Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer (Pt 2): The Primary Tools

In my first post, I gave a brief overview of the Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer or Tuba Veneris, outlining my intentions to pursue the grimoire’s operation faithfully. This third of May was not only a Friday, but also fell within the range of the new moon; the combination specified for the consecration of the Seal of Venus, the Horn of Venus, and the Book of Venus. Needless to say, I was greatly looking forward to finally embarking on creating these three important instruments for the conjuration of the spirits.

I had previously acquired a brand new leather journal and two new inks (one black and one dove’s blood) to fashion my own “Consecrated Book of the Black Venus”. The Book must be written with the feather of a dove, which can be quite challenging as dove feathers tend to be so short. I made a very simple offering to the local land spirits the Friday before requesting to find a dove feather as I walked, and came across a longer one within half an hour. Satisfied, I took it home and cut it into a makeshift quill. Over the course of the Venus hours, I copied down the Tuba Veneris, including the additional titles in my red dove’s blood. For the first page, I reproduced a likeness of the female Venus standing with her own Horn and Seal, crowned with her symbol over her head. Despite the small feather, I did my best to keep my writing uniform and neat, and I am pleased to say that I’m quite happy with the end result now that it is complete. The rest of the pages will be used for writing down what the six spirits teach me, both about themselves and whatever I question them about in general, as well as the secret signs, hand gestures, and proof of our pacts they produce.

For the Seal of Venus, I cut a hexagram out of copper in the Venus hour using newly purchased tin snips. The grimoire instructs the magician to wear the seal around their neck during the evocation, so I drilled a very small hole into one of the vertices so that a copper jump ring may be affixed along with a chain. Engraving the characters came easily, especially as I’ve already had practice carving various gemstones and metals in the creation of astrological Picatrix talismans (whose elections Salt has been very adept at finding). I passed it through the smoke of verbena, myrtle, and musk and wrapped it in linen before heading to work on the Horn.

I went through great lengths to ensure that the Horn met the specifications laid out in the grimoire. Under the guidance of my Zmaj—my primary guardian and tutelary spirit—I went through a few extra steps in preparing the bull’s horn for the consecration. One of these included another wash in a bath made up of seven Venusian herbs, each prayed over in the Venus hour, in order to further stir the spirit of the bull within it. When I retrieved it from the water, the energetic change noted was immediate. I rinsed it with water and scrubbed any last bits of dirt, blood, and grime out with a toothbrush, and then similarly engraved it in the nighttime Venus hour on the Friday new moon. The engravings appear a little faint when photographed due to the hardness and colouration of the horn, but they can be easily seen in person and I’m very happy with how evenly spaced they ended up being, especially for the seals of the six demons.

Finally, after having passed the Horn through the smoke, I wrapped it in linen and moved on to consecrate the Book. Once baptized and prayed over, I suffumigated it and covered it in green cloth as per the grimoire’s instructions. Since time was of the essence, I made sure that I was already dressed to go outside while preparing the instruments. I’m quite fortunate in that I live a ten minute walk away from a large forest, so it didn’t take long to carry the three instruments inside, locate the nearest stream, and bury them right underneath the bridge which crossed it.

While the process may seem straightforward when written out, the whole day ended up being fraught with omens. Though I didn’t set an alarm for it, I woke up exactly at sunrise when the first Venus hour of the day began. I took the opportunity to pray and then returned to sleep. I would then wake six more times, each after a short but intense, highly-charged dream full of chthonic journeying and magical conflict. I won’t speculate on the natures of these dreams too much, especially as I’ll hopefully be able to confront the six demons of the Tuba Veneris face-to-face in the coming months, but needless to say I was quite taken by the visions. I found that I was physically exhausted upon waking, far more so than I recall being in a long time. The dreams felt like a peculiar combination of test and augury.

Later, as soon as I ascended up the path which led into the forest and its creek, having just buried the instruments, I was suddenly overcome with the exact opposite sensation from how I felt in the morning. Instead of tired, I experienced a prolonged feeling of ecstasy, marked by a surge of power and authority that accompanied me all the way home. I didn’t know quite what to make of it at the time—it was certainly unexpected given that the consecration of the instruments wasn’t even technically complete—but it was definitely empowering. It’s difficult to put precisely into words, but I couldn’t shake the visceral feeling of something “clicking”; that the procedures had been carried out correctly, and that the authority of Anael was being installed into my sphere through the carrying out of these rites. I cross-checked my intuition with divination and then returned to bed, sleeping peacefully in anticipation of their retrieval.

The next day, in the nighttime Venus hour, I returned once more under the cover of darkness to collect my tools. They now sit in my temple space next to the incense blend, inks, and dove’s quill, awaiting future use as I move on to prepare the seals of the demons and the circle itself.

Doctor Faust’s Mightiest Sea Spirit (Review)

The Faustian genre of early modern literary ritual magic is a particular passion of mine, and has long been my preferred family of early modern magical texts. Staying true to the tradition of pseudonymous authors, these texts present a fascinating family of ritual magic approaches and methodologies, with surprising variety in technique. As such, I will be regularly reviewing texts relating to Faust, and the “Faustian Tradition”—whether those texts are translations of primary source material, academic monographs and studies on the figure of Faust, or analysis of the literary tradition and folklore that sprung from him. Today, I will be looking at the fascinating Doctor Faust’s Mightiest Sea Spirit, published by Enodia Press.

This book is a great example of what I love about the Faustian genre. Each of the selected texts that are translated within the book has about it a unique feel, and an explicit purpose that Nicolás Álvarez, the translator, brings together with impressive zeal.

Photo credits: Sfinga.

The binding of the book is excellent. I’m not a professional binder (though I’d love to learn the art one day) and I generally tend not to be too hung up on the editions of my texts. But there is something to be said about a beautiful production and this book certainly fulfills that criteria. The deep blue colour contrasts nicely with the silver lettering on the spine of the book, as well as the silver magic circle from one of the translations on the front cover. I’m not always keen on the choices Enodia makes when it comes to the images they affix to the front covers of their publications, however this particular one is beautiful and elegant. The design choices make for an attractive book, and the quality of the binding is more than satisfactory.

As for the contents of the book, we begin with Nicolás’ introduction in which he briefly details the history of the texts he has translated while also touching on the general history and character of the Faustian tradition. Where the introduction shines, however, is in its commentary regarding Sea Spirits and Early Modern German demonology, as well as their connection with spirits from other texts, particularly the devils of Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. Nicolás shows his broad knowledge of ritual magic texts here, carefully drawing connections and ties between shared literary lineages without being overzealous in doing so, as some modern authors are wont to do.

The next part of the introduction features an assessment of the ritual itself contained in the Meergeist. It begins by discussing the faculty of imagination in early modern magical practice, citing Dr. Elizabeth Butler (author of Ritual Magic and Fortunes of Faust) on the fascinating influence of the imagination as it pertains to our text. He then summarizes the theories of a number of early modern and medieval occult authors and natural philosophers on the role of imagination as a spiritual faculty. While I don’t necessarily fully agree with the conclusions that Nicolás reaches here as far as imagination being the chief faculty by which spirit contact occurs, he backs up his argument with primary source material and presents his perspective with erudition.

Once the “Inner Ritual” has been discussed the author moves on to the “Outer Ritual”, or the part of the procedure which would be more familiar to readers of early modern magical texts. The analysis of the ritual is concrete, referencing what about it is unique while also drawing parallels to other magical texts.

After the introduction, the main translation of the Meergeist is given, and it is here that the real bounty of the book begins. The text provides instructions for the conjuration of Lucifer and a number of his chief demonic vassals, in order that the magician may coerce him to bring treasure from out of the sea and into his hands. Where the ritual diverges from the standard procedures of its genres is in the literal dialogue between the magician and the spirit. This moment is somewhat reminiscent of the Greek Magical Papyri spells in which the God brings other spirits to feast and converse with the magician. In a similar manner, the magician converses with Lucifer and his Officers, making his demands. I won’t spoil the dialogue itself, but it was certainly a fascinating read. Not only that, but the descriptions of the vision evoke a sense of infernal beauty and terror. It reads almost like a horror novel, as a seven headed serpent is described to “arise to taste the constant demeanor of he who requests treasures,” while brimstone burns against the backdrop of a ghostly ship manifesting.

That being said, the practicality of the ritual itself makes it difficult to perform. Numerous magicians are required to be present, wearing different coloured clothing. While this may be simple enough, the materia can easily pose a challenge. The operation requires three gallows’ chains and the nails from a breaking wheel (a torture device) that have “sliced through the skin of someone broken [on it]”. I am not someone who balks at hunting for rare materia in the slightest, but this particular requirement makes performing the operation difficult to say the least. Naturally, I’m sure one would be able to ask their spirit allies to facilitate their acquisition of these nails, both monetarily as well as in the practical search.

After the Meergeist, we move on to the translation of Darmstadt MS 831, or the Conjuration and Call of the Sea Spirit Quirumandani. This is my personal favourite part of the text, and it has never before been previously published. There is, according to the author, no information on this text that has been published so far, with the only mention of the spirit Quirumandani being a brief comment on a paper-strip in possession of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek.

The actual ritual process of this text is fairly short and simplistic. A basic circle is given, and the ritual instructions are not overly complicated. Certainly it is a ritual that is more than doable, and I do intend to perform it at some point. The function of the operation is to obtain a Familiar Spirit who will protect and teach the magician. The nature of this spirit, or rather its attitude towards the conjurer, is never explicitly stated outside of the fact that it is a Spirit of the Sea who appears in the form of an old, grey man. But given that the spirit is told to protect the one who it pacts with, it seems at the very least ambivalent rather than outright malefic as many spirits of Faustian ritual magic texts tend to be.

There are many things which I love about this text, including the ritual techniques wherein the magician literally stands upon the spirits’ seals in order to subjugate him. The use of a sea shell, to which the spirit is bound, is also a fascinating technique and one I look forward to exploring in my own magical practice when I finally get to engage with this spirit. It also gives details of the particular method in which one makes the pact with the spirit, something that the Faustian genre of magical texts certainly does well. (Magia Naturalis also contains detailed descriptions of how the pacts are formed).

The next text that is translated for us is the Veritable Jesuit Coercion of Hell. This text is similar in nature to the Verus Jesuitarum Libellus (which may be found here on Esoteric Archives) in that it chiefly consists of a long conjuration to be performed in order to obtain treasure—in this case, from the sea. This relationship to the True Petition of the Jesuits is mentioned by Nicolás in the introduction to the translation. The author notes that the circle given in the English translation is his interpretation of a poorly drawn original; however the original circle is fortunately still given in Appendix II of the German version. It is a relatively straight-forward and brief text and feels somewhat out of place when compared with the unique elements of the others within the book. That said, I really am just so pleased that we are getting translations in the first place, and the simplicity of this ritual is an appeal in and of itself for those who prefer such ceremonies.

The final translation is the Arcanum Experientia Praetiosum. Due to the lack of connection to Sea Spirits or Sea Treasure this text is in the appendix rather than being its own chapter. However, its contents are a rare example of ritual magic dream incubation, much like the “Operation to bring three ladies” to your room in the Verum/Grimoire of Pope Honorious. As such, it is a welcome addition to the host of magical texts in the English language and an experiment I look forward to attempting.

There are two versions of this text, one with a specific spirit as the target and the other as a general operation. Both versions are thankfully provided, so as to give us a complete picture. The ritual method given is simple, and in the first the seal of the spirit is provided along with his number of legions and rank (prince) while the second is intended to be used with any spirit. The spirit is then conjured, and his seal hung from the window and lashed in order to subjugate him. The ritual implies, as Nicolás points out, that the spirits should then appear in the dreams of the magician following the successful operation.

The final part of the appendix is a transcript of the original German texts. This is valuable for those who can read the language (like a certain Sfinga can) though sadly I myself don’t speak it, so I cannot yet comment on this part of the book.

In conclusion, this text is an excellent addition to any magician’s bookshelf, and Enodia Press has done an outstanding job in bringing this to the wider occult community. This edition is limited to 500 copies and can be purchased on the Enodia Press website.

Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer (Pt 1): First Thoughts

“She is VENUS on High, a name given to me by the Stars.
Soon to be a Stygian sojourner, she appears when the HORN sounds.
The subjugated Dæmon groans under the strength of the SIGN.
Well done! As the victor, infused with glory, you return from the enemy.”

I’ve been fascinated with the Consecrated Little Book of Black Venus ever since I first came across it, but my interest shifted from a merely scholarly appreciation to a sorcerous desire to work it only recently. A confluence of events over the past several months continued to surface it to my attention. The first instance was during a conjuration of the archangel Anael using Trithemius’ Drawing Spirits into Crystals, in which the text was directly cited during my questioning of the spirit. Though I had not mentioned this experience to Salt, I later found out that he had been transcribing me a copy of the Libellus, or Tuba Veneris during Venus hours as a gift for when I last visited him in England.

Upon my return Toronto, I immediately set myself to work planning how I would undertake the operation. As a part of this blog, I intend to chronicle my journey with the Tuba Veneris in its various stages, focusing primarily on the preparation of the tools necessary for the ritual and then, if the operation is successful, providing further insights where possible given the necessary secrecy involved with all spirit conjuration.

Let us begin with the book itself. A short text, written by its own account in 1580, its authorship is attributed to John Dee; though there are many reasons to doubt this. The writing itself does not resemble any of his works, it does not contain his enduring Christian and scholastic undertones, its methodology is unlike that of his other magic, and its dating and place of writing do not align with Dee’s own diaries of where he was. Similarly, he never references the text at any point in the future. At the same time, its dating does place it within his lifetime, and especially during the years in which he was not so famous or remarkable as to warrant pseudepigraphal attribution in the manner of Solomon, Cyprian, or Faust. While Dee’s authorship of the text is neither conclusively proven nor disproven, the ambiguities are significant enough that the Tuba Veneris‘ author is usually referred to as Pseudo-Dee.

The grimoire details how to summon six demons ruled by the planet Venus, also referred to as Anael. Unlike grimoires like the Goetia, these spirits are not distinguished by their particular talents, abilities, and offices, rather they are addressed as a single unit who can accomplish a wide variety of tasks. Examples given include finding hidden treasures, navigating, trade, war. The reader is reminded that “practice and experience will teach a lot”, encouraging one to test the demons. Its magic, unlike Dee’s angelic practices, is “nigromantic” in the sense that it deals with the forceful compelling and binding of the demons. The names of the spirits are: Mogarip, Amabosar, Alkyzub, Belzazel, Falkaroth, and Mephgazub—and their seals, as noted by Teresa Burns, to a certain degree share elements of the Olympic spirits from the Arbatel.

Before one may undertake the operation, five main tools must first be constructed. These are:

  1. The Seal of Venus
  2. The Horn of Venus
  3. The Magical Circle
  4. The Book of Venus
  5. The Seals of the Spirits

The Seal is inscribed with virgin steel instruments on a double-sided copper hexagram during the day and hour of Venus on the new moon, after sundown. It is consecrated with the smoke of verbena, myrtle, and musk, and is then wrapped in linen and buried in the same hours next to a flowing body of water, from which it is recovered on the following night in the Venus hour.

The famous “Tuba Veneris” or Horn of Venus is made from the horn of a living bull, removed during the day and hour of Venus, which is then purified in Vitriol dissolved in vinegar. Once it is washed, the characters given are inscribed using the same steel instruments during the same times, consecrated in the same smoke, and then buried together with the Seal and recovered in the same fashion. The conjuration itself during the evocation of the demons is spoken entirely through the Horn.

A circle which protects the magician is also created during the hours of Venus. The exact materials can vary, with the text suggesting drawing it with a sword or staff in dirt, with a chalk on the floor, or with ink on parchment. I would prefer mine to be fairly durable, so I am likely going to be using a thicker cloth or canvas that can be rolled and stored away when not in use. This is especially as the text instructs to conjure the spirits in a “Safe place free from all human disturbances, either in a building, or better in a Forest or at an isolated and deserted crossroads”. I plan on performing the operation at a dirt crossroads in a forest whose land spirits I have been offering to for some time. The circle is also smoked in the incense and then stored away. It, along with the seals, are the only tools not buried.

The seals of the six demons are made in green wax, similarly consecrated in the smoke though not buried. In the operation, if the demon refuses to cooperate, the magician is told to heat the Seal of Venus (which you are normally wearing over your breast) in the coals of the censer or a candle and then place it over the wax seal so that it melts; this pains the spirit who will beg mercy and relent. Again, these are not buried, rather preserved until the summonings.

Lastly, the Book itself is created. Made from parchment, the text is reproduced (with a few modifications given in the instructions), and is christened the proper “Little Consecrated Book of the Black Venus”. The book is written with a dove feather and virgin ink, again only in the hours of Venus, and then consecrated with smoke, baptized in Vitriol water, and prayed over through the authority of Anael. It is finally wrapped in a green or red cloth and buried with the Seal and Horn in the same way.

Currently, my Book is completed though not yet consecrated. I plan on engraving and fully consecrating the Seal of Venus this coming new moon at a minimum; if I manage to do the same for the Horn, then I will bury them together by a nearby stream as per the text’s instructions.

Teresa Burns and Nancy Turner’s translation of the Tuba Veneris can be found at the following Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition page: [link]. The images in this post were sourced from Jeffrey S. Kupperman’s recreations also published in the same translation.

Hail and Welcome

Welcome to With Cunning & Command, a blog about magic, occultism, grimoires, spirit work, folk lore, and esoteric scholarship. We are magicians, karcists, necromancers, and diviners working with diverse Old and New World traditions, grimoires, and spirit courts joined by common goals, loves, and approaches to the hidden. Here, on our new website, we hope to host book reviews, snippets of ritual procedures, reflections on sorcerous practices, and a miscellany of other related writings. Our work is invested in ever furthering the transformation of the magician as a magical being herself, while concurrently deepening levels of spirit communion and mastery using the twin-forked prongs of knowledge and strength, insight and power—with sagacious cunning and authoritative command.

This blog is run by two authors, partners Sfinga and Salt:

Sfinga is a traditional witch, diviner, and spirit-worker from the Balkans. Born in Serbia, her magic is rooted in the oral traditions of zduhać and zmajevit lineages, especially surrounding ingress with dragon (zmaj) spirits. Fascinated with folk magic, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Old Slavic folklore and mythology, and various ways of working both devils and saints, she strives towards ever refining new cunning with old wisdom. An alumna of many of Jason Miller’s courses, including Strategic Sorcery, Sorcery of Hekate, and Black School of St. Cyprian, she is also trained in rootwork and is an initiate of Quimbanda through Tata Apokan of the Cabula Mavile Kitulu kia Njila. St. Cyprian of Antioch is one of the most significant spiritual allies in her court both within Quimbanda and in her other practices. She can be most easily reached through this blog or her Instagram.

Salt (also known as Khamaiyinepu) is a magician in the vein of early modern English folk and ritual magic practices, ever cultivating relationships with local land wights while contacting angelic and demonic powers through various grimoires. He also practices Faustian magic following the German ritual praxis of the Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis. Passionate about Ancient Egyptian religion and sorcery, he is a fervent reader of all things pertaining to Kemetic ritual practices. A geomancer and student of Traditional Astrology and Scholastic Image Magic, he has recently begun to delve into the various techniques of the Picatrix. He is the author of the Hadean Press pamphlet, The Devil’s Bestiary: The Magpie.

We thank you for stopping by our new corner of the web! We’ll be updating this space with plenty of new posts in the near future, and we hope that you stay with us as we continue to write about our wanderings along the crooked roads.