It can definitely seem like a barrier to those approaching it. Not only does it feel like there are a ton of books to read, things to learn, and tools to make and buy…
…but the books and the tools are expensive.
Especially when folks insist that you need proper gold implements, custom parchment from a sacrificed virgin goat, and sticks cut in a single stroke on a certain hour on a certain day with the moon in the right phase and the stick not having grown more than a year.
Seems daunting, and if you want to buy the parts, it’s expensive.
There is also always someone willing to sell it to you. Those folks willing to sell it to you will also tell you that you can only get the success they have if you exactly follow all the steps and exactly have perfectly created tools. They might even say that folks doing it other ways are, ironically, just trying to sell you something…the idea that anyone can do this.
The reality is the textual history, and what survives of material evidence shows pretty clearly that people did things with a lot of variance and alternatives historically. People innovated. People used simple methods to call on spirits and had the spirits teach them more personalized magical work. With the amount of treasure finding magic out there, magicians who had nice stuff may have even did simpler cheaper magic to get money to get that nice stuff.
You can go the purist route, or not. Either way, if you’re looking to get started and you’re pressed for cash you can still begin working within the grimoire tradition without spending money. You can begin contacting spirits, building relationships, obtaining means to contact them outside of ritual to accomplish magical goals. You can even taking the Jupiterian prosperity gospel of magic approach – use magic to get your financial and material life in order so you can focus on your magical life.
So how do we go about this?
Well, the first thing to remember is that the grimoire tradition mostly exists in a medieval and Renaissance Catholic context…later on in a sometimes Catholic sometimes Protestant context. In that worldview, natural permissible magic existed alongside the more legally restricted magics often recorded in the grimoires.
Angels, and some other spirits, could be contacted without circles, without seals, and without complex rituals. Some of these you could encounter just through prayer and appeal to God, some you could call upon by going to places they resided, or gathering natural items during the right times. In terms of prayer to God, some of the simpler methods presented in books of magic pretty much boil down to that approach.
There are a ton of resources you can read for free online. Many of the ones that you should be checking out are available at Joseph H. Peterson’s excellent site, www.esotericarchives.com. Once you’ve conjured some money by working with less expensive methods and free online copies of grimoires…spend some of it on his excellent print editions.
So, where do we get started in the free approach to the grimoire tradition?
Trithemius's Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals can be used with minimal equipment and is free to read online. You can get it at JHP’s site, or my site. There will be some additional resources for using it on my site also. In my blog, I’ve talked about that approach to working with angels and presented an alternative version of that kind of crystallomantic conjuration from Scot’s Discouerie of Witchcraft.
The main thing you’ll need is the crystal sphere. Other elements can be helpful, but God can send an angel to speak to you in a crystal ball, or even a bowl of water if he so choses. Prepare yourself, purify yourself, truly devote yourself, and you can get started…quite literally on a wing and a prayer.
You might look at that and say, “is this really grimoire magic?” If you look at handbooks that collected magic people actually did, or look at surviving accounts of magical practice, this definitely fits in. We can look at a grimoire example that confirms that though…
In the Arbatel, the magician is given a series of Aphorisms to study, mostly about how to lead a good life. A section of those Aphorisms provide seals, names and descriptions for a group of angels called the Olympic spirits. There is a prayer provided to call upon the spirit you desire. There is an additional prayer that is useful to go with it. That’s about all you need. Several people have even encountered the Olympic spirits and asked about using more tools or materials and they generally don’t seem super interested in that. With them you can keep it simple…and keeping it simple keeps it in line with the text’s instructions.
The Arbatel provides us with a grimoire example of working with angels with just a name, a sign, and a prayer. You can easily use that approach with other angels. The Olympic spirits also provide familiars, so you can use this approach and still work one of the important components of grimoire magic. A grimoire magician does not always use complicated grimoire rituals to conjure spirits. Spirits with whom the magician has a relationship should provide means to easily call upon them to help the magician with magical tasks. If that spirit provides a familiar, the familiar should – more or less – remain with the magician and aid the magician and teach him additional magic.
This kind of work with angels will be easier if you’ve been cultivating a relationship with the angels, working on purity, and engaging in devotional prayer.
The seven penitential psalms could work as a daily prayer and meditation practice to help build the devotional element of your work and bring you more into a place for the angels to be provided for you.
The Seven Orisons from the Enchiridion of Pope Leo provide magical prayers which the magician could pray daily at sunrise, or nightly before bed in order to build on that devotional practice. You can read those prayers for free here.
While looking at sets of seven daily prayers, we shouldn’t slouch on the ones from the Heptameron. The Heptameron of Pietro D’Abano has a prayer for each day of the week which conjures the angels. Several magical sources encourage the magician to use these prayers or prayers like them as a daily practice. On any day where he intends to do magic, the magician should recite the appropriate prayer in the first hour (at sunrise) of the day. It’s advisable for the magician to make this a regular practice even on days where he isn’t doing other magical work. Doing this can help keep the magician’s focus on angelic work and bring the angels into the magician’s orbit.
For one last example of a daily devotional prayer, Reginald Scot provides a conjuration through which God binds spirits to obey the magician. I’ve presented the prayer in one of my books, but you can also read it for free in my blog here.
We talked about purity. Obviously, living a solid good life is a big part of that. Ritually speaking, fasting, bathing, anointing, things like that help prepare the magician. Attending religious services is an option too. If you want something simple, ritually bathing and praying the psalms is a good start. Several grimoire provide psalms for this purpose. Joseph Peterson has provided a list of purposes assigned to psalms in the grimoires. You can find psalms for your cleansing bath, psalms to consecrate your candles, psalms for putting on special ritual clothes, and for a host of other purposes. You can peruse thathere and select psalms for your various needs.
As you save a bit of money, or get some from calling on angels to aid you, you can start acquiring tools and exploring more deeply through the grimoires. You can approach them in a purist approach or an idiosyncratic approach.
The Heptameron is one of the simplest ones. You can use it for angels, for aerial spirits, and also for demons. If you want an approach with few tools that builds a lifetime of practice, there is the Abramelin. It will involve a lot of time and devotion but it doesn’t need a lot of tools and will give you access to spirits and magic that don’t need a lot of tools. The French version adds a lot of things…things the system seems intended to avoid…and so it will involve more tools, but the German version keeps it simple. You’ll need a few things but not a ton. It’s also the one book we’re mentioning that you’d need to buy. You don’t really need classes or instruction or other books to learn how to do it, just trust your guardian angel to guide you.
So, there you have it. I’m not telling you to buy my books or anyone else’s books or take my classes or anyone else’s. You can learn and do grimoire magic with no cost if you really put your mind to it. There are some great books and some great classes out there too which can help you…but don’t think that’s the only way to get started. Once you get started, you can always jump deeper and explore those options…but don’t let the cost of books, classes, and tools keep you away if you feel this is what you should really be doing. Don’t let apparent complexities keep you on the bench either. Jump in. Doing is learning.
Like most of my posts, stuff I offer will be linked at the end. Those are standard links, they aren’t an answer to “how can I do this if I can’t afford much.” The actual content of the blog post answers that question.
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