My next magickal project will be the Shem angels. When I first began Working with Spirits, I started with the Seven Archangels of the planets, intending to familiarize myself with them before moving on to more complex systems. Originally, I intended to move from the Planetary Intelligences to the Shem Angels, then on to the Ophanim, and then towards the Enochian system. At this point, I still intend to work the Ophanim system at some point in the future, but the Enochian system I'm wavering on. Time will tell.
At this point, I've only begun formulating some ideas about the Shemhamephoresh angels. I'm definitely in the Initiation phase (for those with Project Management experience), where I begin to gather and analyze data regarding the project. I need to understand what the Angels are, how they fit into the cosmologies, and then identify means of conjuring them efficiently and repeatably. At that point, I can begin to record their attributes as they manifest in my life. That's a ways down the road though.
I got the "go-ahead" on the Shem angels from my HGA last week. I was reading in Agrippa that the Shemhamephoresh spirits were "better" than the angels of the planets and elements. I thought that was interesting, but there's nothing about how to Work with these particular spirits. So, I did what we all do, I hit Google up for some leads.
The two primary resources I found that had useful information in them were Aaron Leitch's essay and Section V of Robert Ambelain's Practical Kabbalah Part II. Both of these sources link the Shemhamephoresh angels to the zodiac.
Personally, I'm not convinced. Not entirely, at any rate. The evidence for the angels to be astrologically linked is very strong. There are 72 names, one for ever five degrees of the zodiac. Aaron's essay goes into a lot of the reasoning behind the attributions, and it's very in-depth, and extends back centuries.
However, the connections just don't hold true enough to me at this point. I'm holding myself open to the idea they might be zodiacally related, but there's more to placing spirits than the numbers they have in common with the zodiac.
The names of the Shem angels are derived from three Hebrew verses of 72 letters each in Exodus 14:19-21. From Agrippa, we learn that the names of spirits are derived from the verses in the Bible that describe their qualities. The verses describe the Angel the Lord sent to protect, teach, and make a way for the Israelites as they escaped the Egyptians. The Angel's presence was indicated by the column of smoke by day, and the pillar of fire by night that remained with the Israelites for over forty years. The Cloud remained with the Israelites at least as far as the edges of the Promised Land, but it's hard to tell exactly when the Cloud and Fire returned to Heaven. We do know that the Cloud of the Lord's presence returned to the Temple of Solomon, leaving all of Jerusalem weeping in awe.
In tracking down the Angels' history, I found they are aligned with the rays on the crowns of the twenty-four elders seated before the throne of God. Now, these elders are closer to the Throne of God than the seven candles representing the planets. They're also closer to the Throne than the twelve angels that guard the gates of Jerusalem, placing hem above the zodiac as well.
Based on this information, I'm planning on researching the spirits' manifestations outside the requirements of astrological timing. I am currently of the opinion they operate outside the "rules" of the planetary governors. I could be wrong, but finding out is one goal of this particular project.
Now, Ambelain's section of Practical Kabbalah Part II includes seals for each of the spirits. These seals are copied and presented by Zalewski and Poke Runyon in other works, but Ambelain warns against their use, claiming a six-year operation using the seals resulted in cancer, obsessive thoughts of suicide, and other unpleasant results. Poke and Zalewski don't mention it, and the general consensus of the magicians I've talked to about this is that Ambelain was full of crap. Either it was a false warning, or he was just wrong.
Regardless, the seals come from a manuscript much later than Agrippa's record of the angels. Agrippa knew the angels' names, and knew they were used in magick, but did not offer any indication that they are related to the zodiac. If the seals were created under the auspices of the zodiac-link, they'll be useless to me. Besides, I don't like using symbols I don't understand or that I'm just not comfortable with, and these definitely fall into that category.
I'll be working the spirits using the conjuration ceremonies of the 4th book of Occult Philosophy. The seals I'll generate using some method from the time of Agrippa, or else something provided directly by my HGA. I haven't figured that part out yet.