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Monday, June 24, 2019

Part Two: Dining with a Demon (100th post!)


If you haven’t read it here’s part one.

It may have been more appropriate to call this drinking with a demon…we ate food, mostly after hanging out with the demon. But the demon was only interested in the booze. You know, you bring someone out for a nice evening and then you realize in the end they only want one thing…I guess that’s just how it goes.

Anyway. This ritual was an interesting experience, leading up to it, during, and after. The original ritual, the one in which we originally bound the demon, was cool too. But it had less of a lead up, probably because we didn’t have a relationship with the demon being called beforehand, whereas this time we had two years of work with the spirit who was literally taking center chair.

When we did the original ritual I had spent weeks prepping. Making the incenses, the paint, collecting and consecrating tools, preparing myself. Building the space for the experience and drawing together the forces to create it. Again, nothing too interesting happened as part of that process though, at least nothing that jumps to mind two years later.

During the ritual itself we had a couple pretty cool moments though. Particularly, visions the scryer had of the spirit responding to things I was doing of which she was unaware, and then multiple people having visions of the same spirit. Several other people came up and told me that they had interesting experiences communing with the spirit. Part of me has always kind of wondered about people individually communing with a spirit simultaneously. In most smaller group rituals I’ve run people take turns interacting with the spirit or interact through a central person. I never really heard what people got out of the ritual in this case. But again, since multiple people had the same vision of the spirit maybe the spirit can talk with more than one person at a time. It makes sense from certain angles.

This ritual was different from that though.

This time we were calling on a spirit with whom we have a very involved relationship. He is housed prominently in our lodge space with his own altar. His altar receives decorations and gifts during parties. He’s fed according to his contract every event and sometimes more often than that. He has a close relationship with his two primary caretakers. He has been involved with one of them previously in possession work during a spirit fete hosted by a guest organization. So the spirit is pretty closely tied to us, and in particularly closely tied with the woman who would be his vessel.

The things that happened before we called the demon were pretty minor. Coincidences, synchronicities. Maybe they were nothing. Maybe they were the demon poking at things.

With this ritual I did not do weeks of preparation. I barely had time to put the ritual together. I had hoped to. But it just wasn’t the time. Everything seemed to lead me away from preparation, so I ended up running around just before the ritual frantically grabbing things…but then also realizing…I needed a lot less for this.

One of the things I needed was perfume. While prepping the ritual the thought entered my head that this wasn’t a Holy Water ritual. It should be sensual. Perfumes and colognes should replace the Holy Water. Robes should be replaced, for most people, by freedom to dress or undress as they so desired. It should be an opportunity to, as certain goats say, live deliciously.

I did not want to bring the Old Spice I had at home. I wanted new cologne. So I went to the store and discovered all the perfumes and colognes were locked up…except…for the Old Spice. It was the day before Fathers’ Day and they did not even have colognes in the Fathers’ Day aisle. I only had a few minutes and there were no sales people. I was stuck with Old Spice. It was weird because the Old Spice was about $8 and some of the locked-up colognes went as low as $4. There was no logic.

When I got to the Lodge somehow the Old Spice ended up on the table in the meeting room, all my other supplies were still in the single box I carried into the temple. When I happened into the meeting room our Vessel was questioning why it was there and if someone was pranking her. When I explained what it was and how we ended up with it, she explained that her father generally smelled of Old Spice and Deet. She’d been outside at an event all day and was covered in Deet and now I’d be baptizing her in Old Spice. Due to past trauma she has no contact with her father or other members of her family. Based on some other conversation and interaction with the spirit this was taken potentially as a prank at his arranging and it was determined to stick with the plan rather than adjust.

Almost immediately after this, the Lodge’s Abramelin oil was found to be missing. So we had to switch the anointing oil to High John the Conquerer, which honestly seemed more appropriate for reconfirming the demon. High John has associations with blues and blues musicians are children of the devil – their own words not mine. The magic associated with High John has more connection to figures like the crossroads devil, than the temple and angelic associations of the Abramelin Oil.  

There was also some strange luck with the floor circles in which I was confused about which King I was calling. Each spirit we called had a circle drawn on the floor placed based upon its role or nature. After drawing the circles on the floor based on my mistake…it turned out the circle was accidentally in place for the correct King, before I realized I needed to correct which King. It also improved the position for the Ancestors. The fortuitousness ended there as I looked up the wrong seal, but it worked out.

At least a few days before these things happened, it seems that another spirit may have helped organize one of the gifts given to the lodge’s familiar. The lodge recently did a ritual to the Witches’ Devil which resulted in people being given familiars. There were some physical signs around the demon’s altar that this ritual happening excited him. One of the main caretakers for our demon explained how his familiar wanted to get a particular item as an offering, when it didn’t work out his familiar told him not to worry about it that he’d taken care of it otherwise. Someone else ended up attending, and this hard to find item was the gift he gave. Apparently it arrived the same day he had been drawn to a bunch of items which related to the caretaker’s familiar. This person was previously unaware of the other familiars.

Like I said, small stuff. Maybe nothing, maybe something. I’m being a little vague on the gift one, which is unfortunate because of the small things it’s the most interesting.

When we conjured the demon there were two elements to the final conjuration. One was me using names from the Hygromanteia to open the Vessel while she used a modified conjuration from the PGM. The two ended up fitting perfectly, the last word of each ending at the same moment. When the connection between the Demon and the Vessel solidified he announced his presence by shooting back a full goblet of whiskey. This kind of kicked off the rest of the process. Which was largely drinking…a lot.

The Vessel isn’t a fan of bourbon, and is allergic to wormwood. In the span of about 40 minutes or so she did “shots” but those shots were full goblets of whiskey and some absinthe. There were probably fifteen or so of these. During the ritual it wasn’t striking the insane amount of alcohol she consumed but later on it dawned on me. She remained lucid, coherent, stable, completely unaffected for about two hours until the possession ended. When it wrapped up there were two intense rounds of projectile vomiting of massive amounts of dark vomit. Significantly more than seemed reasonable. I’ve done heavy alcohol rituals with this woman before with no vomiting and I’ve seen her drunk on a lot less. Honestly, she probably shouldn’t have been standing by the end of the ritual let alone the time after the ritual. Once we wrapped up the spirit continued to speak to people privately through her. She requested an agreement with the spirit beforehand that he not indulge so much that she wouldn’t be able to function at an outdoor event the next day. The next day she was completely fine and able to function.

A few days later we spoke about the experience, and she explained she had no memory of anything after the point where we were doing the prayers together until the point where she was laying on a couch after vomiting. Not in a black out drunk kind of way. Her awareness ended before that started.

While the spirit was interacting with people, standing a few feet away from him was like standing in waves of sickening fire. But when the spirit was excited and focused on talking with someone the fire focused in and relented. His aura would then reextend with its waves of discomfort when he became less focused again. It was kind of an interesting experience. I was glad for the assistance of the Benedictine Rosary consecrated to Hekate, Mary, and the Dead which I was wearing.  

The spirit also went on a long speech about why he was sent to us, and the work we’d been doing. In doing so he began answering questions I debated asking but had elected not to and hadn’t discussed with anyone. He touched on themes that had come up in dreams and spirit experiences since I was a child, which I hadn’t discussed with the lodge members. He even used descriptions that matched how I understood certain spiritual powers and which related to some of my more private magical work. Some of the description even touched on key words that overlapped both an important dream from my 20s and an unpublished translation of a medieval text I did a couple years ago.

All in all the ritual seemed a success. I’d never worked with instigating a possession before. The ritual was definitely more demoniacal than was the norm for me, and to some degree as we prepared for it that stood out more than it did when just reading it. My understanding is that at least one participant had a pretty intense experience of one of the powers which were invoked to prepare the ritual. I would definitely try it again. It was a useful and workable way for interacting with the spirit. For the most part nothing material was asked for outside of the spirit’s normal work. If anyone tries a varied version of this with other spirits I’d love to hear how your results go, especially practical ones.

If you enjoyed this and want to see more of my thoughts on spirit magic please order my book, Living Spirits: A Guide to Magic in a World of Spirits. (A great way to celebrate our 100th post!)

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Part One: Dining With a Demon




          In 2017 I was asked to put together a ritual for William Blake Lodge, OTO’s 25th anniversary party. My blog doesn’t usually deal with Thelema or the OTO too often, I talk a lot more about more traditional magic. One of the nice things at WBL is we have a lot of people interested in exploring traditional magic. Those of you who know me probably also know that I like to help spread that interest where I can. So when I was given the opportunity to give the ritual which would cap the night for the celebration, which would have a bunch of people attending, I knew I needed to do something which brought together the OTO’s system with traditional spirit magic.

          I used Jake Stratton-Kent’s _Goetic Liturgy_ as my inspiration but instead of combining a grimoire with an A.’.A.’. ritual, I found ways to connect with the OTO and the EGC while building a ritual that drew on _The Cambridge Book of Magic_, _The Heptameron_ and _Discouerie of Witchcraft_. This post isn’t about that ritual though. We conjured a demon from the Book of the Offices of Spirits and requested from it a familiar spirit. We bound that spirit to an animal skull in a jar using iron nails, blood based paint, herbs incense soil and more. The familiar spirit was charged with aiding the Lodge.

          Most Lodge members, even some who surprised me in doing so, seem to have recognized the positive effect the familiar has had since 2017. We had some rough stuff going on just prior to that, but things have turned around and improved and people are happy. A lot of that has to do with our Lodge Master, in my opinion, but the effects of the spirit are definitely there too.  Additionally there has been a really great magical environment in general. I recommend that other OTO bodies and occult lodges may want to consider binding a familiar in a manner which ties it into their current.

          Since people have been happy with the spirit’s work we decided to celebrate the spirit’s “birthday.” While the ritual to conjure it was a fairly formal, in a circle, wearing lamens, participants doused in Holy Water sort of conjuration…this was something else. We wanted something more witchcrafty, more diablerist. Not demonalatrous but comfortable for a demon. Something “The Other Magicians” would have done. We called upon the same spirits and powers that we invoked when binding the spirit, but in more simple fashions. Instead of a circle we drew their symbols on the floor in flour and made offerings to them while singing their prayers.

We gave people wine, anointed them in perfume, invited them to chant and dance and drink, and we offered a beautiful woman in a diaphanous white night dress as a vessel for the demon to possess. She sat enthroned on the seals arrayed as portals for the spirits. We sang and poured out offerings on the floor. We called names from the Hygromanteia and used prayers from the PGM, and the demon came.

In this post I will share the ritual we used for the celebration. The script is the formal part. But the space should be open for the people to sign, dance, chant, drink, enjoy themselves like a sabbat. It’s hard to get that to happen though without a few people who are used to engaging that energy and living it.  The scripted part should be a celebration, it should be solemn but engaging, the Gatekeeper and the Priest need to fully embody the space of the work they’re doing. The Vessel needs to be open, and preferably to have a relationship with the spirit.

In the next post I’ll talk a little about the experience, things that happened surrounding the ritual.

If you enjoy this check out my book _Living Spirits: A Guide to Magic in a World of Spirits_ and follow us on Facebook. If you really like this and want to help out, please share this with your friends or groups. Thank you.

A Demon’s Sabbat
Fr. VH

Officers
            Priest – Performs invocations.  
            Vessel – A Medium for the Demon. Is dressed in something alluring, preferably white
Gatekeeper – A Priest or Priestess of Hekate to facilitate in the Crossroads. The Gatekeeper is armed with a dagger.
            Drummers – Drum to raise the people to a state of activity and to call up the spirits

Tools
            Dagger
            Candle
            Wine Glass
            Red Cloth
            Silver Coin
            Grape Wood Wand
            Incense
            Five Incense burners
Two Coins

Temple

The temple is mostly empty. There is plenty of space for people to move around and dance and celebrate. On one side is a table for gifts and offerings, on the other is a table for drinks. At the apex of the temple is a pillar or stand of some sort, before it is a throne and before that an altar. Incense is set burning on the altar and on the four quarters of the room. A candle and a wine glass are set on the altar along with the spirit’s house. Outside of the temple is a table of perfumes and oils, and a selection of alcoholic beverages and glasses.

Pre-Ritual

The Priest draws the Ponto for Hekate and for the Ancestors and the Seal for the King, for the Angel and for the Demon so that they are surrounding the more largely drawn seal for the spirit. The Pillar, Throne and Altar will sit on top of the seal for the spirit. The Gatekeeper censes the temple making a four armed crossroads in each quarter and across the temple floor then returns the incense to the altar. The Priest and Gatekeeper leave the temple. They return with the Vessel. The Priest carries the wine glass, the Vessel following after him carries the spirit house, the Gatekeeper follows the Vessel and carries the candle which has been lit. They form a triangle around the altar. The Priest places the glass on the altar, he takes the candle from the Gatekeeper and places it on the altar, then he takes the spirit house and places it on the pedestal. He retrieves the alcohol which will be offered to the spirit and puts a small amount in the wine glass. The Priest takes the glass and goes to each quarter and sprinkles he then returns to the altar and sprinkles there before returning the glass. As he does this the Gatekeeper seats the Vessel on the throne. When this is completed the Gatekeeper admits the drummers who begin to play. Once they have begun the Gatekeeper admits the people one at a time.


**Ceremony of Admission**

Rather than purification those attending may anoint themselves with oils or perfumes, they may strip out of undesired clothing or change into clothing more fitting for the celebration.

As they approach the doorway they should take a drink and bring their glass into the temple.

At the doorway they are stopped by the Gatekeeper with his dagger

Gatekeeper: Why do you approach this sacred and secret place?

Congregant: To go under cover of night, away from the village, to celebrate with devils and demons, faeries and angels the deeds of the demon.

Gatekeeper: [removes dagger, and admits the congregant] Welcome

Ritual

**Hekate**

The Gatekeeper begins by lighting the incense and circles over the circles with it. He then places two coins on the ground.

Priest: Charon accept this payment, and bring forth those who came before us that they may partake of this offering and share in it with you, and with those gods Hades, Persephone, Demeter, Dionysos, Iris and Hekate!

The Gatekeeper begins chanting names and epithets for Hekate. The congregation joins in. This continues throughout the conjuration of each of the spiritual forces. Throughout this the people may drink and dance.

The Gatekeeper continues chanting names and goes to the Ponto for Hekate. He lights the candles and blows incense over it. He pours oil over it and makes an offering of alcohol and of blood. While this is done the Priest sings the Hymn for Hekate.

Priest: I call Einodian Hecate, lovely dame,
Of earthly, watery, and celestial frame,
Sepulchral, in a saffron veil arrayed,
Leased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade;
Persian, unconquerable huntress hail!
The world's key-bearer never doomed to fail;
On the rough rock to wander thee delights,
Leader and nurse be present to our rites
Propitious grant our just desires success,
Accept our homage, and the incense bless.

**Ancestors**

The Gatekeeper continues chanting the names but moves to the Ponto for the Ancestors and repeats the process of opening it while the Priest prays:

Priest: Lord of Life and Joy, that art the might of man, that art the essence of every true god that is upon the surface of the Earth, continuing knowledge from generation unto generation, thou adored of us upon heaths and in woods, on mountains and in caves, openly in the marketplaces and secretly in the chambers of our houses, in temples of gold and ivory and marble as in these other temples of our bodies, we worthily commemorate them worthy that did of old adore thee and manifest they glory unto men

**Angel**

The Gatekeeper moves to the Seal of Cassiel and begins to open it as the Priest prays:

Priest: Hear me you Angels, Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel, be my aid in these petitions and my aid in all my affairs!

In the Name of the Most High God, in the Name of the Lord of Hosts, I conjure and confirm upon you, Cassiel, Machator, and Seraquiel, strong and powerful angels by the Name Adonai Tzaveot, that you will attend this celebration, I adjure you by my appeal to the throne of the Lord, By the Holy and Mighty God who is our Aid Against Death, He who is the Beginning and the End through his three secret names AGLA, ON, YHVH, by which you will fulfill today those things which I desire. I conjure upon you, Cassiel, who is chief ruler of the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, that you will attend us and aid us in this celebration.

**King**

The Gatekeeper moves to the Seal of Egyn and begins to open it as the Priest prays:

Priest: Oh great and potent spirit Egyn, King of the North, who rules the Northern region of the world, I adjure you, I call upon you, and most powerfully and earnestly I urge you by, in, and through the virtue power and might of these efficacious and binding names, YHVH+, EHIH+, Adonai+, AGLA+, El+, Tzvot+, Elohim+, of the Almighty, Immense Incomprehensible and Everliving God, the omnipotent Creator of heaven and Earth. I
call upon you, Oh you powerful and regal spirit Egyn, by the power of Elohim+ in the presence of Gabriel+ to attend us, in all mildness, peace, and friendliness, without any hurt, disturbance, or any other evil whatsoever, either to us, or this place. Mighty Egyn courteously and obediently you fulfill our desire and be present for this celebration, Oh Royal and Potent spirit Egyn, in the name of Shaddai+


**Demon**

The Gatekeeper moves to the Seal of Doolas and begins to open it as the Priest prays:

Priest: By the might of the Angel Cassiel, by the name of the Most High God, Lord of Hosts, Adonai Tzaveot, by the might of the King Egyn, by the hand of his emissary Lambricon, we ask that Doolas be brought forth. By the pact we have made before, and by the swift work of Lambricon we invite Doolas to enter herein, to join in this celebration and to reaffirm the bonds which bind Tobias to us.

**Spirit**

Praising the Spirit

The Priest raises the jar from the pedestal and carries it around the Temple before the people. He extemporaneously thanks and praises the work of the spirit. When he is done he will shout “Hail Tobias!” and the Vessel will repeat this and encourage the people to switch to chanting for Tobias. The Gatekeeper continue chanting or meditating upon Hekate and opening the door ways and roads.

The Priest brings the jar back to the altar and places it there with the candle the incense and the wine glass. He pours a libation into the glass, whiskey or absinthe or wine. He places incense onto the coal.

Priest: Tobias we give you these offerings of thanks and invite your presence here.

Anointing the Jar

The Priest takes perfume and anoints the rim of the jar

Priest: We recall your baptism

The Priest takes oil and anoints the rim of the jar

Priest: We recall your confirmation to our purpose

The Priest takes blood and anoints the rim of the jar and also retraces the seals on the jar

Priest: With this blood we strengthen you and we strengthen the bonds which tie you to us
           
Washing and crowning the Vessel

The Priest takes perfumed water and pours it over the head of the Vessel as is baptizing her:

Priest: May you be made open and ready to receive the spirit

The Priest takes oil and anoints the forehead and the crown of the Vessel’s head.

Priest: May the fires of the spirit stir within you

The Priest takes the blood and anoints the forehead and the crown of the Vessel’s head.

Priest: May the blood which binds him to us be a bond between him and you.

The Priest lays the red cloth over the crown of her head and places his hands upon the cloth, standing behind her.

Calling the Spirit

While the Vessel calls upon Tobias the people continue chanting his name. The Priest keeps his head upon the cloth and chants these names.

Priest: Atzam, Tzoalakoum, Geamai, Satzyne, Kalesaines, Ton, Tapesmas, Taphydou, Elylpe, Syltan, Gialoti, Mpalontzem, Thara, Pakhakhesesan, Sylbakhama, Mousamoukhana, Araga, Rhasai, Rhagana, Obras, Ouboragoras, Tzoupa, Biapophkha, Tambalakhakem, Parakhematzoum, Tou, Itana, Baphoutia, Pakhakhe, Tanretokous, Nastratie, Parakhematzoum, Tou, Itana, Baphoutia, Pakhakhe, Tanretokous, Nastratie, Pakhakhyelea, Tybalotze, Enkaika, Parpara, Oumebras, Khematzoum

The Vessel looks at the jar. In one hand she holds the grape wood. The other hand touches the jar.

Vessel: Hail serpent and stout lion, natural sources of fire
Hail clear water and lofty-leafed tree
And you who gather up clover from golden fields of beans
And who cause gentle foam to gush forth from pure mouths.
Scarab who drive the orb of fertile fire, O self-engendered one
Because you are Two-syllabled, AE, and are the first appearing one
Nod me assent I pray, because your mystic symbols I declare,
EO AI OY AMERR OOUOTH IYIOE MARMARAUOTH LAILAM SOUMARTA
Be gracious unto me first-father and May you yourself send strength as my companion.
I conjure you holy light, holy brightness, by the wholy names which I have spoken and am now going to speak. By IAO SABAOTH ARBATHIAO SESENGENBARPHARAGGES ABLANATHANALBA ALRAMMACHAMARI AI AI IAO AX AX INAX remain by me in this present hour, until, I pray to the god, and learn about the things I desire.

At this point the Vessel makes an extemporaneous prayer to Tobias to come to her and be known through her. It is best that this is an affectionate plea for contact and co-agency. She continues this and the chanting continues until she feels the spirit with her or until the spirit makes it self known though communion with her.

Gifts and Oracles

The ritual continues as a party. People take turns coming up and making offerings to the spirit and asking for his blessing for themselves and for the Lodge. The spirit may provide oracles or general or specific blessings as it desires or not if it does not desire so.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Review: Practical Occult Jewelry


           So I’ve been pretty far behind on posting. Busy with my new writing project _Unto the Angel_ my book on the Holy Guardian Angel…along with regular work, and fencing. One of the things in particular I’ve wanted to do recently is review some really cool stuff which has come out from some people who are pretty cool. The first one I’m going to present is, sort of, but maybe not entirely, the newest.
          Alison Chicosky has been making a stir for a few years in terms of inspiring people to work with PGM and to explore, in particular, the Stele of Jeu. She has done some pretty amazing stuff with simple magical techniques and has helped others do the same by directing them to Rufus Opus’s _Seven Spheres_ and the PGM materials, the two of which have become the source of her go to methods, at least as far as I understand.
I’ve heard some pretty amazing stories about people saved by the phylacteries she’s made and gifted to them. And by saved, in some cases I mean literally their lives have been saved. Her construction of magical objects has spread out beyond the phylacteries into a huge array of planetary talismans. She has been sharing these talismans with people and they’ve been getting great results. Myself included.
A few months back I was in my car and suddenly the world was a kaleidoscope. My eyes were no longer seeing the same thing and I was driving through a world wind of blurred images. A couple days of tests showed that I was pretty healthy…surprisingly so, but that due to a nerve issue one of my eyes wasn’t moving so I had extreme double vision. This resulted in a couple months in an eye patch.
Alison was the first person I reached out to for help. She sent me a talisman. Once it was delivered, even before I had it in my possession, I could feel its influence in my orbit. When I first held it I could feel the difference in presence it had, and when I interacted with it I had strong and clear instructions from the spirits associated therewith.
My doctors told me to basically keep things easy going and eventually the eye would heal, but it might take months. I found a surprising number of people who had had similar issues or knew people who had similar issues. Most of the people I encountered initially told me about how they, or they people they knew, never got better. It was a little frightening. The doctors made it sound simple to the point of being unrealistic and brushed off a need for me to keep seeing them. They gave me no real instruction or treatment. Once the talisman was in my possession I started getting more and more people telling me about people who had the same problem and it got better. All of them needed to see specialists and do special exercises or wear special corrective items, but they got better. I went in for my first, and only, follow up and the doctor was clearly surprised by how much progress my eye had made in a short time. I finally had hope that I was sure wasn’t just me convincing myself that I might get better.
Now, my eye works correctly and I’m without the eye patch. It took some time. The talisman didn’t miraculously instantly heal me. But there was a definite shift. Some of the underlying issues eased up once I had it. I stumbled onto some unlikely assistance a few times. I recovered with pretty much no medical treatment past the diagnosis. The world that seemed to be preparing me for the worst turned into a world reminding me that it would work out. That was probably a huge factor in my eye getting better at all.
I accept that my recovery was in part due to rest and other things done to improve my condition, but I also believe that the talisman turned around important elements of the situation and helped guide me towards the possibility of recovering, which didn’t seem there at first.
That said, my story isn’t anywhere close to the most miraculous I’ve heard from Alison’s talismans. But it’s my story, so it’s the one I feel OK telling. If you know other people who’ve used one ask them about them, or reach out and ask Alison about them.
Or, acquire one from her. Alison has recently started taking commissions for talismans. Her work can be seen and she can be contacted via Facebook at:


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Conjuring Power in Plants and Natural Materials


          In my book, Living Spirits: A Guide to Magic in a World of Spirits, I talk about the idea of calling upon the spirits of particular sorts of plants, and stones and objects which we might use in magic. If we are incorporating honeysuckle in a spell, the divine signature which defines the honeysuckle into existence describes a particular power or nature. The radiance of the heavens which is captured as honeysuckle is defined into creation radiates with the presence of the plant. If we have a fox tooth it has a contagion link back to the fox and so it partakes of the life and power of that fox. An amethyst will reflect the radiance which drew its mineral structure into being and convey the power and nature of its signature, much like the honeysuckle.
          But in any of these cases are we drawing on living power? Are we activating something which has motion and agency?
          Each of these materials are tied to spiritual life we can call upon to be part of our work, to bless and empower the material we are using, and to work with us through that material. In old Jewish angelology every class of objects is ruled by an angel. Other cultures, traditions and folklores have similar views. The individual honeysuckle flower we pick may or may not have a spirit of its own, but there is a spirit which moves through the world and stirs the growth of honeysuckle, breathes life into it, and empowers its nature. Likewise for stones, or for animals. So with each of these items we might call upon that spirit.
          These items might also have spirits based on their provenance, which we can recognize if we ourselves collected them. Say the honeysuckle grew in a cemetery, then we might connect to the spirits of the cemetery through the honeysuckle. If we pulled the amethyst from a stream then it might connect us to the spirits of the stream. The fox tooth might connect us to the fox, and also to the spirits of the forest where the fox lived.
          In the book, in the third appendix “Southern Conjure: A Practical Guide to Spiritous Sorcery” I suggest that when making oils and powders, or when working with herbs and materials in other types of spells that we should call upon these spirits so it’s not just the presence of the item but the engagement of the spiritual powers behind the item which contribute to the spell. Here is an excerpt:

“As we’ve said, there are spirits associated with plants, rocks, and various other things occurring in nature. So when we are making a powder or oil we can call upon the spirits of our components to enliven and empower those components and to work together through the combination of our ingredients. Some ingredients might have additional spirits to call upon based on where the ingredient comes from or if it is tied to some particular spirit or profession or other association. Once we have mixed our ingredients, or if we are working with a premixed oil or powder, we can call upon a spirit or god related to the purpose or goal for which the oil or powder will be used. We can also set the container of the oil or powder on our ancestor altar, or the altar of whatever other guides or guardians we have and ask for them to bless and empower it and to work through it hand in hand with us.
          So say we want to make Algiers Powder, which according to Herman Slater, is made with Vanilla, Patchouli, and Cinnamon. It’s also associated with the color purple. It’s useful for love and for gambling. To begin we might lay out a cloth of purple and on it place three dishes, one for each component. Behind each dish set a candle. You might anoint the candles in holy oil, you might sprinkle the space with holy water. Giving each herb its own respect, for each in turn, touch the herb, light the candle, and make a prayer to the spirit of the herb. Once you feel that you’ve engaged the spirits and the physical material carries their power and blessing then mix your powder.”  

The text then goes on to discuss the idea of calling upon gods and spirits associated with the purpose of the mixture because the mixture becomes a thing itself once mixed. So that way we have the power of the spirits called going into the mix, and we have the direction and power of the spirits related to the goal of the mix.
Our prayer for the component could be really simple. Something like “Spirit which gives life to the vanilla bean, which spreads its growth through the world and guides its vitality and flavor, accept the offering of this candle and for its life place your life and motion in this vanilla plant, be with me and through it aid in my work.”
If we have a plant which has some heavy mythology or folklore or symbolism to it we can reference that in calling upon the spirit of that plant. For instance, “Spirit of the holy tree, whose berries are bright red, showing the brilliance of the blood of Christ, which Christened you at his crucifixion. Mighty holy tree whose bright green and red shine in the dark of winter, life defying death. Spirit of the sharp leafed tree whose leaves were hidden in spells as wings of bats, fly forth to join me. Bring life to the sprig upon my altar and through it work your magic with mine.”
If we harvested the plant or other item ourselves then we can begin this link to the spirits associated therewith at that time, while there is still a living present and vital connection in the place where that spirit has amassed into the growth of that plant or the crystallization of that stone. When harvesting we can call upon the spirit, introduce ourselves, ask to work together and to take this piece of material from them, and give them some offering at that time. Then later when working we are recalling that connection and asking for aid in a situation where we already have a relationship. If we’ve purchased the material it’s still possible to build that connection and call upon it. But if we have the opportunity to go out and harvest it definitely adds a component.  
There is another method we could take though. Recently I was reading an article which quoted a spell from The Magical Papyri – PGM IV 2967 – 3006. This is a spell for harvesting a plant which goes through a series of statements associating the development, being, and treatment of the plants with several gods. The idea suggested by the article is that this is flattering the spirits associated with the plant to cajole them into aiding the magician.

“You were sown by Kronos, you were conceived by Hera, / you were maintained by Ammon, you were given birth by Isis, you were nourished by Zeus the god of rain, you were given growth by Helios and dew. You [are] the dew of all the gods, you [are] the heart of Hermes, you are the seed of the primordial gods, you are the eye / of Helios, You are the light of Selene, you are the zeal of Osiris, you are the beauty and the glory of Ouranos, you are the soul of Osiris’ daimon which revels in every place, you are the spirit of Ammon. As you have exalted Osiris, so / exalt yourself and rise just as Helios rises each day. Your size is equal to the zenith of Helios, your roots come from the depths, but your powers are in the heart of Hermes, your fibers are the bones of Mnevis, and your / flowers are the eye of Horus, your seed is Pan’s seed. I am washing you in resin as I also wash the gods even [as I do this] for my own health. You also be cleaned by prayer and give us power as Ares and Athena do. I am Hermes. I am acquiring you with Good / Fortune and Good Daimon both at a propitious hour and on a propitious day that is effective for all things.”

Another way to consider this though might be that it is building up a divine body around the spirit of the plant. In Christianity there is the concept of the armor of God, in which the prayerful associates their spiritual body with the divine armaments of God. Earlier in Egyptian magic we find the Ritual of Coming Forth by Day:

"The hair of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the hair of Nu [or Nun]
The face of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the face of Ra
The eyes of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the eyes of Hathor
The ears of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the ears of Ap-uat [or Wepwawet]
The lips of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the lips of Anpu [or Anubis]
The teeth [or molars] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the teeth of Serqet [or Selket]
The neck of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the neck of Isis
The hands of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the hands of Ba-neb-Tattu
The shoulder of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the shoulder of Uatchet
The throat of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the throat of Mert
The forearms of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the forearms of the Lady of Sais
The backbone of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the backbone of Set
The chest of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the chest of the lords of Kheraha
The flesh [or chest] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the flesh of the Mighty One of Terror [or He who is Greatly Majestic]
The reins and back [or belly and spine] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the reins and back of Skehet [or Sekhmet]
The buttocks of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the buttocks of the Eye of Horus
The phallus of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the phallus of Osiris
The legs [or thighs and calves] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the legs of Nut
The feet of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the feet of Ptah
The fingers of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the fingers of Orion
The leg-bones [or toes] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the leg-bones of the living uraei [the rearing cobras of the goddess Wadjet]
There is no member of my body which is not the member of some god ["There is no member of mine devoid of a god"]
The god Thoth shieldeth my body altogether ["And Thoth is the protection of all my flesh"]"

So rather than assuming that we’re cajoling the spirit of the plant by telling it how awesome and divine it is, perhaps we’re invoking the powers of these gods and the ways in which the gods connect to nature and therefore to the plant, to express their power and life through the plant. Thus the numen of the plant is imbued with the numina of the various gods, expanding its light and power beyond an earthly spirit to a vessel of divine power.

Honestly, which makes more sense for a magician, telling a spirit “Yo dude, I’m picking you because you’re so cool, all these gods raised you and shit, like you didn’t know that but it’s true, so be excited so we can do magic,” or saying “Hey, bro…I’m going to invoke about a half a dozen gods so your natural power will be super amped, you’ll feel good, and our magic together will be more awesome”?

The latter seems more practical. Magic isn’t just tricking spirits.

So, what if we’re not harvesting the plant, what if we have store bought herbs?

I haven’t used this prayer yet, but to me it seems like it would work just as well in that case. You’d still be building presence of divine life anchored to the plant.  I’m curious to try it and curious to hear what others get from working with it.

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