which were designed to repair illnesses which affected different parts of the body: internal and external, by the somewhat shaky medieval understanding of medicine and anatomy. They were generally dependent on the position of the Sun as it passed through the Zodiac, but were otherwise profoundly complex electional recipes. Even more frustrating, most of them seemed to require being made of gold; a metal whose price was fairly high. Their application, however, was simple. One bound the talisman to the appropriate body part and the patient experienced immediate relief. Over an unspecified amount of time, they promised a permanent cure.
During the following years I made various attempts to secure affordable gold plates or foil upon which I could make the more expensive Zodiacal talismans to no avail. My eventual goal was to have a set of all twelve so I could treat the broadest possible range of ailments, but this project was postponed until I could obtain the materials. Every so often I would go back and skim the chapter on Zodiacal talismans, and eventually I made a small discovery.
While it was particularly difficult to distinguish the internal organs cited in Picatrix and their relation to modern understandings of anatomy, external features were far clearer. One which caught my eye was the Aries talisman to heal all infirmities of the head. Not only did this promise help for a wide variety of difficult to treat illnesses in modern medicine, but the recipe did not require pure gold but an alloy of gold and silver that would be far more affordable.
The lure and the problem with Picatrix’s assignment of infirmities of the head is that it’s not immediately obvious which diseases it would actually treat. In the medieval medical model, major clinical depression would be melancholia; a personality type resulting from an excess of black bile in the upper intestines, thus not in the brain at all. Many other diseases that today we identify as neurological would have been assigned to the blood, the liver, or the heart. A stroke which paralyzed a limb would be governed by the Zodiacal Sign of the limb and thus require a different talisman altogether.
Nevertheless, other types of strokes, brain tumors, concussions, migraines, dementia, probably epilepsy and the manic portion of bipolar disorder seem good candidates for being identified with the brain in the medieval model, and treatable using an Aries talisman. Many of these are diseases which are hard to treat, and in some cases quite terrifying.
As soon as I realized that this sort of talisman would be highly valuable and fascinating to create, I began looking for upcoming elections. As I will discuss shortly, the conditions for the election are very uncommon and difficult, but a viable electional window was evident less than a week from the search.
I then went on a frantic mission to find gold-silver alloy disks. I found gold-plated silver disks and ordered them, but they were delayed in transit and arrived a week late. As a backup I ordered several other types of gold disks for engraving, and just in the nick of time a selection of ten gold-plated bronze disks arrived. The materials were imperfect, and the size was much smaller than the formula seemed to require; yet there was no time to obtain better.
Initial experiments with these gold-plated Aries talismans are highly promising, and I am looking for volunteers in the vicinity of the New York City area with relevant ailments to validate their efficacy.
Aries Talismanic Elections
“Hermes Trismegistus explains in his book On Images how to calculate images for each and every part of the human body and under which face of the signs to make them. Take pure gold and make a seal and write on it the image of a lion… Bind the seal around the loins or kidneys. I have tested this, and found that one who does this will not suffer thereafter… This happens likewise for the sufferings of the other members of the body, according to their manner and form, and the appropriate symbolism of the planets…
“Aries. This figure is a ram with no tongue. Its properties are for all the infirmities of the head. While it may be made when the Sun is in the first or third or fifth degree of Aries, this figure will be of no benefit unless it is made when the Moon is waxing or full. These are the conditions of the figure. Saturn and Mars must be direct, Jupiter is not in Aquarius and Venus is not in Virgo, which is the sign of her fall, and Mercury is not in Taurus; make the figure between the first degree of Aries and the fifth degree of the first face, and do not make it in the second face (they have said elsewhere that the second face pertains to the eyes and the third to the ears, whence you must pay attention to the degrees), and when the Sun and Jupiter are completely above the earth; and make it in the hour of the Sun. Others say that it is good in the day and hour of Jupiter. And make it from gold and silver to the weight of 7 grains of common wheat. This is proven.” –Picatrix II:12
The Sun is only in those degrees three days a year. Requiring that the Moon be waxing or full cuts the opportunities roughly in half. Having both the Sun and Jupiter above the earth is less than half of the potential elections; furthermore, Jupiter is on a twelve year cycle through the Zodiac, so one can assume at least seven consecutive years when this election is entirely impossible. Requiring the planetary hour be that of the Sun divides the opportunities into a seventh. The other conditions reduce the chances of this election further, but by smaller amounts. The result of this level of complexity is that one will usually have to wait many years for a minimally viable election.
The Manufacture of Aries Talismans
In the election used, the Sun was Ascending in 4 Aries (the fifth degree) in the Hour and Day of the Sun. The Moon was waxing. Saturn and Mars were direct. Jupiter was Retrograde but not in Aquarius, and Venus was in Aries though not in Virgo, Mercury was Retrograde but not in Taurus and close to the Ascendant. The Sun and Jupiter were above the horizon. Though not cited as a condition, the Moon was in mixed conditions of hard and soft aspects to Benefics and neutral planets. The Moon was very fast, and Angular in the 4th House. The Moon is conjunct the Part of Fortune, albeit separating; I’m not sure how much of a factor this is.
The big problem is that the Sun is besieged by the Malefics. Nevertheless, I felt that with such challenging requirements it might be pardonable and worth a shot. Normally a significator besieged by the Malefics would be prohibitive, but so many other features of the election were positive that I felt that it would compensate. At the worst, the talisman will be less effectual or slow-acting; I do not believe the configuration capable of doing harm because the Moon is making no applying aspects to the Malefics.
There was a flurry of Solar-type talismanic elections recently, so I believe that I used cloves as a suffumigation but may need to revise that later as am no longer certain and my notes are ambiguous.
Ten talismans were made in gold-plated bronze. The image of a ram was inscribed on one side and the sigil of the Sun on the opposite. Inscribing on such a small surface was challenging but I practiced a bit and all of the rams are recognizable as such.
One has been claimed by me, and three have been sewn into Los Angeles Rams baseball caps for use by any number of patients. Aries is a ram, after all. Six remain in storage for different forms of application.
Because there might be concern about the safety of a talisman with a besieged significator I wore one of these talismans under a bandage on my head for about a month and suffered no ill effects. Conversely, it appeared to be effective for my relatively mild medical concerns.
This was an exotic, highly experimental talismanic election which really pushes the boundaries of what even I believed possible in this system of magic. Regardless of the results from these Aries medical talismans, I will continue to make more talismans to improve the health of the user, both of the Zodiacal variety and others which I will describe another time.
Astrological talismans from the Scholastic Image Magic tradition often seem as challenging to make as they are powerful.
After electing the window of time in which a talisman can be created, one must confect incenses, select appropriate sigils, and obtain tools and materials for the talismans.
We will discuss how to create a talismanic laboratory, the process of practical considerations including choosing the best combinations, knowing which substitutions do and don’t work, and time and money saving strategies.
Take the theory of talismans into real life creations and applications.
Spellbound: Love Magic Through the Ages @ ConVocation 2018
Love magic is arguably the most universally practiced form of practical magic. Different spiritual traditions approach love magic differently and reveal their worldview through the way they bring two (or more) people together.
It’s often said that all magic is love magic; that cosmic eros is the sacred principle which orders all reality. But taking the abstract and putting it into practice is often tricky, and ultimately none of that matters without results.
In this lecture we will survey the different goals and methods used in several traditions of magic and highlight those which have a reputation for strong results.
No Trespassing: The Magic of Wards @ ConVocation 2018
Wards are magical defenses that prevent a designated space such as a room, home, or property from injury or trespass by inimical forces, spirits, or persons.
Typically focused upon enchanting liminal spaces such as thresholds, property boundaries, chimneys, weathervanes and foundations, wardings take the primal essence of territoriality and give it metaphysical heft, protecting oneself, family, and pets.
In this class we will explore the themes of the protection of spaces in several long standing magical traditions as well as some innovations, analyze their features, and help you create effective defenses for your personal space that are both powerful and uniquely your own.
(There is some drumming noticeable from a nearby musical performance nearby. My apologies for the distraction.)
Powerful Spell for Success in Business and Investments
I recently received a commission for spellwork to advance a client’s investment opportunities in cryptocurrencies, but he could not afford a petition or a talisman. We negotiated a fair price and I got to work.
I particularly enjoy magic where I can incorporate my ongoing fascinations; the blend of African-American Hoodoo and medieval astrological magic has been extremely successful for me in numerous experiments and advanced projects. I wanted to do more for him than what he could get from another conjure doctor. I upscaled some of the ingredients, did a “soft election” for the timing, and added some more Scholastic Image Magic to give it even greater punch.
A “soft election” in my nomenclature is simply one where the most egregious of afflictions to relevant significators are removed, moreso than any attempt to particularly strengthen them. This means the power of the ritual comes from the conjurer and his spiritual helpers rather than the celestial hierarchies, but at least they are not substantial impediments.
Here we have a fortune on the Ascendant and the Moon applying a tight trine to a benefic and then the Sun. The Moon is extremely fast and the ruler of her Sign is not cadent. The Moon is cadent, however.
Again, our goal here isn’t to do a petition or make a talisman but simply to remove as many afflictions as possible and let the Hoodoo do the heavy lifting.
Here’s the natal chart of the client printed out, not the chart of the event. This will serve as a very strong personal concern or relic in tandem with the petition paper. I have anonymized the client’s personal information.
One of the new variations I used in this operation is to write out the petition request on the flat wick as a supplement to the conventional petition paper. It was difficult; next time I’ll use a different kind of pen, but I was pleased by its addition overall.
This is only possible because I used a beeswax sheet for the body of the candle this time. I find that natural materials are better conduits for magic, and while paraffin candles are effective, I will use beeswax occasionally. Beeswax also has a delightful natural scent which is a pleasure in itself; I imagine some of that is passed on to the success of the operation.
Here’s the petition paper, written out on green card stock and torn into a rough circle. I prefer circular petition papers when possible, in part because of its relevance to Scholastic Image Magic as a perfect repository for spirit. I tend not to use woven lines of text simply because my handwriting is bad but my ability to draw is fairly good. I replace it most often with pictorial depictions of the goal, similar to those sometimes used on talismanic iconography. Here we have a pot of gold with the Bitcoin symbol on it. The clockwise line is just an embellishment dictated by my intuition.
The dish is covered by aluminum foil for cleanup convenience.
The candle was loaded with herbs at the core, around the flat wick. Alkanet removes money jinxes and generally is good for prosperity, alfalfa is a strong wealth herb, and I included one more special ingredient (trade secret). Three is a fortunate number, and I didn’t want to overload the candle and risk it going out.
After loading in the herbs next to the wick, I rolled up the beeswax towards me and trimmed the wick at the bottom (where there was no petitional text.)
I then added a bit of iron pyrite into the mouth of the candle to give it an even stronger association with gold and riches.
I anointed the natal chart of the client with Wealthy Way Oil in a quincunx pattern and folded it towards me, placing it below the green petition paper. I then dressed the candle lightly with the same oil. I placed the papers below the saucer and candle, and set the work in motion.
It burned quickly, albeit with some excess smoke. Good signs so far, and I’m very optimistic about the outcome.
Talismans, Pentacles, Contagions, and Other Hidden Things Revealed
A Trip to the Museum
A couple of months back I was at a local magic convention and an old friend of mine from days of yore lectured on ancient Egyptian mythology and magic in such a righteous way that the mummies themselves would have sat up and applauded if they could. Another friend drove down with me, and when we looked for things to do while she was in town we found out that the American Museum of Natural History in New York had an exhibition on mummies, both Egyptian and Peruvian. It seemed more than coincidental, and so we spent a free day at the museum.
As an adult, my favorite museum is certainly the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But as a kid, my second home was the AMNH. Going back there and revisiting all the old classics was truly a lot of fun. It’s a sprawling place, and easy to forget the sheer artistry of the aquatic fauna sculptures, the scale of the dinosaur bones, the occasional very badly-preserved stuffed animal, and the section on climate, ecology, and agriculture. I get something different out of every visit.
The Hall of Gems piqued my interest this time because of my interest in medieval lapidaries and talismans. In particular, I fell in love with the giant yellow sulfur crystals and the shimmering aquamarine jewelry. Not that interesting magically, but aesthetically nourishing. It’s a shame that they’re going to completely remodel it; it had a wonderful retro-futuristic feel.
In any case, we went to the mummy exhibition and it was a lot of fun. In addition to a variety of human Egyptian mummies were a few sacrificial animal mummies. My mother was an unrepentant Egyptophile, so I was immersed in much of this since birth—and once even took a cruise down the Nile.
Equal time was given to the Peruvian mummies and mummification techniques. I’ve been to Peru and Machu Picchu, and one of my favorite books remains Patrick Tierney’s The Highest Altar—an exploration of human sacrifice in ancient and modern times, using Inca mummies as a fulcrum. The exhibit even gave me an idea for a magical project or two, now in the works. (They do not involve human remains. They may involve other remains.)
The Magic Gift Shoppe
Somewhat predictably, the exit of the exhibit led directly to a gift shop brimming over with Egyptian mementoes. Knowing that the Bast plushie, the scarab refrigerator magnet, or Anubis pendant could all be fun décor but equally repurposed into genuine magical objects justified a spending spree. Our cradled arms were full when we went approached the cash register and put down the subjects of our inflamed avarice.
The cashier did not initially catch my attention, partially because we were distracted with our booty and because she was wearing work clothes and did not stand out. But I caught her attention it seemed.
She stared at the selection of purchases, and then her eyes shot to my hands on the counter, and then back and forth. Something was going on.
As some of you know, I wear gemstone rings on all of my fingers (and swap them out every so often). They sometimes attract attention, but they almost never are recognized for what they are: exceptionally powerful talismans, homes or bodies for celestial spirits which assist me in many things.
“You shouldn’t let people touch your rings,” she said sotto voce. “They will lose their power if other people touch them.” She spoke with great sincerity and urgency. She was right, of course. When I began wearing talismanic rings, I would refuse to shake people’s hands out of concern the rings would become inert and the spirits would leave. Chris Warnock urged me to never let anyone touch my talismanic pendants, but he never quite knew what to do about unique problem of magical rings; I was left to figure all that out for myself.
This isn’t an uncommon notion in ceremonial magic; the classic grimoires require that your blasting rod, black-handled knife, athanor, lamens, swords and so forth be made by your own hands from scratch, and that nobody ever touches them but yourself or they will cease to function. Victorian era lodge ceremonialism retains a less-strict version of this too. Mojo bags and jack balls in Hoodoo have similar prohibitions. Astrological talismans are not terribly different, but they do pose social problems in a culture where refusing an extended hand causes an immediate affront. And often an irreparable first impression.
Eventually I began wearing gloves at all times—replacing one horrible problem with a slightly lesser one—and after years of experimentation finally discovered that there was in fact a way to protect talismans from the perils foreign contact. (This turned out to be, somewhat arbitrarily, rings of the 13th Mansion of the Moon. Arcane secret revealed, right here right now).
I was in a state of partial disbelief that the cashier not only recognized my rings as magical, but that she knew magical rings would be imperiled by the touch of others. It is not common knowledge, nor uncontroversial.
I quickly surmised that she had profiled me from my selection of items—it’s even possible that she had scoped them out for herself at one point or other. They were virtually all replicas of magical tools which could easily be turned into the real things. Then again, ankhs and such aren’t actually that weird in this day and age.
That still didn’t explain her absolute confidence that my rings were special. The only way to explain that was that she was able to perceive that they were metaphysically active. She was very likely a practitioner, and a very capable one too.
Yet it was still somewhat possible that she was a New Ager who was fond of crystals, and was about to prescribe soaking them in salt water overnight to purge them of bad energy. Just because you can maybe sense something doesn’t mean you know what it truly is.
I attempted to reassure her that I knew the danger of contact with “things like these” and had found a solution, but I don’t think she quite processed that such a thing was possible. Her response was rather marvelous.
“I keep mine hidden.” She tapped her chest and I could hear the jangle of jewelry. “That way, nobody can touch.”
She leaned in. “King Solomon,” she said, with much gravity.
I gaped a little. I really needed to be sure.
“Do you mean like a pendant with King Solomon’s image on it, or do you mean the Pentacles of King Solomon?” I said.
“The latter” she replied, with a conspiratorial grin.
“I have those too!” I said, and tapped my own chest and jangled right back at her.
We laughed together.
All right, then.
The Pentacles of Solomon are either astrological talismans themselves, or something very similar to them, depending on whom you ask and how they are made.
At that point the people behind us in line were getting restless and I didn’t want to cause her to lose her job, so we quickly moved on. I really should have given her my card. She was capital C Cool.
The whole incident was intense but dreamlike. I was giddy to find a fellow practitioner in an wholly unexpected place. I was also a little startled that I could be spotted so easily.
Normally, even at magic conventions people don’t know what the heck my rings are unless they are explained in detail. They also don’t give off power that most practitioners can detect unless they’re very familiar with the tradition and know what to look for.
Apparently, if you’ve worked in some varieties of Solomonic practice, you can develop that faculty. Which is a good thing to know.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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