The King Solomon Incident

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.

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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 Altaran 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

bast-anubis

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.

We are everywhere. Hiding in plain sight.

A very memorable encounter.

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February 2017 Convention Schedule

I will be lecturing at both PantheaCon in California and ConVocation in Michigan this February, along with many other esteemed colleagues and friends. Please consider attending either or both.


PantheaCon 2017

On Saturday, February 18th at 1:30pm–

Eat Me: Magical Recipes in Medieval Astrological Magic

Though better known for the creation of talismans, medieval and Renaissance astrological magic texts contain further recipes and instructions. Many are intended to be consumed, buried, or burned, with numerous purposes and means of creation. Yet they all point towards a forgotten view of the universe and magic. From counting olive pips to cure illnesses to the creation of wax talismans or incense pills for evocation and influence, such mysteries depend on the philosophies of Al Kindi and his contemporaries. Explore how the outlook of the ancients can enhance our spiritual practices.


ConVocation 2017

On Thursday, February 23rd at 8:30pm–

DIY Talismans

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.

On Friday, February 24th at 4:00pm–

About Time: Basic Chart Calculation

Invaluable to numerous systems of magic, the astrological horoscope is a Swiss army knife for divination, classical medicine, and much else. One of the most advanced achievements of the ancient world, the horoscope can often be perplexing for beginners. This class will focus on the basics of erecting a horoscope chart. We will attempt to demystify the process and render the math easy, while also explaining the essentials of its parts, some of history of its development, and the rationale of the chart from the traditional (pre-1750 AD) perspective.

On Saturday February 25th at 4:00pm–

Fearless Magical Protection

It’s a jungle out there. In most magical systems one of the first things you are taught is basic protection against spiritual attacks, and for good reason. A magical life is a perilous one at times. As you become more proficient, the need for protection grows and takes new forms. This class will survey practical methods of protection from a variety of spiritual systems and methodologies. Some of these techniques are unpublished anywhere and likely to be unfamiliar, but have proven very effective. Magical protection will help secure your success.

 

Sriracha Sorcery

I have entered this decade at last and finally tried sriracha sauce this morning, and liked it.

But this being me, I quickly came up with four potential magical uses for sriracha.

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Let’s start off with ingredients of normal sriracha: Jalapeño Peppers, Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Vinegar, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulfite, Xanthan Gum. 

#1 Hot Footing Into Hot Mouthing: Now, to lay a Hot Foot down on someone in Hoodoo is a curse which causes someone to become so restless they wander the world until they die. Lucky Mojo’s Hot Foot Powder “…a proprietary blend of Red Pepper, sulphur, salt, and essential oils that include Black Pepper and other herbal extracts.”

Since red peppers and salt are already ingredients in sriracha, all you need is to add black pepper, sulfur, and your other favorite cursing ingredients in small amounts, mix it up, and put it back in the bottle.

Since the application is to the mouth rather than the feet, it might work differently– perhaps force the person to confess their lies and betrayals to anyone within earshot. (A tiny scrolled up petition paper put in the bottle would help that along rather nicely.)

Then you can surreptitiously replace the bottle with your target’s sriracha when visiting their home. Perhaps add it to a meal as flavoring and serve it to them.

Perhaps you can write your wish in script using the nozzle, making a cross on the plate like a Hoodoo petition paper, and serve food on top of it– the food obscuring the sriracha text. You could have JohnSmith crossing RevealAllLies below a nice pork pie.

What fun if you can serve him this special dish at a big dinner party where many disclosures would have a significant impact!

#2 Goofering Their Guts: Now, suppose you’re feeling extra naughty and you want someone to get sick or die.

Turn that bottle of sriracha into a deadly condiment as Goofer Sauce:  Lucky Mojo’s Goofer Dust Recipes for making it vary, but it is almost always a mixture of simple natural ingredients, usually including Graveyard Dirt, powdered sulphur (which can give it a yellowish colour) and salt. Subsidiary ingredients may include powdered snake heads or snake skin ‘sheds,’ red pepper, black pepper, powdered bones, powdered insects or snails, and greyish, powdery-surfaced herbs such as mullein and sage. In the past, some formulas for Goofer Dust included anvil dust, the fine black iron detritus found around a blacksmith’s anvil.” 

Just take small amounts of the ingredients which you like that aren’t already in sriracha and grind them up and mix them in. Deploy in a manner similar to Method #1.

#3 Tangy Temperament: People misunderstand the system of Elements. It’s about the experience of the four which determines their presence, so that something which tastes extremely spicy and hot has the same amount of the Fire Element in it as a blazing fireplace.

In Traditional Medicine– by which I mean what came before Modern Medicine and even Alternative Medicine– and includes Ayurvedic Medicine– you use fiery foods for specific conditions, most particularly assisting weight loss.

I can attest to the fact that using spicy relishes has helped me get over weight loss plateaus when nothing else has.

I can also confirm this works great with #4 for health conditions of all kinds.

#4 Talismanic Teamup: One of my own innovations is combining talismans with other materials: Usually magical but not exclusively. A select few are food based.

The way it works is that if you put an astrological talisman in the proximity of a material that falls somewhat or fully under its celestial hierarchy, it wildly magnifies the power of the previously mundane material.  It’s called “receptivity” in Picatrix. But if you put a supercharged material into your body, then you become flooded with power in a manner wearing a talisman alone cannot do. (It’s part of the rationale of planetary dieting described in Picatrix) You are making your body temporarily more receptive to stellar rays of a particular hierarchy. Combining that with a talisman rather than a petition is also very strong.

For example I’ve made Solar potions by making small Sun talismans and dropping them into bottles of Goldschlagger, Antares potions by dropping talismans into Fernet Branca, and a few others. That’s because Goldschlagger is a cinnamon liqueur and that herb is Solar, it has gold flecks and that metal is Solar, and things which are sweet and spicy are Solar– so it all lines up. Fernet Branca is different, because it contains saffron and that is an herb of Antares according to Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. Drinking my Solar potion gives one courage, luck in money, leadership abilities, health and vigor. Drinking my Antares potion protects against demons, makes one eloquent and more physically attractive.

So… the question becomes how to apply that to sriracha sauce?

Well, the choice most people would make would be to drop a strong Mars talisman into the bottle and shake it up, and add that to food for skill in combat and defense against physical or metaphysical threats.

Of course, one can use an afflicted and weak Mars talisman and do the same to make a really vicious cursing sauce to put into someone’s food.

But that’s actually not what I’d do.

I think the rooster on the bottle is a big deal, and makes the whole artifact of a bottle of sriracha strongly Solar and appropriate for strong Sun talismanic placement. The rooster crows at dawn, when the Sun is on the Ascendant.

Peppers specifically may be Martial but they’re more generally fiery as is the Sun, and the overall flavor of sriracha sauce is spicy-sour and sweet– and that enlivening specifically ought be deemed Solar. It wakes you right up, in a more pleasant way than a truly hot pepper– that would be solely Martial because it is more irritating than invigorating. As William Lilly says on Solar flavors: a mixture of sour and sweet together, or aromatic  flavor, being a little bitter and astringent, but altogether comforting and a little sharp.” 

Furthermore, I should note that the bottle’s body is red because of the sauce, but the tip is green to make the whole resemble a pepper. Red and green in combination are especially Solar because at dawn the Sun usually looks red, but occasionally it flashes green at dawn. (That, incidentally, is why peridot is a very Solar gemstone. In certain lights it alternates between green and gold colors.)

When it comes to the celestial receptivity of a food, condiment or beverage, one can go with ingredients, flavor, symbology of the item as a whole or a combination thererof. All are effective in magic.

12/18/2016 Addendum: In addition to talismans using food and drink for as a vector for extending the reach of the talisman, the reverse also is effective. Herbal remedies which fall under a celestial hierarchy when stored with an appropriate SIM talisman also become more potent. Foods become more nourishing, sweets become tastier, garnishes become more attractive, and so on.

Black Magic And Dark Paganism @ ConVocation 2009

A lecture and reading covering the ethos and practices of black magic, a survey of curse methods, and dark paganism– a term which he coined in the early 1990s. (It is a fusion of elements from the PantheaCon lecture of the same name from 2008, the Secret Sequel lecture from 2009, and some unique material.)

Like several lectures during this period, the audio is imperfect. Please accept my apologies.

Black Magic Part Two (Partial) @ ConVocation 2010 

 

Part of Clifford Hartleigh Low’s lecture about the deeper ethics, strategy, and practice of curses, black magic and dark paganism. The omitted portion of the lecture was recorded without audio due to technical issues.

 

The Age of Black Magic: Step Seven

The Magic Bullet (Variant)

Take (at a minimum) four rifle cartridges and anoint them away from you from base to tip with a destructive Hoodoo oil, such as Destruction Oil, Devil Oil, Damnation Oil etc.

Take a similar number of powerful neodymium magnets and anoint them with Inflammatory Confusion Oil. Baptize the magnets and give them names– but names in a set, like Larry, Curly, Moe and Shemp.

Take your framed relic image (assuming that is what you have available) and place the four bullets at the top, bottom, right and left extremes. Orient them so that they appear to be shooting in a counterclockwise direction– a circular firing squad is the metaphor we are going for here.

Then take the magnets and place them on the back/bottom of the frame, pinning the bullets in place with the cardboard, picture, and glass in between bullet and magnet.

Call upon your divinities or spirits to grant you your requests, or write a petition paper and place it below or within the picture frame.

Feed the magnets by sprinkling iron filings mixed with gunpowder onto the bullets, and similarly make offerings of raw pork mixed with red pepper or goofer dust on the eyes and face of your target.

Store this in a remote location, because the pork will spoil.

If one has space, ring the project with sprinkled gunpowder or goofer dust.

The goal with the Magic Bullet variant is not to kill but to cause the subject to become paranoid and disturbed in mind, overwhelmed by fear, and to sow chaos and infighting among that person’s inner circle.

Of course this can be modified to do far worse things, but our aim here is to neutralize rather than kill.

This method can be modified for different types of relics on altar spaces, or increased in power using talismans and elections and many other options. The limit is only your imagination.

Have fun with this one.

The Divine and Demonic Absurdity of Names

The divine and demonic absurdity of names.

This was a topic raised elsewhere, but I want to highlight it here while also avoiding getting into anything which could be construed as personal with people I respect.

Astaroth and Astarte are completely different beings.

It is historically correct that the name Astaroth (a male, aggressive demon) was probably derived from Astarte (a female, seductive goddess.) This was also obviously done to defame Astarte and eliminate competition. That does not mean that under the mask of a nasty, aggressive soul-eating monster there is a friendly sex goddess waiting to be your nekkid playmate on the astral plane.

Perhaps your experiences diverge from mine, but with respect I think you’re being conned. Demons are dishonest bastards. They invented lying. After a few trillion years of practice, they’re quite good at it too.

I think it’s entirely likely that an ancient nameless parasitic entity took the opportunity of the name variance to absorb offerings given to Astarte to set itself up as the demon Astaroth. Sometimes you try to order Dominos over the phone and get one digit off by one and end up talking to a strange guy in a Utah call center. People also sometimes acquire calls from the prior owner’s pals when they get a new phone number.

A name is sometimes just a name, just like your phone number is usually an arbitrary number. My old phone number used to spell out (201) TED-BUNG. I am not Ted. I am not Ted Bung. Nor do I know anyone named this. This is arbitrary information.

Now, this whole Astorath = Astarte thing begins to fall apart pretty rapidly under inspection. And that’s what I want to talk about.

Firstly, it wasn’t just ancient gods being turned into demons as a means of Christian defamation of pagan religions. Many ancient gods were turned into saints and angels. Hermes was an angelos ton theon, a messenger of the gods. Ficino and the Renaissance Neoplatonists thought all of the benevolent pagan gods were probably archangels who had been misunderstood, but they didn’t come up with that idea themselves. Brigid became Saint Brigit; you know that drill. This shatters the notion that there was a concerted effort to demonize all pagan gods. Pagan gods of noble virtues who made sense as angels were cast as angels or the holy dead, and the gods who demanded human sacrifice and orgiastic behavior were the ones who were thought to have led mankind astray and thus were demons.

However, it wasn’t just the Christians doing this. The pagan polytheists attempted to redefine foreign gods as beings in their own local pantheons. And some of this was just bonkers.

The Romans identified Venus with the Greek Aphrodite, but virtually anyone who has studied the Classics knows that there were huge differences between the two goddesses. There were also numerous local versions of both goddesses with pretty variable attributes. We all know by now that Zeus had many epithets but these were often understood to be distinctive beings. Venus was also associated with the goddess Ishtar and she with Inanna, but while the latter two were thought to be the planetary Venus the Romans only transferred the name Venus to signify the planet but didn’t believe the planet was the actual goddess. A name for Venus was Lucifer, and yes some early Christians thought the connection wasn’t accidental either.

It gets crazier.

Osiris was identified with Dionysius. Both were identified with Jesus by Hellenistic pagans. That may have been wishful thinking. It should be obvious that a castrated god of vegetation, a feral god of drunken underworld antics, and a magic Rabbi who got executed have precious little in common. Yet many believed they did.

This one isn’t discussed a lot; the pretty boy god Adonis and the Hebrew Adonai are the same guy if you go back far enough. But the Jewish version doesn’t even have an appearance at all, doesn’t get killed by a giant pig (though that might explain why I’m not supposed to eat bacon), and isn’t in a polyamorous relationship with Aphrodite and Persephone– though He’d probably win points with me if He did. Can we switch back? Never mind.

Here’s another one. The Egyptian god Aten– the semi-monotheistic Sun god that Akhenaten was so into– was identified in the ancient world as Athena, wisdom goddess and patroness of Athens. And Aten was probably Jehovah, or the inspiration for Him. So Jehovah is Athena. So, owls.

I may be hurting you. I’m sorry. Not enough lube?

Alexander’s parentage opens the door to another wacky conflation. He claimed to be the son of Amun, the Egyptian Sun god. One of them, anyway. (They had a lot of Sun gods, didn’t they?) In Greece that became Zeus instead, though in the form of a snake banging his mom. Because Zeus was the original furry. He deserves credit for that. And then Amun later became a demon Amon. Who is also evoked in Amen, in prayers.

Do you need a hug? I won’t turn into anything weird, I promise.

My point is actually very simple. Don’t trust these identifications. Don’t trust these appropriations. They were all done for political reasons and the names we use to call up a spirit, god, demon or whatever depend enormously on context. None of that shit is unique like DNA.

Because if you’re going to be stupid about this, it means every time you say “Amen” you’re giving a shout-out to a demon.

That is absurd. Use your brain.

The spiritual universe is almost certainly full of beings of immense power. It behoves you to figure out who you are actually talking to, but also whether they’re your awesome super pal, a nut, a sneaky brain-eater, or just a cosmic heroin pusher. The books of history, mythology and theology will only get you so far.