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.”

ig430()

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.

aHR0cDovL3d3dy5zcGFjZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA1Ny8zNTcvb3JpZ2luYWwvQ3Jlc2NlbnQtTW9vbi1uZWxzb24uanBn

 

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

Aries Medical Talismans

Sun in Aries Talismans for Healing the Infirmities of the Head

A ram's head

A ram’s head

Scholastic Image Magic Talismans in Medicine

Contemporary research into the distribution of texts on magic in medieval and Renaissance England suggests that theurgical and necromantic texts were concentrated in monasteries, but texts on Scholastic Image Magic were concentrated in the libraries of physicians. This does appear to indicate that physicians had a particular interest in astral magic and probably were also one of the few occupations which would have had the necessary background in astrology to make use of it. A survey of the breadth of the canonical literature of Scholastic Image Magic does suggest a preponderance of formulas for talismans which were used medicinally. While theurgical and necromantic rituals for longevity, relief of ailments, prevention and cures do exist, going back as far as the Testament of Solomon and ancient Mesopotamia, the additional emphasis is notable in SIM.

Part of this is simply that the boundary between medicine and magic has been quite blurry up until relatively recently in history, and both traditional medicine and Scholastic Image Magic have had an astrological basis. We may speculate, however, that astrological talismans may have had a special efficacy in an era not otherwise known for medical advancement.

This has been a significant interest of mine: the use of magic to prevent, treat and cure diseases, and extend animal and human longevity. The greatest successes in my experiments have been relatively recent, and involve Scholastic Image Magic talismans applied directly to patients or a variety of medicinal substances exposed to their proximity become secondary talismans and are then brought to the patient and ingested or otherwise applied.

In all cases I must note that these treatments were in the form of complementary therapies. I am not a physician and do not pretend to be one, traditional or modern. At no point during my experiments have I or would I ask a patient to alter their treatment from whatever their doctors require. Nevertheless, I do think that talismanic remedies have very special merits and are quite deserving of revival and extensive research.

Though many of these cases deserve their own separate blog post, I have used talismans to help patients with a variety of conditions which include metastatic brain cancer, ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), c. diff (clostridium difficile) infections, erectile dysfunction, fevers, migraine headaches, and even the common cold. In every instance the talismans seemed to improve outcomes; often quite dramatically. As someone who once was studying to become an M.D., I understand how bold these claims sound and I stand behind them.

The prevention of disease and resisting the aging process is a less glamorous side to this system of magic, but I wear talismans for these purposes at all times. When you are young and healthy, talismans which procure love and wealth and vengeance and knowledge and power are the most seductive. When your body doesn’t quite work the way it used to, those priorities shift very quickly. As a former caregiver that is comfortably in his middle age, the use of magic to improve vitality and extend life has been a front burner project for about a decade, and things grow more interesting and promising every year.

Another reason why medical magic fascinates me is that it is results-oriented and in many instances easy to validate. If a technique has a statistically significant rate of improving outcomes in diseases which are hard or impossible to treat, it is one step forward in making the case that magic is not quackery or delusion, but objectively real and of immense value.

Zodiac Man

Zodiac Man

The Mystery of Zodiacal Talismans

When I first immersed myself in the study of astrological talismans I was surprised by an unusual omission. Talismans of many sorts for the seven planets had their own recipes; over 70 for the Decans or Faces, well over 100 options for the Lunar Mansions, and many other varieties. But there was no mention of talismans which corresponded to the twelve Zodiacal Signs. I bitterly concluded that this was not accidental; that the Signs themselves had no power unique to them except when combined with a planet or point which activated it. That the Signs were simply too passive in their cosmic function to create viable talismans with unique properties. I was disappointed, but reconciled myself to this interpretation.

When John Michael Greer and Christopher Warnock translated the Picatrix and I began studying it, I finally came across Zodiacal talismans. They weren’t anything I was expecting, however. They were a series of medical talismans, which were designed to repair illnesses which affected different parts of the body: internal and external, by the somewhat shaky medieval understanding of medicine and anatomy. They were generally dependent on the position of the Sun as it passed through the Zodiac, but were otherwise profoundly complex electional recipes. Even more frustrating, most of them seemed to require being made of gold; a metal whose price was fairly high. Their application, however, was simple. One bound the talisman to the appropriate body part and the patient experienced immediate relief. Over an unspecified amount of time, they promised a permanent cure.

During the following years I made various attempts to secure affordable gold plates or foil upon which I could make the more expensive Zodiacal talismans to no avail. My eventual goal was to have a set of all twelve so I could treat the broadest possible range of ailments, but this project was postponed until I could obtain the materials. Every so often I would go back and skim the chapter on Zodiacal talismans, and eventually I made a small discovery.

While it was particularly difficult to distinguish the internal organs cited in Picatrix and their relation to modern understandings of anatomy, external features were far clearer. One which caught my eye was the Aries talisman to heal all infirmities of the head. Not only did this promise help for a wide variety of difficult to treat illnesses in modern medicine, but the recipe did not require pure gold but an alloy of gold and silver that would be far more affordable.

The lure and the problem with Picatrix’s assignment of infirmities of the head is that it’s not immediately obvious which diseases it would actually treat. In the medieval medical model, major clinical depression would be melancholia; a personality type resulting from an excess of black bile in the upper intestines, thus not in the brain at all. Many other diseases that today we identify as neurological would have been assigned to the blood, the liver, or the heart. A stroke which paralyzed a limb would be governed by the Zodiacal Sign of the limb and thus require a different talisman altogether.

Nevertheless, other types of strokes, brain tumors, concussions, migraines, dementia, probably epilepsy and the manic portion of bipolar disorder seem good candidates for being identified with the brain in the medieval model, and treatable using an Aries talisman. Many of these are diseases which are hard to treat, and in some cases quite terrifying.

As soon as I realized that this sort of talisman would be highly valuable and fascinating to create, I began looking for upcoming elections. As I will discuss shortly, the conditions for the election are very uncommon and difficult, but a viable electional window was evident less than a week from the search.

I then went on a frantic mission to find gold-silver alloy disks. I found gold-plated silver disks and ordered them, but they were delayed in transit and arrived a week late. As a backup I ordered several other types of gold disks for engraving, and just in the nick of time a selection of ten gold-plated bronze disks arrived. The materials were imperfect, and the size was much smaller than the formula seemed to require; yet there was no time to obtain better.

Initial experiments with these gold-plated Aries talismans are highly promising, and I am looking for volunteers in the vicinity of the New York City area with relevant ailments to validate their efficacy.

Aries Talismanic Elections

Horoscope of Aries Medical Talismans on March 25th 2018

Horoscope of Aries Medical Talismans on March 25th 2018

“Hermes Trismegistus explains in his book On Images how to calculate images for each and every part of the human body and under which face of the signs to make them. Take pure gold and make a seal and write on it the image of a lion… Bind the seal around the loins or kidneys. I have tested this, and found that one who does this will not suffer thereafter… This happens likewise for the sufferings of the other members of the body, according to their manner and form, and the appropriate symbolism of the planets…

“Aries. This figure is a ram with no tongue. Its properties are for all the infirmities of the head. While it may be made when the Sun is in the first or third or fifth degree of Aries, this figure will be of no benefit unless it is made when the Moon is waxing or full. These are the conditions of the figure. Saturn and Mars must be direct, Jupiter is not in Aquarius and Venus is not in Virgo, which is the sign of her fall, and Mercury is not in Taurus; make the figure between the first degree of Aries and the fifth degree of the first face, and do not make it in the second face (they have said elsewhere that the second face pertains to the eyes and the third to the ears, whence you must pay attention to the degrees), and when the Sun and Jupiter are completely above the earth; and make it in the hour of the Sun. Others say that it is good in the day and hour of Jupiter. And make it from gold and silver to the weight of 7 grains of common wheat. This is proven.” –Picatrix II:12

The Sun is only in those degrees three days a year. Requiring that the Moon be waxing or full cuts the opportunities roughly in half. Having both the Sun and Jupiter above the earth is less than half of the potential elections; furthermore, Jupiter is on a twelve year cycle through the Zodiac, so one can assume at least seven consecutive years when this election is entirely impossible. Requiring the planetary hour be that of the Sun divides the opportunities into a seventh. The other conditions reduce the chances of this election further, but by smaller amounts. The result of this level of complexity is that one will usually have to wait many years for a minimally viable election.

The Manufacture of Aries Talismans

In the election used, the Sun was Ascending in 4 Aries (the fifth degree) in the Hour and Day of the Sun. The Moon was waxing. Saturn and Mars were direct. Jupiter was Retrograde but not in Aquarius, and Venus was in Aries though not in Virgo, Mercury was Retrograde but not in Taurus and close to the Ascendant. The Sun and Jupiter were above the horizon. Though not cited as a condition, the Moon was in mixed conditions of hard and soft aspects to Benefics and neutral planets. The Moon was very fast, and Angular in the 4th House. The Moon is conjunct the Part of Fortune, albeit separating; I’m not sure how much of a factor this is.

The big problem is that the Sun is besieged by the Malefics. Nevertheless, I felt that with such challenging requirements it might be pardonable and worth a shot. Normally a significator besieged by the Malefics would be prohibitive, but so many other features of the election were positive that I felt that it would compensate. At the worst, the talisman will be less effectual or slow-acting; I do not believe the configuration capable of doing harm because the Moon is making no applying aspects to the Malefics.

There was a flurry of Solar-type talismanic elections recently, so I believe that I used cloves as a suffumigation but may need to revise that later as am no longer certain and my notes are ambiguous.

Ten talismans were made in gold-plated bronze. The image of a ram was inscribed on one side and the sigil of the Sun on the opposite. Inscribing on such a small surface was challenging but I practiced a bit and all of the rams are recognizable as such.

One has been claimed by me, and three have been sewn into Los Angeles Rams baseball caps for use by any number of patients. Aries is a ram, after all. Six remain in storage for different forms of application.

Because there might be concern about the safety of a talisman with a besieged significator I wore one of these talismans under a bandage on my head for about a month and suffered no ill effects. Conversely, it appeared to be effective for my relatively mild medical concerns.

In Conclusion

This was an exotic, highly experimental talismanic election which really pushes the boundaries of what even I believed possible in this system of magic. Regardless of the results from these Aries medical talismans, I will continue to make more talismans to improve the health of the user, both of the Zodiacal variety and others which I will describe another time.

D.I.Y. Talismans

D.I.Y. Talismans @ ConVocation 2017

 

Astrological talismans from the Scholastic Image Magic tradition often seem as challenging to make as they are powerful.

After electing the window of time in which a talisman can be created, one must confect incenses, select appropriate sigils, and obtain tools and materials for the talismans.

We will discuss how to create a talismanic laboratory, the process of practical considerations including choosing the best combinations, knowing which substitutions do and don’t work, and time and money saving strategies.

Take the theory of talismans into real life creations and applications.

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 of the Lunar Mansions

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.

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.

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.

No Trespassing: The Magic of Wards

No Trespassing: The Magic of Wards @ ConVocation 2018

 

Wards are magical defenses that prevent a designated space such as a room, home, or property from injury or trespass by inimical forces, spirits, or persons.

Typically focused upon enchanting liminal spaces such as thresholds, property boundaries, chimneys, weathervanes and foundations, wardings take the primal essence of territoriality and give it metaphysical heft, protecting oneself, family, and pets.

In this class we will explore the themes of the protection of spaces in several long standing magical traditions as well as some innovations, analyze their features, and help you create effective defenses for your personal space that are both powerful and uniquely your own.

(There is some drumming noticeable from a nearby musical performance nearby. My apologies for the distraction.)

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.

Powerful Petition to Mars

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

mars2

What Celestial Petitions Are

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

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

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

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

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

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

For me, that makes it all the more exciting.

Electing A Petition to Mars

mars-petition-1

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

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

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

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

The Petition to Mars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mars is a mighty ally and a terrible foe.

Forget neither.

mars

Magic Rings of Seduction

Creation of Powerful Carnelian and Gold Venus Talisman Rings

 

2017-10-14-venus-good

Electional Configuration

This was a particularly superb election for Venus; so excellent in fact, that I went through some extraordinary efforts and even a few personal sacrifices. What was so good about it to make me jump through flaming hoops?

First, we have Venus in her Rulership in Libra culminating. Not just in Libra, but the first degree of Libra—which is an accidental fortunation in the same way that the final two degrees of any Sign are unfortunate.

Second, the Moon is in a phenomenal state. She is fast, and applying a benevolent aspect to the Ruler of the Sign she is in; something Picatrix says is fantastic for any election. She is also applying to conjoin the North Node of the Moon. That’s spectacular.

Third, the Ruler of the Ascendant is Jupiter, who while peregrine is in the House of his Joy (the 11th) and in the 1st degree of a Sign. Great accidental dignifications!

There are a few negatives which deserve attention, but no election is perfect.

Venus is making no applying aspects.

Saturn is in the 1st House and in a malefic decan; but he’s not on the Ascendant and Lilly like most Renaissance astrologers deem Saturn to be acceptable in the 1st House generally. It is also Saturn’s day, which I feel pays the ferryman off, to an extent.

The Moon is also making a trine to Saturn, and she is waning; something Picatrix says reduces the afflictions of the Moon by Saturn. Any aspect to Saturn generally weakens a planet, however. At least Saturn is not retrograde!

The waning here is overall positive, because it diminishes the influences of Saturn; especially over time. Lunar phase alone never makes or breaks an election, in my estimation.

Jupiter is under the Sun’s Beams but not in combustion. I tend to think this is a moderate affliction.

The uncommon positives easily outweigh the less impressive negatives. This election is a juggernaut of sexy. Nothing’s gonna stop that lady!

The Powers of Venus

Picatrix describes the natural rulership of Venus in this way:

Venus is the source of the power of flavor. And she rules grammar and the art of measuring sound and song. Among languages she has Arabic; among the internal organs, the right nostril, and among internal organs, those that meet in sexual intercourse and project sperm, and the stomach, and those from which come the virtue and flavor in eating and drinking; among religion, Islam; among clothing, all painted clothing; and of professions, all professions of painting and shaping, selling things that smell good, playing instruments that are good to listen to, singing, dancing and making stringed instruments; among flavors, all sweet things that taste good; and of places, place of vice, places in which men seek healing, and in which men dance, and places of cheerfulness where there is singing and speech, and places of ladies and beautiful women, and also places of eating and drinking; and of precious stones, pearls, and of rocks, lapis lazuli and almartach; and of plants, all plants with a good odor like saffron and arhenda, roses and all flowers with a good odor and smell and are pleasant to look at; among medicines balsam and grains of julep, and those that emit a strong smell, such as nutmeg and amber; among animals, females, camels that are beautiful and all beautiful animals with symmetrical bodies such as gazelles, sheep, gazelles, hares, partridges, calandras and the like. Among small animals, she has those that are colorful and beautiful; among colors, sky blue and gold tending a little to green.

One of the emphases in Picatrix which is often less clear elsewhere is that Venus governs music and song in particular. This is why sometimes on talismanic ymages, Venus is depicted as having the head of a bird, because birds sing.

A similar but perhaps more interesting section appears elsewhere in the text:

Venus is cold and moist, and a fortune. She signifies cleanliness, splendor, preciousness, word games, delight in music, joy, adornments, laughter, pictures, beauty, loveliness, playing music by the voice or stringed instruments; delighting in marriage, desiring spices and things that have good odors; sending dreams; provoking games of chess and dice; desiring to lie with women and to fall in love with them and receiving promises from them; desiring to appear beautiful, loving liberty, magnanimity of heart, and joy. She abhors anger, brawling, vengeance, and lawsuits; she desires to serve the desires and wills of friends concerning the world’s opinion; tends toward false promises; is inclined to cupidity; desires to drink much; incessantly desires much copulation, and of shameful kinds, and to do it in inappropriate places, as women are accustomed to do with one another; delighting in animals and children and in making them good; making things equal; delighting in merchants and living with them and being loved by their women; and that they may be delighted by men. When she is well received, she plays a part in the making of crowns, building stables and working in stone, having sweet speech, disdaining the world and having no fear of it; sustaining people so that neither anger, strife, or discord can be felt by them; it designates a weak heart and a weak will in lawsuits and combat, and signifies desire for all beautiful combinations of things which may be in conformity with the will; making colors and laboring diligently in skills involving them; selling merchandise, spices, and prayers; those who observe the religious law; and those who adhere to sciences and philosophies of forbidden kinds.

One of the differences in the latter section is that it includes several negative attributes, or attributes which we today might considered not complimentary. This is at least partially because this is a description of Venus in general, and not solely when she is essentially dignified; the state which is a common requirement for the production of her talismans.

However, there is a distinction made between what a celestial hierarchy governs and what it is most suited for in talismans and petitions.

Picatrix on Venus Talismans

Picatrix gives a fairly wide range of recipes for Venus talismans, including one to make the wearer well-liked by all, one to be always cheerful and happy (basically magical Prozac), one which cures venomous snake bites, one to seduce young men, one which provides immunity from harm, one for general luck and profit, one to drive away mice, one to drive away flies, one to drive away leeches, one to attract the love of women, one to cure children of boils, and one to cure all stomach ailments; and that’s just in Book II chapter 10!

What we can derive from this is that Venus is one of the most versatile of planets, capable of bringing many of the pleasures of life and relieving many of the dangers and annoyances. Venus is always about pleasures and comforts. The only reason why she’s deemed the Lesser Benefic is that the Platonists tended toward Stoicism and favored intellectual joys over the worldly ones.

One of the reasons why we have so many recipes for Venus configurations is that they do help focus the power on particular goals, to the diminishment of other powers. But Picatrix does say that if one must choose between a generalized power or a particular power, the former is better. It can be used for many more things, and improve life overall. This is why in the end I used a talismanic design inspired more by Cornelius Agrippa’s work than that of Picatrix, though there is clear influence from the latter.

Picatrix says in Book III:7:

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.

I would identify these as the main properties of generalized Venus talismans, as well as guidelines for the optimal requests in Venus petitions.

Design of the Rings of Seduction

When indecisive about what to put on a talisman I often inquire with tarot.

Sometimes the size and shape of the material limit the choices, and sometimes time restricts options when you’re creating several talismans in a narrow electional window.

Since this project was a series of rings in varying band sizes and gemstone sizes, it would be necessary to use sigils for the smallest only because it is hard to engrave elaborate tableaus on a small cabochon.

There also needs to be enough time during the full electional window to recite at least an abbreviated petitional text, engrave, suffumigate repeatedly, and affix the herbs with glue on all talismans before the time window ends.

The gemstone chosen was carnelian. One of the more unexpected Venereal stones, the gem looks a little like raw meat and even the name is suggestive of carnality and carnivorous; it is not surprising that it is co-ruled by Mars. The band was gold wire wound around a core of gold-filled wire to strengthen it. Gold and bronze are both suitable metals for Venus.

The herbs under the ring were thyme and vervain—both Venereal. Thyme is a love herb, and vervain has associations with bewitchment and in particular the power of fascination.

All in all, it’s a material expression of sexual desire in the language of herbs and stones.

The suffumigation was storax. I almost went with balsam, which is also a good choice. I used that in another recent election. I really do love the sexy scent of storax. (I get mine from Alchemy Works .)

The ymage was as depicted; the sigil of the Intelligence of Venus, Hagiel, at the center. Below was the word Venus, and at the top was the Venus sigil variant from the Arabic Picatrix (the Ouroboros Press version). The Latin Picatrix sigil is taller and the triangle is smaller, but is otherwise the same. I like it because it’s a little mysterious and weird, and not recognizable to people who haven’t studied SIM.

The planetary Intelligence is often used in tandem with a planetary Spirit. Unfortunately, there is some ambiguity whether planetary Spirits are simply lower order daimones, or actual evil demons. Agrippa is a bit confusing on the matter. In any case, I do not work with demonic beings for any reason, and my Venus talismans seem to work fantastically without the sigil of Kedemel (the Venereal planetary Spirit).

I believe that the planetary Intelligences are a class of beings not from the planetary spheres, but who control the affairs of those realms from afar in the uppermost cosmic sphere (either the 9th or 10th, depending on the model you use). This gives them lofty power, but will behave in a somewhat fickle and arbitrary manner at times, because they are quite alien and godlike. There are many interesting things to be learned about them when you compare what Agrippa writes and their origins in the work of Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite. If I am correct, planetary Intelligences are supercelestial and thus they can magnify the power of any elections which fall under their governance.

venus_carnelian

Seven rings were created, one of which has already been delivered to a client. I will surely keep at least a couple for myself. This was a great project to work on.

The Rings of the Diplomat

sirius

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

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

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

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

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

And elsewhere:

sirius

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

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

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

–The Confessio Amantis of John Gower

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

To clarify this, talismans of Sirius:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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