A PGM Miscellany of Charms to Restrain Anger

One of the genres of spells present in the PGM that B. Key and I have always found especially intriguing are those categorized as “charms to restrain anger”. There are a handful of these within the papyri, each containing a combination of one or both of the these components: an oral charm said in front of the person whose wrath you are restraining, and a lead lamella or papyrus stele that is either worn, thrown in a river, or deposited near the target. At this point, I’ve been keeping myself stocked on papyrus, clean linen, and sheets of lead to cut shapes out of for a while in my experiments; all I really needed to give these a test was the opportunity.

I have not had the need of using these charms for myself. Instead, my experiences testing them came from friends who approached me in moments of need, as well as from the handful of clients I regularly work with for matters of operative sorcery. (As an aside, while I am now only taking on new clients for divination, not sorcery, please consider contacting our very own incredibly talented B. Key if you are interested in custom talismans and materia to facilitate your own magical goals.) In order to respect their privacy, I will have to speak vaguely on these matters, omitting the majority of the identifying details. However, with the appropriate permissions given, I thought it might be prudent to write a little on my personal experiences with these charms, which were the most efficacious right off the bat, and which were combined with other workings in order to attain the desired results.

An image of the rite as it appears in the Betz translation, page 143.

In no particular order, let us begin with PGM VII. 940–68, being “A charm to restrain anger and a charm to subject”. Out of the entire miscellany, this is by far the one I have used the most frequently, largely owing to its balance of potency and ease of use.

All one needs is a new sheet of papyrus and some myrrh ink, making it especially easily accessible. I’ve found this charm to be highly reliable both on its own and as a compliment to other workings. With regards to the letters and names of power, I have had success with both the English transliterations and the Greek, and have found no changes in potency either way. The main way in which I have deployed this for others is to include the target’s name in the first space and the client’s in the second (“[…] silence, subordinate, enslave him, [target’s name], to him, [client’s name], and cause him to come under [his] feet”), swapping the pronouns as necessary, and then either further modifying the text to include more precise instructions as to how the target ought to be dominated, or including a full length petition with even more details, seals, sigils, and spiraling names of power on the back.

As the PGM does not state whether this charm is to be kept, disposed, or worn on one’s person, I’ve tried out a number of different ways to incorporate the papyrus once it is complete. In one case, I wrote out a spiraling command in a similar fashion to an incantation or demon-trapping bowl, and placed it within a jar I had filled with the target’s tag locks, along with numerous commanding, compelling, and controlling roots and herbs. I would continue to shake this regularly and burn candles anointed in domination oil over it, repeating both the petition on the back and the “come to me, you who are in the everlasting air […]” conjuration from the papyrus. In that circumstance, I incorporated the charm into this structure as this was for a longer-term working to dominate the client’s competitor. Once my client had won indeed won—and the competitor, a notoriously irritable and arrogant sore loser much prone to vengeful slander, did not make any fuss in their workplace—I buried the remains in an appropriate location chosen by my spirits.

Ultimately, what I’m most pleased about with this charm specifically is that, while these additional incorporations certainly boost its power, it still maintains a consistent efficacy when used alone. I have found that for long-term works of suppressing the pride and abuse of a perpetually-bitter and toxic person, it is best used as the driving component or petition of a greater whole that can be continually fed and prayed over. But for targeting temporary states, quelling heat, and ensuring, for example, that one’s boss overlooks and forgives a mistake, simply performing the charm as it is written in the PGM has proved consistently reliable.

Next up are a group of three charms which are entirely oral: PGM IV. 46–668, PGM LXXIX. 1–7, and PGM LXXX. 1–5.

From page 47.

This charm appears twice in the collection, once here and again at PGM IV. 831–32. The next two charms appear grouped together, and as their translator notes, are the same text written by different scribes. Given that they were both copied more than once, we might assume that they were actually found effective and thereby reproduced. After all, they are far from the only PGM spells numbering so few lines. Of course, there are many reasons as to why they might have been copied like this, but given their repetition, I felt more hopeful that they would work like an oral charm, whose power lies in the command of its utterance.

From page 299.

I have primarily tested PGM LXXIX. 1–7 by incorporating it into workings as a repeatable conjuration. In one instance, I stabbed a skull candle with pins anointed with our friend Mahigan’s Chains of the Siren’s Song Ritual Oil, an oil I’ve much tested under the employ of numerous familiars, while reciting this charm over each, seeing the pins as lances boring into the very parts of the target’s psyche most resistant to the sorcery. The bottom of the candle itself was loaded with a matrix of herbs and capped off with a Fourth Pentacle of Mercury, which grants the ability to “to acquire the understanding and knowledge of all things created, and to seek out and penetrate into hidden things”—and what might be so hidden as another’s mind and innermost thoughts? While this setup has proven to be powerful on its own, I did find that the inclusion of the charm provided a particular kick, gathering and commanding additional ambient spirits. I have also made use of this charm with a simpler skull candle working, in which the oil was slowly and hypnotically massaged into the wax (having already been baptized and crossed as the target, with a piece of their spirit conjured into it) while the charm to restrain the anger was repeated 365 times.

I mentioned earlier that I did not really have any need of these charms for myself. Perhaps the closest I have ever come to truly using one in immediate proximity was actually these very oral charms. During an instance of road rage, in which a belligerent driver in the adjacent lane began to blare his horn and drive recklessly, I locked my gaze onto as much of him as I could see and repeated PGM IV. 46–668 (“Will you dare to raise your mighty spear against Zeus?”) three times. When nothing changed, I switched to PGM LXXIX. 1–7 (which at this point I had memorized thanks to the earlier ritual) and was glad to see the driver indeed calm down—or at the very least, stop his fuming. While I do count this as a success of the latter charm working on its own, I reckon that perhaps an even better way to test it would be to mutter it three times in the spur of the moment when it is most crucial, to nullify swelling anger in its heat. Suffice to say, it is indeed a good thing that this opportunity has not yet presented itself to me.

In the highway example, PGM LXXIX. 1–7 had an effect while PGM IV. 46–668 did not. The latter is not only much shorter, but draws on only one name of power, being Zeus. I imagine that it would make for quite a mighty boast in the heat of battle—not just of weapons, but wits. Imagine being in the middle of a debate and whipping out such a flex under your breath! Some nearby spirit may well be spurred to action, or perhaps the charm could weaponize one’s Eye to affix itself upon their target. I have not used it as thoroughly as the other, though I have found it helpful as a mantra in one Jovian work of protecting a client not be fired by their boss. As additional materia and seals of Jupiter were being employed, this charm found itself all the more useful by its invocation of the mighty Zeus.

From pages 148–149.

The first of our lamellas is PGM IX. 1–14. While the spell itself only mentions engraving the words, target’s name, and image upon a “metal leaf”, the metal in question is not specified. Much as the translators themselves note, I presumed this would be lead, and my daimons and familiars concurred.

I performed this spell precisely as outlined without including it into other workings. While the PGM doesn’t specify what should be done with the lamella afterwards, I decided to bury it at the workplace of the target. Within a week, my client alerted me that not only was the individual in question far more demure, but that they were no longer making snide comments, sabotaging her efforts, or behaving jealously and with constant venom towards her. This was the only time that I made use of this lamella specifically, though I have plenty of ideas for how it could be used in conjunction with further ritual. Much as in the earlier case, I imagine it could be incorporated into further materia, rolled up like a tube and inserted into wax or clay poppets, sewn into cloth talismans, or wrapped in snakeskin and placed in the claw of an owl to be hung and fumigated—both animals being associated with Ananke, a goddess called upon in the conjuration (“[…] I adjure you by the awful Necessity […]”).

Needless to say, I certainly plan on incorporating it into other methodologies in the future with my spirits and see how it lends its power to additional structures of sorcery. What is essential is that the charm itself worked when I needed it to and is perfectly sufficient for the job on its own. Next time the opportunity for using this arises, I will ask my spirits during our initial divination about the matter if they foresee this charm as being sufficient, or if I should further bolster it. This is really how I proceed with any of these—I first consult with my court about whether it would be appropriate to test out the charm in the situation (as opposed to rely on a more tried and true method between us), and then check if they advise any modifications or to proceed as given.

From page 149.

Speaking of charms which I didn’t change in any way, immediately following our previous example is PGM X. 24–35, a spell which allegedly “works all cases”, and not just against enemies, but phobias and nightmares. I am particularly fond of this one as it has such varied applications, being able to restrain not only the anger of others, but one’s fears and anxieties. While the spell specifies the use of gold or silver, I ended up using a sheet of tin to make four copies. All had varying degrees of success, so I can definitely vouch for the efficacy of tin specifically as a substitute. In fact, a friend even drew this out with a bronze stylus on aluminum foil and had it work, so it’s good to know that there are cheaper alternatives available. I plan on eventually making one out of silver just to have as a personal talisman, but for now tin definitely suffices.

I gave my set out to four friends and asked them to carry it on their persons while “pure” (not bleeding, not having recently had sex, etc.). One used hers to prevent nightmares, placing it under her pillow when not menstruating or having recently had sex, and otherwise by the bedside table. She reported to me that she noticed a marked decrease in regular nightmares, with the only ones that she did have appearing to be relevant as omens or indications of something being spiritually amiss. Another friend used hers to literally restrain her own anxiety and tendencies towards self-sabotage. While this of course did not fully resolve the anxiety in a long-term sense, being no substitute for therapy, it did help to contain it in moments of need, such as an important interview. The other two both used theirs for the primary purpose of restraining anger, albeit in both cases preemptively. They carried it to work around problematic colleagues and bosses and noticed a marked difference in their attitudes towards them specifically, but not towards others. It seems that even though one doesn’t engrave their own name upon the lamella, it is linked by the sympathy of being carried or worn to affect most powerfully its bearer. Wrathful coworkers and superiors still exhibited their usual behaviour to others, but ignored and passed over my friends entirely.

From page 269.

The next two charms are written one after the other in their papyrus. The first is PGM XXXVI. 1–34, which is a personal favourite as it calls upon Set-Typhon. The Kemetic Set is a deeply beloved deity for me, being formative in many of my personal experiences and bearing a place of great prominence in my home alongside the Lord of Wisdom, Djehuty. This spell calls on Set to restrain any subject—it is not specifically for anger, but rather works on “everything”. Inscribed by bronze stylus onto a lead sheet, the magician creates an image of Set (I confess mine was much nicer than the one preserved in the book, as I sketched the God more true to his Egyptian iconography) and inscribes the names of power within and around his body.

While I have only made use of this charm twice, it bore the most powerful and immediate result for me out of all of them. I do not doubt that this is at the very least partially owing to my preexisting relationship with the God. While I’m sure the powers and names of the associations alone will conjure success in the right circumstances (presuming one’s target does not have sufficient protections, and that one does not sabotage or work against the sorcery themselves by provoking them), the sheer intensity of the results I experienced with this were certainly benefitted from the decade of regular offerings and prayers I have made in cultivating my relationship with Set as a patron and Father to my craft. In one of the two instances, I deployed this charm to restrain both overbearing relatives and ancestral spirits alike from interfering with my client’s drastic change in career and lifestyle, and both parties evidenced a drastic change in attitude practically overnight. Out of the entire miscellany, I would recommend this one the most for matters of exorcism and the suppression of the pride and authority of particular spirits, who could not otherwise be bribed or negotiated out of their interference.

From pages 269–270.

Immediately after we have PGM XXXVI. 35–68, which assures us that it works “even against kings” and that “no charm is greater”. This one is part of a group which aim to not only restrain anger but also to secure and promote success and victory over others. The figure (which looks to me like a deity doing a kick flip on a skateboard while holding a serpent) is drawn on a silver lamella with a bronze stylus. Again, I ended up using tin, and found it to still work in the time that I deployed it. I gave it to a client to wear during an important competition and was much overjoyed to have heard that he had won. According to him, the opposing team was unusually sloppy and distracted, and his own demonstrated extreme confidence and prowess. Emboldened by this, I was going to make the same charm for another friend who was about to apply for a significant award, but was informed by divination that they would not win, even with the help of the lamella. My spirits informed me that this charm is better used in interviews and in direct competitions in which one is confronting their opponents, not in long-term applications with multiple, anonymously peer-reviewed rounds. While I considered the idea of making one anyway and using it as the centerpiece of a larger working, such as placing it under a plate upon which I would inscribe seals, conjure spirits, and burn candles (while having my client wear a matching one on their person), I ultimately was shown a more efficacious way to assist them by my court and proceeded with their guidance. That said, my spirits did agree that it would still work when used in conjunction with other such workings—they just happened to suggest an alternate method for that particular case.

From page 273.

Oh, how I love a charm that has you hold your thumbs. I’m always reminded of Balkan cantrips for invisibility and leaving one’s body as a spirit that have you repeat a phrase while holding the thumbs—which is also the equivalent for crossing one’s fingers for luck where I’m from! PGM XXXVI. 161–77 is a great one when it comes to affordability: it’s an oral charm that offers the potential to “augment the words” with a papyrus amulet. Instead of performing this one myself, I had my friend perform it on her own behalf to stop slander. I particularly like the phrasing of “[…] stop the mouths that speak against me, because I glorify your sacred and honoured names which are in heaven”. The elevation of one’s pure mouth, which speaks the holy names, over profane libel and other such drivel. My friend also wrote the full list of angel names on papyrus and kept it on their person, which assisted in stopping the gossip. This is another one I think can be really easily incorporated into plenty of other workings of folk magic. It provides a buffer of protection and an exaltation of one’s own truth and piety over that of slander, so as such one should ensure that they do not engage in gossip or similar behaviour while seeking the charm’s solace.

From page 274.

Shortly after we have our final charm which secures victory and favour in addition to restraining anger (by the way, in case you were wondering: none is greater). I just love that each of these makes mention that no charm is better while calling on entirely different gods and holy names; it feels a bit like watching an advertising competitions between cults. PGM XXXVI. 211–30 calls upon Helios, praying to him directly while facing the sun seven times and anointing your hand with oil, wiping it on your face. This one I performed myself to assist with winning a game of pure chance. As the spell does not specify which kind of oil is to be used, I opted for Holy anointing oil, though just frankincense would also do well in a pinch. I literally left my computer, stepped outside into my backyard to recite this, and then returned with the oil smeared on my forehead to resume the game, and promptly won six out of ten rounds of pure numerological chance—not a bad rate in the slightest! I definitely recommend playing around with this one. As it’s a prayer, it can be incorporated into many circumstances for obtaining victory, favour, honour, and fortune, and that’s with just using it on its own. Creativity is surely the limit with the ways this can be used. If you plan on using this for a major undertaking, I would always recommend divining first to see if it would work in your case, and if the answers are negative, using it more as a background boost for more elaborate sorcery.

From page 129.

Finally, there’s PGM VII. 417–22, which to my delight actually does call for tin! This one specifically should be thrown into a flowing body of water at sunrise, being engraved with the names of power and a customizable petition. I’ve done this one three times (making offerings at the riverbank to the local spirits in thanks each time) and it worked in two of the three instances, with the third one revealing under later divination that its magic was not able to sufficiently reach the intended target. In that instance, I went back to the drawing board, sent out a familiar adept at fetching etheric links from a long distance, and conjured more of the target’s presence into a spirit trap before subjugating their abusive behaviour towards my client further. The other two cases were far more local, which I imagine played an important role in how the spirits of the land and waters were able to deliver the potency of the lamella to them. The case in which this charm did not work ultimately involved an exceptionally prideful and stubborn target, so I was not surprised that it did not ultimately help much in the initial stages—though I found that making the charm anyway helped “soften” them up to make the later magic more effective, as it had stripped down some of the initial layers of resistance and protection.

In testing this genre of charm, I was able to verify that each is fully capable of producing its own result, while also easily being combined into other workings. In some cases, a lamella can simply be given over to a spirit on their shrine or laid atop their vessel, so that it becomes as a tool for them to use in your defence. In others, they were worn on the person, disposed of in places of power, or left to accumulate power inside containers and under candles. What strikes me the most about these charms against anger is how diverse they are. While they certainly are excellent to memorize in moments of passion when they would be necessary (especially in the case of the oral charms), they can be used to restrain far more. Pride, anxiety, nightmares, interfering spirits, gossip and slander, and even the very hidden plots and temptations within another to cause harm to oneself and one’s reputation—the diversity of use for these charms make them an excellent corpus to consider experimenting with, and I recommend those interested to not only play around with them with their own spirits, but to use them as a means to consider the applicability of other kinds of sorceries in matters concerning far more than what might initially meet the eye.

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