Oracle of Kronos: PGM IV. 3086–3124

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.

An image of the rite as it appears in Betz, p. 98.

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 off 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.

Meeting With Your Own Daimon: PGM VII. 505–28

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”.

A cropped image of the rite as it appears in the Betz translation, pages 131–2.

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.

St. Expedite’s “Cras” Powder

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.

One jar of the completed powder, fully contained with a lead seal under the lid.

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.

St. Expedite’s “Hodie” Powder

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 recipe in progress.

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.

Key’s oil from his initial batch, which he also outfitted with an enchanted gambling die.

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.

The finished powder resting by his statue at my icon corner.

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!).

Kumalak and Favomancy

Over the past five years, my main form of divination that I most consistently consult, both for myself and on behalf of clients on Instagram, has been favomancy. A while back (and it has been a while, hasn’t it? Salt and I have been finding ourselves so busy with our schooling, magic, and work schedules over the pandemic, but we are looking to get back into writing on here more regularly) I wrote a brief article on Kumalak specifically, a form of favomancy (divination by beans) that is especially known from Kazakhstan to the Balkans. The chart or image that it produces is that of a steppe horseman, whose body, horse, and the conditions of his journey are analysed through the virtues of the elemental configurations of each square. Relaying past, present, and future, spirit-divined omens, and mathematical configurations with their own interpretations (be they certain numbers of beans in a row, the sum of both diagonals, notations on the vertical columns, or even more advanced shapes that can occur with practice), this chart is especially versatile for all manner of magical and mundane questions.

Yet with respect to favomancy as a genre of divination, speaking especially to the Balkans as it is my area of language access, there are a great many charts that are used depending on the region, the diviner’s preference or training, or the inherited tradition. Generally, regardless of chart style the actual layout of the divination will appear visually identical: a 3×3 grid with each square having between 1 to 4 beans. As I described in the Kumalak post, they are generated by whispering a bajalica or oral charm over the 41 white beans (or corn, coffee beans, pebbles, etc.) taken in the right hand, giving the question, then casting them onto a surface, usually a red cloth. The beans are then collected into a pile, after which they are pushed outwards to the sides such that three piles remain. The diviner subtracts four from each pile until a number equal to or less than four remains, and places these beans into each of the corresponding squares in the first row. The process then repeats until all nine squares are filled, pushing the leftover piles back into one group and separating them again each time guided by the spirits.

Regardless of chart style, the bajalica I learned to give can be translated from Serbian as: “Forty-one beans, forty-one brothers and sisters, as you know how to germinate, make green, and feed the world, likewise you know of the fate of (question)”. There are many other versions of this charm which replace, add to, subtract from, or rearrange the order of the verbs, but the basic framework of the bajalica can be found across Balkan languages, including in Bulgarian, Greek, and Romanian. This charm is repeated several times, with the individual words comprising it being continually emphasised and intoned rhythmically, until the required trance is obtained and the spirits flow through to command the beans to land firmly. The divining spirits then guide the hands to separate the piles and create the glyph of the chosen chart. Many other charms can also be found, including ones that are far more explicitly Christian, Muslim, and even those referring to the powers of Slavic polytheism.

Different diviners will have different means of dealing with the final leftover pile: some will subtract threes until one, two, or three remain as a kind of final verdict or judge; with one being fortune, two being misfortune, and three being middling fortune, or fortune but only after a long delay or hardship is resolved. Others might create a new layer to the chart, sometimes referred to as the “foundation”, out of every remaining group of four, and use these numbers to calculate how long it would take for the end result promised in the chart itself to manifest. Another technique involves taking three remaining beans (or having three beans set aside for this purpose on top of the necessary 41) to cast for quick yes/no checks. If the beans do not have any natural grooves on one side, these would be marked so that they can be differentiated depending on if they land marked side up or down. These extra “checks” to see if the rows have been interpreted correctly as they are worked through can be performed in myriad ways. A popular one I am also aware of involves casting one bean alongside a small piece of bread (an item few Balkan amulets and charms are made without, given that it represents fulfilment, joy, and prosperity/manifestation), a coffee bean, and a coin. Depending on which of the latter three the bean lands next to, the character of the question and the interpretation are further developed, with the bread symbolising health, vitality, and manifestation, the coffee bean symbolising misfortune and bitterness, and the coin symbolising wealth and trade. The distance between all four is also further interpreted throughout the session.

For the main chart’s construction, 41 beans specifically are always used. This is a number with a long history in our folk magic, with numerous stories behind its origin. One folktale states that the Devil poked 41 holes into Adam while God was away searching for (not creating!) a living spirit to place inside his clay body, and that upon his return, he stuffed 40 of those holes with medicinal herbs so that the spirit will not seep out. Yet, since there is still one hole that has not been patched, Adam (and man by extension) was made mortal, succumbing to ageing. Hence, healing spells and folk remedies should include at least 40 herbs, or an herb in 40 parts, stored in flasks of rakija or baked into slava bread. Another tale, recorded from Bosnia [here], depicts the daughter of the Prophet, Fatimah bint Muhammad, as a gifted diviner of favomancy, and that she knew of a style that used double the amount of beans: 82. In order to conceal her art from her father who was about to walk in on her performing a reading for a friend, she hid half the beans in her dress, and as such only 41 are remembered. For some, this means that the readings themselves can only ever tell “half the picture”. For others, this means that spirits must necessarily fill out the missing shadows of the beans, and speak from beneath the ground where they grow from and from the skies where they reach to in order to give the clearest picture.

As for the charts themselves, we saw in Kumalak that the generated image is a steppe horseman. Here are a few other variants I have used just in the past month during readings:

The Bed

Woman’s head / Pillow / Man’s head
Woman’s heart / Hearth / Man’s heart
Woman’s legs / Threshold / Man’s legs

While this style seems on the surface to be concerned with matters of love, it is actually exceptionally versatile. The gendered language of the chart is due to its image: that of a woman waiting for her husband to return home from a journey. In all manner of questions, the querent is represented in the left column as the “woman”, and the subject matter at hand as the “man” on the right. Each square tells us something about the thoughts, internal vs. external motivations, preconditions, influences, and spiritual makeup of the querent, the subject matter, their relationship, and the potential obstacles and aids on the path to the question’s resolution. As such, it can be used even to assess the likelihood of a magical working succeeding, with the right column telling us about the journey and ultimate conditions/obstacles of the ritual, the left column describing the sorcerer’s ambitions, efforts, and existing alliances, pacts and resources, and the middle column depicting the ways in which each row’s theme crosses over from one to another, and how successful the translation is. Mostly used for love and familial concerns, I’ve made use of it for all sorts of topics, including workplace relationships, matters of employment, applications, sorcery, spirit pacts, and more. The beans themselves are not read elementally as in Kumalak, but rather numerically with their own unique attributions for this style.

The House

Mother’s Inheritance / Chimney / Father’s Inheritance
Mother’s Debts / Hearth / Father’s Debts
Fortune Departing / Threshold / Fortune Returning

We can see that the core features of the above chart are preserved here. Here, gendered language can be taken seriously in an ancestral reading, regarding the mother and father’s sides literally. More commonly, the mother squares are taken as the ancestry itself, and the father squares as belonging to the social community the client is participating in. Naturally, these can easily be understood as spiritual ancestors and spiritual/initiatory communities. The fortune squares, linked to the threshold, tell us of how the blessings and negative omens actually manifest, and the chimney, hearth, and threshold vertically tell us of the health of the situation, the stability of the querent, and the innate gifts, abilities, and destiny or purpose. This chart is used to understand spirit allies, inherited gifts and curses, the will of local as well as ancestral spirits, and the talents and merits of the querent. The beans can be read numerically or elementally, depending on the reader and their spirits.

“Gazing into beans”

Income / Head / Hand
Affairs / Heart / Expenses
Departures / Foot / Returns

I’m never quite sure what to call this one. It is, at least in my experience, by far the most common chart used in Serbia where I’m from. Generally, this is not even referred to as a chart or style, but simply as the method of of divination by favomancy itself, just as how tarot or playing card readings may be called “gazing into cards”, and reading by tea leaves or coffee beans “gazing into tea” and “gazing into coffee” respectively. The beans themselves are not read elementally, rather numerically, with the odd numbers being positive (three being better than one) and the even numbers being negative (four being worse than two). One is generally representative of news, communication, movement, and beginnings; two referring to trouble, indecisiveness, imbalanced states, fortune undulating, and two-faced people and situations; three referring to fortune, luck, love, and happiness; and four referring to misfortune, sorrow, being overwhelmed, juggling too many responsibilities and projects, and being burdened.

Income and Affairs on the left specifically should be prefaced with “problems with…”, in that they refer to issues in the querent’s life in the material and social spheres (in spiritual questions, this is extrapolated to the matters of spirit in each). Head and Heart discuss the mental and emotional states respectively, and Departures and Returns tell us of the efforts and rewards on the progression of the matter at hand. The Foot represents not only the journey, but also how whatever leaves in Departures and whatever comes back in Returns actually manifests, and how it is integrated into the life of the querent. The Hand and Expenses are always read together as a pair, with the former signifying the resources capable of sating the latter. In the case of the Hand, this is the only square where the beans are treated even more numerically, with four in this case being a positive omen of plenty. That said, four still retains its relationship with being overwhelmed and burdened. If the number in the Hand outweighs that of the Expenses, then the querent has the resources necessary to tackle any debts they accumulate along their journey, with more dramatic differences being generally considered more fortunate, with the reverse being true as well. That said, a three in Expenses is a highly favourable omen, as is a three in the Hand; this does not mean they cancel each other out or that the querent has “just enough”, but rather that they do not struggle with their debts as it is, and they have sufficient resources for whatever they must tend to in the present. A four in the Hand and three in Expenses, for example, suggests someone with so many resources that it suffocates them; a rich man with so many duties to tend to and employees and investors to report to that he is unable to enjoy his wealth (save for that he can live comfortably in terms of debts). Meanwhile, a four in the Hand with four in Expenses shows us that the querent is able to meet their significant debts with their equally significant resources, but that the balance is always threatened, and that at any point their situation may come crashing down. This is especially indicative of high-stakes gamblers, traders, and those who are self-employed or take commissions.

As always, in matters of spirit these squares will be interpreted in the appropriate translations. Furthermore, each chart style has its own significant omens that supersede other interpretations, much like the “Three Stars” or a row of all threes that I mentioned in the Kumalak article, as well as various other configurations involving the sums of the diagonals, horizontal combinations, and so on.

Given that the primary physical materia used for this divination style is generally organic (beans or corn), it is understood that the tools will themselves take on the quality of the reading and capture its essence. As such, a positive reading for love can be seen as a physical testament on behalf of the spirits as to the luck of the situation. These beans may then be cooked and fed to the beloved. Similarly, for wealth, they may be planted and grown to be later harvested, such that all daughter beans from the original reading would carry the same money-drawing power. Those for healing can be placed in a flask of rakija and used to spray down the sick person, incorporated into baths, and used as tokens of reminders to the spirits petitioned to heal that they have sworn to lend their aid and must work hard for that end.

Beans which have read on the nature of a curse can trap a portion of the curse, and as such should be handled carefully, disposed of at crossroads and burnt at graveyards, with care being taken to not inhale any of their smoke. If the beans have absorbed too much negative fortune, they are likewise disposed of. A reader will often go through many sets over the year, and special attention is paid to those sets given and consecrated directly to specific spirits to be their mouthpieces in this world, so that they do not get tainted by the nature ignoble questions. In the case of one of my mentors, whenever she sees a client she insists that they pick corn from her farm and bring it to her, picking off the 41 grains themselves. This way, the spiritual essence of the client is already inside the corn as they pass it to her, given their effort in the harvest and selection.

These are only a sample of some of the more popular charts one can come across by speaking with professional diviners, as well as the general protocols for the actual beans themselves. Of course, what is most important in any matter of divination is the light trance, offerings, and communion with the spirits overseeing the reading themselves. In time, diviners will receive their own charts with their own meanings assigned to the number of beans unique to their spirits, and these are often the ones that those I know make the most use of directly, and as such are also not the kinds that can be shared publicly. In my own practice, I will read for clients using whichever style best suits the question (or whichever my divining spirits recommend), and over time this has become a natural and fluid process. Generally, most diviners will use only one or two styles that are known, keeping those received from their spirits to themselves for more private matters. In truth, each chart is equally capable of answering any question one can think of; the decision ultimately rests on what one’s own spiritual faculties prefer to read with, as well as the preferences of their spirits in weaving and expressing the client’s story to them. The central image that the chart generates should always be one which speaks to both reader and client alike in lending assistance to the decryption of the question, its future, and fortune.

Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer (Pt 5): The Practice

Since I initially wrote about my journey crafting the tools necessary to work the Tuba Veneris as my chosen ritual magic grimoire in 2019, I have regularly received e-mails, communication, and all manner of questions concerning what exactly happened since I completed my toolkit. Even in Discord servers and other chat groups that I’ve joined, as soon as I’ve noted my blog, the first question I receive privately tends to be about my experiences with this rarely-worked little grimoire, what my results so far have been, and what the nature of the spirits are, their offices, powers, manifestations, and deeds. It has been two years since that fateful Friday new moon when I consecrated all of my tools—including the second Horn I had mentioned procuring, thanks to a witch and friend in Germany who had convinced his neighbour in the farms to wait until a Friday Venus hour to dehorn his steer—and I have not publicly noted outside of my private circles of friends what exactly has transpired with the book since. An update is certainly well overdue.

Since the August of 2019, when I performed the consecration and burial of the tools by a riverbank once more, I have been working with the implements and conjuring the six spirits fairly regularly. I had mentioned in an earlier post that one of my goals was to test whether using either Horn made a difference. To reiterate: the first Horn was consecrated on a separate Friday new moon with my Seal and Book, and the second was carved, consecrated, and re-buried with all the original tools once more on the next Friday new moon the same year, in August. The only difference between them, besides the date of consecration, was that I knew that the first Horn had been severed during a Friday afternoon, but the person who had sold it to me could not recall precisely what time.

The second, however, was intentionally cut precisely during the necessary time according to the grimoire, and I wanted to check whether there was any difference between the two in terms of potency during the conjurations. It turns out that there was ultimately none, or at the very least none that I could detect. The spirits, when summoned, appeared readily regardless of which one I spoke the call through, and their manifestations were equally as potent. I concluded that the consecrations on both were sufficiently carried out, and have decided to save the first as a shrine piece on an area I have dedicated specifically to Venus and Anael as a result of all the work I have carried out with this text, and her continued patronage of the art. I use exclusively the second, not just because of its origin, but rather because its size is more pleasant to wield and the engravings I had made appear far more striking, bold, and pleasing to my eye. Below are the images of this Horn prior to consecration, shared with the permission of my spirits:

I’m really so thrilled with how it came out, and that I managed to fit all the seals of the six spirits on the one side without having to squish any of them, naturally growing in size as the horn itself expands in width. I tried to make haste with the engravings during that hour in order to have enough time to both consecrate the tools through the smoke, and run outside to the nearby forest by where I live to bury them at river that passes through it. I was working on a giant table where I had printed out Jeffrey S. Kupperman’s recreations of the seals (from Teresa Burns and Nancy Turner’s translation of the Tuba Veneris) in order to better copy them, already dressed in my outdoor clothes for the trek. I really did not want to have to wait for the Venus hour well past midnight for convenience’s sake (even witches and Quimbandeiras must sleep, allegedly), so I wanted to make sure I could do everything in the same planetary hour—a task thankfully made possible by my home’s convenient location by that forest and river.

There is actually an amusing story to go along with the second Horn’s consecration. That August afternoon, as I was sitting with my spirits in eager anticipation of the nighttime Venus hour, one of my familiars reminded me to once more read over the grimoire’s text. It suddenly dawned on me that the engraving tool one uses to for the Seal and Horn must be “a new and pure iron or steel instrument”, and my engraving pen was certainly not new or pure—I had used it for the first time on the prior round, and since then it has seen much use creating Salt’s astrologically elected talismans, Solomonic pentacles, and all manner of such instruments. As soon as I realized this, I sprinted out the door and grabbed the bus to the nearest hardware store to purchase a new one with only a few hours to go, and returned home victorious with a sufficiently virgin tool. This was certainly a humourous lesson for me in always double-checking my inventory before such important dates!

Needless to say, rolling out my beloved Circle, unwrapping my Book, Seal, and Horn from their linen coverings, lighting a healthy green taper and preparing a copper dish in which to scald the wax seal of the spirit (should it be disobedient) has become a fairly regular Friday evening activity over the past two years. I set out initially to work this text out of a curiosity, and later sincere magical intrigue, as I detailed in my first post [here]. It’s a fascinating text with many strange, almost pagan elements to its setup, with a ritual structure that is not only simple but uniquely short. The tools were attractive to me, and my spirits had given me the go-ahead to attempt it. Now, I can happily confirm that the entire process was deeply worth the effort. While an unpopular text in early modern magic and grimoire tradition circles, I hope that my reflection as someone who has worked the book to the letter, having crafted each tool precisely to its specifications, may encourage others to attempt the same work.

This text has become my primary grimoire of choice in its efficacy, power, and speed—when I have need of the assistance of its six spirits, or simply desire to work with them again instead of one of my allies in Balkan traditional witchcraft, Quimbanda, or any other system and initiation I keep more closely to my chest, I will await the Friday evening Venus hour of that week and call them forth with the Horn. In the past two years, I have never needed to recite the conjuration more than three times for the spirit to visibly appear—a record that has certainly shocked me, given that the calls are so short, consisting almost entirely of a few lines of barbarous words, bookended by the chosen spirit’s name. The manifestations of the six have varied with intensity, though their presence has always been entirely unmistakable. They have often paced the Circle’s edge, disturbing physically the objects in the room, causing apparitions and poltergeist phenomena in my ritual space, bringing with them changes of weather outside, shadows, streaks, haze, mist, pressures and alarming sensations in the body, deep trances and visions of their forms, and visible, physical manifestations of their beings in the air.

To this day, the six seals I made out of green wax and soot two years ago have remained undisturbed. Friends who have visited me and seen the space where I keep them have remarked that not a single one is blemished—this is because I have never had need to make use of the disciplinary procedure by which the spirits are reprimanded for being uncooperative, in which you heat the copper Seal around your neck in the candle flame and place it over the wax to melt and torment the being. Not a single conjuration have I experienced the spirits rebelling. I have consistently approached them politely, emphasizing amicable cooperation between the two of us in the name of Archangel Anael and the Holy Trinity, and have implored them to swear to speak the truth clearly and without any ambiguity by those same names, and have not been found wanting. Even the most sinister of the six, who speak in sly, envenomed tongues and slither about the perimeter of Circle, words dripping with lurid cunning, have kept to their oath, honoured my efforts as one who has carried out the work, and done good on their tasks I have set them out to accomplish. I suspect that one of the reasons I have never needed to take a more aggressive approach is because I speak every command, negotiation, and even mundane comment to them in our communications directly through the Horn. Another likely one is also that my guardian spirits and familiars are always ever-present with me, so even in the Circle itself I am never fully facing the daemons alone.

Ultimately, the results I have achieved with the grimoire have been superb. They have brought treasures, financial upheavals for family, assisted in business as well as domination, ruined enemies with curses, given accurate information as spies upon chosen targets and institutions, manipulated bureaucracies in the favour of friends, and assisted with all Venusian matters. They have revealed instructions for amulets, tools, and talismans (often favouring copper as the main medium—an old copper blade I’ve used for years as a witching knife has also come to serve a dual function now with the Tuba Veneris), assisted with other folk magic I have brought into the circle with them (including rootwork!) and further assisted with education, language acquisition, given details on the spirits of other grimoires and their uses, provided verified shortcuts to other such texts, and provided knowledge of “hidden” and “occult” virtues of various kinds.

While the grimoire itself does not differentiate between the offices and powers of the six spirits, only stating generally what the abilities of the work itself are for the magician, I have since filled my Book’s pages with notes in the same dove quill and ink on their individual characters, forms, special talents, preferred manifestations, and so on after much experimentation. I have also kept a log of their myriad successes within the pages as proof of their cooperation and further incentive to build on this working relationship between us. Many other familiars from across systems, as well as deceased magicians I have conjured for assistance and further education in better sorcery, have since lent their advice and nurtured my progress with the Tuba Veneris in how to better work with these six. It has certainly been nothing short of exhilarating, and I have been encouraging friends to give the grimoire a try when they are willing and able to dedicate the time to it, and naturally if their own spirits advise it. Perhaps by the following year, by the time the next Friday new moon rolls around, we will have some other testimonials and guest posts on here concerning the same!

Regarding the six spirits, I will be keeping the information I have learned about them to myself, sharing only with those who are also actively working the grimoire and can prove that they have made tools. They have on many occasions expressed to me that this entire work was one given to the text’s author by Anael, as a shortcut in and of itself into her arcana. Much as one might conjure one of the 72 demons of the Goetia, or from any other such spirit list, and once having successfully manifested them, implore the demon to reveal a secret name, seal, hand gesture, timing, or other such instruction to swiftly (and without all the lengthy conjurations and procedures!) manifest their powers again for the magician on account of their cemented pact, it appears that the procedure detailed in the Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer is, at least according to the spirits as they’ve spoken to me, one such example of a “revealed” method of efficiently accessing the servants of Anael as the Black Venus. What exactly the “Black Venus” is apart from the planet at night is also a mystery I have explored, not only through this book but also in my own witchcraft. Needless to say, the six have often stressed that this very “little key” as they have called is not one that has been often worked, and that they have historically been rarely called by only a handful of sorcerers compared to other grimoiric spirits they are aware of, and whose hierarchies they have intimate knowledge of. As such, I think it is fitting to keep the book’s treasures among those who are actively engaged with it and can be counted as friends in magic.

As it is now among my main systems that I regularly go to, I am in the process of furnishing a shrine space dedicated to Anael and Venus, complete with the pentacles of Venus from the Key of Solomon, copper pots that house their seals among other materia and charms, various talismans and amulets I’ve made with the spirits’ instructions, my Book and tools, and other such items. I plan on painting a good kamea as well as a kind of “table of practice” for some of them to sit on as well, just because I think it would be fun, frankly. Much as with any grimoiric practice, once one makes the initial compacts with the spirits, the work will take on a new life of its own, merging with the organic elements of magic already present within the sorcerer’s life, receiving input and commentary from their spirits and allies, taking shape in their lives and in the heart of the needs to which they conjure the spirits forth to address.

What started out as a fun little side project has become a staple of my craft. It would be lovely to discuss the more intimate details of the work with those who come to attempt the grimoire in the future, and I sincerely hope that my testimony that this is indeed a worthwhile system to pursue may inspire others to do so as well, and to further shed light on this rarely-discussed text. The most difficult element is the Horn itself, given the manner in which it must be procured (severed from a live bull during the Friday Venus hour). My recommendation is to perform a road opening with one’s spirits to bring about the Horn more easily, whether by divining among a selection of horns for purchase which one was cut at the right time, or by meeting the right person who is preparing to dehorn a steer on their farm and paying them for the extra trouble of waiting for such an hour to do so.

All other elements are remarkably easy to procure and craft, and the conjuration itself is incredibly short and efficacious. Even the Seal is easy to make; one need only to buy a fresh pair of tin snips to cut the hexagonal shape from a copper stamping blank and affix a jump ring and chain for easier wearing during the appropriate times. I was especially careful to ensure that every step was carried out during the appropriate Venus hours, just to be absolutely certain, but I would encourage those interested in the text to always consult their own spirits for the process. After all, I went through an additional step with the Horn, washing it not only in the required “Vitriol dissolved in vinegar”, but also a bath made up of seven Venusian herbs, each prayed over in the Venus hour, in order to further empower the bull’s spirit and align it with the purpose of the work.

If anyone decides to embark on the journey and would like advice or feedback, I am an e-mail or DM away. Happy conjuring!

Kumalak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer (Pt 4): The Circle

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

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

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

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

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

Sphere + Sundry: Hermanubis Series (Review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

– “How to Make the Seals of the Spirits

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

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

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