The Age of Black Magic: Step Fourteen

The Invocation of the Abomination in Crimson:


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

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

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

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

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

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

“So hear my words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Star of supreme misfortune, greatest malefic––

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

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

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

Algol’s appetites are beyond all limitations.

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces @ ConVocation 2015

Secrets of the 36 Zodiacal Faces at ConVocation 2015



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

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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.



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.

Ménage à Talisman

The Power of Three


“When the Moon is rising in this mansion by night, fashion a lamina of gold and inscribe in it the figures of two maidens embracing and the figure of a man before them and over the heads of the two maidens, a crown… and pray by the name [of the lord of the mansion that there be love] between you and your women and your maidens, and also that there love be between them, from one to the other; and so it will be.”

So, apparently there’s an ancient SIM talismanic formula for consummating threesomes.

People do not change.

Note to self: I could probably charge a lot of money for these.

Talisman of Safe Driving

TALISMAN OF SAFE DRIVING: Moon culminating triumphed and fast in the 7th Lunar Mansion, Ascendant Ruler fast and dignified.2017-05-25-seventh

This is a 7th Mansion talismanic election for safe travel, particularly by car.

Picatrix gives the name of the Mansion’s ruler as Siely and alternately as Sehele in the Plinian Mansion section, derived from Ibn Hatim:

The seventh Mansion is Aldira and is for the acquisition of all good things. When the Moon is passing through this Mansion, fashion a seal of silver, and sculpt the image of a man clothed in robes and with his hands extended to heaven in the manner of a man who is praying and supplicating; in the breast of the image write the name of the lord of this Mansion. Suffumigate it with sweet smelling things, and say: “You, Siely, cause such and such to happen, and grant my petition.” Ask for whatever you wish that pertains to good things. Carry the image with you and it will be as you wish. Know that Selehe is the name of the lord of this Mansion.

Picatrix, however, gives more options for the 7th Mansion in the “foundational” Mansion section much earlier in the book.

The seventh mansion is called Aldirah. 25 It begins at 17 degrees 8 minutes and 36 seconds of Gemini and its boundary is the end of that sign. In this Mansion make images to increase merchandise and profit and to travel safely, and to increases crops, and to sail beneficially on the water, and to cause friendship between friends and allies, and to expel flies so that they will not enter where you wish, and to destroy officials, and it is good to go into the presence of the king or other high nobles, and to cause the king and other lords to be benevolent.

So, let’s analyse the election and then go onto the implementation.

This election is mixed. It has great strengths and some weaknesses. I made a judgement call that the former were much greater than the latter, but informed opinions may vary. I did not wish to wait any longer for a good talisman for this purpose.

The Moon is the principal significator in this election, and culminates. The Moon is very fast– which I believes rapidly promotes sensible manifestation and strengthens the effects overall.

The Moon is triumphed; a term I’ve coined for inverse besiegement. Instead of the planet separating from an aspect with a Malefic and applying to the other, this does the same with the Benefics. In besiegement the significator is caught between a rock and a hard place; in a triumphal position, the Benefics behave like strong bodyguards which flank the traveler. The Benefics in this instance are both afflicted– yet their nature does not change and they ensure success. Beseigement remains a dire affliction even when the Malefics are weakened or fortified, and so triumphing is always among the strongest of accidental fortitudes.

Another positive factor is the Ascendant; the lord is Mercury, who recieves a +2 dignification by term or bound, is fast, but is unaspected. The electional window is narrow (about six minutes) because the Ruler of the Sign the Moon is within must never be cadent and I had to wait until Mercury was eight degrees past the cusp of the 8th House boundary for this to take place. According to Picatrix, when the Moon’s Sign Ruler is cadent, the election begins well but ends in failure.

The weaknesses of the election are the the Moon is applying to a conjunction with Mars and an opposition with Saturn after the triumphing ends, and that the Moon is in the same Sign as a Malefic (Mars.) Mars is also on an Angle; the Midheaven. These are normally very serious concerns, but I believe the role of triumphing is to shield the significator (the Moon) from afflictions. If it were the other way around and the Moon were besieged, nobody would put much weight on application to aspects of Benefics after the configuration would end.

As Picatrix says, there are certain configurations which can neutralize the afflictions of the Malefics, such as making them cadent and placing a Benefic on the Ascendant. I believe triumphing is another such.

Is this a perfect election? No. I’ll replace it when I find a better one, but in the meanwhile I think the two talismans I made are safe and strong.

Two large quartz crystal cabochons were selected. They are inexpensive and easy to replace when a better election comes along. Both will be carried in a velvet bag to reduce scratching and impacts.

The main feature of the ymage is what the talisman is supposed to fortunate; a car. Before the headlights is the sigil of Venus and behind it is the sigil of Jupiter. Moon, the cosignificator, is tightly applying to a benevolent aspect of Venus and separating from a benevolent aspect Jupiter. Above the car is the sigil of the Moon and below it is the number 7, signifying the Lunar Mansion. Across the body of the car is the name of the Ruler of the 7th Mansion, SIELY. On the back is an X, which Picatrix advises using when one is uncertain about the ymage of a particular spirit for a talisman. The suffumigation was aloeswood, in very small amounts.

The image below is in different colors for clarity; they were all actually engraved with a diamond tipped stylus and not colorized. I use that here only for readability.


I am mostly including this election here, beyond as a record of my work, but as an excample of how to implement the “foundational” Mansion elections with components of the Plinian/Ibn Hatim material to fill in the gaps.

Gemstones and Metals in Picatrix and SIM


An array of cut and polished gemstones.

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

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

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

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

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


Talismanic Image of Venus based on recipes in Picatrix.

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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