Powerful Petition to Mars

Ascendant ruler applying to trine Mars, with elaborate garb and suffumigations

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What Celestial Petitions Are

A significant part of the tradition Scholastic Image Magic is based upon includes celestial petitions. These are not technically image magic, because talismans are usually not involved. Nor are they properly scholastic, because they go beyond the boundaries of natural magic and invoke spirits directly, albeit ones who govern aspects of the natural world. They are prominently featured in Picatrix, but belong to the tradition of theurgy going back to at least Iamblichus. The more unsavory variations of it can sometimes be classified as necromancy, by the medieval definitions of the term.

Nobody agrees what the nature of the spirits invoked are; some believe them to be angels, others djinn, others demons. Those informed by gnostic thought sometimes believe them to be archons. All agree that they are one of the principal origins of the legends of wish-granting spirits, such as in the story of Aladdin and the djinn. I believe them to be angels, in the sense that they are honorable servants of cosmic order; they are not always benevolent in action, but absolutely serve the greater good.

The celestial petition is a supplicatory appeal for aid in a sphere the hierarchy in question has authority over. The timing is elected, the petitional text is very formal in structure, the suffumigations are very complex, ritual postures are used, and ritualized garb or costume is required. Sacrifices were also traditionally made, though this is seldom practical today. Planetary dieting is of great benefit to petitions, in addition to regimens of meditation and abstinence preceding the ceremony.

Though the type of elections used in celestial petitions differ from those used in the creation of talismans, they have enough similarity that formalized petitional texts are often used in the process of talismanic creation (abbreviated versions may be used if the electional window is brief).

Making talismans is hard work, from the election to their initial usage. Petitions are harder. Active preparation for a petition can sometimes be longer than a week. That is why when I do petitions for clients I usually charge more. To my knowledge I am the only magician commercially offering celestial petitions in the manner described in Picatrix.

Asking a talisman for a wish is effective and can be done many times, but their function is usually passive. Asking powerful governors of large portions of the cosmos for a boon is more effective—if the ritual is performed correctly—and what is asked for is granted in a very active way. An imperfect talisman may work, sometimes with side effects. If sufficiently flawed, they may do nothing, or could even curse the user. However, an imperfect petition may insult the hierarchy and cause the magician’s prompt death. Petitions are high risk, and less forgiving of error.

For me, that makes it all the more exciting.

Electing A Petition to Mars

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To elect a planetary petition, the planet of the hierarchy one is petitioning must be dignified and unafflicted in a way similar familiar to those who make planetary talismans, with some additional requirements and preferences as specified in Picatrix. The planet ruling the Ascendant must make a benevolent applying aspect to the petitioned planet. When possible, the Moon should also be dignified, unafflicted and forming a meaningful connection between the planet of the Ascendant and that of the petitioned planet. Ideally, none of the relevant planetary bodies will be cadent.

In the above election, the ruler of the Ascendant is the Moon, which simplifies a lot. The Ascendant and Moon are significators of the petitioner, and when they are in agreement the working is stronger; when they are the same body there are fewer factors to weigh.

The Moon is slow, but not prohibitively. When the Moon is slow but above twelve degrees of diurnal motion it is ideal for curses and malevolence, and so it is in harmony with at least part of the petition– it is of a destructive or disruptive nature. The Moon has some dignity within Pisces, being of the watery triplicity. The Moon exactly culminates while making a very tight applying trine with Mars. Mars is in domicile towards the end of Scorpio; he is not in the final two degrees of the Sign which could have been a problem. Mars is succedent in the 5th House. Mars is unfortunate in this House, but the other factors supersede this. Saturn is safely past opposition to the Ascendant, but is in the 6th House. The ruler of the Moon’s Sign is itself the Moon, so it cannot be cadent; the beginning will be fulfilled and the end will be fulfilled. The Ascendant ruler is less essentially dignified than the Descendant ruler, but much more accidentally dignified. The largest shortcoming of the election is that Mars neither has the Hour or Day of the election; but Picatrix does not require this.

This is not a perfect election for a petition, but a solidly good one.

The Petition to Mars

When you wish to ask Mars for something, and speak to him and honor him, put him in a good condition as we have said… Dress yourself in red garments, and put a red linen or silk cloth on your head as well as a red skullcap, and hang a sword from your neck, and arm yourself with all the weapons you can carry; and dress yourself in the manner of a soldier or a fighter, and put a bronze ring on your finger. Take a bronze thurible with burning charcoal, in which you should put the following suffumigation. –Picatrix

One of my clients asked for a boon which was of a Martial nature, and so I sought a petitional election. After months of searching, this is the best one I found, and so I got to work.

I already had a cylindrical red chef cap for ritual purposes. It was neither a skullcap nor linen nor silk, but fulfilled the conditions acceptably.

My thurible was iron, which is a suitable substitute as the metal of Mars.

I could not figure out how to hang my sword comfortably from my neck; it’s pretty heavy. Instead I found a pendant online in the shape of a winged sword, in steel—especially appropriate for Mars.

Similarly, I found a bronze ring in the shape of a crow’s skull. Crows are birds of Mars according to both Lilly and Agrippa.

I purchased military-style camouflage print pants in red, and wore a rather spectacular polyester shirt with a flame print.

Finally, I slung a black bowie knife and sheath on a cord about my neck, tucked my hunting rifle under one arm, and held my Smith & Wesson revolver in my right hand. Both were loaded.

I probably looked completely terrifying, which is exactly what you should go for when petitioning the cruel lord of violence and dread.

Take wormwood, aloes, squill, spurge, long pepper, and watercress in equal amounts. Grind them up and mix them with human blood. Make pills of this, which you may set aside for use. When you wish to begin working, put one of them into the thurible, which you have brought with you to a remote place specially set aside for this working. When you have arrived there, stand upright on your feet and speak secretly, boldly, and without any fear, facing the south… As the smoke rises, say the following. –Picatrix

I obtained all of the ingredients, but somehow misplaced the long pepper. Rather than make pills, I mixed the wormwood, aloe, squill, spurge and watercress in a cup and drizzled human blood over them.

At the appointed time, I stood facing south and somberly and loudly intoned the petitional text, rising in volume to a crescendo.

O Mars, you who are an honored lord and are hot and dry, mighty, weighty, firm of heart, spiller of blood and giver of illnesses thereto! You are strong, hardy, acute, daring, shining, agile, and the lord of battles, pains, miseries, wounds, prisons, sorrows, and mixed and separated things, who has no fear or contemplation of anything, sole helper in all your effects and in investigations thereof, strong in calculation and will to conquer and to seek after fortune, cause of lawsuits and battles, doer of evil to the weak and the strong, lover of the sons of battle, vindicator of wicked people and those who do evil in the world. I ask of you and conjure you by your names and your qualities that exist in heaven, and by your slayings, and also by your petitions to the Lord God who placed power and strength in you, gathering them in you and separating them from other planets that you might have strength and power, victory over all and great vigor… –Picatrix

I can’t tell you what the boon was for the client; it’s confidential, and knowledge of the specifics may interfere with their outcomes.

I will say that Mars provides boons in many areas other than violence and misfortune; and while his hierarchy is Malefic, they often do great good. Challenging injustice, obliteration of disease, removing obstacles to love and sex, surgery, alchemy, and vanquishing pestilence are all within the sphere of Mars’ influence.

Mars is a mighty ally and a terrible foe.

Forget neither.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

The Rings of the Diplomat

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THE RINGS OF THE DIPLOMAT: Sirius culminating, with a tightly applying conjunction of the Moon; the very fast Moon applying to both Benefics, and the Greater Benefic on the Ascendant.

While Jupiter is somewhat afflicted, overall this is a superb election for Sirius. The speed of the Moon, the Benefic on the Ascendant, and the amazing tightness of the conjunction of the Moon with Sirius on the Midheaven were all great fortitudes that together provided an election that is quite powerful and proportionately rare.

For the time being I don’t believe the solar eclipse of August 21 will have had a significant impact upon these elections; they ought to be fully out of orb.

This is an election that I’ve been eager to try out for an exceptionally long time.

Under the Greater Dog Star, they made an image of a hound and a little virgin; it bestoweth honour and good will, and the favor of men, and aerial spirits, and giveth the power to pacify and reconcile kings, princes, and other men. –Cornelius Agrippa

And elsewhere:

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One part savine juniper juice with wormwood and bistort and a little serpent’s tongue put under a golden beryl, etc., grants the favor of the spirits of the air and the peoples of the earth, and brings peace and concord between kings and other potentates, and between husbands and wives. –Qundecim Stellis

The oldest obtainable coverage is more general and possibly is confused with the listing for Procyon which follows it in the text, and has no listed powers:

And Canis Major in his like
The fifte sterre is of magique,
The whos kinde is Venerien,
As seith this astronomien.
His propre ston is seid berille,
Bot for to worche and to fulfille
Thing which to this science falleth,
Ther is an herbe which men calleth
Saveine, and that behoveth nede
To him that wole his pourpos spede.

–The Confessio Amantis of John Gower

All things being equal, I lean towards the Quindecim Stellis as canonical over Agrippa’s fixed star sections; particularly the sigils. The Confessio Amantis material is valuable too, but mostly to reduce ambiguities and illustrate the evolution of the text.

To clarify this, talismans of Sirius:

  • Make people like and obey the wearer.
  • Make spirits like and obey the wearer.
  • Allows the wearer to resolve disputes between lovers.
  • Allows the wearer to resolve disputes between people of leadership and renown.

I’ve long said that the Ring of the Pleiades is the most important in the Quindecim Stellis; the most fundamental in plying one’s trade as an itinerant magician in the Early Modern Period. The Rings of either the Greater or Lesser Dog Stars and the Ring of Alkaid would be the ones to follow it; but considering that Sirius is the brightest star of all, it probably takes the lead. A magician with a Sirius ring would be able to be a supreme counselor for his liege or patron, and assist him or her in the governance of their fiefdom or estate. In exchange for generous payment.

On a personal level, I’m close to finally completing the full set of fifteen Behenian talismans as described in the Quindecim Stellis. Though a few of these I no longer have in my possession, the process of creating thirteen of these over the past decade have been as powerful an initiation as anything I can imagine. It hasn’t been easy, and when the fifteenth is completed I’m going to enjoy a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Four rings were ensouled. The gemstones were golden beryl (with heavy inclusions) in silver bands. I would have prepared more, but golden beryl is very hard to obtain right now. I was indecisive about the suffumigation, and tarot suggested pine resin—not an obvious choice, but there’s little canonical guidance on this matter.

Obtaining the wormwood was easy. Obtaining the savine juniper was slightly more challenging. Bistort was difficult, and the chunks were hard to secure under the ring.

But serpent’s tongue is not for the squeamish. I ordered preserved constrictors from a educational supply house and dissected half. The process of rooting for the tongue was disgusting, and finding it inside a dead snake challenging. I have done some graduate-level work in Biology, and I don’t envy anybody with less training doing something like this. Just nasty.

The serpent’s tongue, just to be clear, is not a euphemism for an herb. It’s an organ cut from the body of a dead snake. There are no substitutions on this one. And it’s arguably the most important of the ingredients after the beryl itself, because of the associations between the persuasiveness and deceptiveness of a serpent, and its mythical speech.

I haven’t seen any effects from the one I’m currently wearing, but it clearly emanates power. I can hardly wait to see what this one will do.

 

The Rings of Memory

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THE RINGS OF MEMORY: Fast Moon in Domicile culminating, applying to both Benefics with fortunated Ascendant Benefic Ruler and Benefic in the 1st House.

Scholastic Image Magic arose in medieval monestaries but reached its greatest popularity among medieval and Renaissance physicians, according to contemporary research. It should be little surprise that a great deal of priority was placed on medicinal talismans as well as those which benefit study.

This is a talisman I’ve wanted to make for quite a while; it’s one of several configurations to enhance memory. As someone who optimally burns through about five hundred pages per day, it does me little good if I can’t recall it. Furthermore, I’m just about done wasting hours looking for that missing pen or sock or passage in Cervantes.

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If, under the influence of the Moon, you make this sign in the hour of the Moon, with the Moon rising, in emerald, with this stone make a seal in incense and give it to a man for good memory, and to retain knowledge. –Picatrix Book II:10

Recently Chris Warnock was ruminating about the nebulous functions for standard Moon talismans, as opposed to Lunar Mansion talismans. He’s correct that the texts are a bit evasive, but I think it’s because the authors were assuming it was obvious and familiar to all readers. I’ve dug through the canonical literature at length, and I’ve come to some conclusions.

Moon talismans:

  • Improve memory, and in some configurations cause forgetfulness. The waxing and waning of the Moon signifies the transitory nature of memory. Other planets co-rule memory to a lesser degree, but it is primarily an attribute of the Moon. (One would be mistaken to assume waxing is always the retention of memory and waning is its loss, however.)
  • Cure the illnesses of infants, and sometimes older children. A very useful talisman if you’re a parent or a physician, but I’m neither so this is of limited interest to me.
  • Increase alertness and endurance, especially while traveling. The Moon signifies speed because it is the most rapid planet; it also signifies journeys. Before modernity, a Moon talisman would be used by a traveler to walk many miles without ever becoming tired. It would also be valuable for students who want to immerse themselves in lore deep into the night without forgetfulness.
  • Impart influence over mobs and riots, to gather and disperse them. The group consciousness of rioters is well known to be associated with the Moon; a social lunacy.
  • Improve likeability and influence over others, especially when the Moon is very essentially dignified. The Moon is always the cosignificator of the Self, and by adding essential dignity to any significator one gains influence, authority, and trust.

It’s very hard to find standard Lunar talisman elections because the rapidity of the Moon gives only one real chance daily for any configuration. Furthermore, Picatrix seems to indicate that the Moon should not be configured on the Ascendant, leaving only the Midheaven as the only reasonable alternative.

The difficulty of finding a valid Lunar election is why I was willing to produce these four rings during an extremely narrow eight minute electional window when the Moon was between 8 and 6 degrees of the Midheaven, never quite breaking into the 5 degrees that Ptolemy mentions before the arrival of Saturn Hour. I’ve already noticed its effects, so I know it’s working.

As noted before, the Moon was making loose aspects to the Benefics, the Ascendant Ruler was essentially dignified, and a benefic was in the 1st House. I particularly liked the high speed of the Moon, which I’ve come to believe is more impactful than Lunar phase in most instances. I believe this will contribute to the strength of the memory enhancement.

Four talismanic rings were ensouled, for the time window was short. The gemstones were emerald as required, and the band was silver—the metal of the Moon. I consulted with tarot for advice on the herb matrix under the gemstone and the suffumigation. The herb beneath the ring was black poppy seed—a Lunar herb—which has associations with the mind and mental states. The suffumigation was amber, which I believe signified the preservation of memory, like an insect preserved in amber.

Rather than use the primary talismans to create secondary talismans out of incense, as the instructions suggest, my goal was simply to make rings. This is partially because I was not casting in silver to make a negative talismanic mold for the incense, and because that seems to me a project best saved for when the Moon is within five degrees of the Midheaven. I may choose to make memory incense with these, but that is not my intention now.

There are many unusual talismanic recipes in Picatrix and other canonical texts of SIM. Some may puzzle you, but rather than dismiss them as aberrations I believe they have much to teach us about the nature of the spiritual universe. They also frequently have powers which you may think are irrelevant to your needs today, but will reveal their value tomorrow.

That’s advice you’ll definitely benefit from remembering.

The Byzantium Flyers

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Exotica Noir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rootwork and the Greater Key of Solomon

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things Get Weird, Things Get Wonderful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night Work

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

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

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

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

 

Talismans of Trust

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

2017-07-28-mercury-rising2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces @ PantheaCon 2015

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces at PantheaCon 2015:

 

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

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

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The Age of Black Magic: Step Fourteen

The Invocation of the Abomination in Crimson:

algolz

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So hear my words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Star of supreme misfortune, greatest malefic––

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

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

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

Algol’s appetites are beyond all limitations.

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces @ ConVocation 2015

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces at ConVocation 2015

 

 

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

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

Some Notes On Planetary Fragrances

 

Intersections of Scholastic Image Magic and Hoodoo

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

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

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

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

 

Planetary Flavors and Odors

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

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

For example, as William Lilly says of Venus:

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

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

 

Hoodoo Considerations

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

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

 

Coherence Is Power

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

This can create problems with regard to planetary work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Potentials

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

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

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

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