Your Astrological Magic Is Broken



Many people studying magic and astrology depend upon reference books and tables of correspondences—especially early in their studies before details are memorized and internalized. Among practitioners of magic, a fairly standard set of numerological and chromatic correspondences are the established consensus for the seven traditional planets.

You may be familiar with these, seen here in the table below:

Planet Color Number
Saturn Black 3
Jupiter Purple or Blue 4
Mars Red 5
Sun Yellow or Gold 6
Venus Green 7
Mercury “Mixed Colors,” Orange or Brown 8
Moon Gray, Silver or White 9

I would like to be conservative and polite by noting that these are only one of multiple sets of planetary correspondences which are at variance with each other; but in all forthrightness, I am certain that the preceding list is almost completely wrong, with only a few exceptions. I am not referring to the four scales used in the Golden Dawn system of magic, nor the confusion regarding what Mercury’s “mixed colors” actually mean or whether Jupiter’s proper color is purple or blue. The problem is much more fundamental than that.

Essentially, for practicing magicians almost everything you know about astrology and planetary magic is wrong. Dead wrong.

The upshot of this is that magicians have been using this table of correspondences unquestioningly for several hundred years and almost consistently failing to conjure wealth from Jupiter, love from Venus, wisdom from Mercury, and so on. Frustrated, they have often drifted away from the astrological foundations of much of Western Hermeticism, or have stubbornly persisted for the rest of their lives uncertain what they have been doing wrong.

None of them were stupid. They simultaneously had too much faith in the infallibility of the authors of the manuals of magic which they had access to, and insufficient understanding of the actual history of how these correspondences developed—or to be blunt, devolved.

Understanding how we got from a series of correspondences which were mostly correct to ones which seem almost designed to fail has a long and winding history going back over two thousand years of misunderstandings, religious supersessionism, economics, the availability of textile dyes, and even a prized species of snail.

I’ve studied the interactions of magic and astrology in an intensive way since 2001 and have become one of the most prominent experts on the subject, so I realize this is a very bold and controversial declaration. I’ve become a somewhat well-regarded amateur historian on the subject; so while there is an amount of speculation in reconstructing this history, it is an informed and reasonable conjecture.

It also has one additional virtue helping validate my reconstructed descent of planetary correspondences: the colors and numbers that I have unearthed work far better than the more familiar ones. I believe that readers of this blog who experiment with them will come to similar conclusions.

Unpacking my discoveries will probably stretch several blog posts, and I’d rather you follow my reasoning and insights before providing you the corrected table. I also would like to use this as an opportunity to explain some contexts in how these planetary lists were meant to be used, and some significant misunderstandings about these which have been undermining students of magic for several centuries.

The Problem Is Revealed

For me, the journey goes back nearly 20 years to when I was actively researching how to integrate magic and astrology. In order to understand how I came to these discoveries requires an autobiographical interlude which has been a long time coming.

I was a latecomer to belief in astrology for various reasons, but certain highly frustrating events a few years earlier convinced me that planetary transits could cause a great deal of personal mayhem. A major project I and several friends initiated during highly adverse astrological conditions resulted in an entire year of betrayals, mysterious bad luck, unforeseen expenses, illnesses, and near-universal exhaustion and bitter regrets. The project was able to be saved in the end, but the sheer difficulty of it all forced the previously-skeptical me that astrology was something I could no longer ignore or scoff at.

I was aware that magic had worked in tandem with astrology for centuries, and was astonished to discover that almost nothing was available in print on how to turn predictions of doom into opportunities to flourish. Magicians are by nature obsessed with achieving the impossible, and the fatalism of astrology seemed to be antithetical to the hopeful and ambitious character of the practice of magic. Even traditional depictions of wizards often had them wearing robes covered in the symbols of astrology, so it was obvious to me that I was missing some very important bridge between two temperamentally incompatible fields of knowledge.

The majority of material on modern astrology itself was frustrating, full of slippery language about the function of nearly every foundational component of the horoscope. Nearly every book left me more perplexed than the last, leaving me very concerned that my skepticism should not have been directed at astrology itself, but at its current leading voices. I accumulated multiple shelves of books on the topic which after I began studying traditional astrology have only accumulated dust. And deservedly so. Modern astrology is very bad at providing concrete answers and clarity about almost everything, and clarity is precisely what I was looking for.

The available material on planetary magic was almost exclusively derived from the output of Victorian lodge magic, such as the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and the Aurum Solis. The astrology of these fraternal orders was utilized as a set of universal archetypes and symbols used for the spiritual development of the initiate, not to remediate adverse horoscopic conditions. Sometimes planetary imagery was incorporated into practical rituals, but these rituals were seldom truly astrological in nature. Many of these groups claimed to routinely raise the initiate above the influences of astrological vicissitudes, thus rendering the study of the horoscope a spiritual hobby like palmistry rather than something essential.

Nevertheless, I did have a few resources which were useful starting points. I had Francis Barrett’s The Magus, Henry Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn, and Mather’s edition of The Greater Key of Solomon. All of them taught me many useful things, but not how to solve the puzzle which was driving me through all of this.

I began experimenting with planetary candle magic. Dressed candles were originally established through the tradition of Hoodoo generations earlier, but in New York City the practice was popularized in the largely Caucasian Western Esoteric community through occult shops. Creating some version of a dressed candle was thus a foundational practice for nearly anyone learning practical magic in the area during the 80s and 90s. Candle magic of this flavor wasn’t consistently powerful, but candles cost pennies and a dressed candle could be sold for $10 and up. This was understandably pushed heavily by nearly all the local occult shops in order to stay in business. Candles were engraved, dressed with essential oils, sprinkled with glitter, and sometimes passed through incense smoke in front of the customers. It was partially entertainment, like a teppanyaki grill at a Japanese restaurant, but it served to teach customers how to do the same at home. I was friendly with many of the owners and employees at these shops, so I knew the procedures especially well.

My starting point was to use the conventional planetary colors for the selection of my candles for dressing as offerings, and prepare them during the appropriate Planetary Hour or Day. When this proved entirely unsuccessful, I used a variation of the Golden Dawn Hexagram Rituals (which are used to invoke the planets) upon the candles to give them a boost of power. I found some interesting unconventional uses for the Hexagrams in the process, but the candles were producing results which were just as disappointing. I could not tell whether any results were the results of false attribution and the placebo effect or any magic causing changes, and that is always a bad sign.

Completely frustrated, I began to experiment with the cycles of time itself. I had found a copy of Estelle Daniels’ book Astrologickal Magick at a local shop and thought it might be what I had been looking for. The book was a potpourri of notions on how to blend magic and astrology; most of it was unhelpful or even slightly dangerous, but gems were scattered within. It introduced to me a clearer notion of astrological timing and that of Essential Dignity by way summarizing some of the work of pioneering traditional astrologer J.Lee Lehman.

Daniels wrote that one could bring about superior outcomes when a planet was transiting the Signs of its Rulerships, which was one of many types of Essential Dignity–zones of power for individual planets as they moved through the Zodiac. Furthermore, a lesser-known type of Sign placement was Exaltation, which was sometimes more powerful with the timing of magic.

So, I began to experiment with creating and lighting dressed candles when they were, as astrologers say, in Sign. Much to my surprise, the results were almost the same when planets were in Rulerships; but strange and intriguing outcomes proceeded from making and lighting planetary candles when present in their Exaltations. In spite of this, the results were not very powerful and highly unreliable; but I could tell that finally something was going on which could not be attributed to mere coincidence and wishful thinking.

Necessity Is The Mother Of Opportunity

The eureka moment was, strangely enough, the result of my highly precarious financial situation.

I had a bad employer who would pay me a variable amount of money at a seemingly random moment, but I had no better options at the time. My solution was to adapt by buying up bulk goods whenever I was paid and subsisting on them until the next check. Thus for a few years I lived out of boxes of canned food, stacks of books to read at my leisure, and most importantly glass encased novena candles that I would purchase by the dozen at local thrift stores.

Inevitably I would time things poorly, and I would run out of something. As I was experimenting with elected planetary candles, I would run out of candles of a necessary color when the corresponding planet was in Sign or Exaltation. Out of desperation, I crossed my fingers and used whatever color candles I had available. As my use of planetary candles increased and the length between paychecks seemed to stretch longer, improvisation correspondingly increased and a pattern emerged.

Planetary candles which used colors that were quite different from the traditional correspondence tables frequently worked better than those which were traditional. I burned hundreds of these candles, and was baffled and intrigued. I was still using very primitive electional techniques by the standards I use today, but I began to track which colors worked best with each planet. The only conclusion I could come to was that the traditional color scheme was wrong; the correct color scheme remained elusive.

I tried using the colors of the Signs rather than the planets; that was not the pattern. I tried comparing the colors with those of the configurations of my personal horoscope; again, this was not consistent. Nor was it anything to do with the Exaltations. I was mystified.

That’s when I realized that astrology was fundamentally broken. If even the proper colors of the planetary correspondences were incorrect, then all of our assumptions about the meaning of the planets were questionable.

At this point my exasperation and disgust turned into excitement. Because I finally saw this as an opportunity. I had begun to worry that I was incompetent; solving magical puzzles usually didn’t take me nearly so long. Now I realized that I had been misinformed.

Finding out where the misinformation had originated and the correct correspondences became a personal mission; a mission which has led to the discoveries of the remaining posts in this blog series.

I hope that you will join me on a wild ride through the history of magic, astrology, and much else.

Magical Medicine @ ConVocation 2019

Magical Medicine at ConVocation 2019


Since prehistoric times, magic has been used to heal the sick and revive the dying.

The historical line between enchantment and medicine is elusive at best. A mind-boggling array of methods and theories have been employed throughout the ages.

Grimoires which banish the demons of disease, enchanted poultices, wound talismans, amulets and mojos, baths and potions—all are based on the seductive premise that the spiritual can restore the corporeal.

In this class we will explore many of these systems, survey healing recipes, investigate eras when the doctor and witch doctor were one and the same, and discuss methods which may be used as complementary medicines today.

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A Treasury of Money Magic

A Treasury of Money Magic @ ConVocation 2019


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.

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D.I.Y. Talismans

D.I.Y. Talismans @ ConVocation 2017


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.

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No Trespassing: The Magic of Wards

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.)

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Prosperity Candle

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.

CMB - 1

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.

CMB - 3

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.

CMB - 5

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.

CMB - 8

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.

CMB - 12

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.

CMB - 16

It burned quickly, albeit with some excess smoke. Good signs so far, and I’m very optimistic about the outcome.

The Byzantium Flyers


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.)


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.

The Flyers


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.

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.


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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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.



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.


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.