Practical Arbatel: Names and Seals of the Olympic Spirits
December 2, 2014 4 Comments
So now that I’m getting seriously interested in the Arbatel, I suppose it’s time to start reviewing what I know and what, exactly, it is that I’ll be doing and conjuring. Most of the Arbatel is focused on being, basically, a good magician, which for all intents and purposes is to be a good Christian. The basic virtues of piety, faith, love and honor of God, helping out your fellow man, and the like are what’s really expounded in the text, with most of the aphorisms of the Arbatel written on these subjects and how to effect them in one’s life. That said, the Arbatel contains an introduction on the conjuration of seven Olympic Spirits, each associated with one of the seven planets and each possessing a certain number of spiritual legions of their own, as well as particular secrets that they can reveal to a magician who lives properly and is worthy of those secrets. So, yes, there will be conjuration involved in this project (yay!), but it’ll be of a different kind than I’m used to (ooh!).
As the text reads in the Third Septenary (III.16), the names of the seven Olympic Spirits are given in the Latin alphabet as Aratron, Bethor, Phaleg, Och, Hagith, and Phul. While I’d normally be okay with using these names as they are, my penchant for using literally anything other than the Latin alphabet whenever possible has led me to attempt a Greek transliteration of these names. After all, when using Greek, I can tweak my spelling of things and get a better understanding of the isopsephy and stoicheia behind the names, perhaps leading to something a little more appropriate than what might be naïvely spelled. Add to it, by beginning to incorporate more Greek into my conjuration work, I can perhaps make inroads into developing a system of mathetic conjuration that would augment and build up the rest of mathesis. Besides, with these Olympic Spirits being Olympic and with many references to the text suggesting a pseudo-Greek origin to the system, it might befit us to use Greek anyway instead of Roman or Hebrew.
Happily, such a Greek transliteration of the Arbatel names is already given by Stephen Skinner in his Complete Magician’s Tables (M.42 through M.50, particularly M.43). There, he gives the names of the seven Olympic Spirits, as well as their isopsephic values, as Αραιθρον (341 = 11 × 31), Βεθορ (186 = 6 × 31), Φαλεκγ (558 = 18 × 31), Ευχ (465 = 15 × 31), Ηαγιθ (31 = 1 × 31), Οφιιλ (620 = 20 × 31), and Φυλ (930 = 30 × 31). These spellings are a little odd for me, however, as is the isopsephy involved. For this, Skinner explains:
Immediately a pattern becomes obvious, confirming the accuracy of the orthography. All the names are based on 31 or αλ ‘AL’ in Greek, and are therefore a carefully constructed formula, not just random mediaeval names, as most people previously assumed. Even the grand total of all the values comes to 3131. The Greek names of the Olympic Spirits also form a key to Crowley’s Liber AL vel Legis, although one of which Crowley was perhaps not aware, a key that I do not believe has been published by anyone else to date. I intend to postpone the explanation of that material to a later time. Suffice it to say that they are a significant key to Liber AL vel Legis.
Furthermore, the multiples of 31 are in themselves significant. Apart from the factors 15, 20, and 30, the remaining factors form a significant Middle Pillar formula:
1 + 6 + 11 = 18, can be interpreted as Kether + Tiphareth + Daath = ih (10 + 8) or Arrow (in Greek). The path so traced out is indeed the Path of the Arrow. The key numbers for these spirits are therefore:
- Hagith = 1
- Bethor = 6
- Araithron = 11
- Phaleg = 18
- Och = 15
- Ophiel = 20
- Phul = 30
In all honesty, mixing Golden Dawn and Thelemic works into a text 300 years their senior is a dicey proposition, and I don’t think that there’s much to link the two, even if it had been in the Golden Dawn’s scope to do so. Add to it, I haven’t seen these spellings or this reasoning anywhere else, and the spelling and pronunciation in Latin or in German (since we can claim that the Arbatel is definitely a German work of occult literature) are quite different from the pronunciation given in Skinner’s transliterated Greek, and his use of “Araithron” instead of “Aratron” is unusual, since the Arbatel clearly only gives Aratron. Add to it, Skinner’s claim about the sum of 1 + 6 + 11 = 18 associated with arrows makes no sense to me; “arrow” in Greek is τοξευμα (common antique word), οιστος, βελος (preferred modern word), ιος, ατρακτος, πτερον, or γλθφιδες, the isopsephy of any which is anything but 18. Likewise, the Hebrew word for “arrow” is חץ, which still doesn’t add up to 18.
Given that Skinner’s transliterations weird me out and that his reasoning is sketchy, even though they do have that oddly nice consistency with the number 31, I think it might be better to take another look and develop a new set of Greek names for the Olympic Spirits. Of course, transliterating what are essentially barbarous names between Greek and Roman isn’t always easy, so we often have multiple alternatives available to us. For transliteration, I’ll only use the names given in the Arbatel itself; other books, such as the Secret Grimoire of Turiel and the Complete Book of Magic Science seem to be much later inventions, and the Arbatel would appear to be the first published text with the names and seals of the Olympic Spirits.
- Aratron: The “-on” ending here strikes me as being omicron-nu, since most second declension neuter nouns in Greek have this same ending. Thus, a straightforward transliteration would be Αρατρον (622). If we were to use a theta instead of tau in the name to get Arathron, courtesy of Skinner’s suggestion, we’d have Αραθρον (331), but this seems to be a stretch, since I find no reason why we should use a theta if it wasn’t indicated in the source text, although it is likely as a more German pronunciation of the name (a slightly harder “t” than tau in German would provide). Thus, we’ll use Αρατρον.
- Bethor: The “-or” ending in this name strikes me as being omega-rho, since only a very few words in Greek end in omicron-rho. The real question then becomes whether we use epsilon or eta, giving us either Βεθωρ (916) or Βηθωρ (919). For me, Βεθωρ seems more likely; 9 + 1 + 6 = 16, and 1 + 6 = 7.
- Phaleg: The ending here should be a simple gamma, not kappa-gamma as Skinner suggests, since that was a comparatively modern innovation to represent a hard “g” sound. Thus, we’d end up with either Φαλεγ (539) or Φαληγ (542), based on whether we use epsilon or eta, and of these, Φαλεγ seems the more likely spelling.
- Och: Depending on how we transliterate “o” as either omicron or omega, we could get Οχ (670) or Ωχ (1400), or even Ωοχ (1470) as Skinner proposes as an alternative to his Ευχ (465), although Skinner mistakenly gives the isopsephy of Ωοχ as 930 and not 1470. Of these four names, Ωχ appears to be the cleanest and most likely.
- Hagith: Greek doesn’t represent aspiration, so we really should be transliterating “Agith”. This is fairly straightforward to transliterate, Αγιθ (23), with no other options available to us unless we really change things up, like replacing iota with eta for Αγηθ (21). Thus, Αγιθ it is.
- Ophiel: This is the most Judeo-Christian “angelic” appearing of the names, and Judeo-Christian angelic and otherwise theophoric names ending in “-el” in Roman are typically written as “-ηλ” in Greek. However, the initial “o” could be either omicron or omega, giving us either Οφιηλ (618) or Ωφιηλ (1348). Alternatively, if we use epsilon instead of eta, we could get Οφιελ (615) or Ωφιελ (1345). Of these, I find Οφιηλ to be the most likely; .
- Phul: There are only two options here, depending on what kind of “u” we want, either the French “u” represented only by upsilon, or the long “u” represented by omicron-upsilon, giving us either Φυλ (930) or Φουλ (1000). However, Φυλ appears to be the more straightforward and reasonable of these.
Thus, for our Greek names, we’ll use Αρατρον (622), Βεθωρ (916), Φαλεγ (539), Ωχ (1400), Αγιθ (23), Οφιηλ (618), and Φυλ (930). Altogether, the sum of the names isopsephy yields 5048. While these names don’t have the consistency of a repeated number as Skinner’s names do, I also find these far more likely spellings to use of the Olympic Spirits.
Now that we have our names settled, it remains to figure out the seals, and happily, there’s pretty much nothing to figure out. The seals given in the Arbatel are clear and consistent, and there are excellent modern renditions given by Asterion on his art blog. I plan on using his seals, which are essentially the same as those given in the grimoire itself, but a little more squared up and cleaned up. Normally, in conjurations, I make a Trithemian-style lamen bearing the seal of the spirit in a central hexagram with six pentagrams around it, the name of the spirit around that, and thirteen names of God around that. However, I didn’t want to use the Trithemian design for these conjurations, since I wouldn’t be using the Trithemian ritual and also because the lamen format is fairly overkill for the Arbatel-type of conjuration, which is essentially minimalistic. I took into account other lamens that other magicians have made for the Arbatel, such as Fr. Acher’s lamens for his Arbatel operations, but decided against anything too fancy. Instead of using a psalm, series of names of God, or parts of the prayer from the Arbatel, I decided upon the Greek phrase:
Την ημερα και την ωρα του XΧΧ καλω σε ω Δαιμων Ολυμπικε !
In the day and in the hour of XXX I call upon you, o Olympic Spirit!
Thus, if I were to call upon Aratron, I’d use Κρονου, “of Kronos (Saturn)” in the XXX spot; if Bethor, Διος; if Phaleg, Αρεως; and so forth. Alternatively, I prefer to use the planetary titan names that I’ve mentioned before when first pondering a Greek kabbalah, so instead of Κρονου I’d use Φαινω, “of Phainon”, etc. A note on this, however: the planet Venus was considered to be two stars, Eosphoros (Dawn-bringer, Venus when it rises before the Sun in the Morning) and Hesperos (Evening Star, Venus when it sets after the Sun in the evening); either of these names could be used, when the proper phase of Venus applies, or you could use the general name Phosphoros (Light-bringer, a general name of Venus).
And, yes, as someone pointed out on Facebook, the use of the word “δαιμων” may raise some eyebrows here. The text itself, which is a German work originally written in Latin in the 1500s, used the Latin word “pneumatica” to refer to the spirits, and doesn’t use the word “daemon”. However, lest people think I’m confusing the Olympic Spirits with the types of spirits found in the Lemegeton Goetia, the word δαιμων refers to any natural power, force, fate, or entity, not unlike what’s connoted by θεος. It was only with the development of Christianity that the word δαιμων began to pick up distinctly negative connotations, leading to our modern word “demon”. The Renaissance use of the word πνευμα plus the connotations of the Christian Πνευμα το Αγιον, then, picked up what δαιμων left behind, going from a meaning of breath-like life energy to a force of nature as a discrete nonphysical entity. Now, when I developed this phrase, I found the word δαιμων to be a perfectly acceptable word to use here, especially considering what the Olympic Spirits are proposed to be, but if they themselves wish to use the word πνευμα, I have nothing against changing the phrasing here.
With all that in mind, I made the following set of lamens for my use in my upcoming Arbatel work. Assuming the Olympic Spirits themselves don’t mind them, I don’t see why I shouldn’t use them, though it’s unclear how best I could use them, either as something to wear as I would in other rituals, or as something to place the scrying medium above, but that’s for another post.