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.