Update on Ritual Tools: Crystal Ball and Lamen

So, despite that I’ve had this fancy Table of Practice for almost a month, it’s only been sitting on my shelf gathering dust. To use the Table to summon and communicate with spirits and angels, I also need some sort of scrying medium like a crystal ball (as Trithemius suggests), scrying mirror, or something along those lines. I could have used a small quartz crystal I’ve had lying around, but I wanted something bigger, more substantial. After thinking about my budget for a bit, I went ahead and splurged on a 2 1/2″ quartz crystal ball. It just got in the mail, and I’m pleased to show it off. (More photos at my Flikr photo set if you’re interested.)

Of course, as these things go, I’ve got a few more things to get or create. Trithemius also says to use an incense burner/tripod, which Frater RO does away with for summoning some spirits but not others; I’ll keep this on my wish list for now, along with a fine selection of resins and wood chips. For now, my normal incense holder and some sticks will work fine. The Wand I already have, and have been using for banishing in the meanwhile.

Another part of this whole summoning spirits business is the use of a lamen. It’s another kind of magic circle that is inscribed names of God, a Star of David, some number of pentagrams, and the names and symbols of what you’re summoning. It’s used to clearly mark what spirit you’re summoning and to call it to the crystal for a chat. Because Illustrator makes things pretty and easy, here’s an example of such a lamen (specifically, that of Raphael):

My design is based off Trithemius’, and it has all the same symbols on it. However, I made some changes to the design because the original didn’t have a proper feel or something. Specifically, I changed the spelling and spacing of some of the holy names (ESCHERCHIE became ESHEREHIE, wrapped the names completely around the circle, etc.), spelled the name of the spirit in Celestial instead of Hebrew, did away with the spirit’s name in Roman script, centered and enlarged the hexagram and pentagrams, and arranged the name of the spirit in its own circle around the hexagram. This makes a bit more room for spelling out the name of the spirit as well for the spirit’s seal. Frater RO and Agrippa say to have one pentagram for each spirit being summoned but never less than four (apparently one lamen can be used for multiple spirits at once), but since Trithemius has six stars around his lamen for just Michael, I wonder why this would be. All the same information is there and in a manner more pleasing to me, so I think it should work.

Trithemius says to inscribe the lamen on a piece of “virgin parchment” or a square of silver and to wear it on the chest as a pendant. Because silver’s a bit out of my price range, I’m opting for clean paper. However, because I don’t like the idea of having a piece of paper hanging around my neck, I’m fancying the lamen up by using a frame to hold the lamen, kind of like an oversized pendant.

My original idea was to use an unfinished wood circular photo frame, woodburn the names of God on the outside, and stain it; then, I’d swap out the symbols of the planet/spirit and bam, insta-lamen. The problem was that they don’t make circular unfinished wood frames, apparently. Circular photo frames in general seem to be rare anyway, and I only found three on the Internet after several days, none of which were suitable for my original idea. I bought one off Etsy from a guy who reuses old pieces of wood, and it turns out it’s the perfect size for such a thing to wear. I screwed a little hook into the top of the frame and crimped it so it forms a loop for a chain or cord to wear it on.

Making the lamens is what I’m excited about. Instead of just printing pieces of paper out, I’m thinking of consecrating or empowering the lamens of the planetary angels to more firmly link the lamen to their power. In addition to being a general beacon for the spirit, it could double as a talisman when I need it to, though I’d probably be better off using something more sturdy than paper.

This would be a three-step process: designing, printing, and consecrating. Designing the lamens is done in Illustrator and is easy enough to do. According to Trithemius, the lamen should be inscribed (printed) during a waxing moon in the day and hour of the planet whose angel will be evoked; this gives me a window of two or three days a month, with about three hours on each day available. This would yield a workable lamen.

Consecrating the lamen would be the last step, though optional by this point. I’d first make an infusion of an herb ruled by the planet in question, stain the paper in another waxing moon/planetary hour/planetary day, then let it dry. On the following waxing moon/planetary hour/planetary day, I’d suffumigate it in incense related to the planet and say some prayer or other over it. Alternatively, I could wait for a proper election for that planet to consecrate the lamen, but those may be sparse and I don’t know enough to calculate elections on my own. This would definitely charge the lamen, but since it was already charged by its creation at a decent time, this may be overdoing it. Wouldn’t hurt to try it, I suppose.

Update 4/26/2011: Turns out that the lamen design wouldn’t fly as I thought it might have. I kept the spelling changes of the names of God, but both the Celestial and the Roman names of the spirit in question are needed in order to summon both the spiritual and physical manifestations of the spirit. Makes sense. Below is an updated lamen of Raphael the angel of Mercury, more traditional than the above and much closer to that of Trithemius. I guess I should read things more closely and at least carry out the instructions given before trying to go do my own thing. I just finished making a new batch of templates for each of the angels of the planets as well as those of the kings of the elements (Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Auriel).

If you ever want to use a design or template of mine, feel free to ask. I’ll eventually get my website set up to host these things for the public domain.


About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

13 Responses to Update on Ritual Tools: Crystal Ball and Lamen

  1. Ocean Delano says:

    Hey Polyphanes! I was referred to your site today, and I must say, it is fantastic! I’m practicing conjuration using the system in Trithemius, and Rufus Opus’ “A Modern Angelic Grimoire”. Before working through the planetary spheres, I’m going through the elemental spheres. You mentioned that you made templates for the kings of the elements, and I was wondering if you might share them with me? I noticed they don’t seem to be under the “Designs” tab.

    Thanks! And once again, fantastic site and content. Keep up the good work!

    • polyphanes says:

      I’m actually working through RO’s Black Work course, which includes his Modern Angelic Grimoire and instructions to make lamens and other cool thingamabobs. I’m still working through the elements myself and getting the hang of conjuring, myself, but it’s still progress. I just took down some of the lamens, but I’ll put them back on shortly.

      Thanks! Keep reading, and maybe there’ll be more useful stuff besides lamen templates in the future. I’ve been checking out your blog, too, and I’m going to be taking a few hints and tricks from you as well. The occult blogosphere is wonderful.

      • Ocean Delano says:

        Isn’t it, though? Thanks, I’m glad my blog is of benefit to people.

        The designs are awesome, Polyphanes! Thanks so much for posting them. I’ve also taken note of the way you did your Table of Practice and will likely re-do mine in similar fashion in the future (especially since I got a woodburner recently).

    • polyphanes says:

      Alright, the lamens for the elemental kings and a blank lamen template have been put up on the Designs page. Note that there are no seals given for the elemental kings, whose seals you need to learn from themselves.

  2. kordalis says:

    Please don’t call it a star of David anymore. The proper name for it it’s hexagram.

  3. yeb20022002 says:

    Please what is that we see on top of the star of David inside the lamen?

    • polyphanes says:

      The four characters above the hexagram is the name of Raphael written in Hebrew (in the Celestial or Angelic Hebrew script), written Resh-Peh-Aleph-Lamed, RPAL. The characters and sigil inside are his name (written in the Latin script) and his seal, respectively. This is an old design of the lamens that I no longer use; you can find the newer variants on my Designs page (under Crafts).

  4. Adam says:

    “I kept the spelling changes of the names of God, but both the Celestial and the Roman names of the spirit in question are needed in order to summon both the spiritual and physical manifestations of the spirit. Makes sense.”

    I am very curious as to why you say this my friend. I plan to construct new tablets for scrying work but I had only planned on using the Hebrew for the Archangels, and only several of the Godnames of my own choosing instead of including all those around your circle. Can you explain your mindset here for us? Either way, everything looks fantastic and keep up the good work brother.

    • polyphanes says:

      Well, what exactly would you like me to explain? This post was written some time ago, and my methods have since changed a bit and I’ve learned a bit more. The second lamen design given above in the post (the one that I ended up using at this point in time) is based on that found in the Trithemius ritual text “Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals”. What I said above (what you quoted) about needing both the Celestial and Roman-script names of the spirits to conjure them…well, isn’t really borne out by my practice. I got that information from my instructor, Fr. Rufus Opus, but in my new lamen designs (which you can see on my Crafts page, and which ultimately are slightly prettier versions of my original lamen design given above in the post) I only use one name. I usually go with Celestial script to write planetary or stellar spirit names, Hebrew to write sublunar angels names, and Roman script to write pretty much anything else. As for the godnames around the circle, those are all taken from Trithemius, and a good number of them are supported by Cornelius Agrippa in his Fourth Book as good for invocation.

  5. I stumbled onto this and just had to compliment you on the “Table of Practice”. It looks really good. The ball is beautiful also. I’m not sure how well a ball works for you, but might I suggest finding a small slightly domed glass, painting the back black, and then framing it so you can stand it up in the triangle. You may get some really good results with that and it would compliment the wood-burning. I was lucky enough to find a polished, hematite colored, steel bowl that really works well for me, but really anything that mimics looking into a pond at night seems to be at the heart of triggering the brain to slip into the right state. The mechanism almost seems hard-wired in some people. It’s very similar to the state one can slip into when looking into a good bon-fire as well; though I can almost see things when looking into a pond, not so much gazing into a fire.

  6. elioenai says:

    I want to use ur design and how to operate it plse

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