The King Solomon Incident

Talismans, Pentacles, Contagions, and Other Hidden Things Revealed

A Trip to the Museum

A couple of months back I was at a local magic convention and an old friend of mine from days of yore lectured on ancient Egyptian mythology and magic in such a righteous way that the mummies themselves would have sat up and applauded if they could. Another friend drove down with me, and when we looked for things to do while she was in town we found out that the American Museum of Natural History in New York had an exhibition on mummies, both Egyptian and Peruvian. It seemed more than coincidental, and so we spent a free day at the museum.

juanita

As an adult, my favorite museum is certainly the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But as a kid, my second home was the AMNH. Going back there and revisiting all the old classics was truly a lot of fun. It’s a sprawling place, and easy to forget the sheer artistry of the aquatic fauna sculptures, the scale of the dinosaur bones, the occasional very badly-preserved stuffed animal, and the section on climate, ecology, and agriculture. I get something different out of every visit.

The Hall of Gems piqued my interest this time because of my interest in medieval lapidaries and talismans.  In particular, I  fell in love with the giant yellow sulfur crystals and the shimmering aquamarine jewelry. Not that interesting magically, but aesthetically nourishing. It’s a shame that they’re going to completely remodel it; it had a wonderful retro-futuristic feel.

In any case, we went to the mummy exhibition and it was a lot of fun. In addition to a variety of human Egyptian mummies were a few sacrificial animal mummies. My mother was an unrepentant Egyptophile, so I was immersed in much of this since birth—and once even took a cruise down the Nile.

Equal time was given to the Peruvian mummies and mummification techniques. I’ve been to Peru and Machu Picchu, and one of my favorite books remains Patrick Tierney’s The Highest Altaran exploration of human sacrifice in ancient and modern times, using Inca mummies as a fulcrum. The exhibit even gave me an idea for a magical project or two, now in the works. (They do not involve human remains. They may involve other remains.)

The Magic Gift Shoppe

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Somewhat predictably, the exit of the exhibit led directly to a gift shop brimming over with Egyptian mementoes. Knowing that the Bast plushie, the scarab refrigerator magnet, or Anubis pendant could all be fun décor but equally repurposed into genuine magical objects justified a spending spree. Our cradled arms were full when we went approached the cash register and put down the subjects of our inflamed avarice.

The cashier did not initially catch my attention, partially because we were distracted with our booty and because she was wearing work clothes and did not stand out. But I caught her attention it seemed.

She stared at the selection of purchases, and then her eyes shot to my hands on the counter, and then back and forth. Something was going on.

As some of you know, I wear gemstone rings on all of my fingers (and swap them out every so often). They sometimes attract attention, but they almost never are recognized for what they are: exceptionally powerful talismans, homes or bodies for celestial spirits which assist me in many things.

“You shouldn’t let people touch your rings,” she said sotto voce. “They will lose their power if other people touch them.” She spoke with great sincerity and urgency. She was right, of course. When I began wearing talismanic rings, I would refuse to shake people’s hands out of concern the rings would become inert and the spirits would leave. Chris Warnock urged me to never let anyone touch my talismanic pendants, but he never quite knew what to do about unique problem of magical rings; I was left to figure all that out for myself.

This isn’t an uncommon notion in ceremonial magic; the classic grimoires require that your blasting rod, black-handled knife, athanor, lamens, swords and so forth be made by your own hands from scratch, and that nobody ever touches them but yourself or they will cease to function. Victorian era lodge ceremonialism retains a less-strict version of this too. Mojo bags and jack balls in Hoodoo have similar prohibitions. Astrological talismans are not terribly different, but they do pose social problems in a culture where refusing an extended hand causes an immediate affront. And often an irreparable first impression.

Eventually I began wearing gloves at all times—replacing one horrible problem with a slightly lesser one—and after years of experimentation finally discovered that there was in fact a way to protect talismans from the perils foreign contact. (This turned out to be, somewhat arbitrarily, rings of the 13th Mansion of the Moon. Arcane secret revealed, right here right now).

I was in a state of partial disbelief that the cashier not only recognized my rings as magical, but that she knew magical rings would be imperiled by the touch of others. It is not common knowledge, nor uncontroversial.

I quickly surmised that she had profiled me from my selection of items—it’s even possible that she had scoped them out for herself at one point or other. They were virtually all replicas of magical tools which could easily be turned into the real things. Then again, ankhs and such aren’t actually that weird in this day and age.

That still didn’t explain her absolute confidence that my rings were special. The only way to explain that was that she was able to perceive that they were metaphysically active. She was very likely a practitioner, and a very capable one too.

Yet it was still somewhat possible that she was a New Ager who was fond of crystals, and was about to prescribe soaking them in salt water overnight to purge them of bad energy. Just because you can maybe sense something doesn’t mean you know what it truly is.

I attempted to reassure her that I knew the danger of contact with “things like these” and had found a solution, but I don’t think she quite processed that such a thing was possible. Her response was rather marvelous.

“I keep mine hidden.” She tapped her chest and I could hear the jangle of jewelry. “That way, nobody can touch.”

She leaned in. “King Solomon,” she said, with much gravity.

I gaped a little. I really needed to be sure.

“Do you mean like a pendant with King Solomon’s image on it, or do you mean the Pentacles of King Solomon?” I said.

“The latter” she replied, with a conspiratorial grin.

“I have those too!” I said, and tapped my own chest and jangled right back at her.

We laughed together.

All right, then.

The Pentacles of Solomon are either astrological talismans themselves, or something very similar to them, depending on whom you ask and how they are made.

At that point the people behind us in line were getting restless and I didn’t want to cause her to lose her job, so we quickly moved on. I really should have given her my card. She was capital C Cool.

The whole incident was intense but dreamlike. I was giddy to find a fellow practitioner in an wholly unexpected place. I was also a little startled that I could be spotted so easily.

Normally, even at magic conventions people don’t know what the heck my rings are unless they are explained in detail. They also don’t give off power that most practitioners can detect unless they’re very familiar with the tradition and know what to look for.

Apparently, if you’ve worked in some varieties of Solomonic practice, you can develop that faculty. Which is a good thing to know.

We are everywhere. Hiding in plain sight.

A very memorable encounter.

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Some Notes On Planetary Fragrances

 

Intersections of Scholastic Image Magic and Hoodoo

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

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

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

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

 

Planetary Flavors and Odors

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

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

For example, as William Lilly says of Venus:

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

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

 

Hoodoo Considerations

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

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

 

Coherence Is Power

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

This can create problems with regard to planetary work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Potentials

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

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

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

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

The Age of Black Magic: Step Nine

Reversal Magic

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Are your anti-Trumpian magical activities going as you had hoped? If yes, you can ignore the rest of this post.

If not, you may wish to stop whatever it is that you’re doing and do the most aggressive reversal magic that you have in your arsenal.

Pro-Trump magicians have been targeting their counterparts individually and collectively, or so I was told a few weeks ago. Attempts to coordinate magic against the administration have mysteriously gone up in smoke, simply failed, or resulted in the Anti-Trump practitioners becoming distracted by personal troubles of all sorts.

In some instances, the former and latter may be linked by causality. If that’s the case, it’s probably a good idea for you to drop everything and bounce that shit right back where it came from.

I am not going to immediately advise a particular method of reversal; use what works best for you. You might want to hit back with something strong and unexpected. Several flavors of reversal at once are going to be harder to shield against.

Practitioners shouldn’t attack each other, but giving an enemy a taste of their own medicine (and then some) is often a teachable experience.

 

 

Massive Talismans and Chimerical Spirits

I say to you further that, if the quantity of stone of which an image is composed is large (that is, between an ounce and a pound), the virtue and power of it will be able to reach from the place where it is for a hundred leagues.

If it contains a combination of things in its figure, however, its nature will have no motion or effect except that which terminates in its own place, though its motion or effect will not be limited to those of its substance or the nature of the bodies that compose it, for spirits have a wider range than those bodies that contain little spirit.

–Picatrix IV:4, Greer-Warnock translation

Picatrix Analysis:

Talismans made from mineral spheres of even medium sizes will project power for 300 miles in all directions.

Talismans which attempt to draw upon the power of more than one celestial hierarchy will be crippled, like a chariot whose horses are running in different directions.

They will have some influence in their immediate environment because they are inhabited by a chimerical spirit, but less than a pure spirit and more than the natural virtues of whatever material the talisman is composed of.

On that note, I hereby coin the term chimerical spirit; a temporary union of astral spirits from dissimilar celestial hierarchies in a talisman, which being neither fish nor fowl operates with the virtues of neither.

This notion seemingly creates an inherent limitation upon House-based talismans. Which may explain why I have found them ineffective and frustrating.

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.

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February 2017 Convention Schedule

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


PantheaCon 2017

On Saturday, February 18th at 1:30pm–

Eat Me: Magical Recipes in Medieval Astrological Magic

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


ConVocation 2017

On Thursday, February 23rd at 8:30pm–

DIY Talismans

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

On Friday, February 24th at 4:00pm–

About Time: Basic Chart Calculation

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

On Saturday February 25th at 4:00pm–

Fearless Magical Protection

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

 

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.

The Secret Purpose of Magic

I’m going to spare you the labor of kneeling before a mystic guru for decades, joining secret societies and putting up with their drama, and quite possibly reincarnating a few thousand times in order to learn this nugget of wisdom.

I’m cheating slightly by letting you in on the secret, but I’ve been known to bend the rules before.

The process of attaining proficiency in magic is traumatic and shocking. For some, their brains came out wrong at birth and the psychic censor works horribly. Others take strange drugs. Some experience physical traumas, like being struck by lightning or being hit by speeding vehicles. A few have near-death experiences and come back changed. Others put themselves through exteme mental contortions that for variable periods render the initiate batshit insane.

You can’t think like a normal human being, a descendant of mutated apes, and do superhuman things. So under most circumstances your mind– and by extension your spirit– has to change. A lot.

It’s about plasticity. Spiritual plasticity mirroring the neuroplasticity; as above so below. Every time a magician alters their mental state past the breaking point, it’s like having a stroke. After the shock to the system subsides, the magician has to mend and rewire their consciousness like a person learning to walk after a brain injury. This happens over and over and in numerous ways. New abilities and strangeness are acquired along the road.

It’s also about strength. You need to damage muscles through strain in order to rebuild them stronger. The most basic lesson of athleticism.

That plasticity and strength are not for their own sakes, however.

It’s to prepare us for retaining our memories and personality through the death process. Brain death is almost exactly like having thousands of strokes all at once. Instead of oxygen being cut off from one part of the brain and killing a portion, oxygen is cut off from the entire. This is the most extreme trauma a person can experience without uncommon supernatural intervention.

Most people lose their internal coherence at some point after death. It’s no secret that ghostly spirits do not think or behave quite like living people, and some appear to have lost memories and attributes while whooshing about the eerie void. Yet they retain enough that when called up by various means, they have knowledge that only those particular people could possess. In many instances the contact is with an echo of a person or even a trickster spirit, but in others it appears to be a forgetful and confused version of a discarnate human being. (Though sometimes they’re just faking confusion– but that’s a whole different topic.)

When people transmigrate –and I suspect that is a real phenomenon if it doesn’t necessarily happen to everyone– the process of embedding spirit in flesh is similarly disorienting and traumatic. The result is that hardly anyone is born retaining clear memories of their former lives, of spiritual realms– and one’s personality also changes in various ways.

People who have trained themselves to recover from dramatic changes in consciousness, shock, and systemic injury eventually can break that cycle and retain a clear mind, memory, and a stable personality whether they choose to remain in the spiritual realms or return to corporeal existence.

Magic helps us solve problems in many ways. But many things exist which can solve most of those problems which don’t require such extreme and unusual activities. What makes magic unique is that it gradually (and often very uncomfortably) prepares us for a more advanced existence as a spirit.

Video Games and Money Magic are often Incompatible

Psst! A reminder. 

If your money magic isn’t working, stop playing video games where you accumulate treasure or even points.

The spiritual powers which you have called upon rarely can distinguish between the virtual cash in a game and the virtual cash in your bank account, and they will almost invariably work on whatever is easier to manifest. It’s all just bytes in a computer today, after all.

I found this out some years ago when goofing off in a game where I accumulated a conspicuous amount of treasure, even while my real life finances were stagnant. And part of the reason I was gaming was that it was an inexpensive way to pass the time and relieve stress about money.

It took me a while to realize that my ring of Deneb Algedi was working on the game rather than what I actually needed. When I stopped playing, my finances began to improve.