Friday, June 24, 2016

Nebiros and Zeus-Meilichios: Caves, Mountains, Thunder and Lightning

Last week we looked at the spirit Nebiros and followed his trail to the PGM, our trusted source of the techniques found in the grimoire traditions of Europe. For more on the argument for the similarities between Nebiros, Cerberus and Anubis, as found in the various grimoires and earlier magical papyri, I would highly recommend Jake Stratton Kent's Geosophia. In Book 6, the chapter "Nebiros and Hermes Chthonios" lays out the firm foundation for this argument, which my last blog post aimed at extrapolating on, and helping to prove by examination of the source materials. This week we will be looking at another valuable source: pre-Olympian Greek cults. It is my hope that this further examination will help to shed light on the similarities between the demons of the grimoires, and the daimones, gods and the spirits of the dead who are the basis of its predecessors. While many would be quick to imagine a demon running off and making things happen after the bargain is struck or the spell is woven, rather than them compelling the Dead to do their bidding. As the PGM shows us, it really is a delicate spiritual ecosystem, and one in which hierarchy is everything. The hierarchies of the grimoires are broken, scattered and require a multifaceted approach to reconstruct, however ultimately, this quest will involve quite a bit of conjecture, but so it goes. Until it is put into practice and verified. But let us press onward.

A quick recap:

Based on his appearances in the the Grimorium Verum (GV), Grand Grimoire (GG), the Grimoire of Pope Honorius (GPH), the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (PM) and the Egyptian Magical Papyri (PGM) we can ascertain that the spirit Nebiros is:

  • A chthonic and nocturnal spirit
    • Referred to as gnome, being an earth elemental, in the Muzzi edition of the Verum
    • Said to dwell in caverns and rule over nocturnal assemblies according to Honorius
    • Referred to Cerberus in the Pseudomonarchia, who is the Dog daimon guardian of Hades
  • Able to do evil to whomever he wishes
    • Cerberus, and his Egyptian counterpart, Anubis, are found invoked in many curses, bindings and all forms of malefic magic in the PGM
  • A great necromancer
    • Invoked to bind and compel the violently dead to achieve the aims of the magician in the PGM
    • Able to bind the shade of a dead man who guards over his treasure in the Grand Grimoire and the Grimorium Verum
  • Provider of wealth or hidden treasure
    • Leads the magician to a buried hoard of gold in the Book of Secrets in the Muzzi edition of the Verum
    • Nambroth, his alias in the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, is "the guardian of riches and hidden treasure"
Based upon the GV and GG entries referring to him, in the guise of a dog, as a gnome, we can ascertain his elemental nature as being of earth, which makes sense for finding treasure that is buried in it. Given his preference for caverns and the darkness of night we can further classify him according to Psellus' Operations of Daemones, as a subteranean, and a lucifugous spirit. Further more, knowing he is a gnome, we can attribute him as being ruled by Amaymon, the demon king of the elementals of Earth and ruler of the southern quarter according to Agrippa. The Sworn Book of Honorius of Thebes, associates the South with Mars, and works and spirits of destruction. The day of Mars is of course the day assigned to Nambroth, or Frimost, alternatively in the GPH. He is also said to respond well to Saturday nights, also ruled by Mars. Interestingly enough Jake, in the Geosophia, further connects Nebiros and Frimost by virtue of the origins of their names.
"A Greek origin for this name may be traced in nebros, meaning a fawn skin. This was an attribute of Bacchus, and many terms from this root are associated with the cult of Dionysus (Bacchus). This etymology links the older Thracian deity Dionysus with the god known in Classical times as Hermes Chthonios, the underworld Hermes. In addition it connects Nebiros with the rites of Bacchus, often thought to connect with the the Witches' Sabbath. In similar vein, the demon name Frimost translates Bromios, a title of Dionysus from Greek to Latin."
The shared planetary day, as well as name origin, between these two spirits should well be considered. It should also be noted that these names came from, not proper names, by from descriptive titles or epithets for a particular aspect of a deity. Cultic titles were an important aspect of ancient Greek religion, and one which can easily be lost on the modern mind approaching these words as proper names. Similar to all the confusion in Abrahamic religions involving Satan, which originated not as a proper noun, but simply as a qualifier. It was the title of an angel, and not the name of an actual being charged with doing all evil in the universe. However, that discussion is well beyond the means of this current post, so I shall digress no further on this point.

Now it is very strange to me that a subterranean and light fleeing spirit would be so associated with thunderclaps, lightning and storms.
"He makes loud noises, with peals of thunder and flashes of lightning;"
I would assume a more aerial spirit to be involved with such things, however his association with these as well as hidden wealth does bear a resemblance to a rather curious element of Greek religion: Zeus-Meilichios. Jane Ellen Harrison presents fantastic study of this little talked about aspect of Zeus, the high and mighty One of the Olympian gods, in the Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. Zeus-Meilichios was worshipped in a festival known as the Diasia. These rites were quite strange, and described as stygian, or gloomy, quite the opposite of the typical Jove thought of as ruling the higher airs from atop Mount Olympus. Instead what we find worshipped as Zeus-Meilichios is a powerful chthonic serpent. The title of Meilichios can be translated as , and could be rationalized as being the opposite of Zeus' attribute of Maimaktes, he who rages eager, panting and thirsting for blood. However, both the atmosphere and description of the rites belonging to this specific title, as well as the method of sacrifice called for, and the the very image associated with this name all hint at something else.

"The great snake, later worshipped as Zeus Meilichios, was, we have already seen, not Zeus himself, but an underworld being addressed by the title Meilichios, gracious, kindly, easy to be entreated. It will now be evident that his snake form marks him as the vehicle or incarnation of a ghost, a local hero. He was only one of a large class of local divinities who were invoked not by proper names but by adjectival epithets, descriptive of their nature, epithets which gradually crystallized into cultus-titles." Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion
Zeus' assumption of this title and the rites related clearly indicates the absorption of an earlier cult, and one related, with little subtlety, to the underworld and the Dead. The sacrifices to Zeus Meilichios are by holocaust, meaning that the entire offering is given to the God and consumed by fire, unlike the more common Homeric style rituals where the sacrifice was also partook of by the worshippers as a sort of communion. As Jane says, "The manner of the sacrifice, not the material, is the real clue to the significance of the title Meilichios." Further examining these rites shows that they were to remove obstacles, or to atone for the slaughter of kindred blood, connecting this deity with the archaic practice of the vendetta.
"The regular ancestral sacrifice to Zeus Melicihios was a holocaust of pigs, and the god himself was regarded as a source of wealth, a sort of Ploutos."
Here we arrive at one of the chief aspects linking Nebiros to this rather unknown form of chthonic sky god: a bringer of wealth. Meilichios as ploutos bears a striking resemblance to Nebiros/Cerberus/Nambroth as a guardian of treasures. His ability to bind the dead for the benefit of the living, either to divest them of their hidden treasure, or, as with Zeus Meilichios, to purge the living of spilled blood and thus protect them from wrathful ghosts. We find sacrifices are integral to working with Nebiros or Meilichios. It is not necessarily the animal chosen that is linked to the god, as the author has already said, however pigs do have some association with chthonic deities, their cheapness in regards to keeping them seems rather strange when being offered to the richest and most powerful of the gods. All of these clues seem to indicate a far older ancestral or hero cult relying upon the appeasement of chthonic entities to purify and remove evil from the worshippers, and that the spirits involved could be described as "Meilichian". This would have been a localized cultus, and not based upon Olympian myths. We read further on this in the Prolegomena:
"Most fortunately for us Pausanias, when at Myonia in Locria, visited a sanctuary, not indeed of Zeus Meilichios, but of 'the Meilichians'. He saw there no temple, only a grove and an altar, and he learnt the nature of the ritual. 'The sacrifices to "the Meilichians" are at night-time and it is customary to consume the flesh on the spot before the sun is up.' Here is no question of Zeus; we have independent divinities worshipped on their own account and with nocturnal ceremonies. The suspicion begins to take shape that Zeus must have taken over the worship these dread Meilichian divinities with its nocturnal ceremonial. The suspicion is confirmed when we find that Zeus Meilichios, like the Erinyes, the avenger of kindred blood. Pausanias saw near the Kephissos an ancient altar of Zeus Meilichios; on it Theseus received purification from the descendants of Phytalos after he had slain among other robbers, Sinis, who was related to himself through Pittheus."

The atonement for the slaying of kindred is no small matter in this worldview, for to have spilled the blood of a relative would indeed bring about the wrath of Furies, or Erinyes, or the vengeful ghost of the one slain. Here we find Meilichios as being a powerful arbiter between the worlds of the living and the Dead and able to reconcile them. Elsewhere we read of his ability to bring wealth to one, Xenophon, who after running out of funds, is unable to return from his adventure until making a sacrifice to Zeus Meilichios, who he is told is standing in his way. It is my conviction that Nebiros, and other spirits of the grimoires bear a striking resemblance to this mysterious class of daimones, known as the Meilichians. Their shared nocturnal rites, and the blood sacrifices offered to them are quite astonishing. While the animal offered in sacrifice in the procedures of goetia is most commonly a goat (although a cockerel, lamb and others appear throughout the numerous manuscripts), and not a pig, it is sacrificed entirely to the spirit. The skin is taken and preserved to be made into the vellum on which the explicit pact is to be made. Although in the True Grimoire it says nothing of what is it to be done with the rest of the goat, the blood is poured upon the ground in offering to the spirit, with the words "I kill you in the name and honor of N." However, per the instructions of the Grand Grimoire, other than the skin of the animal, a holocaust is implied, directly linking this method of sacrifice to the rites of the Meilichian divinities. Are these the exact same spirits? No. They are, however, extremely similar, both in rituals involving them, as well as nature. They are chthonic spirits; they are wealth guarding spirits; and, most importantly, they are spirits very much involved with the Dead. Whether, they themselves are the deified Dead, as in a hero cultus; or, just simply spirits which share the same relative ecosystem as those of the Dead, it does not matter. Their similarities are enough to inform our praxis.

Meilichios, like Satan, Brimos/Frimotus and Nebros, is a title; and not a proper name. This begs the question then, when calling a spirit by this title, are we calling the Nebiros, or a Nebiros? If this is a descriptive title, rather than proper name, would this mean any spirit that fits the the qualities could harken to its summons? Is the Nebiros I work with, the same as the Nebiros of another? It would make a lot of sense for these spirits to be localized in practice, and while bearing a passing resemblance and the same title, they could very easily be different. We are entering here the realms of pure conjecture and I will leave these questions to be examined and answered by the reader, and I hope that this on going study will inspire others like myself to discover and verify the identities of these spirits for themselves.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Nebiros, Inspector General of Perdition; Cerberus, Guardian of the Underworld, and the Role of the Dead in Goetic Magic

This week I will be profiling another lesser known spirit, but one of greater importance in the hierarchies of the Grimorium Verum and the Grand Grimoire. This profile will trace him from these more modern grimoires back to Weyer's Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, and further to the Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri. I hope to demonstrate, by this connect the dots approach, that the spiritual creatures, as well as the techniques of magic have been largely preserved from the Hellenistic to Modern era; and to also shed some more light upon the relationship between the Dead and the spirits dealt with in goetia.

Nebiros, Nesbiros, Nambrot, Nebirots, Naberus, Naberius or Cerberus appears in the Grimorium Verum, the Grand Grimoire, Grimoire of Pope Honorius, the Goetia of Solomon, the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum and presumably in its source, Liber Officium Spirituum. Every source provides a varied yet incomplete description of this spirit and it's powers and office, however taken together a greater image forms and we find connections stretching farther back to a particularly obscure shred of Graeco-Egyptian papyrus. But let's start with the most modern material first.

Sigil of Nebiros from the Grimorium Verum

In the Grimorium Verum we find Nebiros, or Nesbiros, listed as a subordinate of Astaroth, the Duke of Hell, with little else about him. There is indeed more to be known about spirits under him, than there is about himself. He rules over 10 other spirits. In the Grand Grimoire we are given more details.
"Naberus, Field Marshal, or Inspector General, has the power to do evil to whomever he pleases and enables one to find the Hand of Glory and teaches the qualities of minerals, vegetables and of all of the animals, pure and impure, possesses the art of foretelling the future, being one of the best Necromancers of all of the Infernal Spirits. He can go anywhere and inspects all of the Infernal militias and has beneath him Ayperos, Naberus and Glosialobolas, etc.."
Nebiros, or Naberus here, is described with many powers, a particular gift for malefica and necromancy as well as a connection to one of the most infamous artifacts of European magic, the Hand of Glory. This is particularly interesting when considering the origin of the Hand of Glory as a mistranslation of Mandragora, the famed Mandrake root much associated with witchcraft and far older Mediterranean cults. Necromancy will be the thread we can trace back the farthest with this spirit, however for now we are going to go chronologically in reverse order, to get all the pieces of the puzzle on the table and organized. The teaching of all qualities of the three kingdoms of animal, vegetable, and mineral is invaluable to the practice of magic, as well as his ability to move anywhere and inspect the Infernal militias. His title of inspector general is fitting, allowing him full range from the dead, to the various devils under him. We also find him ruling over three additional spirits in this hierarchy, which can be synchronized with his 10 other subordinates found in the Verum. His three additional are really two, if you consider the strange double up of the Naberus beneath him, mostly likely a mistake on the part of the author. Ayperos, or Ipos; Naberus, or Naberius, and Glasiolabolas are found in the Goetia of Solomon, as well as the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. However it is most interesting when considering his alternative name given in the Pseudomonarchia: Cerberus.
Seal of Naberius
"Naberius [Naberus], alias Cerberus, is a valiant maquesse, shewing himselfe in the forme of a crowe, when he speaketh with a hoarse voice; he maketh a man amiable and cunning in all arts, and speciallie in rhetorike, he procureth the losse of prelacies and dignities: nineteene legions heare <and obeie> him." 

This description is almost identical that found in the Goetia of Solomon although with his power in respect to dignities being reversed, saying that he restores them. Rhetoric, one of the three studies making up the classical Liberal curriculum known as the trivium, which literally means, the meeting place of three roads. The three road crossroads being identified with Hecate, who has much of an affinity with Astaroth, is interesting to note, especially given Nebiros' role as Astaroth's subordinate, and his identification with Cerberus, the three head hound of the Underworld. Although, the Verum's description of Astaroth appearing as an Ass could also link them to Set, another infamous Chthonic deity, and a major one called upon, as well as Hecate and Cerberus in the PGM for works of malefic magic of all kinds but especially those using the violently dead.

The name Cerberus also appears in a spell in the section of Magical Secrets in the Muzzi edition of the Verum. The narrative of this spells bears a quite striking resemblance to part of the Grand Grimoire's summoning of Lucifuge Rofocale. In the Muzzi edition of the Verum we read:

"15. For the Discovery of Treasure.
Do you seek treasure? Treasure you shall find! Lucifer will answer you in Latin when you call; and you will say to him: 
Give to me gold, and I will give you frankicense and myrrh, just as the Magi did when visiting the Christ child in Bethlehem.
Then he will respond to you in Latin:
Pick up your wand and follow me!
Without losing a minute, you must quickly exit from the circle where you have invoked the protection of the the great King of the Spirits and armed with the wand you will answer: With you in life and death, Amen!
Then you will follow Lucifer, or the spirit that he will send in his place, planting your feet over his footprints and tracing his steps. Sometimes, to test the courage of the one who walks in the steps of an infernal power, the sky will be filled with lightning and thunderclaps, and the air and the earth will be full of commotion. All such cries and din will break off, and a gush will echo through the forest and desert paths were the man and the spirit walk. Turn yourself neither to the right, nor to the left, but keep your eyes straight ahead, silently observing the shadow which precedes you, gigantic and formidable.
Eventually the spirit will lead you to the entrance of the place, where the great Pluto holds imprisoned his treasures in the belly of the earth; under the iron gates of the great Vulcan.
A large black dog with a splendid gold collar, will prevent you from entering and will gnash his teeth, sending sparks blazing like diamonds in sunlight. That one is a gnome, to which you must present the point of the wand, repeating three times as follows:
Cerberus, Cerberus, Cerberus! By the wand show me the way to the treasure.
The dog will whine three times in reply, and will wrap its tail around your wand, to teach you where the treasures are.
Your steps on his, you will arrive near the treasure, where the shade of a dead person will be waiting, namely, the person who hid the treasure, and he will fling himself on you. It will quickly be necessary to trace a circle with the wand and throw a coin, and shout to the shade:
Hitherto you shall come, and shall go no further! I will it, I command it, Amen!
The shade will groan and grind its teeth and will howl like a wounded animal, but it will be miraculously imprisoned by virtue of the gnome, which is the servant of the servants of Lucifer.
Then take with your left hand four coins from the treasure, and throw them behind your shoulders to the four cardinal directions of the earth, while saying:
Lucifer, you loosen and you repeat!
Then you can load as much gold as you can carry rom the treasure, walking 60 steps backwards, in memory of the 15 minister, the 15 red angels, the 15 black cherubim, and the 15 black seraphim of Lucifer.
Papa Satan Aleppe, Father, Son and Spirit.
You must beware not to turn, and especially not to face any noise behind you, or beneath your feet, or to your sides, because flashing the air with lightning, and making the earth tremble, are all part of the trickery of the shade of the dead one, to make your lose your chance to obtain treasure.
It is necessary, therefore, that you arm yourselves with courage, and let yourselves be caught up in their fears, for the spirit will take you back to the place where you first invoked it, to convene for a second pact."
This spell is certainly fascinating for a number of reasons. It definitely appears out of context amidst the luck charms, spells for making a woman dance naked, and garters for traveling. It also demonstrates the identity of Cerberus, the servant of the servants of Lucifer, as a gnome. A gnome is a subterranean spirit of the element of earth, fitting it in nicely in Psellus' 6 classification of daemones, helping us understand its nature. Further, the power of Cerberus to restrain the shade of the dead person who hid the treasure, hearkens back to the role of Nebiros as a powerful necromancer, according to the Grand Grimoire. This same narrative appears, almost identically, in the Grand Grimoire as part of the pacting process, including the presence of a dog, although missing the name Cerberus.
"Orders of the Spirit:
"Follow me and you will come to identify the treasure."
Then the Karcist, armed with the blasting rod and the bloodstone, will leave the circle at that point where the door of mighty ADONAY is figured, towards the place where the treasure is located, and will follow the spirit; the others shall not move from there place in the circle and shall remain there without any fear, despite the noise that they will hear and any vision that they see. 
The spirit will then take the Karcist to the entrance of the treasure and it might be that the Karcist will see something like a big dog with a collar that shines like the Sun that will block the entrance; this is the gnome that you will drive away from you by presenting the forked part of the rod, then he will walk towards the treasure. You will follow him and having arrived at the treasure, you will be surprised to see the person who originally hid it, who will want to throw himself over it however he will not be able to approach it. It is necessary to be armed with a sheet of virgin parchment on which you will have written the great conjuration of the Clavicle which you will throw over the treasure.
At the same time, take a coin as a token of gratitude, and throwing first one of yours that you have bitten and withdrawing backwards, that is, with your shoulders back, taking with you all of the coins that you can from the treasure. The rest can not disappear considering the precautions that have been taken. Be careful not to turn back despite any noise you might hear since at the time it will seem to you that all of the mountains of the world are falling on your head."
Here we find the same description of the spirit as a large black dog, as well as a gnome, instrumental to locating the treasure, and subduing the shade guarding it. In the Grimoire of Pope Honorius we find a spirit named Nambroth, who is to be conjured on Tuesdays. In some editions his name is given as Frimost, another cohort of Nebiros' from the Grimorium Verum, however I believe this to have been a printing error based upon the alternate name given, which bears more resemblance to Nebiros/Naberus, but also because of the powers attributed to them.

"FOR TUESDAY TO NAMBROTH: APOLONIUS & THANIUS say that he is a most formidable Spirit, who has many Legions of Spirits under him. He governs Syria and attends the Nocturnal Assemblies of the Lebanese. He appears in various forms, but most frequently as a satyr. He makes loud noises, with peals of thunder and flashes of lightning; he loves perfumes and appears on Saturday nights during the New Moon, when it is in the sign of the Lion, as you may see in his character. He bestows familiar Spirits and he is the Guardian of Riches and Treasures hidden in the Earth. But a great and most potent Conjuration is necessary to make him obey. This is why it is necessary to be most wary of him, for he is most wicked and terrible when he is approached, as RAZIEL strongly suggests. He keeps to caverns and inhospitable places on mountains and amongst the ferocious and cruel beasts of Libya and he is often found on Mount Hetna... His character must be made on purified lead, during a New Moon, when She is in the Sign of the Lion. This lead metal must be made into a thin plate."
The sections in bold are to highlight the similar qualities between this grimoire entry and those found in the Verum and the Grand Grimoire, and again aid us in classifying this demon, not only as subterranean, but also lucifugous, or light fleeing. Here we find loud noises, lightning, thunder, and hidden treasure underground. The mention of the nocturnal assemblies, over-which, Nambroth is said to preside is quite interesting and sounds quite similar to the notion of the diabolic sabbat presided over by various demons. However, this will be a topic for another time, and here we are merely going to mention it and move on in our analysis of Nebiros.

So far we have found the powers attributed to this spirit to be:

  • To do evil to anyone he wishes
  •  The power to find the Hand of Glory (or Mandragora)
  •  Teaches the virtues of all animals, minerals, and vegetables
  • Foretell the future
  • Necromancy, calling and binding the dead.
  •  Making men cunning in all arts, but especially rhetoric
  • Giving familiar spirits
  • Finding hidden treasures
Between the entries in the Grand Grimoire and some editions of the Verum we see a minor role of the dead in relation to the Nebiros/Cerberus in finding treasure, however we can attain a greater understanding of the role of the Dead in attaining certain ends and results by appealing to one of our most ancient of sources. In the Greek Magical Papyri as edited by Hans Dieter Betz we find a very telling fragment in PGM IV 1872-1927, an unnamed working, where we read:
"...instruct no one , for it is very powerful and unsurpassable, effective for everyone / on the same day, absolutely binding, exceedingly powerful. And it is: Take 4 ounces of wax, 8 ounces of fruit from the chaste-tree, 4 drams of manna. Pound each of these fine / separately and mix with pitch and wax, and fashion a dog eight fingers long with its mouth open. And you are to place in the mouth of the dog / a bone from the head of a man who has died violently, and inscribe on the sides of the dog these characters: ...and you are to place the dog on a tripod. And have the dog raising its right paw. And write on the strip of papyrus these / names and what you wish: "IAO ASTO IOPHE", and / you are to place the strip of papyrus on the tripod and on top of the strip you are to place the dog and / say these names many times. And so, after you have spoken the spell, the dog hisses [or barks], and if it hisses, she is not coming. Therefore address the spell to it again, / and if it barks, it is attracting her. Then open the door, and you will find her whom you wish at your doors. Let the censer stand beside the dog, and let frankincense be placed upon it / as you say the spell.
Spell: Barking dog, I adjure you, Kerberos, by those who have hanged themselves, by the dead, by those who have died violently: attract to mer her, NN, whose mother is NN. I adjure you, Kerberos, by the holy head of the infernal gods. Attract to me her, NN, whose mother is NN, ZOUCH / ZOUKI TO PARY YPHEBARMO ENOR SEKEMI KRIOUDASEPHE TRIBEPSI: attract to me her, NN, whose mother is NN, to me, NN, immediately, immediately; quickly, quickly."
Characters to be inscribed on the sides of the dog

Here we directly, and formulaically find the dead being employed by a more powerful chthonic daimon, Kerberos, to attain magical ends. Throughout the papyri there are numerous spells of attraction, many of them relying upon the violently dead, such as gladiators, heroes or suicides. These dead are called in the names of Hekate, Persephones, Hades and Kerberos as well as others, though these are some of the most common. Similar formulas of divine and barbarous words are also used in various spells, most of which are meant to serve as rough guidelines to various forms of malefic magic; sometimes destructive curses, or coercive and binding love magic. Quite often the spells of coercive love magic include tormenting the target with sleeplessness, thirst, and hunger until they come to the one named in the spell. Here we find both Nebiros' ability to do evil to whoever he wishes (coercive love magic definitely being a form of malefic, or evil magic), as well as necromantic power of calling and binding the dead to perform tasks. It is also noteworthy to point out that Frimost, the spirit sometimes substituted for Nambroth in the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, is said to have power over the passions and sexuality of women, a power not directly assigned to Nebiros, but that we find amongst one of his subordinate spirits: Brulefer. Keeping the material found in the PGM in relation to Kerberos/Cerberus, it is easy to see the similarity between marshaling infernal spirits, as well as the dead. Following the thread form the 19th century Grimorium Verum back to the surviving scraps of the Hellenistic Graeco-Egyptian papyri, we have discovered that not only are the techniques of magic largely preserved, changing primarily in liturgical framework; but, so are the spiritual creatures being invoked and worked with. As we strive in the understand the core of the Western magical tradition, there is much work to be done, including restoring the Dead as vital to the working with daemons.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Silcharde, Beast Master of Ceremonies

Understanding the identities of the spirits of the grimoire tradition requires a thorough study of a multiplicity of works. There is still no single all encompassing tome that offers a concise catalog of the spirits in their entirety. In this continued examination of the spirits found in the Grimorium Verum I will be turning to many of its predecessors, including the Grimoire of Pope Honorius in its various printed forms and as compiled in the Complete Grimoire of Pope Honorius by David Rankine. Alongside this I will apeal to the latest English translation of Weyer's Pseuodemonarchia, and Joseph Peterson's edition of the Grimorium Verum, along with the work of Jake Stratton-Kent in his True Grimoire and its accompanying volumes of the Encyclopedia Goetica. In addition I will draw from sources such as Al Biruni's Elements of Astrology, the Picatrix and other astrological texts when it fits in the analysis of a given spirit. It is evident from the earliest works of Solomonic magic that it was at some point much more dependent on astrology than it is at present. The use of the planetary days and hours, and the phases of the moon, which comprise the simplest form of electional astrology have remained, while the more complex election of works such as the Picatrix or De Imaginibus have faded. However given the elaboriate tables of planetary hours given in the Hygromanteia, and the planetary associations of the winds and directions given in the Sworn Book of Honorius of Thebes it should be very obvious that an understanding of the basics of astrology, namely understand the virtues and natures of the planets, is imortant to understanding the identities of the aerial spirits.

Now in the traditional world view, as presented by Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy and other authors, Mankind lives in the natural world. The natural world is the world of the elements, whose order is here given in order from densest to least dense. Mankind lives upon the earth, which is surrounded by water, above these two is air, and finally the fiery firmament. This natural world is also called by some the sublunary, as it includes all things beneath the sphere of the moon. In the chaldaean order of the planets, which is the scheme many will be familiar with thanks to the popularity of Hermetic kabalah, goes from slowest to fastest: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury and finally the speediest, the moon. The moon is important in both Solomonic and astrological magic because of her role as the gate keeper of all other planetary energies and influences, which she mitigates onto the sublunary world of man and spirits. It is important to understand the general flow and hierarchy of the traditional world view in regard to goetia and other forms of traditional magic as this explains much of what it not written. It comprises what was assumed one practicing this art would know. This is why it is important that a practitoner of goetia steeps themselves in the culture, as best as they can, which birthed this art. I mean here, goetia, as in the synthesis of spirit conjuring magics that occured from the Hellenistic era through the early moderne era, which provided us with the most familiar grimoires we currently have. I say this simply to clarify that I am not here dicussing Jake's theories on the more primeval form of goetia that was practiced in ancient Greece, which is more akin to necromancy.

Anyways, last week we discussed a bit about the surperficial identities of the Verum spirits which appear upon the supposed pact of Urban Grandier. One of these interested me more than the others, and this is the presence of Silcharde upon the very head of the pact itself. Silcharde appears in the Grimorium Verum, as well as some copies of the Grimoire of Pope Honorius. In Honorius we find him as the demon conjured on Thursday. Between his entries in the Verum and Honorius we know he grants the knowledge and vision of diverse creatures, nautral and supernatural; as well as the more typical power to grant treasures. The Verum's entry on him is more detailed than that in Honorius, where he is also called Acham. It is interesting that this spirit would appear before any others, including the superiors (Lucifer, Belzebut and Astaroth, or some variation thereof). However given his unique power in regards to creatures of all kinds, his role as intermediary could possibly have been missed by others.

But what else do we know about him from the texts? Honorius says he is to be conjured on Thursday:
"This operation is done at night from 3 o'clock until 4 o'clock, during which you conjure him and he will appear in the form of a King. You should give him a piece of bread in order for him to speak. This is in order to make him happy and it is also for treasures."
He is a nocturnal spirit, given the time of his conjuring, and royal, given his image. Now in the Verum itself, Thursday is the elected day of one of the most important tools, the knife for making the circle, the primary defense of the magician against an aggressive or dangerous spirit. There are some who have objected to this knife's attrivubtion to the day of Jupiter, in favor of it being made on the day of Saturn or Mars. However, given that the sacrificial blade is to be made in the day and hour of Mars, I am given to trust this knife's relation to Jupiter, as it establishes the bounds of the magician's domains (the circle), and it thus wards against the chthonic and sometimes chthonic natures of these spirits. In astrology the Fortunes, Jupiter and Venus fix that which is hurt by the Malefics, Saturn and Mars. Jupiter's Greek equivalent, Zeus, also has some earlier chthonic forms in some places, where his worship overcame earlier cults who worshipped chthonic serpents. Either way, the shared day of importance between the spirit Silcharde or Acham, and the knife for creating the circle is not to be missed, especially when considering the possible role of intermediary for this spirit, in which case they allow for the protection of the magician by safely bringing other spirits into contact with them. I will return the Jovial powers in another post as we're about to shift focus a bit.

I'm not actually convinced of the Jovial nature of Silcharde. I believe him to be solar in nature, and here's why:

The astrologer Al Biruni records both a day AND a night of the week ruled by each of the planets in his Book of the Instruction of the Elements of the Art of Astrology. For the sun he assigns, Sunday of course, but also Thursday night. Now this solar attribution to the night on which you are to conjure a spirit which would appear as a king makes a lot of sense. It also furthers the argument of the import of this overlooked spirit. This secret solar virtue, only discovered after combining multiple resources is most auspicious especially considering the admonishment in the first book of the Grimorium Verum that:
"And if you wish more, you draw the character on an emerald or ruby, for they have greater sympathy with the spirits, especially those of the Sun, who are the wisest, and are friendlier and are better than the others."
The fact that solar spirits are mentioned as being friendlier, wiser and better than the other spirits certainly bodes well for an intermediary spirit to be solar in nature. And indeed there is much mystery over the intermediary of the Verum system who is variously called Aabidandes or Rabinadas, as well as Scirlin, but also referenced as the "the Spirit of the East" in this grimoire. In the Sworn Book of Honorius we find the East associated with the spirits and daemons of the Sun tying together both the intermediary Scirlin, the wise and friendly Solar spirits and indeed our overlooked friend Silcharde, who is to be conjured on the night associated with the Sun. While print editions of the Verum can only be traced as far back as the early 19th century, it is certain, based upon the transmission of sigils, spirit names and spells, that its sources, both French and Italian are far older. Peterson argues for a Clavicula variant and Honorius hybrid that lead to the Alibeck edition of 1817 and those following it. However the oldest grimoire manuscript bearing any resemblance to the Verum it would seem, is a Polish manuscript from the 17th century-ish (the date is uncertain), which can be found on Joseph Peterson's website, Esoteric Archives. This manuscript whose title is the Clavicula Salomonis de secretis is still untranslated from the latin, but Peterson has mentioned as translation in the works, which I'm sure will prove very valuable to all those who study and practice this field of magic. It's age, which possibly was contemporaneous with the trial of Urban Grandier.

In the beginning of this manuscript we find a list of spirits that would be familiar, although with some varied spellings and different sigils. Amongst these we find one named Sirchael, who also deals with showing any animals the magician wishes. The name and power seems similar enough to Silcharde, although their sigils differ. The sigil from atop Grandier's pact and that of Silcharde in the Alibeck and other editions bear much more of a resemblance to one another, where as that which is found in the Clavicula Salomonis de secretis is quite different.

From  the Clavicula Salomonis de secretis

From the Kent redaction of the Verum

From the pact of Grandier

Of Sirchael we read:
"Of course, any species of animals you propose in whatever action you please, whether dancing, or walking, or raging their natural weapons."
 It would seem to imply a power similar to Silcharde in the Verum, dealing with animals and says nothing more. I think there may be a possibility that perhaps either the sigil of Silcharde in the Verum was taken from the pact of Urban Grandier himself by the Alibeck edition's author, or it could be that this is the signature of a very real and powerful spirit, and that perhaps overtime they was conflated with Sirchael/Silcharde/Acham.

Now as I have been writing so far, it may appear to some that I am arguing that perhaps the pact is in fact a legitimate one, however I wish to clarify for the sake of posterity that I believe there are about three distinct possibilities that either: a) yes the pact was forged by Grandier's enemies, crafting an all too perfect facsimile using sigils garnered from various books of magic that could have been available to the agents of the church; or, b) they made it up and the sigils found on this pact were later adapted by the authors of the Verum, the case of Grandier being notorious, and infamous, in France especially, and thus of cultural significance enough to be pilfered for sigils for a particularly demonic printing; or, c) the pact is indeed real, and the similarity between these signatures is not due to human copying but to the very beings they are said to belong to, but in the transmission from an older manuscript the sigils for the intermediary and Silcharde became confused or intermixed, especially given omission of Scirlin's sign in the Alibeck and other editions of the Verum itself. Ultimately we will probably never know whether this pact is real or fake, as I have already said. It is the equivalent of Schroedinger's cat: the cat is alive and dead simultaneously. This is Schroedinger's pact: it is simultaneously real and fake. It's not either, or that makes or break this, it is the thinking we can get done between the lines that matters. We are coming to better understand these spirits and their identities by examining the media in which they were cataloged and the culture by which they are transmitted and preserved. All three possible truths, yield fascinating results to consider, and I would personally think it best not to attach oneself too much to one single outcome

I would like to thank Eric Purdue for his rough translation of the description of Sirchael from the Clavicula Salomonis de secretis I used in this post. And thanks to Al Cummins for bringing the transcript of the Clavicula Salomonis de secretis to my attention!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Continuing Tale of Urban Grandier

As I stated in my last post, the pact of Urban Grandier is a unique and fascinating artifact in the world of demonology, even if it is a fake. It's narrative coherence in regards to both the form and content of the pact is striking, and even if Grandier was not the magician who made this pact, whoever forged it was definitely a magician, or well versed or acquainted with the demonology of the time as well as the means of pact based magic. What convinces me is the presence of the sigils of three spirits unique to the Grimorium Verum and the manuscripts related to it. These sigils are found amongst the signatures of the chief devils we find two of the sigils, that of Frimost and Surgat, both of whom play vital roles in the pacting method of the True Grimoire and being related to their own respected tools.

Seal bearing great similarity to that of Frimost beneath the signature of the devil Leviathan

Seal of Frimost from the Grimorium Verum

In the True Grimoire we find the seal Frimost engraved upon the elder wand, the wand used in conjuring the demons for the making of a pact, as given in the third part of that manual. It is integral to the central work of this manual but is found in other grimoires as well, such as the most famous Key of Solomon as published by Mathers, where we find mention of a "staff made of elderwood, or cane, or rosewood". Frimost's presence, which I elaborated upon previously, is very appropriate to a pact that grants the human party the ability to fornicate three times a day and "the flower of virgins".

The other sigil found amongst the signatures of the chief devil is that of Surgat, a rather interesting choice but not without reason or warrant. In the True Grimoire we read:
"Surgat, also called Surgatha, has the power to open anything that is shut or locked. Also said: opens every kind of lock. Also said: imparts the skill to open all locks and locked places to discover that which be within. Honorius says of him that he will ask for a hair of your head, give him one of a fox instead. Also that he reveals any treasures and surrenders them to the magician. He is dangerous and requires a triple ring circle of evocation, fortified with divine names. He gives him also the additional name of Aquiel or Aquiot." (Kent, 2009)
 The ability to unlock anything that is shut or locked certainly seems to apply to stealing the "flower of virgins" as the good doctor Al Cummins mentioned upon reviewing my previous post, and right he is! It is a strange but very appropriate choice of spirit for such a pact. And aside from this his sigil is also found on the liming pot, which is crucial to creation of the velum needed for the pact, which connects this spirit, like Frimost, both with the act of pact making as well as its stated goal.

The seal of Surgat upon the pact of Urban Grandier

The sigil of Surgat from the Grimorium Verum

The appearances of these sigils amongst the signatures of the chief devils in a pact that would involve the powers of both spirits is a red flag warning that whoever designed this document was magically literate, familiar with spirit catalogs like those found in the Grimorium Verum and elsewhere, such as the Grimoire of Pope Honorius and had the aim of either: a) framing another for diabolic magic in league with the devil; or, b) actually forging an allegiance with the devil. While it seems easy to leap at option a, let's consider a couple of things.

Why go into such detail? If the case of Urban Grandier truly was an "inside job", and the odds are certainly in this favor, what would be the point of making such a coherent and finely detailed fake? Grandier had made enemies with some of the most powerful and vicious clergy in France (Cardinal Richelieu, the fame villain in the Three Musketeers) for penning a pamphlet agains the celibacy of priests and an advocate for priests being able to marry. It makes a lot of sense of a priest of such "lewd values" to be found guilty for pact of such a lecherous nature as the one we are examining. But wouldn't have sufficed to draw up a far simpler forgery. It is impossible to know the truth in this case. We can merely infer, however regardless of the truth, the author of this contract was undoubtedly familiar with if not well versed in demonology and goetic magic, and if it was a forgery it says a hell of a lot about a church, in the midst of its counter-reformation spasms of violence seeking to clamp down on its opponents by means of its own supposed enemy.

The final spirit of the Grimorium Verum whose sigil is found upon the pact is an interesting one, and at first, I was at a loss to understand its presence, however after reconsidering the powers of this spirit as well as the placement of the sigil in relation to the others and content of the pact, I am more thoroughly convinced of the author being a magician.

At the head of the pact we find his sigil:

The seal of Silcharde at the head of the pact
In the Grimorium Verum we read:
"Silcharde, called Sirumel or Selytarel, makes you see all sorts of natural and supernatural animals (things of whatever kind, both sentient and animate). Also said: teaches you all virtues and dispensations of diverse creatures which inhabit the world and the darkness."
It seem obvious to me that the spirits or demons of this grimoire and others would fall under the category of "supernatural animals" and I am reminded of Dr. Stephen Skinner's working definition of magic:
"Magic is the art of causing change through the agency of spiritual creatures rather than via directly observable physical means: such spiritual creatures being compelled or persuaded to assist, by the use of sacred words or names, talismans, symbols, incense, sacrifices and materia magica." (Skinner 2015)
Bearing this working definition in mind it makes a lot of sense as to why the sigil of Silcharde would found at the head of the pact and before the name or sigil of any other demons or spirit appears, because it is by this spirit all others are allowed to be seen.

The Sigil of Silcharde from the Grimorium Verum

Now what is very interesting about this is that we find Silcharde being substituted in this case for the intermediary spirit of the True Grimoire, Scirlin, whose sigil (originally omitted from the texts of the Verum extant but believed to be discovered by Jake Stratton-Kent), is to be placed first upon the paper of the pact. Scirlin is unique to the Verum system of goetia, although intermediaries are common throughout the myriad practices of magic we find on our planet. It is here that we must consider perhaps a relationship between the omitted the sigil of Scirlin and the appearance of the sigil of Silcharde in the case of Urban Grandier. Why was the sigil of this spirit chosen to come first? Was it chosen for more than just aesthetic purposes or to look spooky? Is it just a coincidence that it makes sense? Examining the pact of this poor 17th century priest who would ultimately lose his life at the stake raises far more questions than it answers and unfortunately these are things that may never be known. Dead men tell no tales, however a spirit might be persuaded to share their history. Perhaps that is where the truth lies, outside the circle and just beyond the candle light...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Extracted From Hell

Extracted from Hell. These are the words following Urban Grandier's signature upon his oath of allegiance to Lucifer and his chief devils. The pact of Urban Grandier, although most assuredly a counterfeit produced by his accusers, remains a fascinating demonological artifact. The fact of its forgery betrays the deep familiarity that inquisitorial forces had with the grimoire tradition, as the spirits listed are to be found in the hierarchies of the Grimorium Verum, Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage and other handbooks of goetia. The pact bares the classic hallmark of Catholic thinking (the breeding ground of all true Satanism and diablerie), that anything Satanic must be inverse, thus the handwriting of the devil in the pact is mirror writing. The below the diabolic backwards script are the signatures of Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, Leviathan, Elimi and Astaroth. Elimi seems to be standing in for Belial possibly. Substituting Belial for Elimi, we find here the three Chiefs of the True Grimoire as well as the four demonic princes from Abramelin, all joined together in a binding union that would help gain the libertine priest the sentence of being burnt alive in 1634.
Urbain Grandier's Pact by LUCI5R
Grandier was initially charged with immorality by a rival clergyman and had incurred the ire of the infamous Cardinal Richelieu enough to warrant a conspiracy to convict him of maleficia and having made compacts with devils. It is interesting that aside from the familiar names we also finds the sigils of two other spirits from the hierarchy of the Grimorium Verum on the document: the sigil of Silcharde is found at very head of the paper, and a symbol similar to the sigil of Frimost is found amongst the signatures. Frimost is one of multiple spirits in the GV hierarchy who grants him these powers:

"Frimost has power over what concerns men and love. He has power over women and girls, and will help you obtain their use. He can excite or obstruct all human passions, can extinguish or augment the passion of girls, and provoke miscarriage in women." (Kent 61)
This is a common area of spirit expertise found through out the grimoire canon. The gifts promised Grandier by the devils include: "the love of women, the flower of virgins, the chastity of nuns, worldly honors, pleasures and riches." (Robbins 378) All things provided by many, many spirits. However, how are we to interpret this in the light of this pact in all likelihood being a counterfeit? Is it merely the Roman Church confirming a devil of its own creation? Clearly this document was intended to be objective proof of demonic spirits that are in league with human sorcerers and it would therefore make all the sense in the world for it to be coherent within it's cultural matrix: the Catholic Satanic narrative. However, without contributing anything new to the conversation, we can say that occult power being attributed agreements with underworld spirits is not unique to Catholic Christianity, merely it has it owns interpretation. However where were the sigils used in pact of Urban Grandier derived from? Whoever did concoct this document clearly had knowledge of actual spirit catalogues, but given the time of the incident with the Nuns of Loudon, that is not a surprise.

Indeed, France could almost be considered an "Unholy Land" so to speak. Grandier is far from being the only French diabolist worth noting in this country's occult history (which includes some of the only historically documented truly black masses in the Affair of the Poisons), but his trial truly made enough of an impact upon later generations. The famous Eliphas Lévi uses him as example of a foul and deplorable sorcerer in his book, Transcendental Magic. Lévi, a major figure in the French Occult Revival of the 19th century would also heavily influence the Victorian English magicians, such as the members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and by way of Aleister Crowley especially, seep into American occultism. Lévi, although obviously terrified by what he termed black magic, was absolutely certain of its veracity, although his terms for its practice are rather amusing, as well as fascinating: "He who affirms the devil creates or makes the devil." (Lévi, Ritual XV)

I do not believe this needs to be interpreted psychologically and I do not take this to be statement on the subjectivity of spirits. I do see it as clever commentary on our cultural interpretation of these spirits. Lévi repeats many times in his writings that the devil is a creation of Catholic thought and this would be repeated again by Crowley in his infamous banned Oxford lecture on the Gilles de Rais. While it can be very easy to assume a purely psychological meaning for this statement and to wander into the belief that demons are subjective portions of the human mind, as it has become popular after Crowley's infamous introduction to his and Mathers' edition of the Goetia of Solomon the King, I personally maintain that goetia and other similar practices deal with very real beings, that objectively exist outside of any individual human. While not every spirit catalog contains the exact same lists of names, it does contain enough of them that are the same, and enough similarities between lesser or subordinate spirits to convince me of their objective reality. This reality is the foundation of the power of magicians, even within the Abrahamic framework. Although permission must be given from the most high God (Adonai, Sabaoth, Tetragrammaton, etc.) it is the spirits themselves that are the vehicles of the power granted the magician, sorcerer or witch in the compact. It is this power which is extracted from hell.

To return to Lévi again, it is worth noting what he is saying between the lines by noticing his contradictions. Although he seems very eager to distance himself from anything resembling black magic and it would be very easy to accept his repugnance for it with statements like: "IN BLACK MAGIC, THE DEVIL IS THE GREAT MAGICAL AGENT EMPLOYED FOR EVIL PURPOSES BY A PERVERSE WILL." (Lévi, Transcendental Magic 135) However, he goes on to explain Baphomet, the goat-headed emblem of the Lord of the Sabbath of the Sorcerers, as a "pious hieroglyph." He continues on in Transcendental Magic, "The old serpent of legend is nothing else than the Universal Agent, the eternal fire of terrestrial life, the soul of the earth, and the living centre of hell." (Lévi, 136) In his Magic: A History of its Rites, Ritual and Mysteries he also says "The devil is not a personality for initiates but a force created with a good object, though it can be applied for evil: it is really the instrument of liberty." Although ever repulsed by him, Lévi at least gives the devil his due.

So why Grandier? Why Lévi? And why this blog post?

Well to be honest I opened my blogger and found this old draft and decided to finish it without remembering where I initially was going with it and decided to run with it, however the reasons for this blog are:

1) to regularly set myself to work putting my own ideas, experiences, studies and opinions into words

2) to grow from having these challenged by those who I'm sure will read this, tell me it's crap, and tell me so.

3) to explore the interconnected worlds of medieval and early modern culture, demonology ceremonial magic and Modern 20th and 21st century occultism and its many themes.

One of those themes is the pact with devil, which has been touched on in this post but will be explored quite a bit more in those to come. The name of the blog, Ecce sortiligius was the latin phrase written upon a sign and hung about the neck of a 16th century English astrologer punished under England's harsh anti-witch laws. It means, "Behold the sorcerer." It seemed a fitting and ironic title for a public journal on a practice that would have gotten me jailed or killed in passed centuries and even today (depending on what country you're in). The contemporary culture holds exhibitionism in high regard amongst the many and varied sites of social media and their is a certain heretical joy I get from breaking the taboo of one culture (secrecy) while glorifying the virtues of another. I will approach many of my topics with anthropological and historical views to demonstrate the narrative matrixes in which both past and contemporary practitioners of magic find themselves. I hope that my work can provide insight, if only to myself in hindsight. And I wish to those who find themselves upon their path, happy hunting.