Gemstones and Metals in Picatrix and SIM

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An array of cut and polished gemstones.

Scholastic Image Magic, or SIM for short, focuses somewhat upon the creation of talismans; that is, material objects in which a spirit of the heavens is ritually embedded in order to perform works of wonder. Picatrix, also known as Ghayat El-Hakim in its original Arabic title, is the largest and most detailed example of this tradition of magical texts. While Picatrix is a miscellany of magical and esoteric lore, the majority of it can be said to either provide recipes for the creation of astrological talismans or reference materials and theory which support this endeavor.

Picatrix was never intended to contain all the knowledge necessary for the reader to create talismans, evoke spirits, or the many other secrets it offers. The student of the work was expected to be educated in the system of advanced astrology prominent at that time, with a priority towards electional astrology, the choosing of fortunate or unfortunate times to commence an activity or construct or alter an object. Talismans were simply one way to use an astrological election; by embedding the spirit of a fortunate moment of a particular flavor in matter, the luck or power would emit from the talisman even during times which were mediocre or quite adverse.

The student was also expected to be quite versed in the sciences of the era, which depended heavily upon the works of Aristotle and Pliny and the studies of the alchemists. While astrological associations of metals and gemstones and other materials often differ from those the alchemists used, they overlapped sufficiently that in the absence of guidance from canonical texts of astrology and magic, the student would refer to alchemical teachings as a supplement.

Many of these supplemental texts have been lost or are not available in translation. What modern practitioners do is refer to texts which are compatible but later in history and thus more accessible. Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy is a great source for such information, and when herb lore becomes relevant so is Nicholas Culpeper’s Herbal.

Picatrix is often evasive about the diversity of talismanic implementations. There are hints that wooden talismans are possible, but it gives no details regarding their manufacture. Pigments are often associated with stellar configurations, but again there is little information on how they were to be used, since paper and parchment were not thought to be able to absorb power very well.

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Talismanic Image of Venus based on recipes in Picatrix.

What is provided are instructions on how to cast talismans out of metals and colored waxes, and to engrave gemstones. When the proper picture or sigil was inscribed or cast on such an object at the elected time, a spirit of one of the seven planetary hierarchies or one of the many more exotic stellar hierarchies would empower the talisman and give it amazing powers. Incantations and burned incense would facilitate the process and strengthen the creation of the talisman, and compatible herbs would either be placed with it or glued to in some manner to magnify or focus the power towards a particular objective.

In recent centuries the concept of correspondence has eclipsed that of affinity, and to modern practitioners the return to the old way of thinking may be jarring. The alchemists had a one to one correspondence between the seven traditional planets and metals, with lead corresponding to Saturn, tin to Jupiter, iron to Mars, gold to Sun, copper to Venus, quicksilver to Mercury, and silver to the Moon. Even later in history, singular colors corresponded to the planets as well; black for Saturn, blue for Jupiter and so on. This is alien to the older and more complex astrological tradition.

In SIM, there are long lists of metals and minerals (not to mention herbs and animal ingredients) associated with each planetary hierarchy. Furthermore, many materials appear on two or more lists for different reasons. Each planetary hierarchy has multiple colors. Lastly, there is no singular material on each list which most associated with the planet any more than there is one which is the least. Each material has qualities which in some way resemble the function of one or more planetary hierarchy, which can include color, weight, attractiveness, medicinal usage, flavor, folkloric associations, hardness, translucency and much more. This complexity is often jarring to newcomers in this system.

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Metallic gold (and minerals like iron pyrite which resemble it) are prized in SIM.

An example of these complex associations is the metal gold. The yellowish hue and, when polished, its shininess associate it with the Sun. Its inability to tarnish is associated with the Sun’s regularity and mathematical associations with the four seasons. Gold is an excellent material for Sun talismans. However, gold is a very heavy material—almost as heavy as lead—and this is why it is associated with Saturn, the planetary hierarchy associated with weight, gravity and things drawn down into the earth. Saturn talismans can be made perfectly well in gold; in some ways it is superior to lead because it is more rigid and less likely to distort when worn or carried. Gold is highly attractive and desired, and so it gains associations with Venus and also is appropriate for her talismans. Gold is also expensive and thereby gains associations with Jupiter, the governor of riches. Gold is also suitable for Jupiter talismans. The only planets which can’t work with gold are Mars, Mercury and perhaps the Moon.

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Lapis lazuli with iron pyrite inclusions is particularly versatile and inexpensive for making talismans.

More overlap appears in one of the most commonly used gemstones, lapis lazuli. A soft, vividly blue gemstone that is frequently flecked with golden iron pyrite inclusions, it is relatively inexpensive and thus is quite popular among contemporary practitioners of SIM. Of greater importance, Marsilio Ficino (a Renaissance genius who practiced SIM among many other things) observed that softer materials produced talismans which had shorter lifespans but produced magical effects especially rapidly. Picatrix uses a slightly different rationale with the same conclusion. Nevertheless, lapis lazuli with pyrite inclusions gains association with Saturn by two routes; the golden appearance of the pyrite hearkens back to metallic gold and its own associations with Saturn, and because of a historical confusion between lapis lazuli and sapphire– both mean “blue stone” in different languages (Latin and Sanskrit) and the latter is more directly associated with Saturn due to its dark color and extreme hardness. (Saturn governs darkly pigmented things and durability.) Lapis lazuli with pyrite inclusions also has affinity with the Sun because of the golden appearance of the flecks of pyrite. Lapis gains association with Venus because of its oceanic blue color, and the Greek myth of Aphrodite emerging from the sea foam. The Moon arguably has the strongest associations with lapis lazuli because of this oceanic connection, and the dependency of the tides upon the Lunar cycles. Additionally, by way of lapidary lore, lapis lazuli has the property of diminishing melancholy and grief, and this quality is added to and magnified by the transformation of a lapis lazuli gemstone into a Saturn, Sun, Venus or Lunar talisman, regardless of its other powers.

These are two, slightly extreme examples of how the 1:1 system of correspondence fails in Scholastic Image Magic. In many instances a gemstone or other material will only have associations with one or two celestial hierarchies. But I illustrate this to make a point; materials such as gemstones, metals and herbs are not singular representatives of a celestial hierarchy in each kingdom of matter, but one of a host of materials which a particular astrological spirit hierarchy finds beautiful, interesting, useful, or more real. Everything in the world is ruled over by one or more planetary hierarchies; there’s a lot of redundancy down here. And an alternate way to express this if the notion of spirits is undesirable, is that just like different forms of electromagnetic radiation can penetrate metals and flesh and stone to varying degrees based on type, the rays of astral light (which are the spirits themselves) can irradiate all substances to differing degrees. Only those materials which can be fully irradiated by astral power of any particular variety are capable of becoming the vessels of power that are talismans.

There are an abundance of additional factors to consider when selecting gemstones for the purpose of making a particular sort of talisman. Some are metaphysical and some are practical.

Picatrix advises that one may use the system of humours or temperament to attract and repel animals and people of particular constitutions whose images have been engraved on gemstones. A gemstone which is believed to be hot and dry with the talismanic image of a fierce animal like a lion will attract and tame the animal. A gemstone whose constitution is believed to be cold and wet with the same image and stellar configuration would instead repel lions. The same might be applicable to types of people who might appear on a talisman, such as a king or a warrior. Sadly, lists of the elemental associations of gemstones from the era of Picatrix do not appear to be available in translation, and some guesswork is necessary.

Gemstones are believed to be the fruits of the Earth, and are natural phenomena. In the outlook of the scientists of the era, plants were a midpoint between the attributes of animals (both grow) and minerals (neither move about). One of the implications of the continuum between animal and mineral is that to an extent, minerals are parts of the living Earth and closer in nature to a living oak tree than a carcass. This explains why gemstones which are in various ways not natural do not make good talismans. Artificial diamonds and rubies, irradiated gems, dyed gems, and sometimes even heated minerals do not absorb the essence of the spirit beings adequately in order to turn them into talismans. Sometimes when they do work, they produce unpleasant side effects. Synthetic gemstones are akin to silk flowers and wax fruit; they may look like the real thing but often are inadequate replacements.

The color of gemstones is a complicated issue. Gemstones of particular colors are indeed associated with particular planetary hierarchies; pretty much any white stone can be used for Jupiter, for example. Nevertheless, this is an instance where an association is very superficial and often will produce an inferior talisman. Gems which have very particular associations with planets because of unique properties take precedence over something like color alone, which is far more general. Many gemstones which are powerfully associated with a particular planet are of extremely counterintuitive colors.

Another issue with color is that on a mineralogical level, several named gemstones are basically the same mineral and differ only by color. In this instance, the differences of color are the source of the identity rather than chemical composition or crystalline structure. One example is onyx, traditionally a black or brown stone with white banding. Onyx can be used for Saturn talismans, Moon talismans, and the fixed star Corvus. Sardonyx is a stone which is red or orange with white or yellow banding. Other than color, there is no difference between the two. However, sardonyx is used for the talismans of the fixed star Antares, and neither the Moon nor Saturn. Antares is a reddish star, whose appearance resembles that of the stone. It is an exception to the rule. A more well known pairing like this is that of sapphire and ruby; both are the mineral corundum, but the former is black or dark blue and the latter red. Their metaphysical associations are completely different. Seeming paradoxes sometimes occur. The emerald is suitable for Jupiter and Mercury talismans; planets which are otherwise completely opposite to each other in every way. It is not enough to understand which materials are associated with one or more planets. Whenever possible, one must understand why.

The last consideration for gemstone talismans I wish to make in this article is that of shape. The most important consideration is practical; you need a gemstone with a large flat surface—large enough to engrave a sigil or, far better, a pictorial image using a diamond stylus. Emerald cut and marquis cut gemstones can provide enough surface for a small sigil but little more. Cabochons, whether hemispherical or ovoid, are the better option. They provide maximal surface area and are portable. They work in ring settings and can even be secreted in a pocket or wallet.

They also have a harmonious shape. Aristotle believed that the cosmos was spherical as the macrocosm, and this was mirrored in all spiritual beings as a microcosm; the shape of all spirits (in spite of appearances) are spheres. Anything which approaches the shape of the sphere, including ovoid shapes, circles and hemispheres, are particularly suitable vessels for a spirit being such as a talismanic entity. So, though it is seldom practical, the optimal talisman is a mineral sphere of the largest manageable size.

The factors which must be taken into account in the selection and preparation of gemstones and other material objects for transformation into talismans in Scholastic Image Magic can be daunting at first. It requires a great deal of specialty knowledge, but the authors of the Picatrix, Agrippa and other masters of SIM tended to describe talismans made in an optimal way in order to minimize side effects and maximize their power—and massive power it can be indeed. However, the average experimenter (or master of this system in a bit of a hurry) can use inexpensive or even slightly inappropriate timing and materials to create talismans which provide sufficient and immediate results. This is an elite system of magic, but the basics are accessible to all with the drive and determination to ascend.

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Fearless Magical Protection @ ConVocation 2017

 

Clifford Hartleigh Low’s lecture on “Fearless Magical Protection” at ConVocation 2017. This class covers a broad array of spells and magical practices which protect the practitioner from mystical and mundane dangers; including powerful techniques of shielding and defense which do not appear elsewhere.

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.

About Time: Introduction To The Horoscope Chart @ ConVocation 2017

 

Clifford Hartleigh Low’s lecture on “About Time: Introduction To The Horoscope Chart” at ConVocation 2017. This lecture is a 101 introduction to core concepts in astrology, with a particular focus on the function of the horoscope chart, how to do basic calculation using a website or software, the meaning of the different parts of the chart and their relations to the heavens, the metaphysical cosmology of astrology and metaphors, the history of its development, and the variety of potential applications in a Traditional Astrological context, and much more…

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.

Mercury Retrograde Is My Ally

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So, I guess this is what happens when you’re an astrological magician and Mercury goes Retrograde–

Companies send you $1100 Movado wristwatches completely randomly, and don’t bill you for them.

Magic is awesome.

Also, please tell me how Mercury Retrograde is awful. For you, maybe.

PS: Things like this happen to me relatively frequently during Mercury Retrogrades. Cosmic glitches happen in your favor if you practice SIM. For everything there is a season…

February 2017 Convention Schedule

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


PantheaCon 2017

On Saturday, February 18th at 1:30pm–

Eat Me: Magical Recipes in Medieval Astrological Magic

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


ConVocation 2017

On Thursday, February 23rd at 8:30pm–

DIY Talismans

Astrological talismans from the Scholastic Image Magic tradition often seem as challenging to make as they are powerful. After electing the window of time in which a talisman can be created, one must confect incenses, select appropriate sigils, and obtain tools and materials for the talismans. We will discuss how to create a talismanic laboratory, the process of practical considerations including choosing the best combinations, knowing which substitutions do and don’t work, and time and money saving strategies. Take the theory of talismans into real life creations and applications.

On Friday, February 24th at 4:00pm–

About Time: Basic Chart Calculation

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

On Saturday February 25th at 4:00pm–

Fearless Magical Protection

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

 

Welcome, and Thank You

Welcome to those of you visiting because of a series of very kind and generous compliments posted elsewhere by my friend and teacher Magus Christopher Warnock of RenaissanceAstrology.com.

Praise from someone whom I respect most profoundly and whose amazing work has changed my life so much, means more than I can begin to express. He is both an excellent and brilliant person and one of the most accomplished magicians alive. It is a great privilege to know him and call him a friend and colleague.

Newcomers: Don’t be scared off by the spooky trappings here. I promise, I won’t bite.

Brush aside the cobwebs and bear in mind that without a little darkness, no one could ever see the stars shine.

In terms of navigation, if your interest is exclusively astrological and talismanic my posts labeled “Astrology” and especially “Scholastic Image Magic” will be be what you are looking for. For all practical purposes, Scholastic Image Magic or SIM is a more academic term for Renaissance Magic and what I use here.

And thank you, Chris. For everything.

Sriracha Sorcery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that’s actually not what I’d do.

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

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

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

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

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

Black Magic And Dark Paganism @ ConVocation 2009

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

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

Black Magic Part Two (Partial) @ ConVocation 2010 

 

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