Hey folks, this is Salt. I wanted to make a brief post to let you know that I am open for consultations again, after a particularly busy period of time (preparing materials, translations, and research for my astrological practice and shifting towards more formal teaching, working on other writing projects, and building language skills amongst many other things that we’ll leave for another time). Most importantly, during all this studying, I was able to finalize my visa and move countries to, at long last, live with Sfinga into our very own home! We’ve been so excited, setting up shrines and a dedicated spirit room, offering to our spirits together, making incense, cooking, working out at the local gym, practicing sorcery, and getting used to our new house. These have truly been some of the most blissful, joyous, and productive days of our lives, and we’ve never been happier and healthier in our practices and social/work lives. We are especially thankful to all our spirits for their incredible manifestations, and our close friends for their unending support, love, and true companionship. A special shout out to B. Key, who flew out to visit us both just a week after I immigrated to spend time together, do an incredible amount of practical magic, and cook us some truly incredible food!
With that exciting update, we return to the topic at hand! As much as I love doing astrological work, my approach is quite laborious and takes some time, demanding a great deal of attention and focus, and thus it was necessary to take a step back temporarily from offering my services in order to attend to these other matters, my own studies, and the immigration process. I am happy to announce that I am now available for consultations once more, with new options, offerings, and pricing schemes.
Consultations now take two forms. The first is a general consultation with a base price of £50 GBP, including various options to append different services, and gradually scaling in complexity. These general consults are not limited solely to astrology but also include various other methods, including sorcerous prescriptions and geomancy.
The second is intended to reward long term clients, and is the closest that we come towards a “general astrological reading”: the opening of a personal casebook. These casebooks essentially act as a repository of astrological readings and judgements for the patron, making it easier to refer to them. They are also beautifully illustrated with various woodcuts and images from various sources throughout. Below is an example casebook, showing what one can expect in terms of quality, length, and content:
Each one includes the observations on the “general features” of the nativity and some fundamental information and delineations mostly according to the methods of Hellenistic, Byzantine and Arabic astrologers. The second section of each case file is then made up from the various cases themselves, whether geomantic questions or horary, or more detailed examinations of the nativity (such as marriage, the year ahead for the native, etc.). The third and final section also includes a small section of prescriptions and magical remedies, usually of a fairly simple nature such as charms for protection, purification, prosperity, or un-witching, depending on the particular needs of patrons as indicated in the nativity or other forms of consultation. This third section will essentially resemble a miniature book of magic, or book of secrets in a similar vein as the writings of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus, usually with an emphasis on natural magic unless otherwise stated. This is because moving the souls of minerals, animals and plants, and the use of incantations and written charms, as done in natural magic, is somewhat more accessible than recommending conjurations of unfamiliar spirits to people who have no reason to approach them — these are all forces that surround us to begin with, after all.
As a result of these changes, my consultations are now far more accessible, lowering the price to represent the shift in gears and adjustments to my approach. I think this new approach will be appealing to many, and in particular seeks to reward long-term clients. I take pride in the amount of work I put into each one of my consultations, and my goal is to help you meet your needs to the best of my ability.
To take a look at our services, see [HERE] or click the consultation page above. It would be my honour and privilege to be your astrologer for whatever questions and needs you may have.
Paranatellonta and the formula for calculating rising and setting stars
The paranatellonta are another major feature of astrology that is occasionally utilized by classical authors, such as Firmicus Maternus, Manilus, and so on. We also find examples of these rising stars in later authors, influencing works such as the Astromagia of Alfonso and the Astrolabium Planum (or Astrological Optics as the English edition is known) of Johannus Angelus. They even find themselves appearing in the works of William Lilly and later renaissance authors, by their tables of “bright, dark and empty” degrees.
Now, the word paranatellonta (παρανατέλλοντα), literally “parallel rising” (or alternatively, συνανατέλλοντα, “synanatellonta” – rising simultaneously according to the Brill’s New Pauly) describes the rising of the fixed stars that occurs over the horizon. This is contrasted with the method of Ecliptic Projection given by Ptolemy, which sees use in various works including Anonymous 379 – in which, though he might imply use of the paranatellonta by his language, is in practice giving the ecliptic projections of the fixed stars in his work. This ecliptic projection method is also used by many astrologers today and in the classical period. It’s the most common and popular method of using the fixed stars, and itself one of much use and virtue.
Yet it is not the sole method of observing them, and, alongside the heliacal phases of the stars, the paranatellonta make up one of the three approaches to using the fixed stars in classical astrology.
Now, in ecliptic projections for the fixed stars, even if 8° Leo is rising in the Ascendant, it doesn’t mean that a fixed star whose ecliptic projection is at 8° Leo will also have its physical body also rising, because it is not directly on the Ecliptic (though some are and thus will). In other words, its body might be elsewhere, under or above the horizon. The paranatellonta however, refers to the more precise astronomical observation that we can use to determine the ascendant degree at the time a particular star’s physical body appears over the horizon. The name itself – co-arising, parallel rising, or rising alongside, however you spin it – is chosen because they rise at the same time as a particular degree of the zodiac, over the circle of the horizon. Thus they share a sympathetic relationship to the same said degree and exert their influence over it. The precise astronomical relationship here is going to be a subject in my upcoming Astrological Course, and we’ll leave those finer details for another time, though those familiar with the basics of astronomical coordinate systems will be able to understand these things just by what has already been written.
The concept of paranatellonta does indeed have a relationship to the “parans” of modern astrology, though there are also some distinctions and differences as well. Namely, as far as similarities go, the emphasis is upon the star’s physical body rising over the horizon (though we arguably also include culminating and setting stars as well) at the time of the Native’s birth.
As far as the differences, the first is that the paranatellonta emphasise the horizon. In other words, a star must be in the Ascendant or (arguably) culminating, setting and so on, to be considered relevant. It does not need to be regarding a planet to be effective or to have influence over the figure.
The second is that the paranatellonta are only effective at the time of birth itself – the exact measure of this seems to be based on the exact degree that the star co-rises with, if we consider the ‘images of the degrees’ given in Johannes Angelus & the Astromagia to give us an indication of this, although its worth thinking that Firmicus is clearly ascribing Sirius multiple degrees of influence as well. On the other hand, contemporary use of the parans considers them in relationship to the planets and horizon, and through a 24 hour period, whilst the paranatellonta emphasise the moment and degree of birth itself.
So we can see that the fundamental concept is very similar, and holds a similar basis; but there are distinctions as well.
Now, these paranatellonta also have a relationship with the decans, which makes sense considering that the decans were observed in relation to the horizon as well as their heliacal phases by the Egyptians, creating a nocturnal stellar clock – though we should distinguish the earlier Egyptian decans and the later use of decans in horoscopy.
We see them as especially important in judgements of physiognomy and the body in Astrology – which, is a far more important topic than is given credit at times. The body itself is a Nativity – a natal chart in and of itself – and the divinatory art of physiognomy as expressed in premodern Europe, much as chiromancy (or palmistry), was essentially looking at the celestial influences upon a person using the body as the medium and making divinatory statements based on their appearance. Likewise the paranatellonta are given a clear relationship to the body by Firmicus Maternus in his Mathesis – who, drawing on (I believe, as I am quoting from memory here) a lost work by Nechepso and Petosiris, gives the degrees that he calls full, and the degrees that he calls empty. These are related to the “bright, empty, dark, smoky” degrees found in later Astrological literature.
The list given by Firmicus Maternus includes Sirius as the most reliably identifiable star, and gives it to the 7th to 11th degrees of Cancer. However, the ecliptic projection of Sirius was in Gemini during the period Firmicus was writing, and the same for any sources he would have been using. On the other hand, if we look at the rising of Sirius over the horizon, during 100 BC the value we have is roughly 12 degrees of Cancer using the modern zodiac. Of course, there would naturally be offset from the zodiac used by our classical authors by some measure, but, it is still approximately close enough.
Correcting these tables (assuming they need it – as I think they do) is a difficult task; the paranatellonta vary as to which star rises, and which stars set over the horizon at any given time based on latitude. Thus any such efforts to do so would need to be able to calculate them for the given latitude as well as precession. Probably an impossible task, all in all.
But we can see here the relationship the fixed stars and paranatellonta have with the appearance. This is resembling to the decans who themselves, in astrological literature, tend to represent the corporeal form or body of a thing that they signify, as well injury to the same by disease or accidents. We find examples of this relationship in the works of Sahl Bin Bishr (again quoting from memory, please comment if a correction is needed!) who cites Al Andrazaghar on the use of the Face-Lord in judging appearance and also Julian of Laodicea, recently translated by the Horoi project. Thus we see that the co-arising stars have a strong share and influence over the body of the Native, as well as their activity and behaviour.
This brief cursory look is just a beginning, but I leave you with the formula below – so that you can calculate the time that a particular fixed star might rise or set over the horizon, as well as the formula to determine which stars will rise or set.
Notes to the Formulary
Sin-1 (Tan (δ) x (Tan (φ)) = AD
90N + AD = H
90S – AD = H
α – H = Rising RAMC
α + H = Setting RAMC
sin RAMC / cos RAMC x Cos ε = ƛMC
Tan–1 (cos RAMC / -(sin ε x tan φ + cos ε x sin RAMC)) = ƛAsc
1. Breakdown of the Formula
First we need to take the declination of the fixed star (δ), the right ascension of the fixed star (α), and the terrestrial latitude (φ).
2. Calculate the Ascensional Difference (AD) for the star, as follows:
Sin-1 (Tan (δ)) x (Tan (φ))
In the windows calculator for example, this is as follows:
Tan δ x Tan φ = Dif
Sin-1 (Dif) = AD
3. Use one of the following, depending on whether the star is southern or northern
90N + AD = H
90S – AD = H
4. Calculate the rising RAMC of the star as follows, using the Right Ascension (α)
α – H = Rising RAMC
5. Calculate the setting RAMC of the star as follows, using the Right Ascension (α)
α + H = Setting RAMC
6. Now we calculate the MC, before calculating the Ascendant; so that we can determine the rising time of the star. This is a simple formula, divided into a few steps, and should give you the chance to familiarize yourself with these calculations before the more complicated Ascendant. The formula is as follows: to calculate the zodiacal longitude (ƛ) of the MC, using the RAMC we calculated above, and the obliquity of the ecliptic, which we can approximate to 23.4371 for modern dates but ideally, we use a more precise amount, especially in dealing with trigonometry.
ƛMC = sin RAMC / cos RAMC x Cos ε
Simplified, it is as so:
Step 6.1:: sin RAMC = SinRam
Step 6.2: cos RAMC x Cos ε = CosRE
Step 6.3: SinRam / CosRE = Result
Step 6.4: tan-1 (Result) = ƛMC
Note that if the RAMC is under 180, it will fall between 0 Aries and 29°59’ of Virgo. If it is greater than 180, then it will be between 0° Libra and 29°59’ of Pisces. If it is not meeting these requirements, add or subtract 180 as necessary to produce the result sought.
7. Now we use the following formula to calculate the Ascendant from the RAMC. To do this we need our RAMC from earlier steps, and terrestrial latitude (φ) from step 1. Finally we need the obliquity of the ecliptic (ε). This can be found easily online or via its own relevant formula. Then we consider the following formula:
Tan–1 (cos (RAMC) / -(sin ε x tan φ + cos ε x sin RAMC)) = ƛAsc
However, we can simplify this as follows into six steps.
7.1: cos RAMC = CosRam
7.2: sin ε x tan φ = sintanEL
7.3: cos ε x sin RAMC = cossinERAM
7.4: sintanEL + cossinERAM = Negative Number1
7.5: – Negative Number1 = Negative Number2
7.6: CosRam / Negative Number2 = Result
7.7: Tan-1 Result = ƛAsc
From this we have our ascendant axial degree – and remember that 00.00 is 0 Aries; Whilst 359.99 is 29.59’ of Pisces. It must be in a sign following, or to the left; of the MC. So if the result is not appropriate, then you must apportion 180 to the ascendant longitude as necessary.
Let us take the star of Regulus, on 7 Sep 2022; and as for our local horizon, let us say that the Native is from Winchester, Hampshire.
1. First we need to take the declination of the fixed star (δ), the right ascension of the fixed star (α), and the terrestrial latitude (φ). [I have also included the obliquity of the Ecliptic (ε) since we will need it later.]
φ: 51°05’ or 51.08 North
δ: 11°51’ or 11.85
α: 10h9m32s, or 152.25
2. Calculate the Ascensional Difference (AD) for the star, as follows:
Sin-1 (Tan (δ)) x (Tan (φ))
In the windows calculator for example, this is as follows:
Tan δ x Tan φ = result
Sin-1 (result) = AD
Let us take the Ascensional difference, by observing the formula given, and it gives us:
tan(11.85) x tan(51.08) = result 0.2598493562969941021326313835425
We then use the arcsin on result to generate our AD:
sin-1 0.2598493562969941021326313835425 = AD 15.061123671264834812596990682949 (or 15°03’)
3. Use one of the following, depending on whether the star is southern or northern
90N + AD = H or 90S – AD = H
Now, since the star of Regulus is of northern declination; and we likewise are northern, we add his ascensional difference to 90, so we can make H.
4. Calculate the rising RAMC of the star as follows, using the Right Ascension (α)
α – H = Rising RAMC
Then following this, we calculate the RAMC of the star by subtracting the same from his RA, and it gives us a sum of 47.18887632873516518740300931705 in RAMC. Thus the midheaven shall have the Right-Ascension of 47 degrees and 11 minutes, when the star rises over the Ascendant. Note that we will dispense with looking for the setting time (step 5) here to keep the example simple.
6. Now we calculate the MC, before calculating the Ascendant; so that we can determine the rising time of the star. This is a simple formula, divided into a few steps, and should give you the chance to familiarize yourself with these calculations before the more complicated Ascendant. The formula is as follows, to calculate the zodiacal longitude (ƛ) of the MC, using the RAMC we calculated above, and the obliquity of the ecliptic, which we can approximate to 23.4371 for modern dates but ideally, we use a more precise amount, especially in dealing with trigonometry.
ƛMC = sin RAMC / cos RAMC x Cos ε
Simplified, it is as so.
Step 6.1:: sin RAMC = SinRam
Step 6.2: cos RAMC x Cos ε = CosRE
Step 6.3: SinRam / CosRE = Result
Step 6.4: tan-1 (Result) = ƛMC
So, using the RAMC to determine the longitude of the midheaven in the zodiac, we must proceed as follows:
The Sine of the RAMC is 0.73359794075541645499224468998881
The obliquity of the ecliptic is 23.4382260812 and when cosined and multiplied with the cosine of the RAMC, it gives us 0.62351091696510862919932339243141.
So, we divide this sum from the sine of the RAMC, giving us 1.1765598978220749303357600844386. Make an arc-tan with it and we are given 49.637609676335657842990870332858.
Converted to DMS (this means at the time of the stars rising) it will be at 49°38’ degrees of absolute longitude. IE: 19°38’ Taurus will be on the MC.
Note, that if we consider the Swiss ephemeris table of houses for the right ascension of the Midheaven, the answer is approximately the same. (Possibly give or take an insignificant deviation of a few minutes – I haven’t interpolated the table of houses).
Now, before we move onto calculating the Ascendant (which is more useful if we would construct a table, for example) we ought to examine the figure, and determine the evidence to show that this works.
Here we have the Chart as I have designed it. We can see the Ascendant is 29’45’’ Leo. The Midheaven is at 19’38’’ of Taurus, as we observed earlier.
Now, if we look at the ‘parans’ in the Solarfire program reports, we can see that connecting to and rising over the Ascendant is Regulus, with only about a minute’s difference to our manual calculation.
In this respect then, we can see that it works effectively for the calculations. But still, if we had the wish to construct a table, for example, then it is good that we know the rising degree as well.
Back to our example!
7. Now we use the following formula to calculate the Ascendant from the RAMC. To do this we need our RAMC from prior steps, and terrestrial latitude (φ) from step 1. Finally we need the obliquity of the ecliptic (ε). This can be found easily online or via its own relevant formula. Then we consider the following formula
Tan–1 (cos (RAMC) / -(sin ε x tan φ + cos ε x sin RAMC)) = ƛAsc
However, we can simplify this as follows, into six steps.
7.1: cos RAMC = CosRam
7.2: sin ε x tan φ = sintanEL
7.3: cos ε x sin RAMC = cossinERAM
7.4: sintanEL + cossinERAM = Negative Number1
7.5: – Negative Number1 = Negative Number2
7.6: CosRam / Negative Number2 = Result
7.7: Tan-1 Result = ƛAsc
So in this example, we have our RAMC, and we make the cosine of it to be as follows which we will save for later. (Cosine of the RAMC: 0.67958374121178950478721381305492)
Now we take the sine of the Obliquity of the Ecliptic and multiply it via the tangent of the Terrestrial Longitude, and it gives us this result. 0.49259755429671712792119030118711
We then take cosine of the obliquity of the ecliptic, and multiply this via the sine of the RAMC. This gives us the following. 0.67306837551544119543796432811591
We add these two values together to produce the following:
But we then negate it, so that it is written as such instead:
Now we take that Cosine of the RAMC, and divide it by the negative number:
And this we make the arctan, or tan-1 and the value that is returned will be our absolute longitude. However, in this example we must also add 180 Degrees, since the result is -30 and would place us elsewhere.
Converted to degrees this is 149 degrees and 45 minutes, 28 seconds of absolute longitude. So we thus know the Ascendant will have the 29th Degree of Leo, 45 minutes and 28 seconds, just as it is also affirmed in the figure above. And if we wished to include it in a table for the same star, we could do so.
Co-Latitude and which stars can rise or set
Note that not every star will rise and set however, depending on the latitude we look. Therefore we must look to its colatitude:
1. Determine the Co-Latitude. This is found by subtracting the latitude of a place from 90. Thus, Alexandria has the latitude of 32°10’ (or 32.17 decimal).
90° – 32°10’ = 57°50’N
2. Any star with a greater declination than the co-latitude in the same hemisphere cannot set. Any star with a greater declination than the co-latitude in the other hemisphere cannot rise. As an example, if our co-latitude for Alexandria is 57°50N, then a fixed star at 58°N cannot set; and a fixed star at 58°S cannot rise over the horizon.
A final note on Robson’s formularies
Though I don’t consider the aspects with the paranatellonta, I wanted to make a note for those who are interested in using the above formula for their own use of parans. The formula given by Robson was making use of logarithmic tables, and converting these to a calculator can be troublesome. Whilst I won’t give the full formula here, as a helping hand for the interested parties who might want to use the same, the method of deriving the logarithms is as follows. For example, if we wanted to observe the logarithmic tangent of a particular stars declination:
log(tan(δ)) + 10 = LTδ
In the Windows calculator this would be as follows (make sure you are using scientific mode):
Tan δ = δt
log δt = δtl
δtl + 10 = LTδ (logarithmic tangent of the declination)
If any readers, students, and fellow astrologers are interested in using these formulas in their publications and programs, you have my permission and encouragement to do so! All I’d ask you to give me a shout out as well, and ideally a link to either this article/our blog, or the website of our upcoming platform for hosting classes, soon to be featuring work from myself, Sfinga, and Key: mercurii-school.com. The website isn’t live yet, but expect updates very shortly on the first course: a 106 lesson tour of traditional astrology and magic by yours truly. I named my sources, and would appreciate being named in turn!
Many thanks for your time, and I hope you find this useful!
Ever since I had forged my daimon pact through PGM VII. 505–28, I found my existing love and appreciation for the papyri become even more enflamed. My list of rituals to accomplish had more than doubled, coming to encompass a number of more complicated rites, my mind being at ease with my daimon’s assurances that he could arrange for all the necessary materia requirements without resulting in me breaking any budgets. While I am in no way averse to substitution, especially when the workarounds are orchestrated by the spirits themselves (and naturally, confirmed with cunning and insightful divinatory inquiries), I have often found a special thrill and excitement in carrying out older spells as they were written. My spirits have often noted that there are pacts forged at every step of a working’s channeling, with the powers that are drawn upon, anchored, and payed homage to through each ingredient often being far more complicated and nuanced than one would first assume, largely being the dominion of the privacy and secrecy of the ruling spirits of the working themselves. It is ultimately a sorcerer’s wit that will guide them in reading between the lines of received grimoires and rites, consulting with their spirits on matters such as what is superfluous or merely an artefact of the time, what marks a power’s presence and must be included, what can be summoned spiritually through existing alliances within one’s own court to stand in the place of the material, and which elements provide an initiation unto themselves simply by being gathered, alerting the watchers of the rite to the sincerity of the seeker of mysteries.
One of the most crucial lessons my patrons have ever taught me when it comes to magic is to always remain level-headed, curious, flexible, and diligent. To live tradition is to carry it forward into the incarnated times in which one lives; not to be a servant of its artefacts. At the same time, to disregard the pacts our ancestors had already made on our behalf, including the ancestors of sorcery itself—those who penned down the rituals we consult and seek to reenact, or who forged the first agreements with certain spirits and how they would consent to manifesting and arriving when called in the future—is to extinguish personal ambition with bitterness and arrogance. While I have always pursued magic’s manifestations and miracles for the consistent delights they have conferred upon my life, I find that in my heart I love the art for its own sake. That so much is possible, that so much folklore is true, and that so many spirits exist to consult with, learn under, and stretch the limits of our perception and cognition with will never fail to fill me with absolute glee.
In some cases, procuring certain items is in and of itself a significant part of the journey, in others, they flag important powers that must be noted and given their due in order for the requested spirits to manifest in the way the ritual assures they will. To love Mystery, what is hidden, occulted, and what in some cases may never be known to the magician, being the knowledge only certain spirits have the license to witness and bear, is also to allow for adventure in every step of the sorcerous process. A long-standing agreement I have with a few specialized familiars, combined with the work of the 2nd Pentacle of Mercury (which brings things “contrary unto the order of Nature”, that is to say, including that which is improbable or rare, or to make what is expensive cheap, etc.), is to open the roads to procuring rare materia for future experiments. In some cases, this manifests as unexpected windfalls of money to purchase what I need, in others, in the form of sudden connections with those who either themselves are able to obtain them for me, or know someone else who could. On this front, my new daimon was eager to join in, encouraging me to pursue other workings from the late antique Mediterranean period, both from within the PGM collection and beyond, with the assurance that he would open the way forward so to carry them out precisely.
At the top of my list was PGM IV. 3086–3124, the title of which is given as the Oracle of Kronos. This ritual had captivated my fascination for almost a year now, ever since another spirit of mine pointed out its remarkable qualities to me. Its intended outcome is to call forth the god Kronos, who, once manifested, may reveal the answer to any question. While the Oracle may certainly then be consulted as a purely divinatory ritual, it was made clear to me by my spirit that there is nothing which suggests the “questions” posed must strictly concern themselves with such matters. Instead, one may presumably petition the god in the same fashion, requesting knowledge, rituals, secrets, mysteries, ways to access particular powers and familiar spirits, and so on, as is the case for most rituals in the PGM intended to compel or conjure a deity to appear. I sat in discussion with my spirits to determine the list of questions and petitions to put forward some time ago, and immediately set out to recreate its instructions.
The ritual involves going out to a place “where grass grows” at night and grinding salt in a handmill, speaking a formula until the god arrives. His manifestation is said to be heralded by the clattering of iron chains and the sound of heavy steps. The magician should be clothed with “clean linen in the garb of a priest of Isis”, and have prepared an offering of sage, the heart of a cat, and horse manure to burn. Additionally, a phylactery must be made and held on the person for the purpose of protecting oneself from the god, subduing him when he “appears threateningly”, and compelling him to provide the answers to the questions given, while similarly chanting another formula. The phylactery in question is to be made out of the rib of either a young pig (presumably one which has not reached sexual maturity) or a “black, scaly, castrated boar”. The rib is to be carved with the inscription “CHTHOUMILON” and the image of Zeus holding a sickle.
There are a few things to note from the outset. Firstly, it is clear that the conjuration conflates Kronos with his own father, Ouranos, given the reference to him as a “hermaphrodite” upon “whom the transgression was committed by [his] own son”—a reference to Kronos severing Ouranos’ genitals with a sickle (making him actually a eunuch, not a hermaphrodite), which resulted in the birth of Aphrodite as well as the Furies. The ritual itself is clearly coercive, with the incense offering being particularly foul-smelling (horse manure and a cat’s heart with sage), and the very act of grinding salt over grass which grows, rendering the land infertile, being a clear transgression against a patron of agriculture. There is a formula to further compel the god once he arrives, in order to subdue him in case he “appears threateningly”, as well as a phylactery of Zeus to protect the sorcerer, allowing them to take on the divine mask of Kronos’ son to threaten him with not only his banishment to Tartarus, but with the same fate he dealt his own father. That the phylactery is made of a piglet’s rib may be to evoke the imagery of a scythe (in the image, wielded by Zeus, but also of course being a typical symbol of Kronos as a castrator, with his depictions frequently wielding a curved harvesting blade), while also drawing on the common sacrifice of young pigs as offerings to chthonic deities in late antiquity. The presence of the cat’s heart is also evocative of the conflation and syncretism of Kronos and Chronos, saturnine associations of time and longevity, and the lion-headed Mithraic Aion.
My spirits had given me much fruit for thought with their commentary as to what kind of theophany might appear from this conjuration. They recommended only changing the line “you hermaphrodite” to “you eunuch”, given the reference to Ouranos’ castration, but proceeding with the rest of the ritual as is. Naturally, my first order of business was to take inventory of what I already had in stock. Regarding the “garb of a priest of Isis”, I thankfully already had a white linen robe on hand for ritual use that I had fumigated with frankincense and myrrh. Similarly, I keep a stock of Dead Sea salt, as well as Greek sage, so I could write those two off the list. This left me with the cat’s heart, the horse manure, and the pig’s rib phylactery.
Key’s invaluable expertise with biochemistry came to my rescue with the matter of the heart. Initially, he kindly offered to place an order with his laboratory where he works for a cat to dissect, and to quite literally obtain the heart for me directly. I decided that this would be our last resort, assuming I could not find just a heart alone to buy elsewhere online. Thankfully, after consulting with one of my aforementioned treasure hunting spirits (whom I primarily at this point employ for assistance in obtaining materia and rare books), a taxidermy shop I frequent suddenly procured a cat’s heart preserved in formalin as a wet specimen, and I purchased it immediately. And yet, Key still managed to save the day regardless! I set the shipping address to his apartment, and once he received it, he treated the heart of the formalin in his lab, ensuring it would be safe to burn as incense when the time comes to give the offering. My biggest thanks as always to him for the crucial help!
I reckoned that the virtue of the horse manure in the offering lies in its foul smell, being coercive in nature. For this reason, I briefly entertained the idea of swapping this component for powdered sulfur, but ultimately decided to at the very least include it in some form while also offering one of my fouler-smelling Saturnine incenses, which contains sulfur in the recipe. I made my way to a small urban farm that is open to pedestrians, slipped away and collected a small amount of the manure, and returned promptly home. I always carry some extra plastic bags, a pair of gloves, and a Sharpie on me in my backpack full of talismans for materia collection, and I have to say that this smelly experience was not even within the top ten least pleasant things I’ve had to grab for magic. Witchcraft and Quimbanda alike have certainly provided the rest.
Finally, I was down to the matter of the pig’s rib. I decided that it would be far easier to obtain that of a young pig’s than a “black, scaly, castrated boar”, and placed an order for a rack of ribs from a suckling pig at a local butcher. I gave the meat itself as an offering to my spirits (as a vegetarian all meat I buy tends to go to spirits and friends) and treated the bones. Once I had an image of Zeus and the name of power to my liking, I lacquered it with clear nail polish to preserve the bone from cracking. In the meanwhile, my friend Alison of Practical Occult had also procured a similar set of piglet ribs, and graciously sent me one of the extras that she was distributing. This meant that, should everything work the way I’d hope, I would be able to mail out the additional leftover ribs to any friend who was hoping to carry out the ritual as well—assuming my other spirits didn’t claim them for their own devices and talismans first.
For the ritual itself, I decided to wait for the nighttime Saturn hour on a Saturday my spirits recommended. I scouted out the location “where the grass grows” ahead of time, placating the spirits of the land ahead of time, and letting them know that I would be grinding salt over the field until the deity manifests, making the appropriate offerings in advance. When the time came, I filled up my bag with the incense, phylactery, salt and mill (in my case, a mortar and pestle), charcoal and a brazier, a lighter, and one glass-encased candle so that I could see in the dark, and headed for the ravine.
By the time I arrived on location, it was a little past 10:30pm, right at the Saturn hour. I had already dressed in my ritual linen robe at home, wearing a plain white skirt and tank top underneath, and had marched over to the forest with no one seeing me on the way there. I set up the brazier and charcoal, lit the candle, and took out my ritual script (a printed scan of the rite as it appears in Betz), checked in with my spirits one more time, and proceeded with the call.
While I’ve never been scared of the dark, even as a child, I found myself feeling strangely anxious as I began the process. At first, I lit the charcoal and began to recite the prayer, entirely forgetting in my eagerness (and sudden onset of uncharacteristic nervousness!) to grind the salt itself—the key component of the ritual! I quickly came to my senses and managed to laugh at myself for a moment, filling my mortar with the salt, and started again, roughly pounding and grinding it with the pestle on its side to continue to spill the contents over the grass. I then continued repeating the prayer until, after the third time, the atmosphere in the darkness of the forest became completely eclipsed by a sudden, encroaching, swelling presence.
I have to emphasize again that I am not at all an easily-frightened person. Among my close friends my reputation for being incredibly difficult to startle is something of a meme, with many having attempted and failed to jump-scare me with various websites and videos. I’ve always enjoyed horror movies—the more unsettling, the better—and no amount of gore or tension has been able to truly unnerve me on an emotional level. If anything, being spooked by a physical manifestation or a spirit pulling a prank or trying to get my attention has only ever excited me. Yet, in that moment, it was as if my veins were filled with ice, my body entirely immobile, and my ears and eyes strained to their peak, staring blindly into the forest, mind absolutely awash with an overwhelming pressure and dread. I seized the phylactery in my lap and held it until my knuckles were white, willing my psychic perception to open further in order to catch even a potential glimpse of what it was that was approaching.
It was then that I heard it—not with my spiritual senses, but with my physical ears—the loud, slow, thumping of heavy footsteps, each movement followed by the piercing, clattering of chains. Words cannot express how genuinely shocked I was at the sheer noise and physicality of this manifestation! I instantly placed the cat heart over the charcoal and watched it quickly roast, adding then the horse manure (I nearly gagged from the smell at this point) and the merciful relief of the Greek sage which made the fumes at least tolerable. After a battery of steps and rattling, each louder than the last, I finally saw in my plain vision a massive, void-like stretch of black, blotting out even the regular darkness of the nighttime ravine, obscuring the outline of the trees I was able to make out by candlelight and my adjusted vision, extending to tower over me even unto the heavens. In my spirit sight, I was able to make out a titanic, hooded figure, features proud yet sunken, beard neat and elegant and yet frayed with time, joints bulbous and rough against stretched, thin skin which showed still the musculature and strength of an aging king. The passage of aeons had folded their paper-scarred weight into the wrinkles of his skin, yet the eyes which seared with flame and fervour—two lone stars in the sky his form had stripped of dimension—gazed down with cold eternity.
The proceedings of our interaction, and the petitions and inquiries I made, are not something I am able to retell publicly. Yet, suffice to say, the intense, passive aura of dread persisted throughout, and at one point the clattering of chains was so loud and the noise so disorienting that I wondered if I was happened upon by some poor nighttime hiker or a large animal—though there was no one there, not even a single forest spirit that I could detect, but me and the presence. I ended up using the compulsion formula when the sensation of fear was close to its peak, not only because I was sweating and gripping my phylactery so hard I worried any more and I might snap it, but because if there’s one thing I’ve learned across all the traditions I hold initiation in, it’s never to allow pride to supplant the practicality of protection formulas. It was not that I felt that I was going to be harmed, more that I decided I needed to do something about the way the feelings of dread were clouding my perception. I wanted to be as calm, articulate, and forward-thinking with the way I communicated my requests, and have the mental bandwidth to respond appropriately and with intelligently. Thankfully, the formula was truly effective, decreasing the aura that surrounded me significantly as it appeared to slink back like a shadow to where I felt the presence. While the tension was no less high, I was able to breathe and speak normally from then on, much to my satisfaction.
Once I had completed my work, and I received confirmation of my requests having been accepted, the answers I sought being given, and the familiar I asked for having been given unto me—with the name and abilities given and attested to, and the requisite oaths of loyalty sworn—I gave the license to depart and prayed for peace between us. Across various conjurations, especially grimoiric and necromantic ones, I have generally found that as soon as the license to depart is given, the spirit simply disperses or vanishes from my presence, leaving me back to my own devices within the ritual space. Yet here, I found myself mesmerized as the presence did not vanish at once, rather retreated the same way it came—with slow, heavy, receding footsteps slinking back into the woods, each step sinking lower and lower into the chthonic soil, accompanied by the clattering of the fetters and chains. I knelt, transfixed by the overpowering, physical sensation of the deific force quite literally walking away, until at last I could see the moon and stars, and feel the spirits of the forest and earth crawl back into their homes.
Suddenly, the time dawned on me, and I quickly gathered my things back into my bag, left the offering and brazier where it was, and scampered back home. I must have been quite the sight, should anyone have noticed me, running with an oversized book bag in a large white robe down the street and back to my neighbourhood! Once I was home, I enshrined the phylactery, which was now the physical token of the pact with the Saturnine daimon, made offerings to my spirits for their protection and guidance, and finally was able to rest.
I am truly beyond thrilled with how the entire rite proceeded. Acquiring all the materia for it was well worth the effort, and the divinatory answers I received have been nothing short of cosmically illuminating. One of the petitions I requested manifested instantly (in the very same Saturn hour!) in the first stage of its plan, being perhaps one of the fastest turnarounds I have ever seen. As for the new pact, forged so I could seek similar counsel when needed in a more personal capacity and flavour, among other reasons, all the powers involved have been integrating exceptionally smoothly and well. I had Key quickly scry the phylactery without telling him any details, as his psychic perception and spirit faculties have been trained diligently over the last year to become some of the most keen I have seen, and he was able to nail precisely the nature of the pact, its presence, and an array of subtler information I had been interested to test for. Ever since his most recent initiatory experience when I had last visited him in the States, his abilities have been so laser-precise and wide in scope, without faltering through any emotional or mental struggles, I have been all the more excited to resume our weekly training and practice on scrying, and checking each other’s materia and tools has been one such excellent way to do so. Suffice to say, this operation was far more successful than I had even hoped for, and I am so pleased to report that its manifestations are exactly as physical as the ritual instructions imply.
Since visiting Sfinga earlier this year (some highlights of which can be seen here and here), a great deal of my time and energy have gone towards better ensouling and anchoring spirits into particular loci of devotion; in this world as well as the next. These developments primarily stem from numerous midnight talks between Sfinga and I, in which we mused about and theorized practical strategies towards the “arming” of our spirits. After years of covering ourselves in talismans, phylacteries, amulets, powders, condition oils, and the like, it seemed the natural next step would be to give similar to our spirit allies, such that they may independently reap the boons from the vary materia that they helped craft. This is not only a core principle to much cross-cultural technology with respect to seating spirits and birthing their vessels, but also a rather intuitive concept: if you’ve hired a skilled mercenary to protect you, would you rather he defend you in the hostile wilderness with no supplies and rusty ammunitions, or amidst a heavily-stocked fortress complete with neighboring alliances whose spies would inform of you of danger well ahead of time?
I began by consulting with my court to me to see what could potentially be desired, and one of the most prominent figures that immediately stepped forward to request such a working was St. Expedite (conveniently adding to our rapidlygrowing series of Expedite-related posts). Himself a centurion in life and just a capable warrior in holy death, it was not the good saint’s appearance that surprised me, rather the specifics of his request, which to this day still do. As I sat in contemplation, he delineated the recipe for what remains one of the most involved, intricate, and complex magical workings that I have had the privilege to see to completion.
The good saint revealed a recipe to me for what would serve as a load to the statue that has been the centerpiece of my altar since my devotional practice with him began. On a basic level, to load a statue is to fill it with the materials that carry the virtues sympathetic to the spirit, arming the spirit with tools to use once it is more strongly linked to the image. Naturally, this involves properly baptizing the statue as the spirit’s own, and preventing other spirits from inhabiting the figure in order to steal any offerings made. In the majority of the traditions in which I am involved, there is always a warning about buying statues and figures for spirits without baptizing and dedicating them properly—at minimum, they should be washed, fumigated, and prayed over to ensure that only the spirit being called into it will take up residence within its shape (or rather use it as their glove if it is not itself a house for them), lest ambient spirits become attracted to the spiritual attention it receives and come to shapeshift into its form. Different techniques exist across the globe, some very rightly claiming to place the spirit into the image—my personal favorite examples of this come from Thailand, in which amulets or bucha pieces can be fully ensouled and inhabited by the spirits residing within them—whereas others serve to increase the sympathy between and co-mingle the essences of the image and the spirit without actually calling the spirit to fully live within. I want to emphasize that this particular recipe falls into the latter category—one could hardly hope to place an ever-wandering saint into such any such vessel!
The recipe itself begins with the time in which it was to be made—the ten day period from Palm Sunday to St. Expedite’s feast. For each day in the Holy Week, specific ingredients corresponding to the holidays were to be gathered, and then in turn blessed every day following their collection, such that each piece received a blessing “today”. As I began to compile the list, I was initially daunted by the sheer scale of what would be needed. However, fueled by the power and potency of the saint that has been such a trusted compatriot over the years, I became determined to see things through while the spirit of the work was upon me, my ambition fully stoked.
For the next week, it was if I was possessed by the spirit of the work itself, with every waking moment consumed either by the collection and processing of materia, or the inspired contemplation of the loads as they began to take shape. Each day consisted of a spirit-lead journey around the city, visiting dozens of locations and negotiating with the spirits of each for permission and blessing to do my work, making offerings at each place of power along the way. I began to notice early on in the process that each ritual step closely matched the Passion—Palm Sunday bringing with it workings at the gates of seven cemeteries to mirror the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday bringing with it devils that walk the earth on the eve of the crucifixion and their being crushed beneath the foot of St. Expedite, crossroads workings performed and dirts collected as Jesus walked through the streets toward Calvary, dives into the underworld during the Harrowing of Hell, the triumphant return therefrom on Easter, and the ultimate culmination of the work on St Expedite’s feast.
At every turn, the working moved to finish itself, with incredibly lucky opportunities enabling the acquisition of trickier-to-find materia that needed to be collected and blessed on the same ritually potent day. Finding floral and herbal materia drifting down the river or floating in sacred grottoes at the beck and call of my sea spirits, encountering doors and gates unlocked (or very literally opening before me at utterance of a charm and wave of a spirit’s hand!), chance encounters with people on the street handing me that which was needed in exchange for a cigarette—all these and more highlighted just how much the Good Saint and I shared in the desire to see the creation finished.
As the adage goes, a magician must never reveal his secrets, but what follows is a fraction of the saint’s armament, for those with the cunning to replace the gears and wind the springs missing from a watch that ticks ever onward to the beat of “to-day-to-day to-day…”
Blend of soils from 7 crossroads collected on Good Friday
Blend of soils from the gates of 7 different cemeteries collected on Palm Sunday
Blend of soils from 7 Catholic churches collected on St. Expedite’s Feast
A vehicle for the spirit of the Crow-Devil crushed beneath the foot of St. Expedite crafted on Maundy Thursday
A wishing bean, baptized in a river on the Harrowing of Hell
A piece of a palm frond from Palm Sunday Mass
A piece of the pound cake offered to the saint at the start of the work
A piece of the pound cake offered to the saint on His feast
Wax from dressed candles burnt as offerings on His Feast
A small square of fabric torn from the cape that adorned my St. Expedite statue over the duration Holy Week
Herbs blessed on His shrine including Abre Camino, Basil, Myrrh, Palo Santo, Spearmint, Vervain, and Vanilla beans
A skeleton key blessed at a crossroads
A small ampoule of Mercury
At last count, each load totaled around 100 components, the most important of which were tokens of those intangible acts found in the unfailing collection and processing of the materia on each day of Holy Week. As the final assembly was performed, every component and individual blessing to this point snapped into place and began to hum with a potency far greater than the sum of the individual parts, almost rhythmically and mechanically whirring together into an elegant machine in my own sorcerous arsenal—and the arsenal of the saint alike. In taking stock of the work, I have a newfound appreciation for the tireless diligence that the saint brings to his works, and an enflamed drive to go the extra miles for my spirits, without hesitation or fear of complexity or effort required for certain procedures or practices.
I cased the loads into blessed wax, allowing them to sit in the containers of used tealights in order to retain their smaller shape. From here, they could be easily removed and fitted into the bottom of any such statue once it was sufficiently hollowed out with a drill. After the load’s incorporation with the statue, I’ve noticed any workings performed with the aide or through the intercession of St. Expedite have greatly increased in efficacy and potency, with the saint heavier upon me than ever before, more ready to step forth and provide his aide today, with his new armor in hand, and girt upon him, his sword.
I have a great love of the Greek Magical Papyri and all their related historical material, having experimented heavily with various phylacteries, talismans, conjurations, and dream incubation rituals from its corpus, as well as various broader collections of Coptic, Aramaic, and Hebrew sorcerous texts. For a number of years, it has been a bit of an unofficial tradition among myself and a few local friends to flip through the English translation by Hans Dieter Betz, fall upon an entry at random, and test out the formulary to see what comes of the results. The sorcery you can get up to with just a sheet of tin or papyrus!
Recently, while Salt has been busy with a particularly intense training program, Key and I took it upon ourselves to resume this practice and select a working from the papyri to carry out. At the top of our freshly-generated list (the remainder of which we will also write a series on, both together and individually, depending on the undertaking) was PGM VII. 505–28, a short ritual falling under the parhedros or supernatural assistant evocation category, aptly named “Meeting with your own daimon”.
Suffice to say, Key and I shared a lot of laughter about this one. There’s just something about waking up at dawn, immediately reading a gnostic prayer, and then eating a raw egg that had us feeling like we were on some sigma male bodybuilder mindset cultivation plan. And yet, this deceptively simple ritual had completely captivated us. The prayer, outlining the order of spatial and temporal emanation, from heaven and firmament down through the planets, elements, and finally the abyss. The repetition at dawn and dusk, culminating in fourteen prayers to match the fourteen eggs. The “male eggs” themselves, one of which must be cleansed with and the myrrh holy name licked clean, the other to swallow after ensorcelling it with the incantation. The fragmented mention of “olive branches”, perhaps suggesting that the magician should stand underneath them while showing the egg to the sun, was also doable—though ultimately, as we would later find out, unnecessary. Everything about the ritual’s logic to its tantalizing promise was especially intriguing, and, after much deliberation (and many memes), Key and I decided to carry it out together. At worst, we would be down fourteen eggs and some sleep; at best, we would have gained an exceptional new spirit ally.
As Betz himself notes in his 1981 article, “The Delphic Maxim ‘Know Yourself’ in the Greek Magical Papyri,” title “Meeting with your own daimon” at first glance appears misplaced, as the matter of the actual introduction between the magician and the daimon is never raised again. The oration is short, beginning with praise to Tyche, other divine names, Helios-Aion, and then continuing with the planets, elements, and abyss, terminating with the holy Scarab, Khepri. While the ritual does appear to be quite short, differing from other more complicated evocations in the parhedros genre, Betz explains that not only is the title appropriate, there is a rich internal logic to the conjuration. Drawing on Plato’s myth of Er, he elaborates how the “personal daimon” (again, in this context, it is clear that this is not an emissary or assistant of another deity, granted unto the magician as a familiar, but rather the intimate companion and fated, celestial guide of the individual magician themselves) has been greatly associated with Ananke, Tyche, and the three Moirai. To begin with Tyche is especially advantageous, Betz muses, as this draws on a long Platonic and Neoplatonic history through Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus of associating one’s personal daimon with the fulfillment and resolution of one’s own personal destiny, incarnated purpose, and fortune.
It is not immediately clear when the spirit is supposed to appear, however. The magician is to lick the divine names off the first egg and discard it, after first using it to cleanse their body thoroughly. The second egg, which is consumed following the seven utterances of the prayer, perhaps provides protection. Yet, there is nothing more following this. Key and I spoke to our spirits separately, and returned with similar guidance; both in additional advice on how to further enhance and complete the ritual, and also in terms of how best to consider its own structure. Independently, we were told that the “daimon” that will be summoned is incarnated through the consumed eggs, having passed through the various layers of reality, being reborn from its original substance into the fullest sphere of the magician. While the spirits long predate the ritual, it struck us that the eggs served the additional purpose of further inoculating their essence with our own, calling forth an ideal supernatural assistant. Our spirits also agreed that, as Key and I are both in exceptionally intimate, soul-bound pacts with our primary guardians and mentors/initiators, whom would otherwise fulfill the role of “personal daimon” in the Socratic and Plotinian senses, that whichever spirits would manifest through this rite would naturally have to be of a complimentary nature as familiars and tutors. With the approval to proceed given, and the relevant additions made, we proceeded without haste onto our new regimen of early rising, prayer, and cleansing.
For the ensuing seven days, we would exchange daily groggy, near-incoherent egg-related texts shortly before the crack of dawn after being woken by our alarms. We had sorted through our egg cartons and separated the fourteen “male” eggs for the ritual beforehand, but we decided to inscribe in myrrh ink the holy names upon the shell each morning before use instead of all at once in the beginning. On the subject of male and female eggs, Betz makes a comment in the footnotes that the ancients were themselves in disagreement over which eggs would produce which sex of bird, as well as how to distinguish them, and that there was no consensus. Following some practical folklore from my own culture, we ended up going with Pliny the Elder’s judgement in his Natural History, Volume 10, Chapter 74: that the male eggs are those with pointed ends, and the female eggs those which are rounder. This is, of course, merely a folklorically useful judgement and not a truly scientific one, but nevertheless it proved helpful in the carrying out of the rite. Once they were marked with the myrrh ink, we performed the cleansing with the first, the prayer with the second, and swallowed the contents. During the evenings, right as the sun was setting, we would give the oration another seven times, as per directed.
Over the week, we continued to catch glimpses of visions relating to the project. I would frequently see the egg in my hand coil with serpents, like in the famous Orphic Egg images, and at times I would catch flashes of a holy, golden scarab rolling it gently across the horizon. Whenever I would give the evening prayer, I would feel the taste of the yolk, and be reminded of the noble birth of this spirit presided over by Khepri, emerging out of the primordial sea, shaking the pillars upholding the earth. Throughout the conjurations, I was often reminded of Jan Bergman’s analysis of the prayer in his article, “Ancient Egyptian Theogony in A Greek Magical Papyrus (PGM VII, II. 516-521),” in which he noted the presence of the first-ever Greek transcription of the Egyptian names of the two solar barks, (Me)Sektet and Manedjet—the night and day barks respectively—proving an authentic Egyptian lineage. His own translation notes the noble birth (“or the primoridal apparition) of a god: Ra as Khepri, coming into being to regulate the cosmos and create the daimon. Bergman’s entire article is excellent, and I highly recommend it as further reading; he goes into a great deal of depth into the Egyptian cultic origins of much of the prayer, and additionally touches on the possibility that the two male eggs—the primary materials for the magical work—are themselves representations of Khepri and Atum, the latter of which might even be syncretized with IAŌ.
On the final morning, Key and I both noted the visions becoming far more personal, though no spirit came. We had been told earlier by our spirits that the daimon would appear upon the final recitation of the prayer at sundown, and, when the time finally came, we were both overjoyed to report to the other that the operation was a success. On my end, the daimon manifested in a flash of light, gathering its form out from the corners of perception, bringing together heaven and earth at the horizon, and then springing forward towards me, emerging from what looked to be layers of reality riding a solar disk. An umbilical cord formed between us, humming with etheric, stellar light, filling my body with an intense warmth that flooded down to my shadow, to which I quickly became aware my new ally would anchor himself to, and rest within. The spirit indeed presented himself to me in a masculine form, the details of which I will not share, but suffice to say it was immediately clear that he had taken on not only the characteristics of the various divine names invoked within the conjuration, but also elements of my own witchcraft and deepest, sorcerous mysteries.
In Key’s case, primordial dusts and clay aggregated into a body that knelt before him, which was subsequently flooded with the remaining classical elements in sequence. Waters filled his veins, Air filled his lungs, and Fire ignited within him, all commingling and undergoing various transmutations to further enliven the body, ceasing only as the newly incarnate “soul” of the spirit stepped forth from the setting sun into the effigy that had assembled before him. The daimon then stood, immediately revealing the signs, omens, and forms similarly intimately linked to Key’s own witchcraft mysteries.
The characteristics of being able to reside in our shadows (not only that which is cast upon the ground, but every stretch of darkness that brings dimension to our skin), the presence of an umbilical-like tether, the forms mirroring both the cosmic mysteries of Ra and Khepri as well as our own innermost mysteries, and various obvious, immediately-tangible, and powerful abilities that they immediately were able to manifest clearly and plainly before us were shared between our spirits equally. They presented us with individual, private names, as well as nicknames to call them by when discussing them amongst each other, and were able to immediately cohere to our courts’ idiosyncrasies, facilitating manifestations, further organizing spirits, and gathering divinatory intelligence. One aspect we both remarked on was how easy it was to see through the eyes of the daimons, to trade visions, and fly out through their perception as with other more closely-bonded, pacted familiars. When we arranged for them to observe each other, we experienced the exciting vertigo of regarding each other’s magic and spirits through multiple sets of sensory perspectives, aligned in holy focus.
What started out as something of a joking dare flourished into a memorable experience, yielding precious companionship. We were not certain if the ritual would work at all when we began the process, but we are thrilled to be able to report that it was not only successful, but alarmingly so. Among the various parhedros and supernatural assistant rituals in the papyri, PGM VII. 505–28 is not only an excellent one, but fairly simple to perform, requiring only dedication, consistent prayer, and some tenacity. If you are considering performing it yourself to encounter your assigned daimon, do field it by your court first with divination, and check in case there are any additional protocols unique to you that your spirits may suggest. Until then, happy conjuring.
Last year in the spring of 2021, while engaging in some work with St. Expedite in the buildup to his feast, I received a fairly complicated recipe for what I immediately realized was going to be the malefic companion to any Expedite-themed, fast luck (or otherwise “get everything done as expediently as possible”) type of oil or powder. I was in the middle of a walk through my local woods where I conduct many of my workings, when suddenly the trees I was hiking through swarmed with crows; dozens upon dozens of the murder gathering to perch upon the lanky branches in unison. The visions that came were unrelenting. Punctuated by the discordance of cawing, I was overtaken by the sight of thousands of holy relics, bones and skin and flesh and all, picked apart clean by crows, the birds penetrating the sanctums of the sepulchers with abandon. At each peck I perceived the impulse to wait, to delay, to savour the sweetness of resting now and the luxury of knowing that there will ever be a tomorrow, by which our deeds may be yet accomplished. The itch of the spirits to not come yet when called, but to not fully reject the petition either; only to fulfill it later, softly, timidly, with milder effort, and less strain. To reveal the omen that consents to the task at a future sunset. To finally, for the first time since martyrdom, sleep and be at rest—to lavish in the succors of delay, to have reprieve from the tortures of hymns; prayers wrought from ecstasy and yearning to call forth the saints again and again for intercession. I had often mused with my mentors on the nature of the sainted, holy dead as tortured; unable to move on, for we, as their hungry disciples, still call them, still beg them to deliver our prayers to the ears of the Lord, still grope at their statues and icons and medals, desperate for their gifts and signs. In this vision, oblivion in a crow’s maw seemed all too sweeter a death than immortality upon a cross.
When I came to, my eyes still awash with the sight of Christ’s spear-wound upon the cross becoming a feast for the carrion, I realized quickly that a recipe had been delivered to me; for the first time not from the boot of the saint who crushes such lurid temptations but of the Devil-Crow himself, entreating our martyr to convert the following day. While our beloved saint defeated such a foe with ease, few among us can say the same. The comfort of knowing that tomorrow awaits us will always cause for a great many missed opportunities, forgotten elections, and otherwise benefic confluences to slip out of our grasps as sorcerers.
My friends and I often discuss in depth the importance of intelligent shielding and protection. Beyond the usual wards, glamours, witch bottles, and talismans, we’ve experimented greatly with more substantive, self-monitoring and adjusting decoys—the kinds which not only obfuscate our spirits but ensure that divination or scrying performed will see precisely what is intended to be seen. One of my mentors, often besieged by envious eyes in her village, has an entire setup dedicated to ensuring this. In certain situations, that may be something along the lines of soothing the diviner, making them falsely believe that they’ve surpassed her, that their spirits are stronger and more capable than hers, and that she would not survive a psychic attack—only to inflate their already-fragile pride and bait them into her trap where the mysteries she keeps hidden would swallow them whole. In others, this dynamic may be reversed or entirely transformed, to make what is strong seem vulnerable and what is even stronger seem too close for comfort, even at a distance. While musing on the efficacy of these techniques intended to confuse and obfuscate, to lure and to entrap, we would often remark on that which could and may well undermine it all: the very procrastination and overconfidence Expedite’s Crow brings.
As soon as I had obtained the recipe, I was filled to the brim with the inspiration to make it. Its complexities, nuances, and ridiculously involved procedure by which to weave together each individual piece of materia under the auspices of the Crow had captivated me entirely. The idea of an Expedite-themed “cursing” powder was already fascinating in and of itself, but the applications were what had alerted Salt, Key, and I to its further uses. To gradually instill a sense of comfort in putting off important matters; to feel even more at ease, filled with satisfaction and bliss, certain that nothing will decline and no ills will come from neglecting friendships and spirit relationships; to persuade the mind under the banner of self-care to miss scheduled offerings and planned rites; and to corrupt divination attempts to reveal the truth behind if such procrastination would result in misfortune. Conjured over pentacles of invisibility and blended with numerous curated cantrips to obscured from detection, to replicate itself, to resist cleansing and protection, and to build on existing poor habits, this entire project was a nasty piece of work.
And every step of its creation was excruciating.
The first issue was that part of its process was to, quite literally, procrastinate. While the initial vision had told me to make it after St. Expedite’s feast had passed, it quickly became apparent to me that I needed to wait at least a year and a day from the feast of 2021 to even begin the next steps. The recipe, which I had written down on a piece of paper and hidden under the foot of my statue, literally collected dust for over a year before I even remembered its existence. When I finally did and found my passion reignited all over again, I found that this was only the beginning of the pranks this powder—which had evidently already taken on a life of its own—would pull on me.
Anything that I needed to buy, I could only do so if my trip downtown for its purchase was only for this end. In other words, I could not make the process in any way expedient, and combine each trip to shop for other necessary items or to spend time with friends. Instead, every step had to be as drawn out and inconvenient as possible. A crow’s heart and feathers formed the basis of the nest in which the rest would grow, combined with dirt from a mass grave of cholera victims, the mass grave of all those who had donated their bodies to science, seven cemetery crossroads dirts, the ashes of all the incense charcoals that had not been emptied yet, dust from bookshelves upon which not as single volume had been retrieved or read in the past year, and dust from every mess, pile, and bed post that had not been cleaned. Wasp’s nest, blackthorn, calamus, snakeskin, poppy seeds, black mustard seeds, onion powder, tobacco, and a great number of other herbs found their way into the mix, slowly combined with sleeping pills dissolved in offering glasses of alcohol that had long-since been consumed and yet still had not been fully washed or replenished. Eye crust wiped off after missing morning alarms was added to the printed calendar notes and e-mails of agreed-upon meeting dates that were not only neglected, but that no negative consequences arose from. In this way, the relief that not only can important events be evaded, but that all will be better for it, with no penalties being incurred, became an important part of the base. These slips were joined by the sections of Exodus in which Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, as well as other passages of note in which delay brought further ruin.
As part of our increasingly intimate work with the good saint, Key and I had agreed to make two significant projects on our own to exchange when we next saw each other. On my end, it was this “Cras” powder, and on his, a statue load crafted carefully under the auspices and direction of the martyr. Key had already completed his project around the feast, and I had already bought tickets to see him in the States for late May. Yet as the date of the flight approached, the powder was still nowhere near complete, with each step being dragged out to the point of mischievous agony.
Other ingredients included spilled rice and beans that were individually, painstakingly counted, only to not end up in the final batch at all—their wasted time instead being the true essence. Pacing around the bowl in which everything was being constructed was another facet, as was including bits of other powders I had intended to remake and supplement the mother bottles of, but had either forgotten or procrastinated on myself. Even those around me were not spared, as the sinkhole of the recipe continued its burrowing, wasting the time of even those near me in a lurid manipulation that came to exemplify its living spirit’s nature. With the aid of one of my dear familiars, a two-headed raven who is also far more, I was able to eventually contain the broken clocks and time loops involved in the process and finish the mother jar—the literal day before my flight—and package Key’s portion. Immediately afterwards, I decided to go on a walk to clear my head, and somehow found myself browsing Reddit for the next hour instead, completely missing my time. I then realized I truly needed to take a Psalm 51 shower before I decided on anything else!
Even delivering the smaller jar to Key was a hilarious set of circumstances in and of itself, with it constantly being left behind, then other people forgetting to bring it over to his apartment where I was staying, and then at one point even he drove off without waiting for our friend who had just ran to retrieve it and hand it off to us from where we had somehow, absent-mindedly, left it. I had to employ the cantrip which neutralizes its effects from leaking for us to finally take it home. Because each vial of it is its own “mother jar”, with its own independent spirit not subservient to the original batch, each must be subjugated and trampled like the Crow himself by its new recipient, so that they may claim mastery over its control and immunity to its effects. Anyone I would give a portion to (as this would never be for sale) would have their own, unique cantrip channeled to allow them to “finish” the spirit with their own dominating boot. While mine was contained, this one began to act up as soon as it was near the person it was intended for, and so even getting it to his Expedite shrine where it could be fully completed was an adventure. Finally, once it was in place, it began to hum in its containment, and served us well when we needed to employ it in a Law Keep Away working to great success.
This was a real exercise in creativity, patience, care, and staying on one’s toes as a project takes on a life of its own. It was especially fascinating to see how the spirit of the working became its own tempting devil, and how the process of creation was more a battle of wits than a cooperative effort. Ultimately, in order to complete it, I had to get a glimpse of not only the nature of the temptation our martyr endured, but also to further cultivate respect, reverence, and piety for his immediate ability to overcome it in ways that no one but he who would be sainted for this very triumph could. It is too easy to simply hear the story and not recognize the magnitude of St. Expedite’s immediate and swift response, and how this has transformed him into the lightning-fast intercessor we adore today. Even in learning how to make what is a malefic, cursing materia with him, I found myself in further adoration and humility through his great works, and in further knowing a fragment of the temptation he combats.
Quicksilver, Vidajan, Azogue, Pada-rasam, Parad, Shuǐ Yín, Zhū Shā—by whatever name, Mercury and its derivatives are found in magical constructions and formulations across the globe. From baths, floor washes, and other more secretive formulations across the ATRs, Thai Saiyasart and other forms of Wicha for the construction of Barangs, to the Rasalingam of Shaivism and numerous Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, we can observe a set of physical and metaphysical applications just as diverse as Mercury’s global proliferation.
A common use that emerges cross-culturally, however, is for a radical change in luck, especially when gambling—a natural inference from its unstable nature and ability to keep spirits restless. This is done in various ways, ranging from direct application of Florida Water mixed with a few drops of Mercury (which, although said to be effective, comes with the obvious drawbacks of health and environmental concerns) to carrying it as one plays craps, slots, keno, etc. A particularly compelling manifestation of this idea is recorded by Cat Yronwode in Nutmeg In Hoodoo Folk Magic, Spell-Craft, and Occultism:
Some people tell us that they drill a hole in a nutmeg, fill the hole with liquid mercury, and seal it with wax.
Over the years, I have seen this formulation parroted countless times across dozens of blogs and formularies, however, I had never seen one actually made, let alone a report on its efficacy as a charm. This set me on a bit of a hunt which left more questions than answers, after reaching out to rootworkers, conjure doctors, and godsiblings in Quimbanda, to invariably receive the message that they all had heard of this technique, but never seen one in person (and thereby, in action). With my contact list exhausted, I fell back on my spirits, asked them for their thoughts, and if they would consent to a project to make some of these amulets ourselves. With an affirmative in mind, a dremel tool in one hand, and a flask of Mercury in the other, I decided to take this folkloric recipe for a spin.
At the direction of my spirit allies, I prepared powders for luck, gain, and protection of the fate one chooses to enchant for, then blended them with additional charms and ingredients to balance and meld their compositions harmoniously, ensuring the final enchantment was greater than the sum of the parts. I took up 13 whole nutmegs and coated each of them in this powder. In the meanwhile, the allies who agreed to aid in the work took over my hands, wove their own enchantments, and ensured that the seed which was the animistic spirit of the talisman itself was firmly planted in the core of the work.
Once this process was completed, I drilled a small hole into each of the nutmegs and used a glass Pasteur pipette to transfer a bead of Mercury into each talisman. Next, I dripped wax from a consecrated candle into and around the hole while again incanting alongside my spirits to birth the talismans on the night of St. Expedite’s feast.
Inspired by Thai amulet cases, I decided to use tiny glass jars to contain the sealed nutmegs and serve as their home. They were chosen not only for the practicality of being able to contain other materia, but also for safety purposes—even though the wax holds the mercury firmly in place within the nutmeg, my own laboratory training had taught me it is always better to be on the safe side when handling such a material. To the charm I added a pinch of the original powder used to consecrate it, pinches of planetary powders and incenses I had made prior, additional enlivened herbal and mineral materia, drops of oils and sacred waters geared toward the sorcerous aims listed above, and further prayers and mantras.
As the nutmegs were cased and the consecration proceeded, one of my allies suggested adding an additional boon to the talisman: a cantrip by which one can gain a brief yet intense boost in luck in a critical moment. The spirit once again took my hands, and began tying, untying, tangling, entwining and retying these fates within a length of cord from my toolbox. I then cut short lengths from the cord in the direction of significant locations and assigned them by sortilege to the appropriate vessel. In order to use this extra boost in power, one needs only to simply untie the cord and burn it, scattering the ash to the winds of change. In this way, the cantrip works much like a “knotting the wind” charm, only it unleashes a powerful burst of additional luck when needed.
My first run was actually created well before St. Expedite’s feast as a sort of test batch, sans the election of a significant holy day. I distributed these to close friends for purchase to see how they would fare in their hands and what boons they would bring. I decided that if I were satisfied with their results, I would make a further thirteen following the same recipe and make them available for sale, with an additional blessing of having been completed on the day of St. Expedite. The following testimonials arose from these first tests:
From my good friend, godsister in Quimbanda, and astrologer extraordinaire Sasha Ravitch:
These observations have been collected over the short period of one week and a half after receiving my nutmeg charm. Those experienced in materia magica will know that such immediate and quantifiable efficacy is the gold-standard of charms, but rarely achieved; this should speak for itself about the desirability of the charm. Upon the first weekend of carrying the nutmeg charm on my person, my entire household was exposed to Covid. We shared smokes, drinks, cups with infected friends, but somehow all three of us managed to be the only individuals in the group of 12+ people who did not come down with Covid. This already felt like demonstrable proof of the charm’s gifts, but there were many other incidents which were additionally remarkable. I was surprised and pleased to see the glamour affects the charm offers; I received a marked increase in compliments on my beauty, charisma, hair, and hands, over 120 new Instagram followers (despite not posting anything special), increased shares on different social media platforms (especially around people enjoying my use of language), and support, generosity, and increased attention from mentors and teachers. Each time I’ve taken the charm out with me, I’ve had wonderful nights where everything seemed to go my way, almost as if it were too good to be true. People were kinder–not just to me, but seemingly to each other, and I felt a general ease and sense of confidence in navigating my environment. I felt positive that things would just…work out the way I needed them to. The apparative daemons I’ve seen connected to the charm are cunning and clever but benevolent; brilliant orchestrators of my own success and happiness, and generously satisfied by offerings of smoke, a little liquor, and some affectionate kisses. I have multiple times seen them twist, tie, and untangle different strings in my environment in order to cast fortune in my favor, and have noticed no malefic or unexpected negative fall out as a result of these ministrations. I will absolutely cherish my own nutmeg charm, and already plan on procuring another for a companion. I suspect these charms, while versatile and precious in our own hands, would also be incredible tools in the hands of patron spirits, especially those compatible with the auspices of luck, fortune, and fate-spinning.
This talisman has immediately shown itself to be one of the most effective in my arsenal for the manipulation of chance, circumstance, luck and probability towards my desired ends. Intelligent, proactive, creative and very much alive, this charm is the perfect example of delivering more than I expected. While DMing for tabletop games, I’ve had to keep the talisman in a separate room so as to not influence the dice, as when it is near them the rolls I have tested produced statistically improbable combinations of good fortune. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to any occultist I know.
And of course, from our very own Sfinga:
Since receiving this talisman, I’ve experimented with it heavily, taking it around with me to various venues, whispering to it and employing its enchantment, and keeping all other road-opening, fortune-bringing, and luck-enhancing charms stored safely at home so as to ensure that whatever manifestations come, they are specifically from the Mercury in Nutmeg. The results have been remarkable and phenomenally consistent. I’ve received numerous improbably discounts from store clerks right as they’re ringing me up, in one case getting a fairly expensive order cut down by more than 25% because of a clerical error I pointed out—which the merchant decided intentionally not to correct because “it’s [my] lucky day”. I took a party of four to one of the most famous German beer halls in the city on Saint Patrick’s day without any reservations, and asked the talisman to ensure we would have a place to sit together. The bouncer told us that there would be no way to get seating, and the best we could hope for would be individual spots opening up at the bar. Just as he finished his sentence, a party of four left, causing him to stare at us in bewilderment and promptly seat us there. Various machine errors would occur in the charm’s presence, ensuring further discounts and free purchases, and whenever I asked it to help me find “treasures” before heading out, I would inevitably come across precisely what I needed, guided by its spirit to enter shops I would ordinarily pass by. Intriguingly, its magic has even worked in the context of online gambling, especially with regards to lootboxes, gacha games, and rare item drops in MMORPGs. I’ve joked many times to Key about my thanks for his help in feeding my magic-for-better-items-in-games addiction!
I was not only deeply satisfied with the results, but moreover glad that they had brought such boons into the lives of my friends. Excited by how thoroughly they had been tested, I felt comfortable to proceed in finishing off the second round, and, with Sfinga and Salt’s encouragement, make them available for purchase here.
If you would like your own, be it for gambling, good fortune, or all manner of luck-enhancement, I am happy to offer the rest of this special set made on St. Expedite’s feast for $100 USD each. I will not be making any more until the following year, so this will be a limited run. To work with the charm’s spirit, simply whisper your desires to the bottle and carry it on your person when you are traveling, or keep it by your work desk, your computer, the cash register of your business, or any location you wish to see its influence. If you are ever in a bind and require the winds of fortune to blow strongly for you, untie and burn the cord, scattering the ashes where you see fit.
All talismans have been sold out as of 27/4/2022! Thank you all so much for your support!
I’m beyond thrilled that Key has joined us on this blog! After years of deep friendship between the three of us, plenty of sorcerous collaboration, and a great many late-night Discord calls discussing all manner of philosophy, magic, and jailbreaking our way through various texts, it’s a real joy to collaborate in blogging as well. Spending time together in person this month had been such a boon (the hope is to meet up again soon in the coming months!), and we’re already plotting a whole new host of experiments to try out and materia to make, including some Boxgrove Manual and Book of Oberon fun.
Within a few hours of picking him up at the airport, we had already begun to plan out our first working. We had both been itching to conjure, create, bewitch, and just collaborate together post Key’s licença, and had a great many ideas already in mind, but we both wanted to do something that very night—we were just not yet certain as to what. Our answer dawned on us when, on a trip to the local grocery to pick up extra offerings for each other’s spirits, our gaze landed on the pound cake aisle, and our minds wandered to one of our favourite mutual folk saints.
St. Expedite has been a phenomenal ally to us both. In my case specifically, his repeated swift intercession has earned him a place even in my Eastern Orthodox family’s homes, with various relatives submitting their own petitions to me to offer on their behalf. For Key, he’s formed a powerful component of his ever-increasing court of treasure hunting alchemists. We’ve both experimented with various charms, talismans, and workings received from the hands of the good Saint, and decided it was as good a time as any—that is, right now—to create a powder we had been independently receiving the pieces of the recipe for over some time. While we petition St. Expedite’s intercession in moments of dire need, the intention behind this powder is to have on hand a dust consecrated to his virtues to include in all manner of other workings, made under the auspices of this martyr’s fervent and miraculous hands.
I had been saving a jar of dirt collected on his feast from Our Lady of Guadeloupe Church in New Orleans (complete with some dust and pebbles from his famous statue housed within), that one of our godbrothers in Quimbanda had mailed to me. Initially, I kept thinking that I would use it on his next feast, being this year’s, to finally create this powder. The message both of us received simultaneously was loud and clear—the only “election” when it came to the timing of its creation was now, immediately. While we could certainly put the finishing touches on its consecration, and birth other sets of materia magica from it later on the feast, it was imperative that we work then and there in the spirit of “today”.
The base is fairly simple: cinnamon, basil, rosemary, ginger, hyssop, chamomile, lemongrass, white sage, ground nutmeg, laurel, mint, lavender, honey, rum, red wine, and rose petals—all prayed to and enlivened—formed a potent beginning for a dust dedicated to quickening manifestations and bringing immediate success, especially in matters of wealth and road opening. To this was added a powdered slice of pound cake from an entire loaf offered to the Saint, the aforementioned dirt, a burnt and powdered copy of Psalm 23 from a Bible, the verses of Psalm 77: 14-15 written across five bay leaves that were subsequently enchanted and powdered, and pinches of Spica and Regulus powders (elected by Salt). At one point, one of my spirits manifested, commanding Key to taste the mixture, at which point he immediately divined the final series of elements that were needed (and will naturally remain secret). One decidedly Orthodox ingredient that we included is my very own Thursday Salt from 2021, the famous rye flour and coarse rock salt combination made in many Slavic households on Orthodox Maundy Thursday.
The mixture additionally received drops of Key’s personal St. Expedite oil as well as our good friend Mahigan’s Oil of St. Expedite. We can both highly recommend his work over at Kitchen Toad and were delighted to include his oil alongside Key’s own. I’ve tested both oils thoroughly, and both have ensured that events which were fixed to take place months in the future occurred within a few days or even the same day, cutting down deadlines and bringing shipments to the doors of the small businesses of my family and friends swiftly.
At the time that Key had made his recipe, which included separate consecrations and steps on Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and finally Easter Sunday, he had also divined a mojo hand to compliment the oil with. The bag itself must be made from a red cloth that served as the cape of the Saint’s consecrated statue for a certain period of time, to which is added a series of ingredients including the charmed die, and secured on the outside with a cross formed by a cinnamon stick and a skeleton key. The final product of the powder was added to this hand as well, at which point it was given its name and fully ensouled.
In the spirit of the powder itself, everything had to be consecrated and made immediately, today. Once it was sufficiently prayed over and activated, and its corresponding fixed candle consumed, we scooped it into its mother jar and tossed in a prayer card anointed with both oils. Since then, including this powder in workings, as part of candle-fixing blends, or as components in herbal talismans has ensured for consistently fast manifestation rates.
There are plenty of more St. Expedite-related workings to come, especially as Key and I prepare to create some new goodies for the saint leading up to his feast. In the meanwhile as we work on more materia, consider checking out the following article by our good friend and godbrother Matt Venus of Spiritus Arcanum to learn more about the good saint: [LINK]. If you’re in the mood to make a powder to the saint yourself, consider petitioning him for a similar recipe to be revealed and make it as soon as you’re able in preparation for his feast, or, you can buy a bottle from Mahigan [HERE] for the same purpose (and consider his excellent candles, oils, and rosaries too!).
Over the past nine days, I recently had the immense honor to visit some very magical friends, namely Sfinga (at whose home I stayed for a much-needed reunion—we had not seen each other in person since my initiation into Quimbanda last October, where she was present to facilitate the rituals, having just seated her own Pomba Gira as well), and the talented Mahigan of Kitchen Toad. This trip was amazing—alongside traveling, dining, drinking, beautiful conversations, and other revelry amongst friends, we had the opportunity to dance with and walk among our spirits and the beautiful menagerie of wights in the otherworldly ecosystem of the city.
Among all the magical shenanigans we got up to, from creating powders and talismans (posts forthcoming!) to conjuring spirits and performing firmeza at her tronco, Sfinga and I decided we wanted to perform some form of larger, grimoiric, conjuration. After looking through her extensive library, my spirits brought my attention to one of the books on her shelf: Nicolás Álvarez’s The Key to Necromancy: Volume II from Enodia Press. Sfinga and I immediately began to scan through the text and settled on a ritual that can only be performed under the light of a full moon on Friday—which happened to be the very next day.
The ritual is a straightforward, four-page long jaunt that promises “To Bring A Good Spirit Into A Glass”, requiring only a circle, a glass of water in which the spirit can manifest, some incense, and a conjuration. The grimoire states that while the ritual must be performed on a Friday full moon, the planetary hour in which it takes place can be flexible. Instead, the angels summoned (as well as the rite itself) will take on the character of the hour, and if the conjuration lasts past a full hour and into a new one, it will take on a hybrid nature between the two planets. In order to determine which planetary hour we should summon the spirits in, I performed a brief prayer and divined via geomancy, taking the planetary association of the judge as my answer, being Mercury.
We drew out the circle in chalk on the floor, and prepared frankincense and myrrh, consecrated black-handled knives for the two of us, a leatherbound journal to record the seals and information we receive, and a glass of water in which the spirit may appear at the easternmost point of the circle. In the grimoire, it is specified that the sun should be able to shine into the glass of water, and since we performed the rite indoors, we set a candle consecrated on a Regulus election behind the glass, into which we submerged the fourth pentacle of the Sun (engraved and consecrated by Sfinga and our mutual close friend, for the perception of spirits). We donned our Solomonic rings and pentacles, traced out the circle with the knives, fumigated it with incense, and finally, stepped inside its borders to begin the conjuration.
The grimoire states that the spirits will “certainly appear to you” after three repetitions of the conjuration at most. The entire command is surprisingly short, so this took us by some surprise, though we posited that the power was likely in the timing of the Friday full moon on which date these spirits are sworn to appear, much like with the Tuba Veneris. As for the spirits themselves, the intention of the rite is to conjure the angels Coronthon, Mutheon, and all their companions, so that they visibly appear in the glass and answer every question truthfully. Álvarez suggests in the footnotes that Coronthon is the same as Coronzon, the spirit present in the 1665 edition of Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft, in the spell “How to conjure the Spirit Balkin the Master of Luridan“. In this rite, Coronzon is referred to as a mighty prince, who guards the operator from harm, and whose name is given twice on the bear-skin girdle. Our goal was to learn as much about these spirits from their own words as possible, to determine their nature, offices, relations to each other, powers, secret seals, and verify for ourselves their power and accuracy.
We felt the pressure in the atmosphere build during the first two repetitions, though there was no immediate manifestation. However, during the third repetition, the winds shifted outside and several knocks were heard on the wall, accompanied by trembling in the earth (the floor quite literally shook physically in the house, like there was a minor earthquake). We were especially intrigued by this, given that we were not performing the rite outside, but rather indoors, with the sun streaming through the window into the glass magnifying the fourth pentacle of the Sun.
After the third repetition and a brief delay, a white pillar of light appeared in the glass, which appeared physically like a door to the heavens opening, out of which stepped a mighty figure. He was quickly accompanied by a companion spirit, and the two were in turn joined by a swarm of other exquisite beings. The first two spirits identified themselves under oath as Coronthon and Mutheon. While we will keep the record of their appearance private, it is important to note that both, while clearly non-human, took on more explicitly human forms than how Sfinga and I are both typically used to perceiving angels. The conjuration does instruct the spirits to appear in their “nicest form and shape”, and we later commented to each other that this was likely why they were so pleasing and ethereal to behold.
Our interrogation of the spirits proceeded, with questions of office, abilities, history, and nature answered rapidly and pleasantly, all while a retinue of fiery spirits and angels continued to pour forth from the heavenly door to surround Coronthon and Mutheon. This back-and-forth continued for close to an hour, with Sfinga furiously recording everything that was heard in the leather journal. Their responses were heard clearly, and both of us were able to quickly and effortlessly communicate about them back and forth without any delay or pause. The spirits were surprisingly pleasant to speak with, eloquent yet direct in their responses, while being polite and forthcoming when questioned. Both of us were able to simultaneously receive identical messages, visions, omens, etc. throughout, at one point even becoming aware of the other’s thoughts telepathically, communicating wordlessly our reactions and thoughts. Neither of us had ever experienced such a melding before—generally, when performing such rituals with another sorcerer, the rituals would typically take on the character of one person becoming the conjurer (giving the questions) and the other the seer (being responsible for receiving the answers), even if these roles were not determined prior to the rite. Yet in this case, the manner in which the angels communicated was so clear to us, that we would simultaneously hear the same responses down to the syntax used, and even talk over each other at the same time to communicate the very same impression and vision. When our thoughts began to merge, it felt as if we were instinctively communicating with each other as spirits, without the delays of flesh.
As the hour Mercury came to an end—at which point the grimoire specifies that the character of the spirits would hybridize with next hour, being Lunar—a bead of wax atop the candle slid down the side, forming a waterfall of fire which ultimately carried the flame off of the wick into the vessel. The flame quite literally glided down the side of the candle, plunged into the base of the copper vessel in which it was being burnt, and extinguished itself in the pool of wax below. Then, the wick re-ignited atop the candle, and continuously expanded to become a large pillar of fire enveloping the crown, becoming two distinct flames, then four, then back to one in response to specific lines of inquiry (which again were answered swiftly and pleasantly). The retinue of spirits surrounding the angels changed as well, taking on a more ephemeral and wisp-like character.
At one point in the evocation, we began to remark to each other that we could see sparks flying forth from the mouths of the spirits as they spoke, at which the candle began to sputter and pop violently, sending small flames that physically danced around the circle, sprayed into the air, and at one point jumped into the circle, where they mysteriously persisted on the floor until they were extinguished with the blade of one of the black-handled knives.
After Sfinga petitioned the spirits to be granted a particular boon (in line with what the spirits themselves confessed to their offices and powers being), a large ball of wax climbed and aggregated atop the candle, ignited, then fell into the base below, taking with it yet another flame that continued to burn until the end of the ritual. This ball appeared as a meteor falling from the sky, piercing the atmosphere, and continuing to burn once in the Earth. The candle collapsed immediately after this, yet, most intriguingly, the wick itself physically rose from the pile to stand upright without wax, coated itself entirely in flame, and continued to burn. It looked exactly like a figure rising from a grave, as instead of extinguishing itself in the pool of melted wax, it simply rose until it was perfectly erect vertically. Witnessing the candle’s flame be manipulated so freely and dramatically, including extinguishing itself only to rise and re-ignite in direct response to questions (and in physical manifestation to the visions given) was especially beautiful.
Interestingly, the grimoire states that that one “must also have and know the characters of the planets on the day on which you want to do the operation”. We took note of this prior to the conjuration itself, and later found precisely why this clause was included. The angels frequently produced these seals in the glass, as well as to our spiritual perception, in response to questions (as in “delay until such and such planetary hour”, “do that ritual on such and such day”, etc.). For example, after Sfinga finished her petition and was granted the request, I wanted to obtain the exact same result, but was told to wait until a different planetary hour, whose character would imprint upon this boon and manifest it in a way that would be most conducive to me. Sfinga immediately perceived the same instruction, having a simultaneous vision that I both a) wanted to do the same petition as her (I had not articulated this verbally in the circle) and b) was told to summon Coronthon and Mutheon later during the exact same planetary hour I received instructions for.
We received secret seals for the two of them, and were given several operations to carry out in accordance with the lore they revealed on their nature, what kinds of angels they are, what their offices are, and what they are capable of granting, so that we can call them up without the ritual and circle framework in the future and continue to work with them in our own capacities. Further work with them, through these seals and signs, can now take place for the both of us without having to wait for the next Friday full moon. Suffice to say, this was an incredible experiment and one we can both whole-heartedly recommend as a fairly simple yet marvelously potent rite for anyone to carry out, provided the timing is right.
Happy New Year everyone! I’m B. Key. After a July 2021 guest post describing the evocation of Faust’s Mightiest Sea-Spirit, Sfinga and Salt, two of my best friends, graciously invited me to become a third author for this blog. To kick things off, I decided to develop a brief miscellany of sorcerous chemistry and external alchemy. By day I’m a biochemist, so this blend of interests never fails to stir the spirit to put pen to paper.
For the past two millennia, alchemy, with its myriad and diverse cultural interpretations, has been practiced in an uninterrupted and ever evolving march toward inner and outer reunification with divinity. Forming medicines and other precious substances from baser materials, lengthening our lives to the point of immortality, wielding magic, commanding spirits, and deepening our connection to the Gods are not without pitfalls. In these ~2200 years, the chase continues to leave the fragmented notes and the emperors, philosophers, physicians, and chemists who penned them in behind, all reunified with the divine in death, instead of life.
To pick up the fragments of the past and piece them back together again, and to add our own scrap to the pile in hopes that one may, some day, craft from it the Philosopher’s Stone, drink from the Font of Life, see Gold in the crucible instead of Lead, is unto itself a goal both most high and tantalizingly attainable. From these records, we find a both a “science simply composed of one and by one, naturally conjoining things more precious, by knowledge and effect, and converting them by a natural commixtion into a better kind” (Roger Bacon, The Mirror of Alchemy), as well as “…the knavery and confederacy of conjurors, the impious blasphemy of enchanters, the fruitless beggerly art of alchimistry, and the horrible art of poisoning” (Reginald Scot, The Discoverie of Witchcraft).
For Hermes said of this Science: Alchemy is a Corporal Science simply composed of one and by one, naturally conjoining things more precious, by knowledge and effect, and converting them by a natural commixtion into a better kind.
Roger Bacon, The Mirror of Alchemy
Ahead is a small collection of personal techniques, selected to demonstrate sorcerous applications, both duplicitous and sincere, of chemical materia and the synthesis thereof. With the guidance and inspiration of spirit and deity, each of these works will take on a life of its own, as all things shall, and become a gateway to new endeavors, each as disparate and expansive as the notes left behind.
A disclaimer: The following experiments involve the use of strong acids, caustic solutions, powerful oxidizing agents, heavy metals, and their products. It is extremely dangerous to attempt any of the following, especially if you do not have formal laboratory training and an environment with the equipment and space to carry out these experiments in a contained and professional manner. Of special concern is the experiment by which one can see a serpent—if deciphered and enacted, the byproducts and waste created by this reaction are extremely dangerous, highly toxic, difficult to clean, require specialized facilities to dispose of, AND some may be regulated in your municipality.
To have 30 Pieces of Silver Take up your Copper, and wash it in a mixture of good vinegar and salt in excess until impurities have fled. In a good flask, dissolve lye, about 12 grams, into 100 ml of water that has been distilled, and heat, but do not boil. Once warm, add granules and fragments of Zinc. Dry your Copper of vinegar, and add it to the lye, atop the Zinc.
Your Copper shall be Silver, after half of an hour. On Holy Wednesday, take up this silver in your left hand, ideally during the darkness of Tenebrae, and kiss an icon of Christ. Turn, and do not look back until you arrive at a potter’s field. Bury the coins, begging the spirits of place take them, which they will refuse if all is done properly. Leave the place, and return only to unearth them at the dawn of Easter Sunday. Know that these coins are now of great use in trafficking with spirits, especially those who shun the Lord. To have Gold from this Silver, heat it upon a plate.
To Transmute Lead into Gold Add Aqua Fortis to an equal measure of pure water, and toss in some Lead shot. Heat until the Lead is gone. Boil pure water, and add to this one gram of Potassium Iodide, a splash of good vinegar, and the humor of Lead. As this cools, it shall take on the luster of Gold, until Gold itself falls like snow out of the menstruum. It shall snow for one day and one night, until it can be recovered.
To Have Stigmata Baptize the Salt born of Potash and Sulfur and apply him to your palm. Take up the stone Molysite, reduce him to dust, baptize him, and apply him to the other. Pray fervently, and know stigmata shall appear without damage to the hand.
To See an Evil Serpent Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings, this secret of secrets, hidden from the eyes of all but God. Hear, O my son, the Serpent of the Garden has not strayed far from his Bride our Mother. Hear, O my son, that His sons Salt and Mercury stalk the Earth. Hear, O my son, that those same serpents conjured to thwart Moses may be called through our Art at great peril to Body and Soul!
Aqua Fortis, itself distilled, shall feast upon Mercury, and emit a miasma so potent as to ravage the lungs of beasts. From him, his brother, Salt, shall be born a Red Oroboros. Boil Him to free the White tail from a Black mouth and return him to the Water of His birth, but know that he too will bring an equally perilous miasma.
Baptize Him, and with Him cast Salt born from the marriage of Potash and Sulfur. Know, O my son, A plague of Fog shall descend upon the land, and know He is in it. Take Him into the desert, as Enoch, and exorcise him with Fire. An Evil Serpent shall appear before you, and know He will escape you by shedding His skin. Hear, O my son, that all parts of Him are corruption.
To Know the Weather by means of a Wonderful Vessel Add 900 mL of good spirits (100 proof vodka works well), three blocks of Camphor, 30 grams of Saltpeter, and 30 Grams of Sal Ammoniac to a pot and heat until all is dissolved. Decant this liquid into a clear glass vessel, leaving some air, and seal. Allow to rest outdoors for a night, and know the liquid inside now produces wonderful omens by which to know the weather, which are as follows:
If it is clear, the weather will be as clear
If it is cloudy, the weather will be as cloudy
If it is cloudy and there are small stars, the weather will be perilous
If there are stars, expect fog. If it is winter and the sun shines, expect snow
If there are large flakes throughout, it will be overcast, and may bring snow
If there are crystals at the bottom, expect frost
If there are threads near the top, expect wind
To refresh the vessel, heat him in a bath until the liquid within is clear of all debris, and let him rest overnight once more. Know the vessel must always rest outdoors away from sunlight, lest he cease to function.
To Harm and Bring to Obedience Those Spirits That Conjure Tempests Before The Circle(twice proven) Mix together 6 parts saltpeter, 4 parts sugar, some Sulfur, and some Asafoetida, then cast some of this upon the fire with this exorcism:
Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord, and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace into the eyes and nose and mouth and lungs of NN. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, He destroyed the enchantments, beguilements, deceptions, deceits, and of NN and filled the eyes and nose and mouth and lungs of NN with the Fire and Brimstone which is prepared for all rebellious disobedient obstinate and pertinacious spirits.
To have a Luminous Phial Heat almond oil in a vessel. Add to it phosphorous, 12 grains per half ounce of oil. Allow the oil to cool, then decant into phials until mostly, but not entirely filled. When uncorked, the phial shall glow.
To Have Mercury MIx a liter of pure water with about 400 grams lye. Add Sulfur, about 50 grams. Apply heat until he is gone, then allow to cool. It will appear as Blood. Add Cinnabar and wait. Add Aluminium, pounded thin, by parts until it is in excess. Add an equal volume of pure water. Allow to rest for one night, then decant the menstruum. Wash him with water; repeat until impure mercury is seen. To purify him, wash him in a bath of Potassium Permanganate. Again with water until pure. Wash in a bath of diluted Aqua Fortis. Wash again with water until pure. Filter and recover the Mercury, now pure.
To have a Pigment favored by Venus and her Spirits MIx 256 grams of Blue Vitriol with 700 ml pure water in a flask and heat. Mix 96 grams of Soda Ash with 300 ml of pure water in a flask and heat. Once both are liquefied, add the second to the first in many small parts. Allow to rest for one night, then recover the pigment by filtration. Boil away the fluid that passes through the filter to yield strong Natron.
To have the Oil of Vitriol Burn Sulfur and Saltpeter together in the presence of steam.
A reading list and selection of sources: Henry Cornelius Agrippa, Joseph H. Peterson – Three Books of Occult Philosophy (2000) Al-Razi, Gerard of Cremona – Liber Luminis luminum (1974) Roger Bacon – The Mirror of Alchemy (1597) Henry Beasley – The Druggist’s General Receipt Book, 9th Edition (1886) T. L. Davis – Pyrotechnic Snakes, Journal of Chemical Education (1940) Ekmeleddin İhsanoglu (ed.) – Cultural Contacts in Building A Universal Civilization: Islamic Contributions (2005) Jerry Alan Johnson – Daoist Mineral Magic (2006) Jerry Alan Johnson – Daoist Internal Alchemy: Neigong & Weigong Training (2014) David A. Katz – An Illustrated History of Alchemy and Early Chemistry (1978) Albertus Magnus, Joseph H. Peterson – Egyptian Secrets of Albertus Magnus (2006) Lawrence M. Principe – Chymists and Chymistry: Studies in the History of Alchemy and Early Modern Chemistry (2007) Reginald Scot – The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) Christopher Warnock, Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold – The Book of the Treasure of Alexander: Ancient Hermetic Alchemy and Astrology (2012) Martha Windholz (ed.) – The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals and Drugs, 9th Edition (1976)