Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Helios

As I mentioned last time in that post detailing a list of neat shit I found for use in my own magic, there’s one particular ritual that I hadn’t used before or included in my original enchiridion, but that I thought would be worth it to include.  This is a ritual from the Greek Magical Papyri, that awesome Dead Sea Scrolls collection of magic, and specifically comes from PGM IV.1596—1715, under the title This is the consecration for all purposes; Spell to Helios.  It’s a somewhat lengthy incantation, and doesn’t provide any ritual instructions nor does it seem immediately connected to any other ritual found close to it in the PGM, but it’s a fascinating method of consecration of a charm, stone, ring, phylactery, or other object for power under Helios, the sun god of the Greeks.

However, it being the PGM, its’s not that straightforward.  Besides the usual barbarous words of power, this ritual has several fascinating aspects to it.  For one, the ritual associates Helios with the Αγαθος Δαιμον, the Good Spirit or Genius, with heavy references to a Serpent God and even an explicit one to Serapis, none of which is too surprising given the PGM context in which we find this ritual.  More fascinating than this, however, this ritual has Helios with twelve forms and twelve names, each form and name for each of the twelve hours of the day.  This is much like the names of the hours of the Heptameron, and has corollaries to the names of angels from the Key of Solomon; however, the practice of giving names and gods to the individual hours of the day is old and definitely has its origins in ancient Egyptian practice.  There is another ritual, PGM III.494, which provides a partial list of the gods of the hours, but it’s incomplete, making PGM IV.1596 the only complete one in the text.  For reference, the names (in Greek along with their isopsephic values) and forms of Helios in the twelve hours are listed below, along with the hieroglyph for each animal (as close as I can ascertain, for reasons which will soon become clear):

Hour Name Animal
1 ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ
1159
Cat Hieroglyph for "Cat"
2 ΣΟΥΦΙ
1180
Dog Hieroglyph for "Dog"
3 ΑΜΕΚΡΑΝΕΒΕΧΕΟ ΘΩΥΘ
2122
Serpent Hieroglyph for "Snake"
4 ΣΕΝΘΕΝΙΨ
1029
Scarab Hieroglyph for "Dung beetle"
5 ΕΝΦΑΝΧΟΥΦ
2176
Donkey Hieroglyph for "Donkey"
6 ΒΑΙ ΣΟΛΒΑΙ
326
Lion Hieroglyph for "Lion"
7 ΟΥΜΕΣΘΩΘ
1533
Goat Hieroglyph for "Ibex"
8 ΔΙΑΤΙΦΗ
833
Bull Hieroglyph for "Bull"
9 ΦΗΟΥΣ ΦΩΟΥΘ
2957
Falcon Hieroglyph for "Falcon"
10 ΒΕΣΒΥΚΙ
639
Baboon Hieroglyph for "Sacred baboon"
11 ΜΟΥ ΡΩΦ
1910
Ibis Hieroglyph for "Crested ibis"
12 ΑΕΡΘΟΗ
193
Crocodile Hieroglyph for "Crocodile"

There’s a small bit written about the forms of the Helios, mostly in German, and I don’t propose to get into it too deeply here.  However, I did mention above that there is another list of names and forms of the Sun through the hours earlier in the PGM, but it’s incomplete; Stephen Flowers in his Hermetic Magic attempts a reconstruction, but…well, suffice to say that I’m not particularly sanguine about his work.  Mind you, this is focusing on the twelve hours of the day, since Helios (in the Egyptian reckoning) dies and goes into the underworld during the nighttime.  Some of the faces of Helios have small descriptions appended to them, such as that of the ninth face ΦΗΟΥΣ ΦΩΟΥΘ as “the lotus emerged from the abyss”, of which the lotus is a traditional throne of Harpokrates, also known as Horus, given the animal form of a falcon.  It might be that the Sun was thought of by the author as an ultimate, monistic god that took on multiple forms, especially given his laudation of the Sun as “the great Serpent, leader of all the gods, who control the beginning of Egypt and the end of the whole inhabited world” and other praises.  Other notably Egyptian names can be found amidst the other barbarous words in this ritual.

Now, while the ritual as given in the PGM is well-preserved, there are two main issues, as I see it.  For one, each one of the twelve hours has an associated benediction for the phylactery or charm to be consecrated except for the tenth and twelfth hours; Betz notes that it’s likely a copyist omission that left out the consecration for the these hours.  Moreover, the bigger issue we have is that we don’t know exactly how to employ the ritual, as no framework for the ritual was given.  To that end, here are some of my thoughts on setting up such a ritual employing this consecration:

  • When it comes to timing, I think it’d be good for us modern Hermetic magi to stick to a time powerful for the Sun, such as during a day and hour of the Sun, during a good astrological election of the Sun, or using the day when the Sun hits his exaltation at 18° Aries (which, barring unusual circumstances, only happens once a year sometime around April 7).  As this is a consecration, choosing a day when the Moon is waxing or full would be preferred.  The wording of the text suggests that the Sun, at the time of uttering the spell, has already set, meaning that the ritual would have been done at nighttime, leading to a peculiar necromantic-solar vibe.  However, there’s room for fleshing this out, and I think doing it in the daytime could be done just as well.
  • No offerings are mentioned, but strong red wine would be a safe bet.
  • Ritual setup could involve six candles (six being the Qabbalistic number of the Sun), but I think it’d be better to have twelve candles, one each for the twelve faces of Helios.  Alternatively, oil lamps would work equally well.
  • Frankincense would be an obvious choice for a suffumigation, but if you wanted to go fancier, you could make a more complicated and delectable solar blend.  If you wanted to go old-school, perhaps kyphi would also work.
  • The usual solar decorations of gold, yellow, bay laurel, and the like would be nice, perhaps substituting the number 6 for 12 (such as using a duodecadon or a double hexagon instead of a single hexagon).
  • Even though the ritual text lacks benedictions for the tenth and twelfth hours, it’s not terribly hard to fill in the blanks with related ones.

So, with all that in mind, here’s what I have planned for the full ritual of the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of .  For the full ritual, it will take place over the course of a full day from the moment of sunrise to the moment of sunset, with thirteen total invocations to be done, but later on I’ll also describe a one-fell-swoop approach to doing the whole ritual.

Preparation
Prepare the following supplies:

  • Thirteen white, ivory, yellow, or gold candles that burn for at least 12 hours, or thirteen clean oil lamps that have not been painted red filled with enough oil to burn for at least 12 hours
  • A bottle of red wine
  • Twelve small cups and one large bowl, if the ritual is done inside
  • Non-red (preferably white or yellow) chalk, paint, or ink, if the ritual is done inside and/or upon some sort of writable ground or surface
  • Incense, either purely of frankincense or compounded of equal parts frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, and cinnamon
  • Oil, either pure olive oil or some sort of blessing/magical oil
  • An object to be consecrated, henceforth known as the “charm” (but change the word in the instructions and ritual text as necessary to “ring”, “phylactery”, &c.)

The ritual will take place at thirteen different points in time throughout the same day: at the first hour of the day (moment of sunrise), at the second, third…twelfth, and at the thirteenth hour of the day (moment of sunset).  Be sure to calculate these specific times for the ritual in the same way as you’d calculate planetary hours, focusing only on the diurnal hours plus the first nocturnal hour (sunset).  One is to strictly fast from all food, all drinks except water, all sexual activity, and all impurity from the moment the ritual begins until it is concluded after sunset.

Prepare the ritual area:

  1. Clean, purify, and banish the ritual area from all impurity before setting anything up.  Using natron as a purifying agent is suggested, but not required.
  2. Arrange twelve of the candles in a large semicircle, so that the open side faces the north. The twelve candles may be spaced so that the first candle is oriented due east and the last candle due west, or they may be spaced so that the first candle is oriented towards the exact direction of sunrise and the last candle towards the exact direction of the Sun’s position in its twelfth hour of the day.
  3. If done inside or in such an area as to permit a writable surface, write out the name of the twelve faces of Helios between the object to be consecrated and each of the candles, so that ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ is written between the object and towards the easternmost candle, ΣΟΥΦΙ towards the next one just to the south, and so forth.  If space is tight, use the isopsephic value of each name instead, written either in Arabic or Greek numerals.  Outside the semicircle beside each candle, write the Egyptian hieroglyph for the animal associated with that candle’s hour and name.  Additionally, write the hieroglyph for the Sun in the focal point of the semicircle.
    Hieroglyph for "Sun"
  4. If the ritual is done inside, place the bowl at the focal point of the semicircle, then put the charm inside the bowl.  If outside, place the charm at the focal point on the ground.
  5. If the ritual is done inside, set a small cup just beyond each candle (either on or beyond the hieroglyph if on a writable surface).
  6. Place the censer for the incense behind the focal point, a little bit away from the charm towards the north.
  7. If desired, write the names of the four guardians of the directions ΕΡΒΗΘ to the east, ΛΕΡΘΕΞΑΝΑΞ to the south, ΑΒΛΑΝΑΘΑΝΑΛΒΑ to the west, and ΣΕΣΕΓΓΕΝΒΑΡΦΑΡΑΓΓΗΣ to the north around the whole ritual area.  I’ve found these names of power to represent the entities guarding the stations of the Sun as he progresses through the heavens and hells, but it’s optional.  Likewise, if desired and if space permits, you may also want to “close off” the area by drawing a second semicircle to the north so as to make a more-or-less complete circle.

The resulting layout for the ritual, assuming we use the due-east/due-west orientation of the candles with all the extra things and large enough to walk within, would look like this:

Daytime Consecration to the 12 Faces of Helios Arrangement

Ritual
Before sunrise on the day of the ritual, prepare the temple space so that it is clean, banished, and prepared accordingly. Just before sunrise, invoke the four guardians of the directions, if desired, or other watchtower-type entities. At sunrise, the ritual fast and actions begin; light the thirteenth candle (henceforth referred to as the Sun candle) that has not been set out in the semicircle.  Light the incense, then take the Sun candle in in the left hand, salute the rising Sun with the right, and begin the preliminary invocation (state your name or whoever’s the beneficiary of the charm wherever “NN.” is used):

I invoke you, the greatest god, eternal lord, world ruler, I who are over the world and under the world, mighty ruler of the sea, rising at dawn, shining from the east for the whole world, setting in the west. Come to me, you who rises from the four winds, joyous Agathos Daimon, for whom heaven has become the processional way. I call upon your holy and great and hidden names which you rejoice to hear.  The earth flourished when you shone forth; the plants became fruitful when you laughed; the animals begat their young when you permitted.  Give glory and honor and favor and fortune and power to this charm which I consecrate today for NN.

I invoke you, the greatest in heaven, ΗΙ ΛΑΝΧΥΧ ΑΚΑΡΗΝ ΒΑΛ ΜΙΣΘΡΗΝ ΜΑΡΤΑ ΜΑΘΑΘ ΛΑΙΛΑΜ ΜΟΥΣΟΥΘΙ ΣΙΕΘΩ ΒΑΘΑΒΑΘΙ ΙΑΤΜΩΝ ΑΛΕΙ ΙΑΒΑΘ ΑΒΑΩΘ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΑΔΩΝΑΙ, the great god, ΟΡΣΕΝΟΦΡΗ ΟΡΓΕΑΤΗΣ ΤΟΘΟΡΝΑΤΗΣΑ ΚΡΙΘΙ ΒΙΩΘΙ ΙΑΔΜΩ ΙΑΤΜΩΜΙ ΜΕΘΙΗΙ ΛΟΝΧΟΩ ΑΚΑΡΗ ΒΑΛ ΜΙΝΘΡΗ ΒΑΝΕ ΒΑΙΝΧΧΥΧΧ ΟΥΦΡΙ ΝΟΘΕΟΥΣΙ ΘΡΑΙ ΑΡΣΙΟΥΘ ΕΡΩΝΕΡΘΕΡ, the shining Helios, giving light throughout the whole world.  You are the great Serpent, leader of all the gods, who control the beginning of Egypt and the end of the whole inhabited world, who mate in the ocean, ΨΟΙ ΦΝΟΥΘΙ ΝΙΝΘΗΡ.  You are he who becomes visible each day and sets in the northwest of heaven, and rises in the southeast.

Proceed to the first candle in the semicircle and light it with the Sun candle; if the circle is large enough to walk in, stand on top of the name of the face for the first hour and face the candle, but otherwise stand behind the charm towards the north and facing the candle of the first hour. Say the invocation of the first hour while saluting the first candle with the right hand:

In the first hour you have the form of a cat; your name is ΦΑΡΑΚΟΥΝΗΘ. Give glory and favor to this charm.

Pour out an offering of wine, either directly on the ground on top of the hieroglyph (if outside) or in its proper cup (if inside). Follow this with the following supplication:

You who will set at evening as an old man, who are over the world and under the world, mighty ruler of the sea, hear my voice in this present day, in these holy hours, and let all things done by this charm be brought to fulfillment, and especially for the need for which I consecrate it, for the sake of NN.

Set the Sun candle down by or on top of the charm. The ritual for the first hour is complete.

At each of the successive hours of the day through the twelfth hour, repeat the process by lighting more incense, taking up the Sun candle, and proceeding to go through each invocation for each of the hour, saluting each candle, until you reach the proper candle for the appropriate hour, where you’ll light that hour’s candle, recite the invocation to that hour while saluting the candle, pour out wine for that hour, and finish with the final supplication before putting the Sun candle down by the charm. The rest of the hour invocations are (supplemented with my own additions for the tenth and twelfth hours):

  1. In the second hour you have the form of a dog; your name is ΣΟΥΦΙ.  Give strength and honor to this charm and to NN.
  2. In the third hour you have the form of a serpent; your name is ΑΜΕΚΡΑΝΕΒΕΧΕΟ ΘΩΥΘ.  Give honor to the god NN.
  3. In the fourth hour you have the form of a scarab; your name is ΣΕΝΘΕΝΙΨ.  Mightily strengthen this charm for that which it is consecrated.
  4. In the fifth hour you have the form of a donkey; your name is ΕΝΦΑΝΧΟΥΦ.  Give strength and courage and power to the god NN.
  5. In the sixth hour you have the form of a lion; your name is ΒΑΙ ΣΟΛΒΑΙ, the ruler of time.  Give success to this charm and glorious victory.
  6. In the seventh hour you have the form of a goat; your name is ΟΥΜΕΣΘΩΘ.  Give sexual charm to this charm.
  7. In the eighth hour you have the form of a bull; your name is ΔΙΑΤΙΦΗ, who becomes visible everywhere.  Let all things done by the use of this charm be accomplished.
  8. In the ninth hour you have the form of a falcon; your name is ΦΗΟΥΣ ΦΩΟΥΘ, the lotus emerged from the abyss.  Give success and good luck to this charm.
  9. In the tenth hour you have the form of a baboon; your name is ΒΕΣΒΥΚΙ.  Give power and wisdom in all things to the god NN. for whom this charm is consecrated.
  10. In the eleventh hour you have the form of an ibis; your name is ΜΟΥ ΡΩΦ.  Protect this great charm for lucky use by NN. from this present day for all time.
  11. In the twelfth hour you have the form of a crocodile; your name is ΑΕΡΘΟΗ.  Give the greatest protection to NN. by this charm.

At sunset, go through the entire ritual once more, burning more incense and invoking and saluting each of the hours as before.  Regardless of whether the circle is large enough to walk through, stand behind the censer facing south towards the candles, and hold the charm in the incense smoke throughout the entire set of invocations.  After this, continuing to hold the charm in the incense smoke, recite the following prayer:

You who have set at evening as an old man, who are over the world and under the world, mighty ruler of the sea, hear my voice in this night, in these holy hours, and let all things done by this charm be brought to fulfillment, and especially for the need for which I consecrate it, for the sake of NN.  Please, lord ΚΜΗΦ ΛΟΥΘΕΟΥΘ ΟΡΦΟΙΧΕ ΟΡΤΙΛΙΒΕΧΟΥΧ ΙΕΡΧΕ ΡΟΥΜ ΙΠΕΡΙΤΑΩ ΥΑΙ, I conjure earth and heaven and light and darkness and the great god who created all, ΣΑΡΟΥΣΙΝ, you, Agathon Daimonion the Helper, to accomplish for NN. everything done by the use of this charm.

Put the charm back down in the focal point of the semicircle, either on the ground (if outside) or inside the bowl (if inside).  Pour out a new offering of wine on top of the charm. Set the candle by or on top of the charm.  Face north with the candles to your back.  With arms outstretched, say the concluding formula:

The one Zeus is Serapis.

The ritual is complete, and the ritual fast may now be broken.  Let all the candles burn out on their own, and at the first sunrise after all the candles have burned out. If done inside, take the bowl with the wine and the charm, remove the charm from the bowl and set it on the ground facing the Sun, and pour out the wine on top of the charm while facing the Sun. Whether done inside or outside, once the charm can be removed from the ritual area, gently clean off the charm with pure water and let it dry in the Sun’s light after anointing it with oil.  Keep the charm nearby whenever you need its power or whenever you need to use it.

Nighttime Simultaneous Ritual
An alternative method of employing the ritual is, instead of progressively building up to the full consecration throughout the twelve hours of the day, is to do it all at once at night.  For this, the general ritual setup would be similar with the fast starting at the sunset before the ritual and ending at sunrise after the ritual, but the ritual is to be done precisely at solar midnight, the balance-point between sunset of the previous day and sunrise of the next (which, especially if you’re on summer time/DST, may closer to 1 a.m. instead of 12 a.m.).  In addition, the candles may last any length of time; I’d recommend twelve tealights and a single taper candle.  Perform any banishing or invocation as desired and set up the ritual space, but instead of using the semicircular arrangement as above, use a circular arrangement with the first face oriented to the east; the censer should be put off to the side somewhere, with the twelve candles surrounding the charm.

Nighttime Consecration to the 12 Faces of Helios Arrangement

At true midnight, light the incense and light the Sun candle, and begin the preliminary invocation.  For each of the twelve faces of Helios in order, light its candle, salute, invoke, and pour wine out for the face.  Afterwards, finish with the final supplication (the one involving barbarous words), pouring out of wine on top of the charm, and concluding with the concluding formula.  Let the candles burn out and clean up at sunrise as you otherwise would.

Other Variations
I’ve seen vague references to other magicians employing this ritual for other purposes, not just for the consecration of a charm but for general empowerment or wealth, and this ritual can be modified accordingly merely by tweaking the text for the benedictions of each hour as well as the final supplications.  For a more initiatory ritual, you might use the circular arrangement, even in daytime, with you standing at the center being the thing consecrated, building up after a fast and performing the ritual at least once, if not at nighttime then multiple times throughout the day.

Miscellaneous Magical Methods

So, I’ve finally done it.  After noticing that my enchiridion, my personal handbook for ritual and prayer in my personal Work, was filled to the brim after four years of heavy use (not to mention beginning to fall apart), I went ahead and ordered another Moleskine of the same size and type, and proceeded to copy down everything of worth from my old enchiridion to the new.  As I’m writing this, the new one is comfortably snuggled into the leather case I have for it, while the old one is sitting calmly on my desk as I decide how to properly decommission it.  It has dog-eared pages and highlighter marks throughout now, and while it was never formally consecrated as a tool of the Art, it’s been with me through thick and thin and has picked up a bit of resonance on its own.  I’ll figure that out in the near future and, if it’s worth it, I’ll transfer the magical oomph from the old book to the new and keep the old in storage.

Going through the old enchiridion to see what was salvageable or worthy of being copied over was only part of the task, however, and I went back and forth on a lot of things before deciding one way or the other.  One significant part of this two-week effort of constant writing also involved a bit of planning and organization, because one of the big problems with the old enchiridion was that it wasted a lot of space; I’d use full pages for any particular single entry, which in some cases took up only a few lines on a single page.  I condensed a lot of the prayers and rituals so that I have two or even three entries per page, based on how related the entries were to each other, which saves plenty of space for further entries.  Another problem I had was that, since I was just adding entries to the enchiridion as I came across or needed them, it became increasingly chaotic and disorganized, and flipping back and forth to find related prayers scattered across the book was cause for embarrassment on occasion.  Now that I had an idea of the things I was copying over, I could at least impose some sort of organization in the entries that were being copied over wholesale.  I’ll have this problem again, surely, as I enter new things into my new enchiridion, but it won’t be as much a problem.

To that end, the new organization scheme looks like this:

  • Symbols, scripts, seals, sigils, schemata, and other mystical diagrams such as the Kircher Tree, Mathetic Tetractys, and the Orthodox Megaloschema
  • Prayers of Hermeticism (primarily from the Corpus Hermeticum, Nag Hammadi texts, and PGM)
  • Prayers of pagan traditions (Homeric and Orphic Hymns to the planetary and other Hellenic gods, a few other prayers from Babylonian and other traditions)
  • Prayers of Christianity
  • Prayers to Mary, Mother of God
  • Prayers to the seven archangels
  • Prayers to Saint Cyprian of Antioch
  • Prayers to other saints, e.g. the Prophet Samuel, Saint Expedite, Three Kings
  • Prayers of Judaism
  • Other religious entries, e.g. the Prajñāpāramitā Sutra
  • Offering prayers
  • Arbatel conjuration
  • Conjurations employing the Trithemian Rite
  • Other consecrations and rituals for use in conjuration and ceremonial magic
  • Picatrix invocations and orisons of the planets
  • Rituals from the Greek Magical Papyri and Demotic Magical Papyri, as well as associated ancient Coptic spells and prayers
  • Other prayers and rituals that do not otherwise belong to one of the aforementioned groups

As a bonus, it seems like my handwriting has much improved since my first entries.  It’s tighter, smaller, clearer, and more compact, even without my personal shorthand.  I use normal Roman (or Greek or Hebrew or Chinese, depending on the entry in question) script for parts to be spoken aloud, and my shorthand for ritual instructions or clarifications, but it’s nice to see that my penmanship has improved at least a little bit.  It’s far from elegant, but then, it doesn’t need to be for this.

Going through all these prayers, whether I copied them from the old enchiridion to the new or not, was honestly a pleasure and a good exercise.  In some cases, it was taking a stroll down memory lane: while copying the Trithemian Rite of conjuration, for instance, I was teleported back to the summer of 2011 when I was first copying it down into the book, and recalled what it was like to memorize the ritual line by line in the humid heat at the train station in DC.  In other cases, I had signs indicating that it was high time to put these prayers to use again; smells of frankincense and other incenses were palpably present, even though I was in my government office copying them at the time without any source that could possibly originate them, including the book itself.  Other pages, on the other hand, smelled richly of musk and oils that…honestly shouldn’t be coming from them, and gave me a charge when I was copying down the words.

I figured that, now that I know what’s in the book and what’s not, I’d like to share with you guys some of the more outstanding or remarkable things I’ve put in my enchiridion, just to give you a taste of some of the things I work with or plan to over time.  This is far from a complete list, and some of the entries are original compositions while others are 2000 years old.  Here’s what I think is nifty:

  • Several prayers to the Aiōn taken from the PGM.  There are several of these, and I’ve copied them down in the linked post of mine before, but the one from PGM IV.1115 is particularly fun to practice.
  • There’s one particular prayer known as The Secret Hymnody from Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum.  It’s especially useful in preparing oneself for contemplative prayer or singing the Hymns of Silence, in my experience.
  • It’s short and easy to memorize, but I found it good to preserve a quote from the Stoic philosopher Euripides.  It’s a short poem attributed to Cleanthes emphasizing willingness to follow God and Fate in order to lead a good life.
  • The Diviner’s Prayer to the Gods of Night is an old Babylonian incantation used by a diviner to ascertain the fortunes of the world when all the normal gods of divination and prophecy are shut in.  Not only does it feel vaguely subversive, trying to get knowledge in the dark when it’s otherwise unobtainable, but it’s a beautiful bit of writing that’s been preserved for thousands of years.
  • Phos Hilaron, or Hail Gladsome Light, is an ancient Christian hymn composed in Greek and still used in churches across the world.  It’s commonly sung at sunset, and is easily one of my most favorite Christian prayers.  The melody for it used in Orthodox monasteries is a bitch for me to get used to, but it’s composed according to a mode I’m not used to anyway.
  • I’ve taken the invocations said to the four corners of the world used on Thursday and Saturday from the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano and used it as a preliminary prayer before commencing a magical ritual to great effect.  It’s used in the Heptameron as a replacement for invoking the angels of the four corners of the worlds since, according to the text, “there are no Angels of the Air to be found above the fifth heaven”, but I find it a useful prayer all the same.
  • The Lorica of Saint Patrick is a fucking badass Christian prayer for protection that smacks of all the good qualities of a magic spell, if ever I’ve seen one.  Loricae, literally “armor”, are prayers recited for protection and safety in the Christian monastic tradition, such as those engraved on actual armor and shields of knights before they go off to battle.  This particular prayer is lengthy, but hot damn has it got some oomph.
  • The Seven Bow Beginning is an Orthodox Christian way of beginning any session or rule of prayer, and it’s short and to the point, combining short invocations for mercy and a quick physical motion to focus the mind and body together.
  • Also from the Orthodox Christian tradition come the songs of troparia and kontakia, short one-stanza hymns chanted to one of the eight tones used in the Eastern liturgical tradition.  Phos Hilaron qualifies as one such troparion, but the Orthodox Church has them for all kinds of holy persons, such as the archangels, Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and the Prophet Samuel (my own namesake).
  • One of my own prayer rules is the Chaplet to Saint Sealtiel the Archangel, one of the archangels in the Orthodox tradition whose name means “Prayer of God” and sometimes spelled Selaphiel.  It’s a long-winded chaplet for only being a niner, technically, but it’s absolutely worth it to focus on one’s prayer habits.
  • Similarly, the Litany of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus is another of my personal writings based on my Chaplet of Saint Cyprian.  Both are good for exploring your connection to the good patron of occultists and necromancers, but the litany is good for public recitation and focusing on the trinity of the Cyprianic story.
  • Yes, it’s a common Christmas carol, but We Three Kings is a good one for getting in touch with the Three Wise Men, who are saints in their own right for being the first Gentiles to worship Jesus Christ, not to mention hero-ancestors of magicians from all traditions and origins.
  • The Prajñāpāramitā Sutra, also known as the Heart Sutra (shortened from the English translation of Prajñāpāramitā, “Heart/Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom”), is a favorite text of mine coming from my Buddhist days and affinity for the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.  I prefer the Japanese version for its rhythm and ease of pronunciation, but the text is essentially the same in most Sinitic or Sinosphere languages, as well as the classical Sanskrit or Tibetan versions.  Yes, there is a longer one, but the shorter one can be memorized, and usually is for daily recital.
  • Two prayers that I hadn’t written down but which I composed and shared on this blog are my Prayer of Anointing (used when anointing oneself with holy, consecrated or ritual oil) and the Prayer of the Ring (used when donning the Ring of Solomon or other magical talismanic ring).  I had them memorized for the longest time, but I forgot all about them during my recent hiatus.
  • Perhaps several years after I should have, I sat down with the Clavicula Solomonis, also known as the Key of Solomon, and went through and copied in all the consecration rituals, and seeing how they piece and fit themselves into the work as a whole.  I had never actually taken the time to fully construct a strictly Clavicula-based ritual, and while I’ve used the consecration of tools to great effect before, I’ve never done a Clavicula conjuration.  It’s…intense, and quite the arduous but worthy process.
  • The Picatrix invocations of the planets, taken from Book III, chapter 7, are verbal gold for magical rituals of the seven planets.  They’re a little long-winded, but absolutely worth the time to recite word-by-word.  Additionally, what I’ve termed the Orisons of the Planets given in the caboose of the text in Book IV, chapter 9, function excellent as Western “mantras” to invoke the spirit and spirits of the planets.
  • The Consecration to Helios of a Phylactery, taken from PGM IV.1596, is a lengthy but powerful consecration “for all purposes” of a stone, phylactery, ring, or other object under the twelve forms of the Sun throughout the twelve hours of the day.  It’s something I plan to experiment with in the near future and document my results, but it seems like an excellent thing to try on a day of the Sun with the Moon waxing.

Those are some of the cooler things I have in my handbook.  Dear reader, if you feel up to sharing, what do you have in yours that you think is cool or among your favorites to use?

Geomancy and Quintessence

I didn’t think I’d ever have to write a post on this particular topic, as I thought it was so obvious as to go without explanation.  However, as usual, the good people of the Internet have proved me wrong, and I’ve noticed a trend in my search hits that have prompted this post.  Uncharacteristically, it’ll be a short post, since there’s really not much to explain, but here goes:

The system of geomancy is incompatible with the notion of a fifth element, also called the quintessence or the force of Spirit.

That’s all.

It’s evident from the get-go that geomancy uses and relies on the four classical elements of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth.  The structure of the geomantic figures themselves lend themselves well to this: a geomantic figure has four rows of either one or two dots, each row associated with a particular element, with one dot signifying that element as active or present and two dots signifying that it’s passive or absent.  The binary structure of geomancy, in addition, relies upon the exponentials of two, so 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.  This allows for four elements, not five, as five has no place in this system.  Going further, if you want to bring astrology into this, astrology likewise relies on four, not five, elements, just as it relies on twelve, not thirteen, signs of the Zodiac.  (No, Ophiuchus is not a zodiac sign.  Get over it.)

I’ve seen a trend of Tarot decks that have five suits instead of the traditional four, with the fifth suit dedicated to the force of Spirit.  I’ve also seen people try to incorporate a fifth element into systems that have no room or need for one, and geomancy is one such system.  It does not belong, especially as Spirit is not an element by nearly all forms of Hermetic reckoning, Golden Dawn material and derivatives notwithstanding.

I will certainly agree that Spirit is a force, absolutely, in the same sense that the elements and planets are forces, but I will not go further than that.  Spirit is something that is either or underlying all the other forces, a kind of ideal form of a force, or it is something that is lower than a planetary force and higher than an elemental force, something that separates the Spheres of the Elements from the Spheres of the Planets and Stars.  Yes, one can work with the force of the quintessence directly, although it is a different type of working than an elemental or planetary one, and its effects are realized through other forces that are already present; I’ve found that workings involving pure quintessential force magnify the other forces pertinent to a talisman, conjuration, or the like, but is nothing on its own in isolation from others.  This is a mystery that leads to very divine workings, yes, but in terms of manifestation magic or most Hermetic workings, Spirit isn’t a thing.  It’s not mentioned in Solomonic writings or the PGM or any number of other texts, including astrological and geomantic ones, because it’s not a thing like the other forces.

Okay, ending my curmudgeonly rant for the day.  Carry on.

Offerings and Work

I’ve been reviewing my magical career, especially over the past year and the events that led to my eight-month hiatus from magical praxis.  This introspection and retrospection has been the result of several things: my recent novena to Saint Cyprian, my getting back into the habit of meditation and offerings, and invocations of forces to get back to empowering myself as I’m damn worthy of.  I’m starting to realize something that should probably be said, and would be something that I’d argue with against myself from a year or two ago, and that’s on the topic of offerings itself.

Leading up to my hiatus, I was focused mostly on making offerings to the spirits.  I’d try to make an effort whenever possible, at least daily, in making offerings to the gods or angels or planets of the day, not necessarily as an invocation of their power in my life but just for the sake of honoring the spirits who are in my life.  I mean, that’s one point I won’t argue about: the crucial tenet of spiritual practice in a variety of religions, such as Greek practice, is to honor the gods.  They’re bigger than us, they’re stronger than us, they’re smarter than us, and they’re involved in our lives; it is right and proper to honor the gods.  I won’t argue with that.  However, honor can take many forms, and…honestly, there was a network and infrastructure of temples for a reason.  Household worship was one thing, but devout temple worship quite another, and I think I was easily misled into confusing the two.

Let’s face it: I’m a mortal who enjoys life in this mundane world of ours.  I have a full-time office job with an hour-and-a-half commute one way.  I have obligations to people and organizations in this world.  I have friends, online and offline, I like to spend time with.  I like to eat, sleep, game, and fuck.  I’m human, and that’s entirely expected of, you know, being a human.  I do not claim to be more than that, although I’d like to, and for as long as I’m human, I’m still going to have human needs and desires.  At this stage in my life, I am simply not cut out to live a devout priestly existence, no matter how idealized I hold that noble profession: holding regular sacrifices for the sole sake of honoring the gods is not something I’m able to do.  For those who can do that, awesome!  For those who can’t, awesome!  Whether it’s not the right time, or you don’t have the proper resources, that’s alright; if the gods wanted that of you, they’d provide the means for you to keep up, and if they’re not, then they don’t expect the impossible out of you since it’d come back to bite them in their heavenly asses eventually.

But…I was getting wrapped up in making more offerings than I could manage.  Worse, I was making offerings for the sole sake of making offerings.  It was becoming empty to me, but I felt like I owed it to them.  Yes, I do owe Hermes my thanks and honor for guiding me in commuting and telecommunication and technology; yes, I owe it to Hephaistos for my skill and profitability in crafting; yes, I owe it to Raphael for teaching me spiritual healing techniques.  These are all things that are right to honor the spirits in my life for, but I started focusing on offerings first and Work a distant second.  I was spending more time giving empty praise than praising them for actual needs; my praise and honor was empty because I was doing it for the sole sake of praising the spirits.

The only spirit to whom only praise should be given for the sake of praising it is the One, and that’s completely another matter.  I wasn’t even doing that, and to do that requires a special level of awareness that I maintain in sporadic bursts.  For other spirits…no, I was misled, and I misled myself: I was making offerings to the gods for the sole sake of making offerings to them, not celebrating them properly as is their due.  Giving gifts as a matter of empty ritualized practice is not honor, and I see that now.

It was taking its toll on me.  I was being worn down by giving and giving and giving without expecting or even asking for much in return besides the general “yo, keep an eye out for me”.  While I’m sure they enjoy the attention, they’d probably want also a reason to keep an eye on me besides giving them more of what I could.  I spent more time and energy doing this empty act than I could afford, and once I started slipping, I fell into a cycle of guilt, which led me to put off offerings out of guiltiness from going before them, which led me to put them off even further, which led to more guilt…surely, you know how that goes, dear reader.  It’s like not replying to an email you got from a family member for months, and by the time you feel like you have time to do so, it’s too late for any kind of appropriate response, so you just give up entirely on replying to it.

Part of my burnout was that I was giving too much without asking for anything, or even doing anything with the gifts they gave me in return.  I wasn’t working with what they gave me; I wasn’t Working with my own tools.  Offerings are a tool, a method of bargaining, a way of getting closer to the spirits you work with.  While it’s impossible to truly bargain with the gods, they have much leeway and are willing to see how far you’ll go to get something done, and if that something is the right thing for you to do, they’ll (generally) be happy with even a token payment if you can afford it.  And, while I am always willing to give all that I have if that’s the case, I wasn’t doing anything that really warranted even regular offerings.

Before anything else, I am a magus.  While I may have priestly aspirations in some sense, I am no priest, and I do not have the time or the energy to devote myself to priesthood at this point in time, with the exception of some informal needs and mediation skills between me and a select few spirits.  Trying to priest it up without the time or energy will sap me of both, and that’s one of the reasons I got burnt out.  So what is a magus to do?  By all means, I still plan on making offerings, but this time around, I’m changing things up a bit.

  • Regular offerings are to be kept as token offerings to maintain a connection with the spirit.  Really, repeated prayers and the like are nice, but not needed.
  • Rituals to approach the gods and spirits should still involve offerings; as many magicians of note nowadays are realizing, making offerings is a solid technique to supercharging one’s magic.
  • Whenever a nontrivial expenditure of energy and resources are involved, something has to be done to warrant it.  Whether it’s payment in completion of a vow, opening up a deeper connection for contemplation and communion with the spirit, or tasking a spirit with a specific task, something has to be done to warrant such an offering.

I suppose I was misleading myself in the proper way to honor the gods.  Celebrating them for their mere existence is…well, while it might be right to do in some cases, constantly celebrating them for that is sycophantic and, if I may speak so boldly on behalf of the divine, not exactly proper honor.  Honor is recognizing their power and beauty, yes, but it is also respecting their work and one’s work with them.  Without work done, there’s little to honor there, and there’s correspondingly little point in offering.

Giving and giving without getting anything in return, not even a warm fuzzy feeling…yeah, I see the error of my ways.  While it’s too far in the wrong direction to only give things to the spirits as a bone to dogs, it’s also wrong to give for the sake of giving.  That’s like saying you’re going to hang out with your friend and have a good time with them, only to show up at their doorstep and drop off a gift card to Starbucks before leaving.  I was basically doing the equivalent of that, now that I think about it.

To the gods and spirits I have dishonored by my false honor, I apologize, and to those I may have misled with my bad advice, I apologize.  Let’s see how this new approach works out, shall we?