Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Abramelin: Hermetic Rite or Hermetic Wrong?

I may have taken a wrong turn a few years ago in my pursuit of the Great Work.

I had attained Knowledge and Conversation with my Holy Guardian Angel, and based on the Dehn and Mathers translations of that awesome manuscript of Abramelin's legacy for his son, I figured the next most important thing to do after attaining K et C was to conjure up the demons of Hell and get them to serve me.

I figured the Lemegeton's Goetia was as good of a list of Hell's Minions as any other, so with conjuring all 72 in mind, I set out to master spirit conjure magic. Being a bit nervous about the whole "conjuring demons" thing, I started with the Archangels of the Planetary Spheres, and worked on getting the confidence and experience in spirit conjuration that I felt was necessary before diving into the fires of Hell. I think I took a good path for getting to Goety, all things considered.

But over the last month I've been working with some other magicians on an experiment involving planetary governors/intelligences/deities and the Mansions of the Moon. The things I've learned, though rudimentary at this stage, have completely and totally blown away all the things I've accomplished using the spirits of the Lem's Goetia. I've seen potentials in the last 28 days that indicate the whole "sub-lunar spirits" thing was a red herring, a needless exercise that has been interesting, useful for some situations, but ultimately not the best method available to accomplish the goals of Hermetic Magic.

How did this happen? I mean, honestly, in all humility, I'm a pretty bright guy. Especially at this magic thing. I've got a calling on me, a geas if you will. I'm downright doomed (see definition 1). I read through the Emerald Tablet, the Abramelin Rite, and the Lemegeton's Goetia, and I mixed them all together to come up with a system that let the magician accomplish everything on the Emerald Tablet in three easy steps:
  1. Attain the Supernatural Assistant
  2. Get initiated into the Seven Planetary Spheres
  3. Start conjuring the demons and putting them to work creating the universe as you see fit
See? You rise to the heavens, you return to Earth in Power, and thus is the world created. I figured it had to be right, because the first thing you do in the Abramelin Rite after attaining Knowledge and Conversation is to conjure up the Four Kings of Hell and their minions. Makes sense, right?

Except for one little problem. See, Abraham the Jew gave his son Lamech the Abramelin ritual because he couldn't give him the KBL.

That's pretty obvious to anyone who reads the manuscript, but I never stopped to think about what it means. It means the "Sacred Magic" of Abramelin was the second best method of using the mysteries of the universe and God's revelation/emanation to get ahead in life. The Sacred Magic of Abramelin is like a hammer and saw and a pile of nails. You gather the wood you need, and you can throw up a tree house or a deck, or whatever you might need that you can pound out in a couple of afternoons.

The more you do it, the better the results will be, and over time you'll be a first-rate carpenter. And there's nothing wrong with that. There are awesome things that carpenters can build. One of my favorite guys in all of history was raised by a carpenter, in fact. Carpentry is pretty frickin' awesome, when you think about it. It's relatively easy, relatively inexpensive, and the better you get, the more super-sweet things you can do with it. It's always been a dream of mine to have a wood-working shop with everything I need to make inlaid exotic wood crafts that are functional and beautiful.

Working with the Lem's Goetia spirits appealed to my Taurean pragmatism. It was relatively simple, and super effective. Sure, you never seem to end up with exactly what you want, but you always get exactly what you ask for. Is there a better magic for a pragmatist with a core philosophy of "The end justifies the means?"

But the Great Work of the Emerald Tablet and the Corpus Hermeticum isn't carpentry. It's architecture. You aren't building a treehouse, or a garage, or a set of fine cabinets, you're building the Ideal City.


It's not a back-yard gazebo.

In the Divine Pymander, the process of accomplishing the Great Work is laid out pretty clearly. You ascend through the Heavens on your way to reclaiming your divine race and eternal value. Along the way, you gain initiations, integrate powers, learn to fit in with the Divine Plan, and you leave behind the attitudes and habits of the material realm that keep you from fully being that which you secretly, occult-ly already are.

Then, apparently, you get to the good stuff. You start learning things from the spirits that are beyond the things of this world. You know how with the Angels and Spirits of the Planets, you learn the herbs and stones and animal parts and plant parts to include in what amount to mojo bags? And how you learn to make talismans according to the astrological timing and all that? It's awesome, truly cool to be able to make magical things. It's an essential part of the Work, imo. It gives you a complete tool set to do stuff with stuff to make stuff happen.

But when you get to the Eighth Sphere, my God, it's a whole new ball game! The Hymns of Silence are exactly that. In the rituals and rites of the Seven Planetary spheres and the lower realms, you speak and commune and direct, you mix and mingle and create talismans and tools and things. But in the Eighth, you intend and things happen. I've learned there are forces released when you make a physical movement with a specific intent empowered by teachings from certain spirits at certain times, and the world just bends a little bit.

And you're always singing, but without words, without melody, without harmony, but you're in perfect harmony at the same time. You're doing it right now, in fact. It's what is meant by Willing a thing to Be.

There are no limits to the extent of what can be accomplished, I believe. All the super mystical powers of the adepts that seem so cool are right there, just waiting to be tapped. It's an awareness shift, sort of, but at the same time it's an initiation, and also a ritual, in a way.

But it takes a fuckload of practice, training, and more practice, and attunement, and more practice, and did I mention practice? But it's not practice like conjuring spirits is practice. I had a dream, learned a technique, and applied it consistently from the morning I woke to this very day. It didn't take long, but it's a lot like learning to wiggle your ears or arch one eyebrow when you don't have the genetic predisposition for such things. To unlock the rest, I need time, and peace, and patience. I need both feet on the ground.

And the thing is, it's all right there in the Divine Pymander. The Goety doesn't get mentioned. The Hermetic path has room for Goety, and frankly it's a damned useful set of tools to have in a pinch. But I don't think we're in the pinches we think we're in as often as we think we are.We don't need Goety.

I think the Supernatural Assistant or Holy Guardian Angel is still a vital part of a Hermetic Magician's arsenal. It makes a way through to spirits that are essential to your attainment. It's the Silver Key, the Gate, and the Lock that keeps the eldritch nasties we run into in the Work at bay. In that sense, the Abramelin rite is not a wrong at all. There is nothing whatsoever useless in attaining knowledge and conversation, I still firmly believe it's a necessary step.

But the demons of hell... they're a useful set of tools, and as Solomon demonstrated, they can be worked with to accomplish Holy Goals and Ambitions. But there are other methods that don't have the bite that comes with the demons of hell. I'm torn now, frankly because Goety is addictive. It's almost instantly gratifying, and is totally fun to do. But I've also learned you never get exactly what you want or need, even when you get exactly what you ask for. It's really powerful for affecting manifest reality in majorly awesome ways... but it hurts.

There's a story of this guy who picked up a kid hitchiking home from the local fishing hole. The kid had a ton of fish, huge bass and trout. He looked kind of tired and pale, so the guy offered him a ride. He asked the kid his secret for catching all those fish, and the kid said the trick was some special fat worms he found. They bit, he said, but he'd found a nest of them and kept going back to get more after he started landing the big fish. They were little and had a funny tail. The fish couldn't get enough of them.

It turned out the kid had been using baby rattlesnakes to catch fish. Every time he grabbed one, he got bit, and the poison slowly accumulated in his body. In the story, the kid dies in the pickup with the biggest haul of fish he'd ever caught.

I don't think Abraham would have left his son something as bad as a pit of baby rattlers, but I no longer think the Lemegeton's spirits are the best option for Hermetic Magicians, no matter how big the fish you catch might be. Maybe if I'd stuck with the Demon Kings that were depicted in the Dehn translation, things would have gone better. I don't know.

But the spirits of the Lem's Goetia are still very useful, and maybe someone might figure out the trick to handling them without getting bit. I thought I had it, and I know my HGA kept the worst of the potential evils at bay, and my initiations into the spheres helped shield me a lot, but in spite of the hundreds of thousands of dollars I received, in spite of the exorcism skills I picked up, there was always something wrong in the manifestation that sucked away the results before I could put them to proper use.

And it could just be my poor money management skills, and laziness in general. I haven't counted that out. And there's never been an Ideal City built that didn't need carpenters at some point in the process. So I'm not exactly sure whether Goety is a red herring after all. There's too much benefit I've received to say the whole thing is a waste of time.

But I can tell you this: there is a better way.

21 comments:

  1. I feel your pain, brother, but there is another way, and the Goetia of Dr. Rudd has the key. If you invoke the angel of the ha-Shem that corresponds to the Goetic demon, then you will have a powerfully balanced pair, and won't get bit in the process.

    I have also found that the decan faces hold the key to the whole structure of Goetic and ha-Shem magick. The decan face also corresponds to the 36 Naib cards of the Tarot (so you already know them). The Angelic Ruler of the Decan is a very powerful angelic force that can also impact the material plane in beneficial ways.

    Also, for making material types of magick work optimally, I have found that the use of Elementals and Talismanic Elementals, along with the Lunation cycle and the Mansions of the Moon produces the best and most direct results. Just my opinion.

    Check out my article at Rending the Veil - http://www.rendingtheveil.com/key-evocation-zodiacal-decans/

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  2. I'm greatly looking forward to seeing how your revised classes look once you've codified your discoveries!

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  3. Wow you know you talk about some stuff that on the astral plane I understood but didn't understand that I saw but didn't see with my own eyes. Very nice posting :)

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  4. YES!!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!

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  5. What a leap of faith in your paradigm! Sounds amazing. One metaphor hit me when reading your thoughts: Doing magic is a bit like generating energy to fulfill your goals or belp accomplishing the Great Work. To use the metaphor: Using Goetia to create this energy is a bit like nuclear power - you are left with a highly efficient process that takes a lot to accomplish. Yet, it will always come with big risks and ultimately leave you with some 'radiatig' leftovers that you need to deal with... So what other, more natural way is there to create similar amounts of energy in a similar efficient yet more healthy and sustainable way? Is planetary magic to solar power? Are there even smarter ways? -- And a final question: From your experience - can the Goetic demons really help you with the Great Work, i.e. transcend your soul? Maybe the Goetic demons can help one build a perfect city in Assiah, but not in Jetzirah, Briah or Atziluth?

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  6. It sounds to me that you've found what I would refer to as a tifereth consciousness.

    I don't mean to sound like a dick, so I am sorry if it sounds like I am belittling your accomplishment. Quite the contrary.

    Hundreds, maybe thousands of occultists/esotericists in all parts of the world and traditions seem to equate a hga contact and experience with a solar consciousness, yet when the secret sun finally shines through the veil.... well. You get This, the accomplishedf white work.Acquirinig the Hga is not exactly equivalent to this, but it is that which can help to attain the solar sphere.

    Travelling and being initiated into the spheres is one thing, initiations into the Planetary Solar sphere is also one thing, but truly being initiated into tifereth, what you refer to as the hermetic 8th sphere (and here the maps we use for our paths differ) is something else.


    One pointer, if I may, in case our maps do overlap:
    White work done, red work to go ;)

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  7. @ Barrabbas, while I appreciate your support, my Work with the Lem's Goetia and Shem angels, as well as my research into the available history of the manuscripts leads to very different conclusions. The Goetia didn't hit "72 spirits" until the Lesser Key was published, prior to that I believe there were ... 69? Which might be a reference to the spirits of the house Cancer ruling these spirits. Because 69 on its side is the symbol of Cancer. See, whenever there's a coincidental overlap of symbols or numbers, it's easy to leap to conclusions, but not always right.

    I'm all for working with angels while you Work the Goetia, but there's not enough evidence to support the application of the Shem angels to the Goetic spirits directly, imo. It seems to work for some folks though. I personally suspect that's because Goety works pretty much regardless of the approach because the spirits are so close to the material realm.

    Meanwhile, the Shem angels are about damned impossible to really contact. They're beyond form and symbol. Their names are the closest things we have to a conjuration point, but even then most non-Hasids can't really begin to understand the depth of the symbolism. It's like an ant finding a chemical trail of a human and trying to communicate with the human by reproducing similar chemical signatures.

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  8. @Fra.: I think the most efficient, sustainable, natural form of magical power is that which we have by our divine birthright. The Planetary Intelligences and Spirits can train us, tune us, harmonize our awareness in a way that we can tap this and focus it. Until that can be done consciously, I believe the second best and most powerful means are astrological talismans and the crafty mojo bags and rootwork/hoodoo type of techniques that we learn from the spirits.

    The Spirits of the Goetia are excellent sources of training in the making of mundane magical talismans. It's their abilities and proclivities to directly affect matter that seem to leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

    They are efficient and powerful, and they do transform the harmonies of your soul. After working with Bune for a long time, I picked up some of his abilities, for example. I can cause spirits to appear on their tombs, and I can bring riches to men and women.

    In terms of Theurgy, Goety does not help directly. It may give you skills and talents and insight that can be used for Theurgical goals, but I haven't learned anything from the spirits of the Lem's Goetia that helped me out that way.

    I suspect I could learn a lot from certain spirits of the dead though, and that's a technique I picked up from Bune. I've just been so focused on the riches that I never really pursued the necromancy part much.

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  9. @Argent: I think our maps differ a great deal, but thanks for the encouragement!

    The Eighth is the Sphere of the Fixed Stars, the Constellations and also the Mansions of the Moon. After a month-long Working, I've tapped a current that will take years to integrate.

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  10. Very interesting Fr RO, by the way, I expect you eventually have a class or course on these workings.

    Regarding the Shem Angels, I would not agree that they are impossible to contact and I also disagree that they have correspondence to the 72 goetic spirits on a one-by-one basis.

    Since I attained K&C with my HGA, my life has changed dramatically and despite I have already the "permission" from him to work with the Goetia, I have refrained to do it and instead I turned into working with the Shem Angels.

    My method is based on some of your workings with some variations and I can say without the fear of being wrong, that I have evoked at least 4 angels by this time. They are real and they produce results.

    One night, two weeks ago, one of them literally scared the shit out of me, his presence was so intense that at the moment of the invocation, I stopped a second thinking if I should quit and close the ritual, or continue. That has been the scariest moment I have lived doing conjuration. Even conjuring Kammael was really easy and comfortable.

    I'm still experimenting with other angels.

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  11. @VL: My experience with the Shem angels was based on Ambelain's sigils and my basic conjuration rites. I had some results, but not the kind that substantiates the level of spirit we're talking about. I haven't done nearly enough work with the Shemhamephoresh to have an informed opinion at this point though, it's mostly speculation based on research. I can honestly say I haven't contacted the Shem in all their glory and power yet.

    It's encouraging to know you've had the kind of success you've explained though.

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  12. Back @Argent: Got distracted, didn't finish the response. :)

    I definitely agree it's the red work yet to go in some ways, but I'm still in the Black stage in some aspects, like the 8th sphere work, the Green stage in the planetary archangels and integration, and the White stage in other "lower" areas.

    Once the Stone is complete in the different areas of my Work, I'll have maybe three or four Stones to use as the Prime Materia for the culminative Work, and it will be back to the Black, White, Green and then Red phases all over again.

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  13. Also @Argent: I totally agree that contacting the HGA is the beginning of the White Phase, not the ending. The Secret Sun shining through, crossing/rending Paroketh is definitely the culmination of the White phase, in my opinion. It's not the "crossing the Abyss" experience, but it's a prerequisite.

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  14. Let's go down to the East River/ and throw something in/ Something we can't live without/ and then let's start again - Ani Difranco

    While I have to be honest, I don't understand a lot of the nuts and bolts of the shift, I do understand you've (a) seen that your current paradigm isn't working for you and (b) you're experimenting with a new one.

    That is so fucking punk rock! I'm inspired just reading it and look forward to watching your journey. It's brave and omg hard to change patterns.

    Collect xp!

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  15. This! This is Magic!Going from an almost Goetic evangelist to an entirely different approach, changing perspective without ego...wonderful stuff. Inspiring! I've learned something profound by your example, Frater. Thank you.

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  16. Frater R.O.

    I can tell you for certain the the K&C of the HGA is not necessary for crossing the Abyss.

    Truth be told I would bet it makes it slightly harder to cross, though easier to bounce back and integrate back into normal consciousness.

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  17. I'm not even going to begin to claim I understand even a tenth of much of what you discuss here. But there is something in this post taht resonated with me even despite this. The silence part, you give me chills. In a good way. Electric, even the reading of it. I can't wait to see more of this.

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  18. Generally, regarding the Abramelin and the Hga:

    Regarding,the HGA, there are things you do need the angelic contact for and others that you do not.

    There are many eastern schools that in principle accomplish exactly what we do, yet do not have the concept of the HGA.
    We have to remember that the western esoteric tradition is heavily influenced by Gnosticism and it is there that we can find clues as to what the HGA concept is. (valentinian gnosticism specifically)

    The Principal phases of the black and white works are aided by the angelic contact, but not brought about by it. Though, again, we need to remember the fact that the angellic contact made is not in any way the same thing as a solar consciousness.

    Therefore, the Abramelin is both right and wrong.

    It is right, in that, if prepared for, it can aid in the process of transformation that is the shift from a lunar consciousness to a solar consciousness, therefore the amount of time needed in solitude etc.
    But, of course, most people today are realising that you can get in contact with your Angel in 2 weeks. So why do the operation?

    The operation needs certain oral teachings, and we, as moderns, need to be aware that the Angellic contact is a side-effect, that can come anytime, and is not the actual goal of the Abramelin.

    "The abramelin operation" is wrong, in that without the oral teachings it is easy to missread, and a signpost in its system can be taken as the end. There are many operations similar to the Abramelin right in existence, though they were not published in the anglo-occult current.

    As for the abyss. Well, alchemy states it is in posession of the royal secret that allows the end result to manifest. Neo-kabbalistically speaking, jumping the abyss. Or being face to face with god, experiencing "the beautific vision" as one could call it.

    It is the same issue here as we had with tifereth versus the angel, or versus visiting a planetary sphere. many are those who have experienced Unio mystica. But few are those who experience the beautific vision.

    is the angel needed for this?
    :=)

    what is the angels purpose?

    These are things that are revelaed to those who have integrated into the solar consciousness (which does take much much longer than 2 weeks to attain)m and have an angelic contact as well. as lopng asnyou work within a western context.
    (native american african and eastern practices are not western in this context, everything else is.)

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  19. So.. Many.. comments.

    Dude. Just.. Dude. I am really proud of you! There is so much there to comment on, that I don't even know where to start.

    I am not sure if the kings of hell would have been more or less bitey; I think that the teeth are part of the nature of the beast. Like the parable of the scorpion and the frog.

    You did great and wondrous things with the system, and contributed greatly to our Lore concerning it.. and then you moved on.

    I think the part that makes me proudest is that you had the awareness to just put down something that you didn't need anymore. Many people keep doing the same thing, and getting the same results.

    I don't think your work in Goetia was a mistake, as The Scribbler said, if you hadn't done it, you might not be here now, and I am very glad you are here, now.

    Gah, there's like 20 reasons why this post, and you, are awesome. I can't name them all. Just saying Congratulations!

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  20. R.O., I don't mean this snarkily even though I can't seem to find a way to phrase it that doesn't sound that way. If Goety is a system of magic that gives you what you ask for even if it isn't what you want or need, wouldn't it make more sense for you to get better at asking for what you want or need, rather than abandoning it?

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  21. Glad to see you are enjoying the 8th, Magus :)

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Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.