Monday, November 27, 2006

Enochian Talismans

In John Dee's Heptarchia Mystica fragmentary designs are given for talismans corresponding to each of the days of the week. They consist of a ring of letters and sigils for each King and Prince, and the construction is relatively straightforward. Geoffrey James gives a reasonable design in Enochian Evocation - the sigil for the King goes above that of the Prince inside the circle of letters, and across the middle of the talisman are written the names of the King and Prince. James notes that Dee's diaries suggest talismans should be used for the other entities such as the Kings and Seniors, but since Dee never recorded any such designs he is left with reproducing the sections of the Great Table in which their names appear.

Our ritual group recently evoked Bataivah, the King of the East, and the result of that working gives some insight into the talismans and how they work. Since this is data from a single operation, it is still in the experimental stage. Any additional accounts are always welcome, whether or not they support what I am presenting here. As in orthodox scientific research, more data is always better.

Carroll Runyon is the author of The Book of Solomon's Magick in which he explains his understanding of Goetic evocation. When working with his system, the sigil of the spirit is traced onto a dark mirror. The magician performs the conjuration and then stares into the mirror, in which his or her reflection is distorted by the sigil and becomes the image of the spirit. Enochian talismans are used completely differently - when conjuring the spirit, the magician steps onto the talisman. As the design is completely out of the line of sight of the magician, there is really no way in which any sort of visual or optical effect could be involved. The talismans thus appear to have a purely magical effect rather than any sort of perceptual influence.

In our latest evocation we summoned Bataivah, the King of the East. The ritual template we used is very similar to the one posted on this site, differing only by a few edits and actions. The conjuration used is based on the one cited by Geoffrey James for the Seniors, but it did need to be assembled because apparently Dee never wrote one, or if he did it did not survive among the papers in the British Museum. Bataivah was summoned by the three names of God corresponding to the East - Oro, Ibah, and Aozpi. No talisman was used because James' designs did not seem very convincing and no others appear in Dee's diaries. I acted as Magus, with two other members of our group, one as Scryer and the other as Scribe.

Once the conjuration was complete, the Scryer did see an image in the mirror but heard no responses to our questions. I vibrated the name of Bataivah at the image, and it did not disintegrate or break up as imaginary images tend to do. We asked if there was something additional we needed, the Scryer saw an image of boots or feet. I immediately realized that this referred to the talisman and asked Bataivah to show us the design and what letters should be placed upon it. The Scryer saw an image in the mirror, drew it out on a sheet of paper, and handed it to the Scribe, who filled it the proper letters. I then took it, stepped onto it, and at that moment the Scryer was able to hear responses to our questions.

My working hypothesis from this is that the function of the talisman is to facilitate communication with the summoned entity. We were able to summon the King, but without the talisman he seemed to only be able to communicate by showing the Scryer a series of images. Another magician has commented to me that they found the Heptarchial Kings "unapproachable" in ritual, and I do not recall whether I asked if they used the talisman properly. In my experience not very many modern magicians do. If the Heptarchials are like we found Bataivah to be, it is no wonder that communication without the talisman is difficult.

Another point of note is that I have been able to evoke and invoke the Kings and charge them with tasks without using a talisman. My practical results from this are pretty good so that suggests the talisman specifically allows the spirit to answer questions in a manner comprehensible to the Magus and Scryer. They never seem to have any trouble understanding commands. I'm much more into practical ritual work and the most recent series with the group is the first time that I've done much involving scrying. I will of course try out some practical evocations now to see if the talisman design that we received improves them, but that all remains to be seen.

My reservations about my working hypothesis are that this is only one working and it is possible that some psychological factor in our group produced the effect. Maybe we subconsciously felt like the talisman "should" be there, since we have been working with the Heptarchials and have used talismans for all of those evocations. Maybe we got the wrong spirit, even though vibrating the proper spirit name will usually send away imposters and I did that several times because I expected the King to be able to converse and was trying to get a stronger manifestation. We also still have to analyze the number and words of power that we were given to see if their attributions look reasonable for Bataivah.

So this is really a starting point. If any of you have had experiences evoking and conversing with the Watchtower Kings I would be interested in hearing about them.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tanzanian Soccer Magick

The world of sports may be more ripe for operant magical influence than the world of politics. In professional athletics often the difference between winning and losing is so tiny that small influences like those observed by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Laboratory could possibly carry the day. The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) is certainly taking no chances - two teams have been fined for using magick against their opponents. In fact, this is the second time that these teams have been punished over the use of magical practices.

So does it work? I can only speak from very limited experience. I have only cast one spell with the intent of influencing a sporting event in my life, for the Minnesota Vikings in 1997. I cast the spell in the middle of the game (as I recall, against Arizona) in which they were trailing, and they wound up turning it around and winning by one point. They went on to win the next four games, but hit a losing streak after that and only managed to finish the season at 9-7. In recent years I haven't been interested enough in (American) football to bother with that sort of thing, so I only have the one data point. They might have won anyway - but I do seem to recall that the win was pretty remarkable and a lot of breaks went their way after I cast the spell.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Specify Ends, Not Means

I was rereading the article that I mentioned about the Indonesian magician trying to jinx President Bush and realized that the magician may have in fact gotten exactly the result for which he was casting. From the article:

Pamungkas said he believed the ritual - performed around 1km from the palace - would cause Secret Service personnel guarding Bush to fall into a trance and believe the US leader was under attack, causing chaos.

This is actually composed of two statements, and only the first really qualifies as a statement of intent. The magician cast a spell with the intent of causing the Secret Service to believe that Bush was in danger. The Secret Service did believe that Bush was in danger, and as a result cut short his visit. If these events are indeed related and the decision of the Secret Service was in some way influenced by the spell, this illustratea a problem that many magicians encounter - magick gives you what you ask for, not necessarily what you want.

In some ways Medieval magicians understood this principle better than modern occultists. They operated from a worldview in which the spirits they summoned were hostile and would attempt to twist the wording of any request, so they delivered charges to the spirits that read like legal discourses. While most classes of spirits are not actively hostile to magicians, magick does follow the path of least resistance. Spirits will do their best to follow the letter of the instructions that you give them, but if there is a relatively likely outcome that they can influence that fulfills your request, they will go ahead and do it. More intelligent spirits like Enochian Seniors and Kings tend to have some sense of the spirit of what you are asking, but as you work down the hierarchy the spirits become more literal-minded. I do not believe that this reflects any sort of malice on their part, just a lack of intellectual sophistication. When working with such spirits, formulating a statement of intent is like programming a computer - garbage in, garbage out.

The Indonesian magician probably should have asked for "chaos surrounding Bush's visit" or for Bush to somehow embarrass himself or encounter bad luck and frustration during the trip. None of these were accomplished by putting the thought of danger into the minds of Bush's Secret Service staff. They cut short the trip, Bush left, and that was that. The magician cast for what he wanted under the impression that it would produce the result he desired, which is a relatively common practice that often does not produce the intended objective. Instead, you need to cast for the outcome you want, not for something that you think will create the outcome you want. You specify the ends, not the means.

Specifying means can also limit the potential of magick. In the Bush example, there are many different ways in which a visiting dignitary could potentially be embarrassed or thwarted. To specify only one of them concentrates all of the magical power of a ritual on a single, very specific set of events. If this set of events is particularly unlikely, the spell will generally fail. Instead of working against the tendency of magick to follow the path of least resistance, you work with that tendency by specifying the ends very precisely but leaving the means open. Often, there is some way in which your objective can be fulfilled that you did not think of but which is relatively easy for the spell to facilitate.

11/22 Update: One of the problems with specifying statements of intent unclearly is that the target of the spell will be hit by effects that generally conform to the spell's goal but which do not necessarily match the stated intent. Besides issues directly related to Bush's Asia summit, he, his family, and his staff have had a run of bad luck in the last couple of days.

Air Force One loses a tire on landing in Vietnam.

Motorcycles crash while driving as part of Bush's motorcade in Hawaii.

The director of the White House Travel Office was mugged outside a Waikiki nightclub.

Bush daughter Barbara was robbed in Argentina. Also, a Secret Service Agent in their detail was 'badly beaten' in an attempted mugging.

So are these events related to the spell? None of them are common occurances, though airplanes do have occasional mechanical problems and people are robbed every day, and all of them took place after the spell was cast. My conclusion here is that the spell successfully raised energy but failed to direct it with much precision. Instead of creating a big negative effect on Bush himself it seems to have had a smaller effect on Bush that extended to his staff and his family members. Then again, it still could all be an unlikely coincidence.

Monday, November 20, 2006

They Should Try This for Ritual Magick

Scientists have performed a brain imaging study on Christians who speak in tongues. It's behind the New York Times "select" subscription wall, but this article from Slate discusses the findings. The article also includes a link to the actual study.

Thinking in Tongues

Essentially, it appears as though glossalia correllates to a reduction in the firing of an area in the prefrontal lobe of the brain that normally is active during deliberate activity. From the scans, it appears as though the subjects really were not in complete control of the experience. Christians who practice glossalia believe that God takes possession of their minds and speaks through them, and this sense of losing control is backed up by the scans. Does this mean that speaking in tongues is actually some deep spiritual experience in which the practitioners are connecting to some deeper reality? Or is it a sign of something more sinister akin to brainwashing or mind control?

It would be really interesting to compare these scans to scans of ritual magicians performing spells. I'm thinking that perhaps the opposite would be observed - that magick, as willed action, is especially purposeful, and therefore the prefrontal lobe would show heightened rather than reduced activity. The study of brain function during spiritual experiences is an area that I believe has a great deal of promise for the development of more effective magical techniques, and hopefully neurological research in this area will continue.

Friday, November 17, 2006

So, do you think this will work?

Using magick to affect politics is an interesting idea that in my experience has a lot of potential. Apparently, the same sentiment can be found in Indonesia.

Man seeks to jinx Bush visit with magic

An Indonesian magician has cast a spell that he claims will disrupt George Bush's visit to the country on Monday. From the standpoint of magical research, it's always nice when the time interval for a spell is so short - only a few days in this case. That way we'll know soon enough whether or not the spell worked.

I'll be on the lookout for any unusual events related to Bush's trip.

11/20 UPDATE #1: Bush's trip to Asia is not going well, but I have yet to see anything that looks unlikely enough to attribute to a spell. Bush arrives in Indonesia today.

11/20 UPDATE #2: There were protests and unrest in Indonesia, but again I don't see much evidence of anything particularly unusual - Bush is pretty unpopular over there. I guess that means the jury is still out on drinking sheep's blood to influence politics. Whether or not the spell might have made the protests worse than they could have been is an open question - the trip was cut short yesterday for security reasons, but there could be many reasons for that.

Bush's stopover lasted only six hours, and he has now left Indonesia.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Enochian as a Single Coherent Magical System

One of the ongoing arguments among Enochian magicians is whether or not John Dee and Edward Kelly's experiments produced a single coherent system of magick. Notably, many modern magicians separate the "Watchtower" material from the material in the Heptarchia Mystica, as there is some justification for doing so. The Heptarchial material was received substantially earlier, and the conjurations are structured differently. There are also other portions of the original diaries that don't seem to fit with anything else, like the Liber Logaeth communications and the round tablet of Nalvage.

Despite all of this, my own magical research suggests that the Enochian system is indeed a single coherent system, at least in terms of the Heptarchia Mystica and the Watchtowers.

Most of the evidence I have collected is related to two specific ritual practices that have produced good results for me over the course of many years. The first of this is the use of Enochian Temple Equipment (no, that's not my temple, but the setup shown is very nice)with all of the entities of the Enochian system. Benjamin Rowe has argued that the temple equipment is only used with the Heptarchial angels, and it is true that the instructions for the various pieces of furniture accompany the descriptions of those particular entities. However, reading through the diaries there is no instruction anywhere telling Dee to stop using the table with the later angels, and it makes little sense that they would have built the table and then stopped using it. It might be argued that the equipment was never built, but there is substantial evidence that the table was indeed constructed.

In the diaries, Dee keeps asking if he can put a drawer under the table (and the spirits keep telling him no), so that implies that he and Kelly did in fact build it and used it for their scrying sessions. There is a Holy Table in the British Museum as well that is reputed to have belonged to Dee, though I have not personally seen it and it is possible that it could have been built later. Importantly, it would be worth checking to see if the letters on the table match the actual instructions or if they match the diagram published in True and Faithful Relation, which for some reason is incorrect. Whether it is a mistake or something done on purpose to prevent anyone from using the magick is hard to say, given that Meric Causaubon who published the book was opposed to Dee and his work. If the letters match the instructions, the table might have been Dee's or it might have been built by someone like Elias Ashmole. If it matches Causaubon's diagram, it must date to at least the middle of the seventeenth century when his book was published.

There are also technical reasons to use the Holy Table. All of the evocatory systems of the Medieval and Renaissance periods use containment structures of some sort into which spirits are summoned. This is the function of the table. The design communicated to Dee has a lot in common with that of the Almadel - take a look at the diagrams there and compare them to Dee's Holy Table - you have the same square shape, a big hexagram in the center, and a border all along the edge. The main difference is that Dee's table includes the various words of power in the angelic script. The containment structure gives you somewhere to put the magical energy that you summon and then send it to a target using a similarity or contagion link, and is very useful in this regard since the full energy of the conjuration can be sent out cleanly. Invoking and then projecting the energy is messier, in that usually some of the energy will "stick" to you and you may wind up experiencing some of its effects.

The Holy Table, Sigillum Dei Aemeth, and Ensigns of Creation work really well for this, and even if they were not "intended" for use with the Watchtower angels I would still want to use them. I think it is more likely, though, that Dee and Kelly did keep using the table and as a result it is harmonious with the later angels and the Watchtower portions of the system. The argument has been made that you don't need them to get results, and that part is true - they are not strictly necessary. The Golden Dawn system does not make much use of the equipment and many magicians have found that system to be very effective. However, one of the things that I have found is that as I assemble and use more Enochian furniture and implements my Enochian rituals get better. I would suggest that if your Enochian rituals seem really powerful without the temple setup, you might want to try building a couple of pieces and see what happens - you might be surprised at how powerful your magick turns out to be.

Another issue related to this concerns the use of the Angelic Keys, also referred to as the Calls. Various systems have been proposed for their use, most of which have problems of one sort or another. One of the most basic conclusions that I have come to over the years is that the First Call ("I reign over you...") is for Dee and the Second Call ("Can the wings of the winds...") is for Kelly. That is, the First Call is for the Magus and the second is for the Scryer. Read them over from that perspective and I think you will see what I'm talking about. The First Call outlines the perspective of the Medieval Magus, ruling over the spirits in the name of God. The Second Call is more invitational, offering praises to the spirits, and ends with the odd phrase "make me a strong Seething, for I am of him that liveth forever." "Seething" is not a word that is used in modern English, but in the sixteenth century it was still in use. It essentially means a trance or an alteration of consciousness, and has the same root as the Norse seidr. This fits perfectly with the model Dee and Kelly used - Dee, the Magus, pronounced the conjurations and summoned the angels, and Kelly then entered an altered state of consciousness where he could see and communicate with them.

Over the last several months our ritual group has had excellent results using the Calls in this way with the Heptarchial Kings. The basic framework for our workings can be found in my Heptarchial Ritual Template, and most of the members of our group have found that when using the First and Second Call as shown has allowed for decent scrying sessions, even among those of us who in the past were not very good scryers. It certainly seems like there is some sort of effect that improves our ability to communicate with the angels, at least with the Heptarchials. In earlier workings years ago I found that sometimes the Heptarchials did not manifest well, but that was before I worked out using the Calls in this way. In addition, other magicians I have spoken with have commented that in their experience it is hard working with the Heptarchials because they are difficult to approach - but as far as I know none of those magicians used the Calls when working with them.

So does it really all fit together? I have yet to come up with any reasonable applications for the Logaeth material, but that doesn't mean I never will. In fact, we may direct some future operations toward figuring out Logaeth, and given our success with the Heptarchials I am confident that something of value will result.

UPDATE: The "Holy Table at the British Museum" likely referred to a Holy Table that was once held at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford rather than the British Museum proper. A reader passed on a rumor that this table was lost in a fire, but I haven't been able to find any confirmation on that one way or the other so far.