Big Money Magic @ PantheaCon 2020

Big Money Magic at PantheaCon 2020

 

I doubt that money is the root of all evil, but the lack of it certainly feels like hell.

As long as people have wished for more than they have, practical wealth magic has offered solutions.

This class will be a broad survey of effective magical techniques to draw and keep money. Whether you’ve wanted to find buried treasure, win the lottery, get a raise, inherit a fortune, invest like a pro, sustain your lifestyle, or even beat the house in Vegas, learn powerful spells you won’t find anywhere else.

Big money magic is real.

I’d like to note that the turnout and the quality of the attendees were probably the best I’ve had to date; a wonderful conclusion to my PantheaCon experience.

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The Dark Arts: Curses, Binding, and Coercive Spells @ ConVocation 2020

The Dark Arts: Curses, Binding, and Coercive Spells at ConVocation 2020

 

People have been using magic to harm others since before recorded history, and practitioners have been busy inventing new and more ingenious spells to destroy people, places, and things in virtually every tradition. It’s controversial because it works.

We’ll survey historical methods of cursing, binding, and dominating, and highlight effective methods for the contemporary sorcerer and witch.

Learn how to make a Hoodoo poppet to cause suffering and incapacity, create a modern defixio from a lead sheet to cause illness, burn a black skull candle to drive someone insane, create a wax astrological talisman to foment strife, and more terrifyingly useful techniques.

As the Weird Sisters said, “Double, double toil and trouble.” Let’s get cooking.

I wish to give particular thanks to Chance Sparkhawk and Catherine Grubb for helping recover the audio from this lecture.

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Charmed Letters & Perimeter Spells @ ConVocation 2020

Charmed Letters & Perimeter Spells @ ConVocation 2020

 

In this clip from “Pawn Checks King: Political Magic” at ConVocation 2020, Clifford Hartleigh Low describes how to charm letters sent to your representatives to make them listen to your concerns, and how to gain spiritual dominance over your local government, your town or city.

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.

 

Political Lodestone Altars and Charmed Leaflets @ ConVocation 2020

Political Lodestone Altars and Charmed Leaflets @ ConVocation 2020

 

In this clip from “Pawn Checks King: Political Magic” at ConVocation 2020, Clifford Hartleigh Low describes the creation of Hoodoo-style lodestone altars to benefit political parties or individual politicians, as well as the charming of political leaflets with sachet powders.

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.

Upcoming Appearances 1

ConVocation

Pawn Takes King: Political Magic

Thursday February 20th 10:30pm 

Magic and politics have been intertwined throughout history. The metaphysics of magic are often expressed in political language or imagery, especially that of monarchy and feudalism. The Sforzas and Borgias launched a Renaissance arms race of astrological talismans. In America, slaves sought to magically destroy or gain power over their oppressors. Spiritualism had an essential role in the suffragist movement. Magic has played a role in modern political movements on both the Right and the Left. Discover how practitioners of magic are attempting to control elections and manipulate leaders in democratic governments today. Explore the rise of political radicalism in magic, and learn practical spellwork you can do to support the issues and people that matter most to you.

The Dark Arts: Curses, Binding, and Coercive Spells

Friday February 21st 4:00pm

People have been using magic to harm others since before recorded history, and practitioners have been busy inventing new and more ingenious spells to destroy people, places, and things in virtually every tradition. It’s controversial because it works. We’ll survey historical methods of cursing, binding, and dominating, and highlight effective methods for the contemporary sorcerer and witch. Learn how to make a Hoodoo poppet to cause suffering and incapacity, create a modern defixio from a lead sheet to cause illness, burn a black skull candle to drive someone insane, create a wax astrological talisman to foment strife, and more terrifyingly useful techniques. As the Weird Sisters said, “Double, double toil and trouble.” Let’s get cooking.

Creativity, Magic and The Genius

Saturday, February 22nd, 2:00pm

Seeking inspiration? Use magic to enhance your creativity! The very word “inspiration” is rooted in the belief that invention is a force that comes from outside the self—even from the spirit world. To the Romans, the word “genius” once meant a guiding spirit. Several important grimoires provide guides to unite the initiate with a higher, perfected self or powerful spirit being capable of endowing formidable skills, knowledge, and power. More immediate methods include scrying, tarot, bibliomancy, dream incubation, and many others. In this class we will survey how magicians have used the spirit world for creativity and brainstorming in these and many other ways. Delve into historical practices and learn effective modern methods for cultivating your creativity.

Mystical Minds

March 28th through 29th, 2020

Times for my lectures at Mystical Minds Convention have not yet been finalized. 

Big Money Magic

I doubt that money is the root of all evil, but the lack of it certainly feels like hell.” As long as people have wished for more than they have, practical wealth magic has offered solutions. This class will be a broad survey of effective magical techniques to draw and keep money. Whether you’ve wanted to find buried treasure, win the lottery, get a raise, inherit a fortune, invest like a pro, sustain your lifestyle, or even beat the house in Vegas, learn powerful spells you won’t find anywhere else. Big money magic is real. 

Pawn Takes King: Political Magic 

Magic and politics have been intertwined throughout history. The metaphysics of magic are often expressed in political language or imagery, especially that of monarchy and feudalism. The Sforzas and Borgias launched a Renaissance arms race of astrological talismans. In America, slaves sought to magically destroy or gain power over their oppressors. Spiritualism had an essential role in the suffragist movement. Magic has played a role in modern political movements on both the Right and the Left. Discover how practitioners of magic are attempting to control elections and manipulate leaders in democratic governments today. Explore the rise of political radicalism in magic, and learn practical spellwork you can do to support the issues and people that matter most to you.

Panel Discussion on Magick

Details to be announced later.

Secret Powers of the Sun in Astrological Magic

Solar Sapphires, Planetary Antipathies, and Substitutions

The Book of Secrets

Introduction

The Picatrix, De Radiis Stellarum, and Three Books of Occult Philosophy are closest to broad textbooks of this tradition of astrological magic, but they are not meant to be used entirely by themselves. Both canonical texts of astrological magic and their partners, the manuals of traditional astrology, repeatedly state that the student must go beyond a mere rote understanding of formulae and considerations. The following step is the internalization of celestial functions, then a series of flashes of insight revealing why things are as they arranged, and finally the integration of the practitioner into their proper spiritual hierarchy by the attainment of Perfect Nature and the maximization of their unique potential.

Authors are quite evasive about the aforementioned epiphanies for good reason; they allow teachers to recognize genuine insights arising from their better students that stand apart from the shallow mimicry that is the hallmark of pseudo-intellectualism, and they protect the secrets of the art from immature people who are at high risk of abusing it. The Science of Images has reputed power within it so vast that it can collapse entire civilizations if deployed with precision and ill intentions. Based on some of my experiences, I am certain that this is no idle boast. Some of the difficulty is deliberate in these texts, because of the gravity of that power falling into the wrong hands. It was the reasonable hope of the guardians and transmitters of this tradition that intellectual mastery developed roughly in tandem with emotional stability and personal responsibility.

Nevertheless, this has led to an incredibly steep learning curve for mastery of Scholastic Image Magic for modern students. Some of this is accidental and needs to be remedied, and some of this is very appropriate. As an example of the latter, it’s critically important that a student be fully immersed in the traditional worldview, and at least provisionally set aside the modern worldview, so they may navigate deeply within this paradigm. This commentary is, I hope, an additional guide through one of the more important winding passages deeper into the heart of this complex system of magic and mysticism.

Let us begin with something highly counterintuitive and use it as a pretext to dive into some of the more practical and mystical secrets of the operations of celestial magic.

Sunrise by the seashore
Ascent to the Sun of the Wise

Solar Sapphire Talismans

Horoscope of Sun Exalted Talismans on April 13th 2018
Horoscope of Sun Exalted Talismans on April 13th 2018

 

During the latter Solar talismanic election I covered in the preceding post, I alluded to a second set of talismans which were created at the same time. In addition to the bloodstones, I created two sapphire talismanic rings and a loose gemstone sapphire talisman. The herbs when applicable and suffumigations were identical. One of the rings is mine, and one ring and the loose gemstone will eventually be sold to clients or given to friends.

The inspiration for this talismanic project came from Eric Purdue’s masterful new translation of Cornelius Agrippa’s Book One of Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Agrippa frequently has long lists of gemstones, materials and animals which belong to the various celestial hierarchies but less frequently highlights the particular powers attributed to each within that particular hierarchy’s context. Agrippa gave very special attention to the gemstone he calls heliotrope that we believe is modern bloodstone, but also gave great attention to a gemstone called hyacinth in the J.F. translation. Eric Purdue, I believe correctly, provisionally identified hyacinth as modern sapphire. And with it come a list of powers which only apply in a Solar context; they are only activated when made into Solar talismans.

Blue sapphire cabochon in a gold ring
Blue sapphire cabochon in a gold ring

“Sapphires also have a solar virtue against poisons and pestilential vapors. When carried [the person] is rendered safe and acceptable, brings wealth and talent, and strengthens the heart. When held in the mouth, [sapphires] exceedingly cheer the mind.” –TBOC, Agrippa I:23, Eric Purdue trans.

Before I break down the rather long and fascinating list of powers attributed to Solar sapphire talismans, I must make mention of something of which most traditional (and Vedic) astrologers and readers of medieval lapidaries are quite aware. Sapphires have an extremely ancient and strong association with the planet Saturn, vastly more than the Sun. The association between sapphires and Saturn is so strong that due to what appears to be a confusion with lapis lazuli, the latter is associated with Saturn among other planets—sapphire appears to mean blue stone in Sanskrit and lapis lazuli means the same in Latin. Though the Sun and Saturn do rule a few things in common, such as the metal gold and kingship, they are in most other ways complete opposites. There’s nothing obviously Solar about sapphires; they are hard and usually dark stones—an obvious choice for the harsh, implacable, and dim Greater Malefic. Materials having multiple rulerships are not unusual, but this instance stands apart.

 

The Secrets of Antipathy

So is it a mistake? I’m quite sure it isn’t. It’s a phenomenal example of celestial antipathy which is described in Picatrix in more general terms about talismans which attract and repel animals.

“The effects upon animals are twofold—that is, one is to gather them and increase their number, and the other is to disperse and repel them. These are appropriate for different times, as they involve different motions—that is, there is a time for gathering and growth, and a time for dispersing and repelling. This may be considered under the heading of the opposition of degrees. In stones a certain supreme secret is hidden, that is, when any animal—that is, if you want it to depart—is hot in its nature, the stone ought to be cold; if the animal is moist, the stone ought to be dry, and vice versa. From this it should be understood that if you wish vipers and wasps to flee, the work ought to be done in cornelian and diamond and the like; but if they are cold by nature, such as scorpions, beetles, flies, lice, and things similar to them, work with hot stones such as malachite and crystal, and in bronze and gold and the like.

“This is for the working to make them flee. Workings to draw and increase them ought to be done with things that are harmonious and pertinent to them, as in working with vipers, you should work with gold and bronze and similar things. All this happens because of the harmony of complexion, the direction of movement, and the diversity of conjunctions and substances. The figure and form ought to be in the form and figure of the animal for which it is made, as a figure for mice in the shape of a mouse, one for serpents in the shape of a serpent, or one for scorpions in the shape of a scorpion.” –Picatrix IV:4, Greer-Warnock trans.

Liber Rubeus edition of the Greer-Warnock Picatrix
Liber Rubeus edition of the Greer-Warnock Picatrix

When Picatrix uses phrases like “a supreme secret” it’s not just talking about talismans that act as mosquito repellant. It’s an attempt to draw the discerning reader to a very important general principle that can be applied to a much wider set of circumstances. Picatrix uses language like this in other sections, such as the chapter on the manufacture of the thirty-six talismans of the Faces, to hint at a fairly radical reinvention of Neoplatonic cosmology that I have lectured upon previously. It is a test, an attempt to challenge the reader to learn a deeper lesson that is both mystical and extremely useful.

One of the concepts Picatrix describes elsewhere is what it sometimes calls reception; the capacity of a material to absorb celestial rays of a particular type. Some materials are receptive to the rays of many hierarchies. Emerald is receptive to Spica, Jupiter, Mercury and Moon. Silver is highly receptive to nearly every hierarchy because of the virtually ubiquitous and special role of the Moon in talismanic elections. Others are mostly inert, like clay and to a lesser extent human flesh. (Clay talismans really do not work, and in spite of the obvious allure talismanic tattoos aren’t especially viable.)

Parallel to reception is temperament or temperateness; in modern expressions, the capacity for something to manifest normalcy in contrast with manifestations which are abnormal and disruptive. Jupiter is the most temperate planet and usually signifies positive normalcy and health, and Mars is probably the least temperate planet and usually signifies disruption and injury. Materials belonging to each of these hierarchies often share these attributes, but can increase or decrease them or channel them in a particular direction.

Related to the preceding are sympathy and antipathy; some materials attract and repel species based upon their inner natures. But what Picatrix is hinting at is that it isn’t just animals that can be attracted by gemstones of one type and repelled by another, but also types of people, and finally even types of events. That’s where it gets really interesting.

And that is how we return to sapphires.

Blue Sapphire Cabochons
Blue Sapphire Cabochons

Analyzing the Solar Virtues of Sapphires

Solar sapphire talismans have the following powers:

  1. They neutralize poisons.
  2. They protect against contagious diseases i.e. “pestilential vapors.”
  3. They render the bearer safe from harm.
  4. They render the bearer inoffensive and pleasant.
  5. They attract riches.
  6. They magnify skills.
  7. They grant courage and health or “strengthen the heart.”
  8. They act as antidepressants, especially if sucked upon.

Now you can tell why I prize these talismans at least as much as the bloodstone ones I created along with them. Fame, glory, constancy, invisibility, and restored youth are really great but the eight powers listed above are possibly even more valuable for the average person.

What’s even more interesting is what these powers tell us about sympathy and antipathy in celestial magic.

Generally speaking, the Sun is not the planet one would expect a cure for poisons from; that’s more often associated with Jupiter. The Sun is nearly as temperate as Jupiter and they both grant vigorous health and presumably a resistance to contagions. The Sun often can accomplish the works of Mars and vice versa, so the Sun can protect—especially from witchcraft and evil spirits. The Sun co-rules gold, which for most of history was currency and thus can attract riches. The increase of skills may make sense because the Sun is fiery and fire quickens as it illuminates. The Sun definitely can grant courage and often is associated with the heart. Finally, the Sun can certainly act as an antidepressant; St. John’s wort has been known to be ruled by the Sun since at least medieval times because of this property. However, in spite of a temperate planet endowing a quality of normalcy, the Sun is less associated with blending in than standing out; often in a highly aggressive manner. The Sun is the king, and the king likes to conquer.

I believe there’s something else at work here:

  1. Saturn rules poisons
  2. Saturn rules contagious diseases.
  3. Saturn rules infirmity.
  4. Saturn rules ugliness and things which are essentially unpleasant.
  5. Saturn rules poverty and desperation, in spite of the co-rulership of gold.
  6. Saturn rules senility and stupefaction.
  7. Saturn rules fear and cowardice.
  8. Saturn rather famously rules melancholia.

I think what makes far more sense is that the function of a Solar sapphire talisman is to ward against many of the negative attributes of Saturn, because of the fundamental disagreement of natures between the hierarchies of the Sun and Saturn. The Sun is hot; Saturn is cold. The Sun governs all that is light and bright; Saturn rules all that is dark and shadowy.

It’s a fantastic example of how one can use the materials of a dissimilar hierarchy to neutralize the negative effects of a planet or star. And it’s one of the greater secrets of this system of magic.

Black Sapphire Cabochon
Black Sapphire Cabochon

The seven traditional planets often have peculiar relationships with each other, as illustrated in the 45 aphorisms that are said to be derived from the Secretum Secretorum:

“38. The Sun abhors those things that pertain to Saturn, and the things that pertain to the Sun are abhorrent to Saturn.” –Picatrix IV:4

There’s a long list of substitutions and antipathies in this chapter that are less pertinent, but must be memorized to attain mastery in this art. There are no shortcuts on this one.

This system of planetary pairings appears in the passages on planetary petitions as well.

Jupiter with Saturn
Jupiter with Saturn

“If you find yourself in contemplation and sorrow, or in melancholy or grave illness, in anything just named, or in any thing that has already been mentioned as belonging to Saturn, and you ask for something that belongs to his nature, you may seek it from him in the manner we describe below, and you may also help yourself in your petition by means of Jupiter. The essence of all these petitions is that you should not seek anything from any planet unless it belongs to his dominion…

“Seek from Mars what is consistent with his nature, such as petitions against soldiers, officials, fighters, and those who busy themselves with warlike acts; and on behalf of friends of kings, and those who destroy homes and citizens, and do evil to humanity, killers, executioners, those who work with fire or in places such as stables, litigators, shepherds, thieves, companions on the road, liars, traitors, and the like. Similar, ask him concerning infirmities of the body from the groin downwards, and also for phlebotomy, accumulation of gas, and the like. In these latter petitions you may also help yourself with Venus, for the nature of Venus dissolves what is closed up by Mars, and repairs what he damages…

“Seek from Venus all things that pertain to her, such as petitions of women, boys, and girls, daughters, and generally everything pertaining to the love of women and carnal copulation with them, art, vocal and instrumental music, telling jokes, and all those who give themselves over to worldly pleasures, those who engage in vices, male and female servants, brides and grooms, mothers, friends, sisters, and all those similar to them, and in these petitions you may also help yourself with Mars.” –Picatrix III:7

Venus with Mars
Venus with Mars

It also should be observed at this point that Jupiter and Saturn are oppositional in nature but are (slightly counterintuitively) “friends” with each other. The same is true of the hierarchies of Mars and Venus. The cliché of opposites attracting is reflected in celestial symmetries or harmonies. I believe that this system of substitutions using planets of oppositional nature but mutual amity goes even further than what Picatrix states explicitly. It says that Jupiter can substitute for Saturn but not the reverse; it may be a somewhat reasonable assumption, however. To learn more about planetary substitution, we must look elsewhere.

For that, we turn our attention to the other Luminary: the Moon.

The Moon Serves the Sun

The Lunar Cycle
The Lunar Cycle

In Picatrix II:10 there’s a wonderful miscellany of planetary talismanic recipes, one of which I’ve made but never quite understood until fairly recently.

“If, under the influence of the Sun, you write the figures below in a sedina stone with the Sun rising in the first face of Leo, whoever carries this stone will be protected against the lunar illnesses that come from the combustion of the Moon.”

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Combustion (a close conjunction of a planet with the Sun) is deemed to be the worst planetary affliction according to William Lilly and is generally accepted as such in traditional astrology, with some uncommon exceptions. The combustion of the Moon is especially dire; it often signifies death and destruction in elections, and a variety of challenging health concerns in natal charts.

The more conventional suggestion would be to use a talisman of an afflicted planet in a person’s natal chart as a remedy, but here we see something very different. Here the suggestion is to double-down on the influence of the Sun. It seems counterintuitive because the Sun is overwhelming the native’s Moon, but it is logical if the Sun and the Moon have a similar relationship as Jupiter and Saturn have, and Mars and Venus mutually share in the petitional instructions cited above.

Indications that this is the case between the Sun and Moon are scattered throughout Picatrix.

Echo and the Bunnymen: The Killing Moon

(As I am writing this, Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” just began to play on Pandora. Everything is connected.)

“The Nabatean sages have said that the power and works of the heavens and stars are from the Sun originally, and this is because they see and understand that the Moon helps him (that is, as much as is in her power), while the Sun does not need her effects, nor those of the other planets; and similarly, the five other planets follow the Sun in their effects and obey and are humbled by him, and proceed in their aforementioned effects according to the dispositions of the Sun. In the same way, according to their opinion, all their effects are primarily rooted in the Sun, and the other six planets help him by their effects. Similarly, the fixed stars are the Sun’s handmaidens, and serve, obey, and are humbled by him, and while they help him with their effects, this is not because of any need that he has of them.” –Picatrix III:8

And elsewhere:

“Our sages say likewise that the virtue of the fifth quality [the Moon in a perfected conjunction with the Sun] has a similar effect to the effect of the Sun, and this is a very great thing and a noble quality. They say that all composite bodies receive from this the virtues that they ought to have, nor should it be understood from the foregoing that the Moon causes virtues and workings differing from those of the Sun; rather, the Moon reveals the Sun’s influence and brings forth works accomplished by the Sun; nor do these appear until the Moon manifests those things that were previously concealed, and illuminates what had previously been in obscurity.” –Picatrix II:3

One of the ways Picatrix conceals secrets of talismanic magic is by describing electional considerations and the composition of talismans and suffumigations in what superficially appear to be abstract cosmological relationships. To a person immersed in the worldview espoused by the author, ultimately there is no difference between these things; or at least there is a profound sympathy.

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What Picatrix is saying here is pretty radical.

While most talismanic and petitional elections depend strongly upon the condition of the Moon and to some extent the planet on or ruling the Ascendant, if a major significator in the election is the Sun the role of every other planet is greatly diminished. The manifestation might be subtler with a weak Moon, however. In theory, one could create a benevolent Solar talisman even if the Moon was afflicted catastrophically. I personally wouldn’t take that chance unless it were an emergency, but in the earlier of the two Sun in Aries elections I described in the last post the Moon was slightly afflicted. It is because of Picatrix that I felt this was inconsequential.

This is a special case regarding the Sun and the Sun only. Tropical astrology is not heliocentric; it is geocentric. But it is what I call heliophilic. It gives a very special significance to the role of the Sun, and it has powers unique among all the planets. It is not merely the strongest planet—something seldom stated in canonical texts because it really is taken for granted—but it has a central role in the cosmos as the bringer of order, the primary source of visible and astral light, the liminal mediator between the world of Forms and the Sublunar sphere, and of the four seasons that sustain all life. Thus, through the Sun, the equinoxes and solstices define the positions and properties of the Zodiacal Signs and the essential architecture of the universe and time itself.

A road leading to a sunrise

In Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this somewhat serpentine journey through the world of Scholastic Image Magic which started with Agrippa’s Solar sapphires, has taken us through the complex relationships of planetary pairings, and finally to the fundamental supremacy and centrality of the Sun. Traditional celestial magic conceals a lot of secrets of both a practical and spiritual nature, and as we solve the puzzles it sets before us in the canonical sources, the aspiration is that our own personal disjointedness is transformed into a more coherent spiritual being.

I’m cheating a little by letting you in on some of the glimpses of the treasures that I’ve uncovered. I’m hoping that you’ll forgive me for bending the rules a little; that you’ll return the favor someday to myself and others, and that you’ll use this knowledge wisely.

No one can perfect any of the works of traditional astrological magic without passing on some of the illumination that one receives, much like the Sun illuminates each of the planets and they transmit their light and fill all of their hierarchies with vitality and power. It’s more than a metaphor; it’s the essential connection between consciousness and cosmos that produces magic and our experience of reality itself.

velas-luto.jpg

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Magic Ring

Sauron’s Ring

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.
The One Ring

Introduction

The most famous magical ring in the past century is without a doubt a fictional one; Sauron’s ring in Tolkien’s popular Middle Earth series, starting with The Hobbit, and then The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you haven’t read the books you’ve probably seen the movies, or at least the trailers.

Tolkien based this artifact and plot device on several legends of magical rings from different cultures, but there is some circumstantial evidence that a hitherto undiscovered influence comes from the canon of Scholastic Image Magic which Tolkien would have been familiar with; directly or indirectly, through close colleagues.

It has been an ambition of mine to create a series of rings using the formula that probably inspired Tolkien, and this is the first of a sequence of blog entries which will cover my creation of two sets of rings of this type and a third which is closely related and was created along with the second and arguably superior election.

One Ring To Rule Them All

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

Tolkien’s notion of The One Ring and similar magical artifacts evolved over time, so that Gollum’s lost “precious” ring of invisibility is portrayed differently than in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It evolved from a simple ring of invisibility to an intelligent shapeshifting talismanic repository of the spirit of the dark lord Sauron; capable of making the wearer mighty and swaying nations, extending life in a variety of unnatural manners, and revealing a shadow plane where monsters dwelt. It also had the power to command the wearers of lesser rings whose manufacture Sauron had perverted, most memorably those which belonged to the nine Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths. It is clear that he drew from numerous mythic and fictional sources for its powers and origins, two of which deserve some special attention.

Antecedents to Tolkien’s Ring

The ring of Gyges from an edition of Plato's Republic
The ring of Gyges from an edition of Plato’s Republic

The nigh-archetypical ring of invisibility appears in Plato’s Republic, where the story of an ancestor of Gyges, a Lydian shepherd, is recounted. In the midst of a discussion about justice and incentives, Plato’s brother Glaucon tells a story of how in the absence of accountability both normally good and bad people would choose to behave unjustly. While tending his flock, the anonymous shepherd discovered a tomb in a mountainside after a violent thunderstorm had opened a chasm. In it he found a bronze sarcophagus in the shape of a horse, which when opened revealed a body of a giant with a golden ring on its finger. He took the ring as a prize, and later discovered that when he turned the collet towards his palm he became unseen, and when facing it outward he became visible again. In short order, he exploited this power to seduce the queen and usurp the king and establish a great dynasty of his own. In this story we see for the first time a ring that endows invisibility and rulership; however, the rulership here is described as an unfolding of the abuse of the ring’s power rather than a power in and of itself. The ring has some kind of signet or gem, unlike Sauron’s ring.

A scene from Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen
A scene from Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Another obvious influence comes from Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. In this cycle of music dramas, a villainous dwarf named Alberich steals gold from the Rhine maidens and crafts it into a magic ring with the power to rule the world. Gods, giants and heroes fight over the possession of the ring for the rest of the story leading to epic tragedies, until escalating mayhem finally leads to the destruction of Valhalla and the death of all of the gods. The conflict on a cosmic scale definitely echoes The Lord of the Rings. The ring itself does not have the power of invisibility, but the cycle is based somewhat loosely on the Middle High German text the Nibelungenleid where a cloak of great might and invisibility is a plot element and the fate of an (unenchanted) ring leads to the tragic death of many heroes. However, reminiscent of Sauron’s ring, the power of Alberich’s ring in Wagner comes from rune-magic or taufr, which is sometimes translated as talisman. When touched by flame, Sauron’s ring reveals a verse in the language of Mordor describing the powers of the ring. “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them; One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” Though this verse does not endow the ring with power, it is conspicuous to its appearance. Certainly, the ring of power in Der Ring des Nibelungen looks a lot more like Tolkien’s ring than the one in Plato. Mystical inscriptions are important; in Plato they are absent.

There are surely additional sources which inspired the fictional ring which I do not know about or do not have the time to cover here.

Agrippa’s Solar Ring

Henry Cornelius Agrippa
Henry Cornelius Agrippa

An additional inspiration which I believe has been overlooked are the instructions for a magical ring suspiciously similar to Tolkien’s fictive talisman in one of the most influential books of magic in history; Three Books of Occult Philosophy of Henry Cornelius Agrippa, in a chapter on the things falling under the hierarchy of the Sun. One reason why it has been overlooked is that the widespread translation from Latin into English by the anonymous J.F. in 1651 is fairly bad, and uses antiquated English that is hard for modern readers to penetrate.

First, here is the passage in the popular translation:

“Also the Stone Heliotropion green like the Jasper, or Emrald, beset with red specks, makes a man constant, renowned, and famous, also it conduceth to long life: And the vertue of it indeed is most wonderfull upon the beams of the Sun, which it is said to turn into blood, to appear of the colour of blood, as if the Sun were eclypsed, viz. When it is joyned to the juice of a Hearb of the same name, and be put into a vessell of Water: There is also another vertue of it more wonderfull, and that is upon the eyes of men, whose sight it doth so dim, and dazel, that it doth not suffer him that carries it to see it, & this it doth not do without the help of the Hearb of the same name, which also is called Heliotropium, following the Sun. These vertues doth Albertus Magnus, and William of Paris confirm in their writings.”

A few years ago, my friend Eric Purdue completed a new translation of Agrippa from Latin to remedy the shortcomings of the J.F. translation and document all of its sources. Here is the new, clearer version of the relevant passage:

“Likewise the stone heliotrope, green in the manner of jasper or emerald with starry red drops, makes one constant, glorious and famous, and brings long life. It also has a wonderful virtue that if it is in the Sun’s rays, it is said to change into blood; that is, it appears to be like blood as if the Sun suffered an eclipse—evidently when it is anointed with the juice of the herb of the same name and is placed in a vessel of water filled with water. There is another more wonderful virtue in the eyes of men, which offends the sight and blinds the vision so that it will not permit men to see those who bear it; yet it doesn’t happen without the help of the herb of the same name, which is also called heliotrope, that is, following the Sun. These virtues are confirmed in the writings of Albertus Magnus and William of Auvergne.”

In the new translation of Agrippa, it is far clearer that this recipe for a talisman endows three powers which seldom coincide in any literature; the power of rulership, longevity, and invisibility.

Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder

Most of the properties listed originally come from Pliny the Elder’s The Natural History including its pairing with the herb of the same name. The associations with it preserving health and youth come from Damigeron in his De Virtutibus Lapidum. This stone’s power of invisibility is cited later in Boccaccio’s Decameron. It all comes together in Agrippa.

Within the context of Agrippa, it is strongly implied that the gemstone’s power is especially activated if made into an elected astrological talisman. If made into a magical ring, the band would naturally be made of gold; the metal with the greatest sympathy to the Sun.

In spite of featuring a gemstone, this magical ring would otherwise be such a close match for Sauron’s ring that it cannot be a coincidence.

 

The Inklings
The Inklings

 

The next question is whether J.R.R. Tolkien would have been familiar with the writings of Cornelius Agrippa. He probably was, but he may not have needed to. He was a member of a prestigious Oxford literary society called the Inklings, devoted to the popularization of fantasy literature. What made this group interesting in our context is that at least three of its prominent members were either practicing magicians or were deeply invested in the literature of Neoplatonic magic. Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, and Evelyn Underhill would all have been familiar with Agrippa—possibly even the Latin version– and probably would have cited the passage to Tolkien if he had not already found it himself.

Creating Agrippa’s Ring

A bloodstone ring with a gold setting
A bloodstone ring with a gold setting

Now that we have established that the Solar talisman in Agrippa is a close match for Sauron’s ring, we have to dig into the details in order to discern how it might be created in real life.

It has been a long-standing fascination of mine to attempt to reconstruct magics from ancient times which have spectacular, even miraculous effects. I believe that there are many reasons why modern magic seldom produces radical transformations and manifestations, like turning lead into gold, flying carpets, monstrous apparitions, and changes of form. Generally, it is because a number of key elements in the practice of magic degenerated or were hastily purged from the practice of magic from the Renaissance on to the Industrial Revolution. One of the most conspicuous deletions was the usage of traditional electional astrology, and another was the emphasis on the occult properties of herbal, mineral and animal materials. This experiment attempts to restore two of these components in a harmonious and highly intriguing way.

Most scholars agree that the stone Agrippa refers to is modern bloodstone. It is a green jasper with red spots that resemble blood. What is more contentious is the herb; there is a variety of flower called heliotrope today, but Claude Lecouteax believes it corresponds to modern chicory in his Lapidary of Sacred Stones—without explaining his rationale in detail. In the Quindecim Stellis, heliotrope flowers are an ingredient in talismans of Procyon while chicory is an ingredient in talismans of Alkaid. They are distinct. This compact grimoire is roughly from the fifteenth century and is probably from England; it precedes Agrippa by at least a generation. It’s not absolutely clear what herb Pliny the Elder meant, but Agrippa probably believed it was modern heliotrope and not chicory.

Chicory flowers
Chicory flowers
Heliotrope flowers
Heliotrope flowers

That is fortunate for me, being that I recently grew and harvested a bag full of dried heliotrope flowers for my Procyon rings and had quite a bit left over. When reading this passage in Agrippa a few months ago, I realized that I could easily obtain the materials required for the creation of these talismanic rings, and set forth to seek viable elections. I found two.

First Sun in Aries Talismanic Election

Horoscope of Sun Exalted Talismans on April 4th 2018
Horoscope of Sun Exalted Talismans on April 4th 2018

 

Reference talismanic Image of a baron on a four-horse chariot holding a mirror in his right hand and a shield in his left.
Reference talismanic Image of a baron on a chariot from Picatrix.

 

The first election on April 4, 2018 featured the Sun in exaltation in Aries, which is the preferred configuration for fame and elevation into high honors according to Picatrix. There hasn’t been a good one in several years, and I’ve definitely been looking. The Sun was also in triplicity as this was a diurnal election.

The Sun was unafflicted and culminating in his planetary Hour. The Ascendant was Cancer so the Moon served as secondary and tertiary significators. The Moon was slow, but not prohibitively, and applying to a trine of Mercury and a far looser trine with the Sun. The Moon was also in the Fifth House, which is a very favorable House, adding accidental dignity. The Sign of the Moon is her own, so she cannot be cadent and thus render the long term outcome unfortunate.

Four bloodstone rings in gold bands were used, with marjoram and heliotrope flowers glued beneath the cabochon. An ymage of a baron in a chariot drawn by four horses, holding a mirror in the right hand a shield in the left, was selected from Picatrix. The suffumigation was cloves. The smallest ring provided too little surface area for the baronial ymage, so I used the sigils of the Sun, the word “SUN” and the sigil of the Intelligence of the Sun (Nakhiel) above the rest. One was claimed for myself and three are available for friends and clients.

Second Sun in Aries Talismanic Election

Horoscope of Sun Exalted Talismans on April 13th 2018
Horoscope of Sun Exalted Talismans on April 13th 2018

 

Reference image for the sigil of Nakhiel over the common sigil of the Sun.
Reference image for the sigil of Nakhiel over the common sigil of the Sun.

 

The second election on April 13, 2018 featured the Sun in exaltation again, but Ascending before dawn in the Hour of the Sun. The Sun again was unafflicted. The Moon was slow and cadent, but in a configuration that I call “triumphing” that is the reverse of besiegement by the Malefics. The Moon was separating from a sextile of Venus and applying to a trine of Jupiter, strengthening her greatly. Furthermore, the Moon was in Pisces while applying to perfect a trine with Jupiter. Picatrix says in Book II chapter 3: “Thus when the lord of the Moon’s house regards the Moon by a friendly aspect, even if it is an infortune, it will be favorable for petitions and in all that you wish to do.” Even though Jupiter was Retrograde, this configuration is very favorable. The Ruler of the Moon’s Sign was angular and not cadent, avoiding a bad outcome. Even though the Sun was not in Triplicity, I believe the Moon’s configuration in the second election makes it superior to the first.

It also happened to be my grandmother’s birthday, so I paid homage to her spirit before reciting the abbreviated petition to the Sun and engraving. Four bloodstone in gold rings were used. The suffumigation was ginger, and heliotrope flowers and gum mastic were glued underneath the cabochons. Three out of four bloodstone rings were claimed by myself; one will go to a friend or a client. The inscriptions were those of the Intelligence of the Sun Nakhiel over the common sigil of the Sun.

Three additional Solar talismans were made before the electional window closed; two rings and a loose gemstone cabochon. These will be covered in the next post as their composition is worth discussing separately.

I will also use the opportunity to discuss some additional insights related to the special properties of Solar talismanic elections, which are unique out of all the seven planets.

In Conclusion

Bloodstone cabochons
Bloodstone cabochons

So, at this point you’re probably wondering if I’ve tested out the rings and seen if they work. I have, at least a little. Merely having dried heliotrope flowers under the cabochon doesn’t seem to trigger that effect; chicory juice and rotating the collet have not yet been tested.

What has occurred is that I feel healthier and more vigorous than I have in years, and the analytics show that my online presence is undergoing an incredible spike in attention from all around the world. I don’t have an adequate explanation for it other than the ring.

I aspire to report further developments as my experiences with these talismans unfold in the months and years to come. I am very optimistic.

In the meantime, tune in next week and read about the other set of Solar talismans I created—which I find just as fascinating as these. I hope you will too.

See you later.
See you later.

Magic of the Lunar Mansions at ConVocation 2018

Magic of the Lunar Mansions @ ConVocation 2018

 

 

The Arabic Mansions of the Moon are often described as a Lunar Zodiac; a division of the passage of the Moon into 28 zones, about one per day.

Each “Manzil” foretells the life of those born under it, but plays an important role in the creation of talismans in the tradition of Scholastic Image Magic.

Picatrix, Cornelius Agrippa and many other grimoires detail their astrologically timed creation for countless purposes.

These talismans are perhaps the simplest examples of this system, explaining their ubiquity. In this class we will discuss how to select and make basic Mansion talismans.

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Spellbound: Love Magic Through the Ages

Spellbound: Love Magic Through the Ages @ ConVocation 2018

 

Love magic is arguably the most universally practiced form of practical magic. Different spiritual traditions approach love magic differently and reveal their worldview through the way they bring two (or more) people together.

It’s often said that all magic is love magic; that cosmic eros is the sacred principle which orders all reality. But taking the abstract and putting it into practice is often tricky, and ultimately none of that matters without results.

In this lecture we will survey the different goals and methods used in several traditions of magic and highlight those which have a reputation for strong results.

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.

Magic Rings of Procyon, the Lesser Dog Star

Talismans Which Endow Favor Over All, Enhance Magic and Health

threemaidens

Background on Talismans of Procyon

Our primary source for the talismans of Procyon comes from the Quindecim Stellis, a ubiquitous British grimoire which dates back to at least the fourteenth century. Its first appearance is in an incomplete form as a chapter in John Gower’s Confessio Amantis, an extremely popular work written between 1386 and 1390, which describes the stones, herbs, and some of the properties of fifteen prominent fixed stars collectively known as the Behenian stars or the Behenii.

John Gower’s work is ostensibly for the moral education of a young king; a common genre of book in that period, but clearly directed to and received by a far wider audience. In the relevant passage, atop his tower the legendary wizard Nectanebus teaches young prince Alexander of Macedonia the nature of the heavenly bodies and the powers concealed therein. It is through the use of magic rings of this nature that medieval readers were informed through this and many other texts that Alexander the Great conquered the world. Though largely forgotten today, Gower was a contemporary and rival of Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales has become literary canon. The Confessio Amantis with its magical lore was equally popular, and surprisingly was neither greatly controversial nor suppressed.

Many more explicitly magical versions of this text exist by a variety of names, including the Book of Enoch and Book of Hermes. The purported origin of the text clearly diverged somewhat over time. Each version includes instructions as to the election of these fifteen talismans and sigils to be engraved upon the corresponding gemstones. Two general variations of sigils have been identified; complex and presumably older versions, and simplified or degenerate forms. The herbs deviate somewhat from the Gower version, and the function of each talisman greatly expanded upon. The textual content is fairly consistent and begins “quindecim stellis,” so this is the name used for convenience among scholars and here.

Cornelius Agrippa includes the simplified sigils and descriptions in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy of approximately 1500 AD, along with corresponding pictorial images which do not generally appear in earlier versions of the Quindecim Stellis text. Alternate herbs and gemstones are given as well.

The pairing of sigils, gemstones and herbs in the Quindecim Stellis lead one to conclude that they are designed primarily for the construction of magical rings, though this is not stated explicitly in the text. This ambiguity permits the creation of loose gemstone talismans either washed in a tea of the herbs listed, or placed in a bag with small amounts of the dried herbs, if needed. My own experience suggests that the ring form of these rings is noticeably more potent, though the loose gemstone talismans are satisfactory.

Agrippa’s take on celestial talismans overall favors rings, as he says “When any star ascends fortunately, with the fortunate aspect or conjunction of the Moon, we must take a stone, and herb that is under that star, and make a ring of that metal that is suitable to this star and fasten the stone, putting the herb, or root under it; not omitting the inscriptions of images, names and characters, also the proper suffumigations…” Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk. I, Chapter 47, (Tyson ed.) page 140.

Some aspects of this deviate from the instructions in the Quindecim Stellis, which only permits the Moon applying to conjoin the respective fifteen fixed stars rather than also permitting fortunate aspects. Experimentation by myself and Chris Warnock agrees with the Quindecim Stellis over Agrippa.

Because the Moon must apply fairly tightly to a conjunction of a fixed star, if one is on the Ascendant, the other is as well. Picatrix strongly disfavors placing the Moon on the Ascendant. “Never put the Moon on the ascendant of anything you wish to do, because she is the ascendant’s enemy…” Picatrix, Book II, Chapter 3, (Greer-Warnock trans.) My own experience is that talismans made with the Moon on the Ascendant function, but seem to pervert the intention of the user as if they were rebellious servants. Which is the implication of what Picatrix here says. I rule out all benevolent talismanic elections which have the Moon on the Ascendant or even the 1st House, and have for several years now.

My original take on the fixed stars has to be revised in a number of instances, since my Ancient Stellar Magic lecture. First, I no longer allow the Moon on the Ascendant; I came to this conclusion shortly after the lectures. Second, the evidence that the Behenian stars can be used as a substitute or a repair for natally afflicted planets of a similar nature is somewhat in doubt. Third, the popularity of the Quindecim Stellis is evidence against my notion that this was a toolkit primarily for itinerant magicians; it was simply too widely distributed for that presumably limited audience. Though of great value to itinerant magicians, the ubiquity suggests that this was magic for the masses; at least to the extent of the English-speaking literate classes.

The Lore and Materials of Procyon

The Lesser Dog Star is given the name Procyon because it rises before Sirius (the Greater Dog Star) on the ecliptic. Romans called it Antecanis, having the same meaning. Some English astronomers called it the Northern Sirius. It is the alpha star of the constellation of the Lesser Dog. It is said to represent Maera, the hound of Icarius who drowned himself from grief at the death of his master.

According to Manilius, the natal influence of Procyon is to endow the native an affinity with hounds of all kinds and skills at making the instruments of hunting, such as nets and spears. However, the natal influence of a fixed star has an unclear relationship with the talismans of the same; sometimes they are completely oppositional in function, unlike planets.

According to Ptolemy, the star is of the nature of Mercury and Mars.

This suggests that gold, bronze, silver, and iron are suitable metals for the rings of Procyon. Since the Moon has a prominent place in all fixed star talismanic elections, silver is always acceptable. The fixed stars are said to be the handmaidens of the Sun in Picatrix, which suggests gold is viable; this is my experience and preference. Gold is the most temperate of metals, and the Sun has a special role in the divisions of the Tropical ecliptic, so this may suggest that gold is proper for virtually all talismans to an extent. Bronze is an alloy, a mixture of metals; this makes it suitable as a metal for Mercury and things like Mercury. Iron or steel is the metal which has the greatest affinity for Mars, and things which are like Mars.

Though I mean this for the selection of metals in the bands of the rings of Procyon, this is probably applicable for talismans entirely composed of these metals, though I believe the absence of the gemstone will be weaker.

The gemstone listed for Procyon in the Quindecim Stellis is agate. Agate is a banded gemstone of chalcedony alternating with quartz. While it comes in an enormous array of colors, there is some indication that the classical form of agate was banded tawny or brown. Because of its banding, it is often associated with Mercury because of his governance over mixed colors and mixtures overall. This is not to suggest that one can substitute agate for another Mercurial stone for a Procyon talisman; this association is very particular.

The herbs given in the Quindecim Stellis for Procyon talismans are heliotrope flowers and pennyroyal flowers. Heliotrope is named such because it turns its flowers towards the rays of the Sun, and has very strong Solar associations. Pennyroyal was used in ancient times as a spice and as an abortifacient. It has also been used in various forms as a pesticide. The only obvious thing these two plants have in common is that their delicate flowers are a vivid purple.

When choosing agates for the rings of Procyon, I selected those of a lavender hue; as close as I could get to the color of the flowers.

The Talismans of Procyon, Sigils and Ymages

According to the Quindecim Stellis, a Procyon talisman “Grants the favor of God and man, gives men the favor of the spirits of the air, gives great power over magic, and keeps men healthy.” The meaning of nearly all but the last prompt some great debates.

Like the talisman of Alphecca from the same text, the Procyon talisman grants the favor of God. It is a very odd notion that a talisman might have any power over a Divine being, at least by modern conceptions of divinity. I have speculated that this might actually mean that it instills moral fiber in the wearer, or an affinity with pious persons and things.

The favor of man obviously suggests popularity, but the favor of spirits of the air is much more confounding. Who are the spirits of the air? In at least one other grimoire this phrase is used as a euphemism for demons; the malevolent fallen angels of the Christian tradition. It is not obvious this is the meaning here, as demons are mentioned elsewhere and the author chooses his words carefully. Angels are not mentioned in the Quindecim Stellis, but demons, the spirits of the dead, God, and the spirits of the air are the categories of spiritual beings mentioned. (The Peoples of the Earth are also mentioned, but this probably means human beings rather than the Peoples of the Mound; that is fairies.) My own take is that these are probably nature spirits, at least in this context. Spirits of the air would be invisible naturally, capable of transmitting messages, and raising and dispersing winds.

Giving great power over magic is more ambiguous than it appears. The implication in some translations suggests that this ring bestows a power to resist enchantments, while others suggest that it enhances the magical power of the bearer. Either is quite useful, but to a practicing magician the latter is superior.

It’s rare that a talisman can boast an improvement of health overall, but there’s one reason why this is particularly plausible with Procyon talismans. Currently the star is at 26 Cancer 01, which means that an applying Moon would by necessity be in the essential dignity known as Rulership or Domicile in any part of Cancer; the strongest essential dignity according to Renaissance sources and ranking a +5 in quantitative dignity tables. The Moon is always a cosignificator or secondary significator in talismanic elections and most elections overall. When a significator is essentially dignified, it improves the health, appearance, social station, and popularity of the subject; or at least greatly increases the chances of that improvement. This also explains the power of the favor of man too.

When multiple significators are essentially dignified, the chances of this wonderful power manifesting with ease greatly increase; this is why we attempt to make the Ascendant and Moon and if possible the Part of Fortune essentially and accidentally dignified and unafflicted to the greatest possible degree, as these are the three primary cosignificators in descending order of importance.  We can situate the star or planet on the Median Coeli rather than the Ascendant (as we should in fixed star elections), but I believe the Ascendant must at least be unafflicted and preferably be ruled by a planet which is dignified, unafflicted, and hopefully also not cadent.

Nevertheless, this is speculative to a degree. The position of Procyon in Cancer is temporary; precession is slow but real. Someday Procyon will exit Cancer and the Moon will not be essentially dignified during these elections. How that will impact their function will be for future magicians to discover, as I will surely be long gone by then. It may have great impact or none at all.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa gives a somewhat different account of Procyon and its powers.

In addition to a sigil somewhat different than the one given in Quindecim Stellis, he provides two celestial ymages for Procyon; a rooster and “three little maids.” As the foremost dog star, the rooster may signify a herald as the bird crows at dawn. The double-threefold branching of the sigils may suggest flowers, but the Agrippa version especially seems to derive from a rooster’s clawprint. I often think the earlier version resembles the lotus blossom somewhat, but this is not relevant to Procyon by the time of the Quindecim Stellis if ever. The association with maidens perhaps suggests the special role of the Moon and her essential dignity in proximity to Procyon, but also strongly echo pictorial representations of the three Graces, Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia—the personifications of mirth, elegance, and youthful beauty.

The other variant is that Agrippa says Procyon grants power against witchcraft rather than power over magic. In this context, witchcraft is understood to be curses and malevolent fascination. However, this may be a quirk of translation; it is widely known that the James Freake translation from Latin to English is idiosyncratic and at times in clear error. Preference should probably be given to the translations of the older Quindecim Stellis texts for the time being. Certainly if Procyon talismans give power over magic, they will resist curses as well to at least some extent.

John Gower gives no description of the function of Procyon, but he says its nature is of Mercury and has a Martial tint. Rather than giving heliotrope and pennyroyal flowers as its herbs, he lists primrose.

Primary Electional Configuration for Procyon Rings

2017-09-15-procyon2

The Moon tightly applies to a conjunction of Procyon. Procyon culminates. The Moon is fast and applying a tight aspect to a Benefic, though this is a square. The Moon is not cadent yet. The Ascendant is greatly fortunated by an applying conjunction with a Fortune; this is Jupiter, which is essentially dignified in Face. The Moon’s Sign Ruler is not cadent; it is itself. For the earlier part of the election, the Part of Fortune is applying to conjoin the North Node, also known as Caput Draconis or Rahu. This greatly strengthens the election by having a tertiary significator conjoined with celestial point similar in nature to a Fortune and generally increases power or benevolence, depending on the canonical source.

Students of Chris Warnock will be perplexed by my usage of the Moon squaring Jupiter in a benevolent election. This is not an error. One of the distinctions between the medieval electional rules of Picatrix and the later Renaissance electional rules is that the unchanging nature of the planets takes precedence over the aspects formed between them. So a planet applying to trine Saturn is a fortitude in Renaissance elections but is a great affliction to Picatrix because a Malefic is always a Malefic to some extent. Conversely, a planet applying to oppose Venus is an affliction in Renaissance elections but a fortitude in Picatrix, because a Fortune is always fortunate. Of course, it is better in benefic elections for significators making trines and sextiles to the Benefics, but even squares and oppositions strengthen the significator better than any aspect to Malefics. In many talismanic elections the configuration will agree with both systems, but not this one. I find Picatrix to be more effective with talismanic elections than other sources. Part of why I feel that Picatrix is justified with prioritizing the natural qualities of planets over aspects is the angular relationship of the Houses; placing Fortunes on the Ascendant and Midheaven surely must be seen as an exceptionally positive configuration, yet they are in a quartile relationship with one another. Picatrix favors Benefics on the Angular cusps, and asserts that Malefics there will ruin elections. Reason suggests that the basic nature of these planets and the strength they lend to these critical points should supersede the aspects between them. It is logical to suppose that the weakness supplied by Malefics on the angles is greater than the strength provided by the Fortunes, because combination of “hard aspects” are similar in nature to the Infortunes and increase their malice.

Nine rings with lavender agate were chosen. Four were made with gold wire wrapped around a gold-filled wire skeleton to enhance durability and structure for myself. Five were made with gold-filled wire for clients.

The suffumigation used was amber resin. Amber is Lunar, and it was selected from a list of alternatives by tarot divination.

No herbs were used because none were available.

When The Herbs Are Unavailable

It happens a lot when working with the Behenian star talismans; the herbs are quite specific and are often hard to obtain. Often these are dangerous herbs, but sometimes they are simply unpopular. Both appeared to be the case with regards to pennyroyal flowers and heliotrope flowers. Neither were available for purchase online. Pennyroyal is probably an abortifacient, but the complete unavailability of heliotrope was unaccountable except a lack of interest. Dried pennyroyal was available, but upon inspection of what was available, did not appear to have any identifiable petals in the mix. Dried heliotrope of any sort was unavailable.

But the election was too excellent to pass up; I decided to make the nine rings and shelve them until I could obtain the dried flowers. That took a long time.

Now, I have to confess something; I have a brown thumb. I’m terrible with plants. It’s not that I cause flowers to wilt and blacken by my presence; I just am absent-minded and neglectful of plants, or I overcompensate and drown them. I have graduate-level training in biology, but virtually none in botany. I can’t distinguish different types of trees in my neighborhood. Magical plants interest me for certain, but those are usually purchased dry rather than fresh. (Interestingly enough, it hasn’t greatly impacted my skill as a rootworker. But many such over the decades have been in urban environments like myself.)

I know that I should remedy this deficit of knowledge and interest, but I also know that I should eat more broccoli too. And I am these days, but you probably can’t make me enjoy it.

Enter the generous assistance of Harold Roth, proprietor of alchemy-works.com. He is the opposite of me; he is in love with the magical uses of plants and can grow just about anything. I asked him for help when my attempts to grow heliotrope and pennyroyal in my home produced stunted and listless sprouts which at any moment seemed about to turn brown.

With his help I purchased live plants from a seasonal vendor which did not appear on my online searches, repotted them twice, and set up a medium and eventually large grow tent with a massive grow light and automated waterer presumably designed for marijuana cultivation. To this I added the presence of an SIM talisman I had made years ago as an experiment, which increases the bounty of harvests among other things.

After several months of frustration, labor, a hefty financial investment, and an astronomical electric bill, I finally harvested a handful of heliotrope flowers and several pennyroyal flowers. Just enough to dry and add to the nine rings in a supplementary election which was suitable.

Supplementary Talismanic Elections

One of the most common questions asked by both beginning and intermediate students of Scholastic Image Magic is what to do when a talisman is incomplete at the end of an electional window. Do you just keep going, is it a failure, or can you finish up at a later time?

It is clear that any significant alteration of a talisman outside of a valid electional window diminishes or destroys its power. My own rule is that the petition, engraving, suffumigations, and addition of herbs must all be completed within the electional window, though I allow polishing, molding the glue and herbs under the rings, and repairing any spillage immediately after the electional window before that sets. The electional window represents the entry of the spirit of time of that hierarchy into the talisman, and as long as the ingredients are fundamentally in place, minor subsequent changes are like the cutting of the umbilical cord after an infant is born, removal of a caul, or even bathing it.

Nevertheless, there are numerous situations where cast talismans are not completed properly, the herbs required cannot be obtained, or other finishing touches are impossible to complete in time. Sometimes one will engrave a cabochon and later wish to set it in a ring or other piece of jewelry. Sometimes a ring or talisman will break and need minor repairs. This is why supplementary elections are necessary.

Chris Warnock’s take on supplementary elections (which are quite distinct from attunement elections) are that they should be avoided, but when absolutely necessary the goal is to match the configuration of the secondary election to that of the primary one. No two elections are identical, but for example in a Mercury talismanic election, both should be Mercury Hour and/or Day, and Mercury in as identical a state of essential dignity as can be managed. I would go perhaps a little further and require that Mercury be in the same Sign; to me, there’s a qualitative difference between Mercury in Gemini and Mercury in Virgo, and to complete a talisman begun in one in the other will diminish its power.

Either way, it’s really hard to do, which is why supplementary elections are best avoided. But there is a loophole, or at least there appears to be one. In one version of the grimoire called the Treasure of Alexander, at the very end of the first planetary ring recipe (for Saturn) it says “If you cannot finish it in the aforementioned configuration wait until the Moon again returns to the aforementioned aspects and signs or is in Cancer.” While this is not repeated again in the instructions for the remaining six planets, it suggests a peculiar relationship between Saturn and Cancer, or something about the Moon in Cancer which allows talismans in general to be completed.

The former is not entirely illogical; Saturn is in Detriment in Cancer, so this is a special relationship. It is, however, a very bad one. The alternative is to conclude that the Moon in Cancer is special somehow.

This is what I believe; since the Moon is cosignificator in most talismanic elections, placing it in rulership specifically allows the talisman to retain power even while being altered so long as the initial election is suitably strong. It is like hooking a surgical patient up to a life support system so that doctors can operate on major organs without killing him or her. My own experiments support this view, as I have performed supplementary elections of this sort several times on talismans which have proven quite powerful afterwards.

In any case, a supplementary election for Procyon often would have to be both kinds of supplementary election; the Moon applying to conjoin Procyon and also be in Cancer. Thus was the case here.

procyon-supplemenetary

Here we have the Moon applying to conjoin Procyon very loosely on the Midheaven, cadent but extremely fast. The Ascendant Ruler is quite unfortunate; combust and applying to conjoin the South Node. The Moon is unaspected but not void.

Clearly this would be a great cause for concern if this was a normal primary talismanic election, but it is not. Secondary elections only attempt to forge a link with the original celestial hierarchy and to the greatest possible extent any subgroups signified by similar configurations.

While it would be beneficial to have a strong Ascendant Ruler, the primary electional configuration always takes precedence over secondary ones unless the latter is carefully designed to do so. This is actually the logic of using talismans to remedy natal afflictions; these are functionally secondary elections designed to override the planetary influences within the native’s astral body, like a splint or an artificial limb. But they have to be elected rather precisely to have that kind of impact. This secondary election does not possess those characteristics. As a Venus talismanic election (which it would have to be), it’s a complete flop.

What it does succeed at is placing the Moon in Cancer and having her apply to a conjunction of Sirius on the Midheaven. That’s enough to allow a modification of the Procyon talismans without a loss of power.

Once again, I suffumigated with amber and applied the dried flowers and glue under the gemstones. I had some problems with the glue; I used too little and then too much, leading me to have to manage a lot of glue foam overflow and spillage long after the electional window had closed. But the result was clear; the nine Rings of Procyon radiated power and vitality.

In Conclusion

Magical rings in the Scholastic Image Magic tradition are one of my great loves, and my favorite text after Picatrix is the Quindecim Stellis. I began lecturing on this tradition using this grimoire as a platform from which to educate about the wider tradition, but also because I have a particular love and respect for the 8th Sphere, the realm of the fixed stars. The Quindecim Stellis is a beguilingly short grimoire, but full of secrets.

I consider the creation of astrological talismans in SIM to be a form of initiation. In a broader sense, the process of education, election, creation, experimentation, and mastery is a more general initiatory ladder, but each planetary hierarchy has its own initiations which one undertakes when creating the talismans and petitions of each respective planet. Yet these are only seven planetary initiatory processes plus the general one; I think there are many more. There are mysteries revealed upon the creation of each of the fifteen Behenian star talismans, each of the thirty-six Faces, and each of the twenty-eight Lunar Mansions. I also think the planets in aggregate have their own initiation, the Faces, the Lunar Mansions, and the Behenian stars when one has worked with them all. My hope is that I may be given the keys to each of these celestial courts within my time here on Earth.

Procyon is the thirteenth of the fifteen talismans of the Quidecim Stellis which I have made at this point. It’s taken over a decade to get here and it’s been a big adventure. Only two more to go for a complete set, and the full initiation of the 8th Sphere will be accomplished.