The Sea-Serpent’s Rib: The Devil Forneus

One of the recent demons I’ve been working more with is the Marquis Forneus. When he first manifested for me, he appeared in the form of a giant sea serpent, thrashing in the waves as lightning flashed and thunder broke the sky, breaking a thousand ships and devouring their cargo in a display of his power. When I bid him to take the form of a man, he appeared with wild, long hair and with blackened skin. In his serpent form, he seems to move about through underground lakes, slithering with and rattling with miasma. In all my experiences with him he has appeared quite obstinate and rebellious, and so it may perhaps be beneficial to approach him with the Second Pentacle of the Sun, which is known to suppress the pride of certain spirits. Other options for compelling him include the citation of his superior King, which was told to me to be Amaymon of the South.

His opinion of men is not one that is kind, in fact it seems that he loathes to serve the magician. Interestingly, this is actually a fact noted by the author of the Meergeist, in which he complains to Lucifer about relinquishing the infernal treasure obtained by the smashing of ships upon the waves. Upon appearing to me, he claimed proudly that it was the ribs of a Sea Serpent which Moses had used to cleave the sea in two. Although he appeared and with haste, Forneus did not swear the oath of my Book of Spirits easily—he only relented after a long and exhausting binding. Like Phaethon of Greek myth, with whom he is associated with in the Meergeist, he is a particularly proud and defiant spirit, yet it is not just raw power and pride which is his strength, for this spirit is also cunning—as serpents of all stripes are prone to be cunning and slippery like the eel, seeking to evade the traps of the magician and karcist.

When I conjured him he appeared within the crystal shewstone, showing me his webbed visage amidst a dreadful backdrop. Yet at the same time, it is easy once you have seen him to understand how he can obtain for the magician friendships and graces. He causes admiration in the hearts of the weak, and in strong men he instills a sense of kinship—working through shared prides and boasts which create bonds. Yet one must be cautious, for deceit is not unfamiliar to him. In my own conjuration, he asked me to grave his character and seal on my scourging rod (which I keep as a defensive measure against unruly demons). This was not intended to be a generous action, even though that is how he framed it. Instead, he wanted to make it so that he could never suffer its subjugation. No doubt, the power he promised would be gained by engraving his seal upon the rod would actually be a power that is lost, as sovereignty over the whip would be given to the demon instead. The shackles would be turned upon the master. Having rebuffed this offer, I then demanded from him a number of things which he agreed to, which is how our first encounter finished.

The next time I conjured him, I asked Forneus what could be done with the rib bone of a human man. This was because Sfinga had just gifted me such a rib bone a while back, and I was eager to use it. The demon appeared in the scrying implement promptly, and he gave the following short experiment which I shall share here. The ritual is brief, for it requires that the magician has already bound the spirit and caused him to swear an oath.


The Rib Bone of Forneus

Call the demon according to the method he has been sworn to appear by when he signed your book. Then, you should take a human rib bone engraved with the seal and name of Forneus down to the river at mid-day, during a clear and rainless afternoon. Wash it in the river, saying:

I wash this bone of the human spirit who dwelt within it, so that he goeth unto Forneus as a sacrifice to the insatiable sea beast, whose kind’s ribs parted the sea at the command of Moses. O Forneus, I conjure you by the oath thou hath made and by all the authority which is given to me by Christ who conquers the spirits of hell. So devour thou the spirit of this rib bone as he is released from his cage upon the condition that you put yourself within it in his place, so that it might be thine own rib bone now which is in my grasp and power; the rib bone of the gurt sea monster, and thus empowered to tear apart the sea and the sky as Moses did and as you have done for your own pleasure and malice, you dreadful breaker of ships. So enter into this bone, by means of these waters; for my coercion is upon you, by Gabriel, by Raphael, and by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

And the demon shall enter into the bone through the river and he shall reside partly inside of it. So when you wish to use it, you should draw his seal in the earth with it (it need not be heavily indented) and say to him:

I command you to appear, Forneus, for I conjure you by the side of Christ, wounded by the spear of Longinus; may that same spear of Longinus pierce you until you appear before me with all haste and speed, so I command you to do [such and such] by the rib bone of yours I hold in my grasp.

And it shall be done.

You may do this upon some ground and command him to make it rain a great storm over the location and it will do so until his character is washed away. You may also draw his character upon the place where you wish to have men and women honour you and love you as a friend. Not only this, but you can even do it upon the graves of the dead so that they be moved to obey—the graves of sailors in particular can be compelled to move by this method. Alternatively, one can feed the devil within the rib bone with the ghosts dwelling beneath the ground. And when you have drawn the sigillium, his influence will be exerted over the place it has been drawn for a time and it will be under his power.

***

A second ritual I received recently is one I will probably never use, but is fascinating nonetheless to record. It is an experiment to destroy a particular ship and its crew, and similar to the previous ritual, it does require the magician already have bound Forneus and constrained him to swearing the oath. The experiment follows here.


The Experiment of Forneus to Break Ships Apart

Get a large snake or eel, and kill it, saying:

O thou serpent; by the serpent hung up in the wilderness I sacrifice thee unto the devil Forneus of the sea, just as surely as I sacrifice the ship [so and so]. O Forneus put yourself in this serpent, I command thee by he who is the Alpha and the Omega and by the never ending wrath of God which tamed the dreadful Leviathan thy father. So submit!

Put a single silver coin in the serpent’s mouth. Then you should take it to a tree, ideally one beside a beach, and you should write the name and information of the ship such as its location upon a branch of the tree with the snakes blood as ink. Then, you should wrap the serpent around the branch of the tree as if tying a knot with its body, saying:

I put the body of Forneus about the ship [such and such]. Forneus is upon the crew of that ship which is fated to die. Yea, the ship shall break upon the waves and a shall serpent be coiled about it, bringing it & its crew thus to ruin and drowning. Belzebuth shall feast on them, and they shall rest in the mouth of Leviathan.

You shall then pull on the snake from head and tail, so that the branch snaps under the leverage and pressure of the snake tightening. Thus it is wise to choose a thin or weak branch—as if the branch which is the significator of the ship in this work is weak, then so too shall the ship be weak.

Cosmology, Astrology, and Conjuring Spirits

Hello, all. We hope you’ve been well. Sfinga and I have been busy in the past few months with a number of new magical operations and workings, her with witchcraft, the Tuba Veneris, and Quimbanda, and myself with astrological magic and my own projects with the Goetia. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking lately about how astrology informs my practice as a ritual magician, and decided to write a short post expressing my thoughts on their relationship.

Before even delving into the practical virtues of astrology in terms of talismans and the like, I think that first and foremost we must discuss its cosmological scope. I think a lot of modern magicians as a whole have a tendency to forget the prime importance of cosmology and how it impacts our practice. In fact, this is one of the biggest boons one obtains through the practice of Astrological Image Magic (and astrology in general) in that it provides a solid cosmological grounding and foundation from which to conduct one’s workings. It’s true that today there are those who will call to the Four Kings or their equivalent spirits in their capacity as rulers of the cardinal airs (even if I think calling to them so casually and informally is a bizarre choice of action given their status and power – not to mention malicious bent), and you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t experimented with some kind of practice based around the Heptameron (which of course, divides its spirits into planetary divisions). Yet overall there is a lack of cosmological awareness with respect to the unifying principles in which these spirits function within the western magical mindset. We know this planet is like this, and that star is like that—but the way in which they interact with each other, the web of interweaving relationships between them and the world view that emerges from these relations is all too neglected.

For a premodern magician, this was not a problem, as their very literal world was one and the same as this conception. It was the world they inhabited and worked within and it was also the world in which the spirits lived alongside them. On the other hand, the vast majority of us today (especially those raised in urban Anglo-Protestant backgrounds, in which I count myself) exist in a disenchanted, materialist world centered around mechanistic attitudes and principles. We fail to immerse ourselves in the world of spirits, claiming to be animists yet rarely behaving in any such way as one might find in other, even Christian cultures, especially the Catholic and Orthodox ones where indigenous animist attitudes have been far more preserved and inculcated. And for those of us for whom literate ritual magic (grimoires) makes up our predominant practice, or even only practice—this is where the problem begins.

During the early days of the occult revival, the previous dominant cosmology of (literate) magical practitioners in Western Europe (which can be defined in an overly simple way as a blend of Christian Platonism and astrology, in addition to regional “folk” beliefs) was upturned by three main factors. The first was that the scientific advances throughout the last few hundred years meant that, in the eyes of an increasingly materialist scholarly elite, the previous geocentric model and the “spheres” (among other things) were now scientifically redundant and moreover incorrect. Of course, while this is true for the physical descriptions of our solar system, these observations do not necessarily negate the spiritual principles upon which these ideas rested and were founded upon. After all, without a conception that the virtues of the planet are mirrored in us, and that we possess sparks or emanations of the light of these celestial bodies that resonate with their true forms, much of pagan theurgy we find in the PGM goes completely out the window.

The second was that at the time of the occult revival, we saw the overturning of the sophisticated belief systems of the early modern and medieval period. These world views came to be replaced by the Golden Dawn’s Hermetic Kabbalah, Theosophy, and even the materialistic, atheistic mindset that many people today still think is compatible with a healthy magical practice. Finally, the industrial revolution itself cemented the status of materialism in modern society.

The result of these three changes in combination meant that we “lost our roots” along the way; centuries of spiritual and intellectual research into the nature of the world and its spiritual make up were ultimately replaced by either the scientific model (whose influence we can see in myriad occult traditions in the latter half of the 20th century); Rosicrucian and Hermetic Kabbalah; or by the Theosophical model. None of these models really gave us the vibrant and living world populated by spirits that we once had. It has in a sense, created a distance between us and the spirits. Note that the context which I am speaking to of course is the Protestant, western, and indeed Anglo-American setting. The impact of Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and the like in areas such South America is entirely different, given the presence of Catholicism and existing syncretic indigenous, African, and other spiritist cultures.

But how does this relate to the manner in which Astrological Image Magic and spirit trafficking operate? Well, all things occur within a framework. My issue is not over cosmology in the sense of having a preference for one over the other. After all, most magicians have multiple worldviews and cosmologies that they operate within depending on their initiations and core practices. Rather, it is the damage done to the practice of medieval and early modern ritual magic that I am attempting to highlight. To give an example: Stephen Skinner has mentioned that the reasoning behind the use of certain suffumigations in conjuring spirits is to enable them to take shape here in our world. This is far from a new idea; Paracelsus makes this point about the Elemental creatures, in that they exist in their “chaos” (that is to say, their proper element). Just as humans breathe air and walk about in the air as if it was empty space, so it is the same for the Gnomes with the earth, the Undines with water and so on. Thus when a human is entirely submerged in water, he drowns, meanwhile the same is true for the Elemental creatures—a nymph who predominantly lives in water would suffer in the air according to Paracelsus.

So, what about Astrology? Well, when we conjure a planetary spirit directly, rather than tapping into the occult virtues of its planet itself first, we may indeed find that the spirit can do things for us. Yet there is an accompanying difficulty depending on the actual state of its planet. Let us say that the planet is in bad condition; it might be in its domicile, a fortune yet could also be besieged by Saturn and Mars, and even in the 12th House. This is a very serious affliction indeed. Imagine, if you will, a King in his castle—he is wealthy and his food supply is considerable. However, his castle is surrounded by a rebel army. In this situation, you definitely wouldn’t want to tap into the raw occult virtues of the planet itself, since it is negatively afflicted. Instead, you might want to call a spirit subordinate to that planet directly. (Speaking in terms of personal experience, I’ve found that you really don’t need to be astrologically perfect in your timing when working with subordinate spirits, as they are more used to navigating the distance between our world and theirs). However, this does not mean that it is the best possible situation, nor that it doesn’t have an impact on what it is we are trying to achieve. The planet is besieged, so the spirit might come down and agree to help us, but a number of things in the very chain of manifestation are going to be affected by the astrological and thus cosmological situation.

For starters, the condition of the planet itself means that the spirit is limited in what it can do—its home is currently competing with and being suppressed by the two malefics, which will inevitably influence how the spirit comes down and appears to us when it manifests. Similarly, with its home in disarray, the resources at the spirit’s disposal are also limited. In addition, many or even most spirits are easily influenced by the environment in which they dwell. They don’t live in a vacuum—the space around them is influencing them just as they influence it. Imagine approaching a military engineer (because if the planet is besieged then it is in effect in a state of war) who is in the middle of a firefight, and asking him to help you get a job or fix your car. The spirit is in poor condition to fulfill your request, not to mention it would likely manifest in a way that is less friendly than usual, as he is currently preoccupied. His home is in turmoil and he is in the midst of trying to defend it.

Does this mean we shouldn’t call on the planetary spirits at all when the stars are not aright? Not necessarily. The example I gave was an extreme and somewhat uncommon affliction, but as magicians we should be able to rectify problems like this. We aren’t just astrologers, after all, and we need to be equipped so that we can handle situations like these. For example, if we called the above spirit in order to rectify its problematic condition, we might begin by removing all the Saturnian and Martial influences in the room to prevent the occult virtues of the spirits from clashing; we can burn fumigations (even better if they were made on a good election!) that will explicitly pacify the spirit and calm it whilst also strengthening it, and so on. Even then, the condition will still not be ideal, but we as magicians should be able to navigate such situations, just as we ought to be able to make use of ideal ones when they arise (even if we only use them to consecrate and store the powers of a star or planet for use at a later date). This especially is why an understanding of cosmology is so important in early modern ritual magic; we need that understanding in order to navigate these affairs properly. The planetary spirits of the grimoires exist within this cosmology, and we need a map if we want to know our way around their world. If we don’t understand something then we can even ask the locals (i.e. the spirit themselves, so that they may teach us more about their world and their ways), but ultimately it’s always best to come conversant and prepared.

When we better understand our cosmological inheritance, we become more confident in our own systems, and do not need to run around begging for validation from other traditions. For whatever reason, there’s a common tendency among many western occultists in ever looking outside in order to prove our worth or correct ourselves. Pasting over the cosmology of another practice/tradition/belief over our own context, just because we do not understand our own, tends most often towards aimless syncretism—a polite word for colonialism. The divination practices, ritual techniques, and spirits of our systems do not need to be constantly compared to ATRs, for example, for them to be “valid”. This is not to say that no comparisons should ever be made, rather that they are best left in the hands of those with initiations and practices in both, so that they might arise organically and informed by the teachings of their lineages and traditions directly.

The difficulties faced by those who practice western ritual magic, such as the distance between the worldview of pre-modern practitioners and we contemporary ones, will not be solved by copy-pasting practices that are only tangentially, if at all, related. I’d argue correction is to be found through introspection followed by adjustment within the confines of the same tradition—we need to look inwards, at our own sources, and deal with the difficulties that accompany understanding them before anything else. We do this by practicing the grimoires themselves, reading our primary source exegetes, and engaging directly with the spirits, asking them questions and learning from them above all, whilst simultaneously researching the historical context from where our texts arose. We don’t need absolute precision with respect to historical accuracy; it is after all not only impossible but far from the point, for we are magicians and not historical re-enactors stuck in the past. We live in an occult Renaissance where books, translations, tools, candles, and all the rest have never been more easily accessible, with some of the rarest materia available at just the click of a button on the Internet. This is age is an exciting opportunity to refine our practice and improve it in light of our globalized, connected world, so let’s not let ease of access overwhelm our desires to know more and be ever more precise.

Jinn Sorcery, by Rain Al-Alim (Review)

Jinn Sorcery, a volume by Rain Al-Alim published by Scarlet Imprint, is a fascinating text, offering insights into the practice of Arabic ritual magic as it pertains jinn spirits. Don’t let its size fool you; even though it is a short book under 100 pages, virtually all of its contents are dedicated to experiments and practical material, from the conjuration and dream incubation to exorcism and scrying.

The binding of the standard edition is quite pretty; a regal gold certainly suits the aesthetics of the text. One major problem, however, is that the black hexagram on the front of my copy has slowly begun to flake away into gold. If you tend to be a little rougher with your books, I would advise you to be a bit more careful with this one, just to better preserve the quality of the cover.

Al-Alim opens the text by providing some insights into the traditions of Arabic jinn magic, charting various cultural attitudes towards the jinn, notions of their tribal belongings, their abilities and manifestations, typologies, methods of conjuration, and more. The entire preface is absolutely fascinating, both on its own as an introduction to a vital practice, as well as in its similarities and differences to the Western grimoires and traditions of ritual magic I am more familiar with. Al-Alim’s exploration of the various ways in which jinn are conceived was especially intriguing, especially in his consideration of hierarchy. The ways in which spirits organize themselves, whom they are loyal and subject to, and in whose name each can be called to answer by has always been something I’ve been deeply interested, especially as I continue to conjure and make pacts with various spirits myself.

Jinn are ranked by their magical strength and standing within their own society, with greater jinn being highly intelligent and extremely dangerous while lesser ones are more akin to mischief-makers. The social organization of the jinn community resembles that of a royal court, in which most of the jinn are offspring of the seven jinn kings, categorized as archdemons and leaders of the infernal hosts. These rulers are traditionally associated with the seven planets, with a colour and a day of the week attributed to each of them. They have many subjects and advisers drawn from the tribes under their rulership. The old Arabic grimoires refer to them as the seven terrestrial kings (mulūk al-arḍīya). They are governed in turn by the seven angels of the days.

Rain Al-Alim, Jinn Sorcery, xiv.

The first proper chapter covers dream incubation rituals, designed to facilitate contact between the magician and the spirits while asleep (the Invocation of Neli immediately comes to mind, along with the various experiments in the PGM). The various approaches used typically involve creating and burning a specific incense blend, reciting conjurations, numerous reputations of Voces Magicae, and other accompanying actions such as inscribing symbols and words on one’s hand and sleeping on paper talismans.

The next section covers the Al-Mandal (which is itself related to the Almadel) and scrying methods. Many of the techniques present can be found in the Solomonic tradition, such as the employment of mirrors, fingernails, and oil for scrying, the presence of an assistant child seer, and of course fasting to maintain purity. Writing seals on the palm of one’s own (or the child’s) hand is particularly intriguing; indeed it seems that scrying oil in the palm of the hand is the most common method described. One part which stuck out to me was the use of the “Verse of Revelation”, which is a brief paragraph of text attached to the seer’s forehead to aid him in obtaining spiritual vision.

After this we come upon the evocations of jinn spirits, and it is here that in my opinion the book truly shines. We see a vast variety of different experiments, intended to conjure a multitude of different jinn to visible appearance. These are elaborate procedures filled with prayer, retreat from society, purification, and eventually the creation of pacts. What was especially interesting to me were the numerous examples of rituals intended to conjure for the magician a wife from among the jinn tribes. These spirit marriages are accompanied with strict taboos, such as never being allowed to sleep with mortal women again, though they promise great rewards and powers in return. The jinn wives rituals actually make up a sizable part of this section, which is fascinating as it is not an aspect of Arabic magic I had really seen before this. Granted, had I not met Sfinga I likely would have never known how prominent spirit marriages involving zmaj dragons are in the Balkans, especially given the language and resource barrier.

The majority of the rituals are intended to summon specific jinn, most of which are multi-day affairs involving an ascetic retreat and the reciting of conjurations numerous times throughout the day during times of prayer. Some, like the invocation of the Seven Mayamin, can achieve a variety of different outcomes, whilst others are intended towards simply creating pacts with individual spirits and/or their courts. Many rituals involve conjurations of the seven terrestrial jinn kings, who share many commonalities with the planetary kings of the aerial spirits in the Sworn Book of Honorius and the Heptameron. These spirits evidently have not received their due attention in the West despite their influence on grimoire demonology (i.e. Maymun Abu-Nakh). One of the noteworthy elements of the rituals is the shorter length of the conjurations themselves. Rather than multiple page long recitations as we see in say, the Folger Manuscript, what we have instead are briefer conjurations intended to be repeated countless times. The conjurations are still authoritative, but tend to be somewhat less aggressive than Solomonic and Faustian techniques. This is not true of every conjuration, however; some such as the conjuration of the Jinn King of Tuesday include the typical threats of fire.

The next chapter was admittedly the one I was most excited for, as it deals with the methods of conjuring the personal Qarīn, which is the jinn companion that every person has by their side. The section itself is sparse, including only two rituals which follow a fairly standard formula. The first involves sitting in “a dark place” and reciting two names 100 times, after which you recite a brief conjuration 21 times at which point you will hear the qarīn’s voice—albeit without “seeing his figure”. The second method involves burning incense and a lotus while reciting the same two names 313 times, another conjuration 7 times, and an even shorter one 50 times. Finally, the spirit will answer you. Presumably, once the spirit is conjured one can establish further methods of ingress and communion.

The book closes with the “Seven Jinn Evictions” which are methods of exorcism. This is another short chapter; though crucial; exorcisms and proper spiritual defences are vital for any magician to have in the presence of aerial, infernal, and other such related spirits.

In conclusion, Jinn Sorcery is an excellent and intriguing book. The text reads like a miscellany of jinn magic, similar to a handful early modern grimoires like the Book of Oberon and The Cunning Man’s Grimoire in which various experiments are listed. Al-Alim’s translations and introductory commentary provide a deeply valuable window into Arabic jinn magic, and I’m very glad to see such an excellent text becoming available.

Kumalak

Kumalak is a divinatory form I’ve been learning for a little over two years. As soon as I picked it up on the advice of an ancestor, I quickly came to embrace it as a frank, accurate, and attractive oracle my spirits are able to express their messages through. The system, which a good friend of mine described as “the best geomantic oracle that nobody ever heard of”, is native to Central Asia, most popular in modern-day Kazakhstan, and employed by a variety of folk magicians and shamans for divining the future. Kumalak does have a presence in the Balkans, as well as in Russia (and I’m sure in many more countries in the general geographic region). I’ve personally seen healers and cunning folk from Eastern Serbia divine with Kumalak using corn brought to them by their clients. Like geomancy, it can provide advice both incredibly esoteric and utterly mundane, and is remarkably versatile despite being far less complicated than its more famous counterpart.

To read Kumalak, you need 41 beans of any kind (or pebbles, seeds, pieces of corn etc.) and, optionally, 3×3 square cell grid. You can paint one on cloth to have a permanent, ready-to-use surface (consecrated by the hands of the appropriate spirits), or you can redraw it each time on paper or in the sand. The grid is not necessary on its own, most readers I’ve met will either draw it temporarily with grain, chalk, or in the dirt, or the’ll omit it entirely and just arrange the beans evenly along visualized lines. I prefer to have the lines visible since I have a consecrated cloth I’ve baptized with the four elements, but it’s important to note that it’s not required.

As a quick aside, I wanted to note that I keep my beans in a leather container that I shake while intoning the Hygromanteia prayer of the day for whichever planet is ruling the question—though this is my own addition and not at all a necessary step. If you feel inclined, I do find that beginning with a prayer to an intelligence governing the general situation increases the accuracy of the reading. In other circumstances, I’ve also prayed directly to my spirits, performed breathing techniques and hand gestures for greater psychic vision that they’ve taught me over the beans, and then cast them. With that out of the way, here’s a brief outline of how a Kumalak reading works as I have learned to do them:

To begin, you first take the beans, whisper into them your question, and then shake them. When you are ready, cast them on the ground. Touch each bean to your forehead, one by one, until you have gone through all 41. A man I met from Eastern Serbia who reads Kumalak advised me to give a simple prayer, asking “God and his angels to help you see with your secret eye through the stones” over each bean. When you are finished, divide them into three piles as your intuition guides you. Beginning from the right, remove four beans at a time until there are a maximum of four left. These will go in the top right square on the grid. Do the same for the middle pile and the top middle square, and then again for the left and top left. Scoop the remaining beans into one pile, and then repeat the process for the middle row, dividing them into three piles, taking four away at a time, and filling out the squares. Once you’ve done the same for the last row, it’s time to interpret.

Here’s an example of a reading I did; all the squares have 1-4 beans, with the leftovers below. As with the witnesses and the judge in geomancy, you can verify whether or not you’ve done the division correctly with some simple math. The total of the beans in the first row when added together should be either five or nine; for the second, four, eight, or twelve; and for the third, also four, eight, or twelve.

Each square is, according to its row, assigned a symmetrical part of a greater picture. For the top, the squares are eye, head, and eye. For the middle, hand, heart, and hand. Lastly, the bottom row is foot, horse, and foot. Generally, the top row handles past influences as well as the thoughts, ambitions, and beliefs of the querent. The middle reveals the present as well as the emotions, doubts, and relationships entwined in the situation; it is also the row concerned with outside help and allies. The bottom row is concerned with the future and practical concerns, obstacles, helping forces, and the journey in general; should you be patient and wait for other circumstances to fall into place, or should you act immediately, and how?

If you know your elemental correspondences from geomancy, reading the beans should be no problem. One is fire, two water, three air, and four earth—and the associations and implications of each element can be reliably read in the usual geomantic way. Each possible row combination has its own name according to tradition, taken from the right-most square. In the reading above, for example, the top row is called “wind in the head, sand in the eyes”, because there are three beans (air) in the head, and four (earth) in the right eye. For the middle, it’s “fire in the heart, earth in the hands.” Lastly, at the bottom we have “horseman of wind on horse of water”.

These combinations for head, eyes, heart, hands, horseman, and horse all have their own interpretations which are relatively intuitive if you’re familiar with the active and passive roles of the elements and how they combine (again, if you’re familiar with geomancy, or even traditional elemental combinations and what they signify in divination, then this will come fairly naturally). There are, however, some special figures pertaining to particular row configurations, as well as column and diagonal combinations (all odd numbers in certain columns/diagonals, or all ones in the middle column, or the sum of the diagonals being equal, to name a few) which have to be memorized. One of the special figures figures that involves just the rows is “the three stars”: this is when wind is in every square of the top row. If this appears, the querent is considered to be so protected and blessed that reading further would be inappropriate; Kumalak is not needed to advise them when everything will turn out even better than imagined. Another is “the saddlebag”, which occurs when the first row is four, one, and four. The sand from each eye is weighing down the fire in the head so that it cannot express itself. When this figure is present, the client must rephrase the question and the reading must start anew, for their thoughts while asking were too muddled and imprecise.

The grid, when considered as an organic picture, is the steppe horseman; his journey determined by the weather, his mentality, resolve, courage, and physical strength, and his relationship with his horse, as well as their combined health. All of these factors play a role in the message conveyed to the querent, the news of whose question is embodied in the horseman, and it is the job of the diviner to read the individual parts as a unified whole. In the top row of the above reading, “wind in the head, sand in the eyes” tells the story of a sharp mind honed in on success (air) blinded by intrusive thoughts and fear of failure (sand). While wind in the head promises eventual mental success, sand in the eyes speaks of confusion not only for the querent (who may feel dragged down and fearful) but also in their friends who are paralyzed and unable to lend advice. This is a figure which speaks to trusting one’s intuition in the face of self-doubt, gossip, and deceit.

“Fire in the heart, earth in the hands” further confirms the omens of the first row. The passionate faculty of the heart is actualized in the concrete ability of the hands: this is the figure of someone who not only has keen foresight and creative talent, but also the practical savvy to realize their plans. In health, this signals a swift recovery, and likewise for work and love it recalls improvement in all aspects of ambition. As one of the very fortunate figures, when considered in light of the first row it becomes clear that the querent is someone who is dealing with impostor syndrome; someone bright but humble, who fears a failure that is not coming or is dealing with jealous individuals in their circles whose meddling will ultimately avail to nothing. While this figure can also indicate the presence of external allies pooling their resources for the querent, in this context it is specifically speaking to the querent’s own faculties and strength which overcomes the gossip and doubt of the previous row: these are the resources they have to draw upon.

Finally, “horseman of wind on horse of water” warns of obstacles: confrontation with superiors and colleagues, stubbornness in a lover, antagonism in clients, etc. The overly logical horseman is unable to move his timid and sensitive horse. There has been a transformation: where in the past, the querent experienced a transition from uncertainty to fortune, the future is marked with strife. The momentum of the earlier figures can carry them forward to success, but this cannot happen without directly and boldly confronting the conflict. The horseman would do well to listen to the anxieties of his mount; in the case of love or intimate friendships, the querent could be advised to allow the other party to fully air out their grievances and then work alongside them by reminding them of past stability, fortune, and passion. In business, however, suspicion may have to be countered with bravery; if the gossipers from the past have resurfaced and caused damage, then exposing them directly to the light and showing the horse that their illusions are just that—and that the path is clear—seems the best move. Ultimately, the reading is warning that while the querent has presently rekindled their resolve and moved past the deceits of the past, their shadows still lurk, and a confrontation is inevitable. The querent is reminded of their inner strength and the importance of asserting their needs and priorities, and advised to clear misunderstandings as quickly as they arise, to listen deeply where there are fractures, and to cultivate respect and influence among peers. To abandon all progress in the face of the inevitable conflicts of life would be to abandon the horse and the journey altogether.

Each of these figures need to be read together with each other, with the specific question in mind. Just as how in the Marseille tarot, the two women on either side of the man in the L’amoureux may be sisters, a wife and a daughter, a wife and a mother-in-law, a mother and a mother-in-law, or any other combination with differing attitudes towards the central figure (and relationships with the angelic archer above), so too is it the case here. The question is why the horseman has been generated, and so its essence is the breath of each limb. Where the first two rows explain the motivations, feelings, thoughts, fears, suspicions, and events which led to the situation in the future, they also are informed by the final row’s verdict. We can imagine each of the elements playing a role in the navigation of the journey, but ultimately it is the horse who undergoes it. I have provided basic thematic interpretations for the figures, but in the reading itself they each speak to the precise nuances of the client’s need, expanding on and clarifying the situation in which they find themselves. The warning of the horse and the resources of the heart and hands interplay in the ultimate verdict and the advice which was given.

If you are interested, your main guide for learning Kumalak will probably be the book and kit from Didier Blau. The French version is almost always in stock on Amazon and the English isn’t too hard to come by either. In addition to a short book which goes over the practice and all the possible row combinations and what they mean, the kit also comes with the 41 beans (be sure to count them yourself, mine had a few more, in case you lose some, I presume), the cloth in the picture, and a felt, green drawstring pouch you can assemble. However, you could always just use your own beans (including coffee) or small pebbles and paint/draw on board/cloth your own casting mat, and learn to read online. There are a number of websites and tutorials that rehash the information found in Blau’s book, including common grid layouts and the special figures, that are just a short Google search away.

It is important to note that different countries in which Kumalak is practiced have developed their own styles and folklore around the beans, with Kazakhstan being of course the most rich and developed in its approach. In my own practice, I have an ancestral spirit who presides over each Kumalak reading, and I have deepened my skills through their teachings as well as Balkan readers whom they have brought me into contact with. As such, my reading style will be informed by those who have passed their knowledge to me, and the cultural matrices in which they belong. I would, as always, highly recommend one to eventually consult with traditional readers to broaden their understandings of this living oracle. May the beans reveal to you stars, and the stars show you the ways.

Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer (Pt 4): The Circle

I spent the last week of May in New York City with my godfather, assisting with a new round of initiations and training in Quimbanda. After I had returned and sufficiently rested, I decided that the following Friday I would endeavor to complete my Circle for the Tuba Veneris.

The grimoire states that the Circle can be made from many different materials, from being drawn on the ground with chalk, charcoal, and paint, scratched into the dirt with a sword or staff, to painted on parchment or virgin paper. My main goal with mine was durability. I wanted to be able to roll and carry it to wherever I choose to perform the ritual, be it an abandoned building or the same forest I had buried my tools in previously. That way, I also wouldn’t have to redraw it every time I wanted to conjure the demons. On the day I poured the six wax seals, I took a large sheet of canvas and, with the help of a trusted friend, cut it to a six foot diameter circle as per the grimoire’s instructions.

The chapter also states that the inner circles can be drawn “two or three fingers in from the first”, but my hands are definitely on the smaller side so I decided to go with four inches each. With my friend’s help we painted the three rings in black. The divine Names, however, have to be written in colour (elsewhere in the grimoire the colours of Venus are given to be green and red) in the days and hours of Venus. I chose to paint them all in green, so as soon as it was the afternoon Venus hour last Friday, I sprung to work. In order to keep the spacing of the letters even so that they would actually wrap all the way around, I used the crosses that divide the names as goal posts.

I had only just finished going over each of the letters again when the Venus hour ended, so I waited for the evening one to consecrate the Circle with the incense. Finally, I folded it up and placed it with my Seal, Book, the six wax seals of the demons, and my first Horn. I’m really quite pleased with how it turned out.

With the Circle complete, I am technically finished with all the preparations for the Tuba Veneris. What remains is the second bull’s horn which I had just received in the mail shortly after I returned from my flight. A friend and witch who tends to a farm had procured for me a bull’s horn that had been severed during the day and hour of Venus and graciously sold it to me. My previous horn had been severed on a Friday, but the person who sold it to me could not say what the exact time was—only that it was shortly after noon. Given that I can be completely certain about the second Horn, I intend to wait until the next Friday new moon (which is in August) to engrave and consecrate it, just to cover all my bases. Either way, I may well eventually perform the operation with both Horns to test if the spirits manifest equally, but for now I intend to follow the advice of my spirits and be patient. There is much magical work to be done in the meanwhile.

Sphere + Sundry: Hermanubis Series (Review)

I took notice and became interested in Sphere + Sundry’s offerings in the same year I began experimenting with astrological talismans. At the time, one of my best friends, who goes by Hex, had begun studying scholastic image magic. Whenever he found an appropriate election, he would also message our friend group of magicians with the times for their respective cities and the general instructions for making the talismans. A few months later, Salt himself signed up for Christopher Warnock’s astrological magic course and he too joined in the hunt for elections. Over the course of the last year we’ve made an assortment of planetary and fixed star talismans using the appropriate metals and gemstones. While I am not currently studying the same art, being more immersed in other projects relating to my traditions of witchcraft, the grimoires I am procuring tools for, and my Quimbanda lineage, I have come to deeply respect and enjoy the power of astrological talismans in my practice. Their magic feels so clean and elevated it sings; bending reality around them to flow with the tides of that particular celestial moment they capture and eternally embody.

Run by Kaitlin and Austin Coppock, Sphere + Sundry create more than just your standard talismans. Their range of products include oils, candles, inks, hydrosol sprays, incenses, collaborations with perfumers, jewelers, and blacksmiths, and a host of other elected tools and materia all having been crafted to the strictest standards within the time frames allotted. Even the very bottling and packaging is carefully done within the right times, and the bottles and jars themselves are never branded. You can read more about their philosophy and approach at their website [here]. Both Salt and I have had nothing but excellent experiences with their work—in fact, part of my Christmas gifts for him last year involved a few of their Exalted Mars offerings in addition to a set of the seven pentacles of Mars in iron. The results he’s had with them in conjunction have been nothing short of remarkably powerful. As for myself, their main line I work with is their Hermanubis collection, of which I have almost a complete set. Given that they see such regular use, I thought I would offer a review of the line here for those interested in both the set itself and their products more broadly.

Before I get into the review proper, I wanted to briefly comment on Hermanubis himself. I first began engaging with the god two years ago, shortly before I read Gordon White’s The Chaos Protocols in which he is famously recommended. I was led to him by a cynocephalic spirit familiar Hekate had bestowed me, who referred to Hermanubis as one of his masters. Intrigued by the syncretized Hermes-Anubis psychopomp deity, I printed out a picture of his statue in the Vatican museum and set him up with a tealight and a glass of water in the corner of one of my necromantic working altars. Since then, his guidance and erudition have been the catalyst of some of the most important breakthroughs in my witchcraft, spirit work, and general understanding of magic. There is a distinct elegance, a celestial current flowing within the sea of the dead he shepherds, a starry overtone to his shadowed approach; a mercurial swiftness embedded within his darksome guidance. While there is no shortage of psychopomps and death-beings in my life, from St. Cyprian of Antioch, Veles, and Hekate to the Exus of my Quimbanda court, Hermanubis has a distinct and deeply valued place among my spirits and my attempts to further ingress his mysteries have yielded important sorcerous fruit.

As my relationship with him grew, so too did his shrine. The framed picture of his statue was soon replaced with figures of Hermes, Yinepu/Anubis, and a little figurine of Hermanubis from the Hachette “Gods of Ancient Egypt” series. I created the APHEROU (“way opener”) brass bowl for scrying and conjuring the dead using the instructions in The Chaos Protocols and set aside the usual space for candles, water, and food.

In purchasing the Hermanubis series from Sphere + Sundry, I was specifically interested in further cultivating the god’s presence in my life as well as having properly-enchanted materia on hand to bring his essence and power into other domains of spellcraft, sorcery, and spirit work. I am reviewing everything available in the series except for the beeswax candle.

Here is what they look like together out of the box. Inside the package was a bottle of Oil of Hermanubis, a bottle of Ink of Amenti in a 1/8 oz glass vial, a vial of Natron, some Way Opening Dead-Drawing Elixir in a 1/2 oz glass bottle, a bottle of Hermanubis Self-Igniting Incense, a 5″ Hermanubis statue in white, and the accompanying Opening of the Mouth and Eyes Ritual. As with all Sphere + Sundry shipments, they came packed with a few chocolates which were promptly devoured. No pictures/traces of evidence for those.

Let’s begin with the most immediately striking: the figurine. Its presence in the collection is owed to Oliver Laric’s Three D Scans, a project involving copyright-free 3D models of statues from various museums. Unless you commission your own or buy one of the Hachette figurines like I did, this is one of the only few actual statues of Hermanubis available. It’s a lightweight, 5″, standard 3D-printed figure that looks just like the Vatican museum statue. You have a choice of white or black in the listing. I went with white to match the marble of the original.

Accompanying the statue is a ritual to perform a take on the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, to better enliven and consecrate it as an icon of the god. Performing the ritual was the first time I actually used most of the products; I received my package late on Halloween (auspicious!) and wanted to wait until it was the Mercury hour on the following Saturday to carry it out. Until then, I kept the vials wrapped in black silk in a black cauldron that sits on the Hermanubis shrine.

When it was time, I withdrew the oil, elixir spray, incense, and natron and procured a series of offerings to the god—breads, olives, alcohol, spring water, and so on. I cleaned the statue with purified water and natron, anointed its eyes and lips with the oil, “cut” them with a ritual knife bathed in the smoke, and sprayed the entire figure with the elixir. I did the same for my other statues and figurine as well and then sat in communion with the spirits as the offerings were presented. The combination of the incense, oil, and elixir truly emanate, enhance, and vivify that exact blend of Hermes Chthonius and Yinepu heka made manifest in the spirit of Hermanubis as I’ve come to know him. The sensation that fills the room when even one is used sings with the same power that builds after I’ve spent some time praying and invoking at the main shrine, having plunged deeper into the work—though elevated to an even stronger degree. I find that now, all it takes to stir the same level of attention, focus, and presence of the spirits at the shrine is to open with a prayer and mist the space with the elixir.

I tend save the incense for larger workings as the bottle is quite small. A myrrh resin blended with a herbal mixture aligned to Hermanubis along with some black dog hair, the powder is self-igniting. While it can be used as an offering to the dead and to Hermanubis himself, I’ve chosen to use it only in important chthonic rituals in which I really want to draw, wake, and gather the dead or other such spirits and facilitate their conjuration.

The elixir, along with the oil, are my favourite pieces. To quote the listing:

Dark red wine and high proof spiced rum were ritually infused with herbal attractants for drawing the dead, blessed by Hermanubis as the Sun set on the day of Mercury’s exalted direct cazimi 2018.

The bottle is similarly prepared with copper leaf, echoing the concept of paying pennies to traffic with the dead. While I have yet to use this at a cemetery (which can be done to wake particular graves), I have mostly employed it to great effect at my ancestor altar, at a boveda during seance, and to baptize particular necromantic tools. Before I use it, I always begin by delineating the appropriate boundaries, naming precisely which forces I am calling, and ensuring that several of my helping spirits and familiars are at my side to guard the gates, as it were. Similarly, as is advised, I banish, cleanse, and re-anoint the windows and thresholds of my working space with holy oil once I’ve finished. I also give offerings to my spirits in thanks for monitoring what flows through my walls. When sprayed, the atmospheric change is unmistakable. I find that my psychic senses are instantly elevated and attuned to the frequencies of the dead, that the spirits more easily manifest and take form in my compasses and circles, and that the clarity of their messages and warnings are distinctly improved. Extremely versatile and consistently potent in every circumstance I’ve used it in, I would highly recommend the elixir to any witch; whether you work with Hermanubis or not. As long as the chthonic have a place in your practice, you will benefit from this water.

The oil packs a similar punch, albeit in a far more earthy, concentrated form. The description given for its contents on the listing is:

As the Sun descended into the realm of the underworld on the day of Mercury’s exalted cazimi 2018, organic cold-pressed olive oil was combined with ritually harvested cemetery cypress, hops, barley, and other herbs and ingredients sacred to Hermes, Anubis, or favored by the dead, along with myrrh, hair from a black dog, and 24k gold leaf.

After opening the mouths of my statues, I used the oil to anoint the offering plates and gifts belonging to my dead, five-spot their working spaces to further anchor their presence as liminal hedges of communion, and further empower particular tools—such as a wand made from the oldest yew tree in a British churchyard. A few of my familiars have taken a particular liking to this oil and I’ve used a small dab of it to further solidify their grasp and influence over workings I’ve done with them. Again, I’ve noticed consistently their manifestations have only ever been enhanced through this oil’s use. I’ve actually found that carrying it with me in my bag of throwing bones has served as a kind of battery and beacon to spirits in general. I’ve also anointed myself with it prior to going on cemetery walks to open myself further to the whisperings of my allies there, as well as in seances and any such sessions involving channeling and divination. Alongside my own Hekate oil, made through Jason Miller’s recipe in his Sorcery of Hekate arcana, this is my go-to oil for necromancy now. One interesting use I’ve come to discover is that if I lightly dab a wrapped offering or a particular working fetish, doll, or bundle I am disposing of at crossroads or cemeteries, specifically while charging and praying over the oil as I’m shaking and using it, the spirits in these spaces are immediately provoked to action far more quickly. It’s a powerful way to “mark” something as theirs now, whether it is a gift like a meal or bottle of alcohol, or a working bundle that draws their intercession.

The Ink of Amenti has been used solely for my work with a particular black book I keep. I’ve poured a small amount of it out into a larger vial of plain ink, fumigated it with myrrh incense, and consecrated it as another batch of necromantic ink through dilution. I tend to treat the vessels in which my ritual inks and oils are housed as living entities, especially since I’ve begun to make my own oils during specified times and with ritually-harvested ingredients. My mother bottles all have personalities of their own and I treat their bottling and pouring with reverence. So while the original bottle my ink came in is paired with that black book, some of it was reincarnated into a new, diluted form and saved for future work. As for its effects, I’ve noticed that what I write with it glows hazily in my psychic vision, especially in the dark, and that it has cemented the influence of the spirits whose seals and pacts are within that book in an interesting way. Namely, when I use ink from the same bottle to write petitions, commands, sigils, etc. on other pieces of parchment, the spirits of my grimoire can be instantly stirred just by their writing prior to any formal conjuration. A proper link has been forged between the agreements in the book and whatever I write with the bottle, as overseen by the chief binding spirits who authorize the contracts. As such, I’ve been able to more quickly launch these spirits to action through its use.

As for the natron, I’ve found the most practical way for me to use the special properties of this vial is to divide it among other existing purifying salts I have. I’ve mixed some with a larger batch of natron I have that I use for purifying baths and another portion with a jar reserved only for drawing circles. Again, to better blend them, I fumigated these jars with incense to combine them as one. There is little left in the original vial as it is now. Much of it was used immediately in the purification and consecration of various different statues and figures of the gods and spirits I’ve adapted the accompanying ritual for.

I referred to the elixir as extremely versatile and consistently potent, but really this applies to the series in general. You don’t need to work with Hermanubis to benefit immensely from these tools as enriching way-openers for all magic concerning the dead and travel to and from their worlds. If you’re thinking of beginning a relationship with the deity, these offerings will draw the attention and focus of the right spirits easily. If you’re struggling which to choose, I would pick between the oil and elixir depending on how you envision working with these powers, whether you prefer to anchor and anoint specific points or permeate and uplift the air around. With both you’ll be set for a long time indeed. While there aren’t many left, if you’re willing to spend a little extra I think the Statue and Opening of the Mouth Ritual Set is ideal; it’s not only well-priced but you get a sample of the majority of the offerings including one of the replica figurines. And if this particular lineup isn’t your calling, do consider checking their other series for something undoubtedly equally potent but better tuned to your needs.

To Conjure a “Horrible Great Dragon”: A Lunar Mansion Experiment from the Cunning Man’s Grimoire

Pre-Ritual Notes

One of the experiments I decided to perform from the Cunning Man’s Grimoire was the operation to conjure a “horrible great dragon to appeare in the ayre”. This ritual is to be performed when the Moon is in the 11th Mansion (though one of the authors of the text mentions it’s likely supposed to be the 12th due to the imagery of the that Mansion actually including a dragon) and is a fascinating example of a blending of ritual magic, folk magic and astrological image magic together into one single operation.

The ritual prescribes the creation of a small, red copper ring, with a hollow space inside that would allow one to place parchment with names of power written upon it. Unfortunately, the original text is unclear about the precise creation of the ring; if it needs to be made during an astrological election of its respective mansion, or if it is enough to simply perform the ritual during the appropriate time. One argument for the latter case is that the majority of the rings required in the Mansion rituals given in the text are hollow copper rings. This indicates perhaps that the original author of the text was only using one ring for multiple rituals, exchanging the parchments within. This is just a guess, of course, and as such one of the purposes of this experiment was also to see if the ritual works with a copper ring forged outside of the Lunar Mansion—as well as, of course, to see if it really would summon a dragon spirit in the air.

For the creation of the ring, I decided to go with a plain copper band with the names Qerminat, Baralama, Canempria, and Coriet engraved on it, instead of a hollow one with the same words on parchment inside. As for the ritual’s timing itself, I decided that to be less strict than I would require for a Talismanic one, and opted instead to have the Moon be on the Ascendant at the time of the 11th Mansion. The ceremony itself is relatively short; it simply involves a spoken prayer and a symbol to be etched on the ground using the ring.

Other additions to the experiment that were my own included bringing with me the Fifth Pentacle of Mars for protection, as well as the Scourging Rod from Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis with which I can quickly draw a circle about me in the dirt, should the spirit be malefic in nature. (This is, after all, a possibility, especially if it belongs to the 12th Mansion considering that the 12th shows a man and a dragon fighting).

I was quite excited to give this operation a try; past visions of dragons I’ve received through Sfinga in dreams have been utterly awe-inspiring, as has witnessing first-hand her Zmaj’s miraculous control over healing, destruction, and the weather. In light of the central role of Slavic zmaj lore and magic in her life, I was very eager to conjure this Lunar Mansion-derived dragon, especially as it might allow me to see a non-zmaj dragon by myself for the first time.

Post-Ritual Notes (First Attempt – 11th Mansion)

The first attempt at performing this ritual was done during the 11th Mansion. I prepared my tools and set out to a nearby dirt track along a large field. I drew the seal in the dirt and spoke the conjuration. Suddenly, I felt a surge of strength and vitality churn within me. With my spiritual sight, I saw a white serpent appear before me—on the ground, however, not in the air. Its spiritual form emerged physically in a translucent guise.

I greeted it, asking for its name, to which it first responded claimed to be Jazariel, the chief of the Tribal Spirits in the Faustian texts, and also the celestial ruler of the 13th Mansion (it is notable he also appears as a white serpent). However, after I pressed the spirit, it quickly confessed to another name instead to replace the first. I continued by inquiring as to the obtaining of wealth and also of the nature of local British dragon spirits. I did not receive satisfactory answers from him, with the conversation moving in circles for the most part. Eventually, I dismissed him, not sure what to make of the operation. That is, until I returned home and researched the second name he had given me. While I won’t mention what it was, it is safe to say that I had been had. This first spirit who appeared had likely been some sort of trickster. I found this more amusing than frustrating though, and looked forward to performing the operation again during the 12th Mansion the next day.

Post-Ritual Notes (Second attempt – 12th Mansion)

This second operation was performed while the moon was in the mid-heaven. The conjuration went well—the clouds immediately darkened from what had previously been a considerably bright and sunny day by English standards. Even the sky became dark, with the exception of the South Eastern corner along the horizon where the daytime moon sat overlooking the earth. Recognizing that, this being a Lunar Mansion experiment, the dragon would likely be related somehow to the moon, I decided to gaze at it for a little while. As I did so, clouds began to form where previously the sky had been entirely clear. They covered the moon in the shape of a claw, grabbing it as a pearl. When I took note of this, an all-white dove flew past me through the trees.

Suddenly, my spiritual sight perceived very clearly a large drake looming in the sky, its form two-headed and pure white. Like a wyvern, it had only feet and no arms. I greeted it, only to be ignored. I conjured it by the ring on my finger, by the names of my spirits, the Holy Trinity, and finally one of the names of Sfinga’s Zmaj guardian that I have been allowed to know, to which it finally paid me attention. Its demeanor, however, still seemed disinterested (after all, it is not like I had her Zmaj near me to bind it—she is back in Canada at this time!). I greeted him once more, asked for his name, and promptly received one. I inquired as to his nature, to which he replied:

“I move the wind, I shake the waves, I break ships with my tail and swallow them. I cause fleets to sink and storms to fall upon my enemies.”

It seemed that the way to get him to talk was to ask about himself! As I learned through our short conversation, he was a fairly boastful spirit—something Sfinga had told me to expect from certain kinds of dragons. Much to my delight, shortly after the ritual, I re-read the description of the 12th Lunar Mansion in various sources and saw that it has a malefic influence over ships and sea-men, confirming the spirit’s nature.

I received some advice from the spirit concerning how to further awaken the spiritual senses and utilize their discernment. Shortly afterwards, I thanked him and he departed. I was and remain greatly pleased that the experiment was not only successful, but that I was able to confirm for myself that the 12th Mansion is the most appropriate for the conjuration of its lunar dragon. Since I have his name, I definitely plan on calling this particular spirit in future 12th Mansions to ask further questions.

A Simple Conjuration of Oberon

Recently, I performed a conjuration of Oberon whose structure was based on three major manuscript sources. This ritual’s performance was timely, coming fresh off the back of Dan Harm’s new Llewellyn publication Of Angels, Demons & Spirits in which we find some fairy content I plan on reviewing soon.

Oberon is a fairly well known figure in early modern British occultism, especially from the 16th Century and onwards. We see him pop up in negromantic experiments from the Folger Manuscript/Book of Oberon, the Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, and we even find mention of him in the publications of Robert-Cross-Smith. Rather than his appearance in numerous negromantic texts, he is better known to most people as the King of the Faeries from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It is unclear how much of a relationship there is between the literary Oberon (who may also be drawn from preceding folklore) and the Oberon of magical manuscripts. Oberon in our magical texts is generally ambivalent at best in character, seemingly fitting into the infernal hierarchies given how often we find him mentioned in spirit lists of infernal and demonic beings. Similarly, in the Folger Manuscript, he is bound with conjurations similar to those used for other Demonic Kings. This is in stark contrast to other operations for faery spirits, such as the one contained in E.Mus 173 (published as Of Angels, Demons & Spirits) and Faust’s Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis‘ Operation of the Pygmies—wherein a Table is set for the spirits alongside offerings of fine breads, as well as sacrifices (such as a dove torn in half). With that being said, rituals for faery spirits are not always gentle in approach, and more aggressive examples are just as common, as we see in numerous workings to call the Queen of Faeries, Sybilia.

That being said, we do find some less baleful operations of Oberon, in particular the operation in Arthur Gauntlet and also from the French text Wellcome MS 4669 (published as A Collection of Magical Secrets by Paul Harry Baron). In the case of the latter, it is even explicitly stated that no circle is required for the operation. I’ve also found a form of this ceremony in Wellcome MS.110, as you can see in the image below, and it is these three variations of the same operation that I based my own experiment on.

The Character of Oberon, from Wellcome MS.110, (The Thesaurus Spirituum of Roger Bacon).

The ritual itself was relatively simple to perform. The method that I used diverged from the originals in some respects, though the chief elements were still present. The first step in all three variants is to draw the image of Oberon with his name and seal above his head on a silver or lead plate during the day and hour of the moon when she is waxing. You must then engrave the names and characters of the two (solar and lunar) thwarting angels of Oberon, Scorax and Carmelion, and utter a brief conjuration, bidding them to move the king and cause him to appear before you when you formally call him. I fumigated their seals and performed the conjuration of the two thwarting angels three times during the day, and once at night.

Once this is done, it is necessary to engrave the seals of Oberon’s two advisers—Kaberion, who partakes of the nature of Mars; and Severion, who partakes of the nature of Mercury—in their respective planetary day and hour. The conjuration for these spirits is relatively brief. The purpose is to bind them as you draw their seal, so that they will advise and council their lord Oberon to appear before you when you perform his own conjuration. These incantations are similarly carried out three times each day and once at night as was done before with the angels.

Each time I fumigated Kaberion, I felt a powerful, hot, and aggressive sensation stirring within me. Severion felt less intense in comparison, which I think is understandable given that Kaberion’s nature is Martial. Throughout these conjurations and their accompanying flashes of the spirits’ natures, I came to suspect that Kaberion is perhaps the military adviser of Oberon, his general and commander, whilst Severion acts more as a chancellor or diplomatic adviser.

Finally, the day of the operation came; or so I thought. Pre-ritual consultation with my own spirits indicated that it would be better to perform the operation on a Friday—the day of Venus—as it would be during this time that the King would be more amicable to work with. As such, I waited until the next available Friday to begin the conjuration.

I began the ritual with the standard lighting of candles and fumigations, consecrating them in the manner I am accustomed. I followed this up by calling on my personal spirits to assist me; in particular, my own Good Angel. I then placed my hand over a Pleiades talisman I had elected and consecrated, which is said to draw demons, spirits, and the dead to the conjurer—and also to improve the light in the eyes. I charged the talisman to draw Oberon to me, and then finally I began the ritual proper. I spoke the conjuration I had prepared over the figure of the spirit with its seals, appealing to Oberon, his thwarting angels, and his two councilors that he would appear before me within the crystal. While I was not using a circle, I had prepared a number of Solomonic Pentacles, a consecrated Orthodox cross (gifted to me by Sfinga), my scourging rod, and other protective items in case the spirit became hostile towards me (such an occurrence was recounted in a Robert-Cross-Smith publication, the astrologer of the 19th Century). As the conjuration proceeded, I felt a powerful and intimidating presence fill the room. I could feel an intense spiritual force emanating from the crystal sphere as he arrived, filling the air through the medium of the incense. I greeted him with the following:

“Hail, O King! I greet you with an offering of incense befitting your rulership. I have called you here today by means of your angels and the words of your advisers, that I may make my compact with you and be familiar with you. May you make yourself visible!”

Following this, the overwhelming sensation of intimidation and dread softened (while still lingering in a lesser form), and the spirit finally physically appeared within the shewstone. I asked him various questions, made certain agreements, and successfully obtained a familiar from within his court. This was a spirit who could act as an intermediary between myself and the faery spirits, while also possessing various other powers I had specifically requested. After obtaining his name and seal, I inquired if there were any other protocols I should abide by in order to call forth the spirit, and one requirement was given: that I must be standing on the earth with bare feet when I conjure him.

Once I finished with my petitions and requests, it was time to seal the compact. The way this was done was quite interesting, as the spirit beckoned to his seal and indicated I should “shake his hand” by placing my own over it. Upon doing so, I gave the license to depart and bade the spirits farewell, pleased with their manifestations. The day after the agreement was made, I checked on the figure of Oberon which I had prepared and saw that it had acquired a waxy, physical signature beneath it.

Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer (Pt 3): The Six Seals

My work with the Tuba Veneris continues to unravel in interesting ways. A few days ago, a friend who recently became aware that I was pursuing the operation messaged me, saying that he could procure for me a bull’s horn that fits the requirements of the grimoire exactly. Ecstatic, I agreed, and it should be in my hands within a few weeks. This will give me an opportunity to test how well the spirits manifest physically in different rituals. Before I engrave, consecrate, and bury it, I intend to once more bathe it in the seven Venusian herbs my Zmaj had recommended to stir the bull spirit, especially as it had such a potent effect with the last horn. The next Friday new moon is in late August, so that is when I will be consecrating it. I will likely attempt the full operation before then once the Circle is complete, and then try again with the new horn in September.

With that said, my next order of business was to create the six seals of the spirits. To borrow Teresa Burns and Nancy Turner’s translation, the grimoire states:


One takes green Wax, to which one mixes soot, makes from this round pieces and, with steel instruments, cuts into them the Seal of that Spirit one wishes to invoke. Let these Seals be consecrated with smoke in the same way as the others aforementioned in the time, by the day and in the hour of Venus, but do not bury them: rather, preserve them for the Work.

– “How to Make the Seals of the Spirits

As we can see, the consecration with smoke has to be carried out in the usual times of Venus, but there is no such recommendation for the actual construction of their physical forms. I decided I would make and carve them in the day and hour of Venus anyway, especially since I had the time. I filled a spare can with green candles and soot, placing it within a larger pot of water to double boil on the stove. As I waited for them to melt in the Venus hour, I set up my silicone molds in which I would pour the wax. Once the candles had turned into a dark green liquid, I fished out the wicks with a plastic fork and retrieved the can, carefully pouring the wax into the silicone. They fully dried and hardened in the Venus hour as well, and I gently carved them with a tiny steel pin.

I made sure that the seals would be on the thicker side, especially as the method by which the demons may be compelled if they are unruly involves stamping them with the heated copper Seal of Venus. They were consecrated at night in the Venus hour and are now waiting with the rest of my tools for their eventual use.

Since I will be consecrating the second horn on the next new moon, my next immediate goal with the Tuba Veneris is to construct the final piece of the ritual: the Circle. I have procured a large canvas cloth which I have already trimmed into a six foot diameter circle. On one of the following Fridays, I will paint the inner circles in black and write out the sacred names in green.

The British Book of Spells & Charms, by Graham King (Review)

Since we began seeing each other, Sfinga and I decided that one of our Valentine’s day traditions would be exchanging books. This last one, I got her a copy of Stephen Skinner and David Rankine’s A Cunning Man’s Grimoire, and she gifted me the special edition of Graham King’s The British Book of Spells and Charms. Today, I would like to briefly review this wonderful little book which, in addition to being a thoughtful gift I treasure, is genuinely an excellent addition to any folk magic library.

Sfinga’s picture of her paperback with True Black Magic.

Published by the always-impressive Troy Books, the special edition is really a feast for the eyes, bound in red cloth with bronze foil backing, the cover graced with a Mars talisman; my preferred planetary power of choice. The binding is tight and the paper quality superb. A quick flip-through reveals numerous illustrations and photographs from Cecil Williamson’s collection from the Museum of Witchcraft. Needless to say, I was in love with the little book as soon as I first laid eyes on it, and fortunately the material inside did not disappoint.

The text opens with the classic charm: “Rain rain, go away, come again another day”—which I can still to this day remember being taught in English Nursery school—flanking an upturned horseshoe. The introduction reflects on the fiercely syncretic and non-discriminatory nature of folk magic, which devours any source it finds and attunes them to the needs of the user. The analysis in this section was particularly thought provoking for me, especially when I began to mentally compare this fluidity within folk magic with the staunch conservatism of early modern ritual magic. As is the case for the entire book, the writing is littered with colourful illustrations and quality photographs from the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall.

The book moves on after the introduction to a collection of typical protection and good-luck charms. The one that struck me the most was the example of the more recent “Fums Up” charms, which you can see in the image above. These were apparently common during the First World War, carried by soldiers who were often gifted them by their lovers for luck. Sea urchin fossils/Faery Loaves, thunder-stones, hag stones, witch bottles, and all sorts of other artifacts are included in the chapter. I think it is perhaps this section of the book that most British people, including those who do not practice magic, would be familiar with, as we encounter the horseshoes and rowan crosses so closely tied to British folk-ways.

We also see a considerable number of verbal and written charms throughout the book, which are, alongside the illustrations, one of its biggest selling points as a reference text. Many of them were already fairly well-known to me, such as Isobel Gowdie’s “The Muckle maister Deil tak what’s atween dis twa hands!” and the numerous variations on the classic “three ladies” or “three angels” anti-burn charm, such as:

“There were three angels flying over the West
One cried Fire, the other cried Frost
The other was the Holy Ghost
Out fire, in Frost, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

Other charms however were rarer, including some I have never seen before. In particular, the charms from Cecil Williamson’s personal collection include a number of very interesting exemplars; most notable perhaps being anti-Hitler sorceries from the 1940s. One fairly humerous example is that of a Hitler-themed pin cushion, used to afflict the dictator with all manner of ills. This fascinating example of effigy magic deployed for political purposes is quite evocative of the survival of the practical, folk magic mindset well into the Second World War, despite their otherwise widespread erosion.

The rest of the text is divided into a number of different sections, with examples of love divinations and spells, curses and healing techniques, and even magical folk-songs and dances. Each of these sections is filled with a considerable number of different charms, which are thankfully meticulously sourced in the footnotes. The sheer number of examples, in addition to their thorough cataloging, makes this work invaluable as a reference text for British folk magic, allowing us track down any that particularly catch our fancy. Another example that stuck out to me is that of a mole’s foot in a red bag, hung over the mantle. When a member of the household comes to suffer from a toothache, the bag is retrieved and worn around the neck until the pain is healed. In the final section, a “Magical Medley” of miscellaneous spells, there is even a short technique to ensure that your child will be a talented singer: all that is needed is to bury their first nail-parings under an ash tree and they will be granted the gift of song.

This little text is truly quite dear to me, both as a gift and as a reference work on one of my favourite topics of study. It is a fine collection of folk magic practices and techniques, full of historical curiosities and practical inspiration for my craft. I can’t pretend I’m not currently looking around for my own little “Fums Up!” figure as well! You can pick up your own copy in the numerous editions available on the Troy books website.