Table of Practice
The Table of Practice is a tool used in conjuring spirits that acts as a permanent summoning circle. The benefit of using a Table of Practice is that one doesn’t need to reconsecrated a particular area every time a conjuration ritual is performed, similar to a permanent Solomonic circle and Triangle of Art, but as an altar or desktop tool, it’s also very portable. Its construction is described in Johannes Trithemius’ Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals:
Let there be engraved a circle round the crystal with these characters around inside the circle next the crystal Afterwards, the name “Tetragrammaton”. On the other side of the plate let there be engraven “Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael”, which are the four principal angels ruling over the Sun, Moon, Venus and Mercury; but on the table on which the crystal stands the following names, characters, &c. must be drawn in order.
First, The names of the seven planets and angels ruling them, with their seals or characters. The names of the four kings of the four corners of the earth. Let them be all written within a double circle, with a triangle on a table; on which place the crystal on its pedestal: this being done, thy table is complete
The setup Trithemius uses requires four tools: a crystal ball, an engraved gold plate to set the crystal in, an ivory pedestal to support the gold plate and crystal on the Table, and the Table of Practice itself. Since I find myself lacking in gold and ebony to throw at projects, I settled for just making the Table of Practice itself, which is how my teacher suggests. Having the whole setup would look similar to this awesome set of tools, over at A Magician’s Workings. Although having the complete setup would probably be more suggested, a basic Table of Practice and crystal set atop it works fine for me.
The first thing to create the Table of Practice was to understand the design. Trithemius isn’t too clear on what the Table proper should actually look like, though he does say that the names, names of the angels, seals, and characters of the seven planets and the names of the four kings of the elements are needed in a double circle, with a triangle in the middle with those three symbols in each corner: a Star of David with a yod inside, a pentagram, and something like a Maltese or Iron cross (interpretations abound for what these symbols might mean). Based on that and my teacher’s instructions, as well as some inspiration from this post at MyOccultCircle and this image, I came up with the following design:
It’s got the names of the planetary angels on the outside written in Celestial with the appropriate planetary symbol on the outer ring, the names of the four angelic elemental kings on the inner ring, and then the central triangle. I ended up using Adobe Illustrator for this since I was failing at freehanding the text and symbols appropriately, even dividing out all the space radially for each letter and symbol. Ah well. The original design had the name TETRAGRAMMATON inscribed in a circle around the triangle, but I decided to scrap that since it was too much work and added more clutter to the Table.
Eventually, I got my needed supplies from a Michaels: an 8″ circular wood plaque, a woodburning kit, wood stain, wood finish, brushes, tracing paper, and fine-grit sandpaper. Since I was living alone at this point, I appropriated the living room and coffee table for this project. After getting everything together, it was just a process of tracing the design onto the wood, woodburning in the symbols, sanding down the wood to get it smooth enough for staining, applying stain, letting dry, sanding, repeating the staining, then applying finish, letting dry, sanding, and another layer of finish.
With all that done, the Table of Practice was complete and ready for use. All in all, the project took about three days: one for planning the design and getting it traced and burned onto the wooden plaque, one day to do the staining (three coats at six hours apart), and one day to do the finishing (two coats at eight hours apart). Looking at the completed project, I can see much room for improvement, but no major errors were made and I’m pleased with the result. Besides, this was my first woodburning project ever, so for a beginner’s level, this isn’t too shabby. The spirits I’ve been working with don’t seem to mind, at any rate.
I haven’t found a consecration ritual for the Table of Practice, though, so I made up a quick little thing where I sprinkled holy water on it, suffumigated it in incense, and said a brief prayer asking that it be cleansed, purified, and sanctified to every purpose to which I’ll use it.