Following on from my previous two posts on the subject (i.e. this one and this one), after having given more thought to the question “How can you tell what is and is not an authentic Abramelin word-square?” it occurred to me that a convenient method of answering this had been provided by Aleister Crowley.
In his “autohagiography” he described what happened when he tried teaching clairvoyance to a student:
I would, for example, give him a talisman which he had never seen before, and ask him to discover its nature. We would then compare the result of his investigation with the book from which I had taken the talisman, and he would find that he had judged correctly. (For instance, I would give him a square containing thirty-six characters in Enochian, which he could not read. He would pass in his astral body through an imaginary door on which this square was inscribed, and tell me that he had come out upon a balcony overlooking the sea, where a violent storm was raging. I would then refer to The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, identify the square, and note that its virtue was to arouse a tempest.Crowley, Confessions, chapter 61.
This, I would submit, suggests a practical solution to how to verify an Abramelin word-square, or reconcile apparent differences between different Abramelin source manuscripts. I.e. take the word-square one wishes to investigate, and pass through it as if going on a tattva-journey. By thus scrying one will get a clear impression whether the word-square is correct for you, or if there is something wrong and requires further investigation.
There is, however, one criticism which I would make of Crowley’s method. At the time of the incident he described, Crowley had gone through the Abramelin operation, or at least purported to – he certainly did not complete the operation in the manner originally envisaged by Abraham the Jew, the author of the Book of the Sacred Magic. Nevertheless, if we accept for one moment that Crowley had completed the operation, the student whose clairvoyance he was testing had not.
The Golden Dawn says that when undertaking these sorts of scrying exercises, one should call for a guide to protect oneself on the astral landscape. An Abramelin alumnus, investigating a word-square in this manner, will have the best possible spirit-guide upon which to call – his or her own Holy Guardian Angel. Crowley’s student presumably had not connected with his HGA in the Abramelin-manner or at all, and yet he attempted to scry into a word-square empowered by demons which Crowley had already evoked!
Needless to say, like a lot of people in Crowley’s life, the student came to a bad end. This may not have been the Great Beast’s fault, as the student had a pre-existing Cocaine addiction which compromised his mental health, but it would not be altogether churlish to speculate that Crowley’s intervention probably didn’t help. Hence, I would recommend that it is best to attempt this after one has attained KCHGA, just to remain on the safe side.
If you have enjoyed reading this article, please consider making a donation to my Just Giving page – raising money for poor and vulnerable families affected by the Covid 19 lockdown. All thanks to God and my HGA for being able to participate in the Sacred Magic.
… but then we shall see face to face.
John Dee, the famous Elizabethan Mathematician, Scholar and Occultist, continues to exercise a powerful hold over the British imagination. So much so that British newspaper The Guardian this weekend featured a nice article this weekend about Dee’s “Shewstone” or black-obsidian disc with which he got Edmund Kelly to skry all the wonders of what we nowadays call Enochian Magic.
The article in question was about a new exhibition at the Tate St Ives (Cornwall, not Cambridgeshire) about magic and modernity. This proved to be somewhat ironic as according to the article, the exhibition neither featured the work of a modern magic practitioner, nor did it feature John Dee’s Shewstone. Ah well, serves me right for reading such a miserable excuse for a paper. Back to The Daily Telegraph for me in future!
But this got me thinking that I should take this opportunity to write a blog piece about Dark Mirrors and their use in magic generally.
A “dark mirror” or Speculum (not to be confused with the medical instrument of the same name) is not so much a conventional mirror but a black shiny surface in which one’s reflection may be perceived. It is used in magic for evocations.
Now a number of magicians seem to think that when performing an evocation, the spirit somehow materialises within the Triangle of Art out of thin air – but a survey of both classic magic texts and modern sources suggests that this is not the case. A great many texts suggest that the object of evocation is to make a given spirit appear in some sort of skrying medium: the most famous example of which would be the classic Crystal Ball.
However a number of other media have also been described as being used – e.g. Dee’s black-obsidian disc, or a bowl of water (a technique favoured by the Ancient Egyptians) or a small quantity of black ink held in the palm of one’s hand. Anything in fact which is black and shiny.
Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825 – 1875) advocated the use of dark mirrors for skrying purposes. He recommended using two sheets of glass, one flat and the other (the skrying surface) concave: the space between the two sheets of glass was to be filled with black ink. Randolph also wrote down practical instructions for getting started in dark-mirror skrying. (See his book Sexual Magic).
Eliphas Lévi (1810 – 1875) famously attempted to evoke the spirit of Appolonius of Tyana into a mirror. Technically he succeeded (he claimed that an apparition of Appolonius appeared) but for all the good it did him he might have just as well tried reading the tea-leaves.
Franz Bardon (1909 – 1958) in his book Initiation Into Hermetics also describes how to create magic mirrors for the purpose of skrying. According to Bardon there are several methods – such a mirror can be made from an actual mirror or glass bowl, a concave glass disc (such as can be obtained from clock-makers), or bowl which has been made by oneself out of plaster-of-paris. Knowledge of what Bardon calls “fluid condensers” – substances which attract magical influences in a kind of very simplified alchemy – is necessary to render the mirror effective. Once prepared – and assuming that one undergoes all of the other steps required for magical training – the magic mirror can be used for skrying the various planes of existence, contacting dead people, contacting magical entities, and numerous other magical effects.
The most famous practitioner of dark-mirror skrying today is Carroll “Poke” Runyon, founder of the Ordo Templi Astarte. Runyon has stated that he re-discovered the practice all by himself in the early seventies, and uses it to contact the seventy-two spirits of the Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon (whilst using a crystal ball for contacting angelic beings). See The Magick of Solomon.
What is being observed when one looks into a dark mirror? The reductionist-materialist would say that it is merely a dim reflection of oneself. However, in every case of evocation with which I am familiar, the magician does not just sit down in front of the object, but prepares himself with a great deal of magic ritual, which involves concentration and entering into an ecstatic or visionary state of consciousness. Runyon for example explicitly states that both raja yoga and self-hypnosis are necessary requisites for proper skrying in the dark mirror. Therefore although the physical cause of the apparition is the dim reflection of the skryer, what the skryer perceives is in fact the sum total of the influences at work on his or her mind at that particular moment, due to the magical ceremony in progress.
There is a description of a dark mirror skrying operation in my novel which I do not recommend readers carry out literally – it is meant to be the direct opposite of what a normal respectable magician would do in real life. On the other hand it is meant to convey an authentic flavour of what a vile, degenerate luciferian ceremony would consist.
Finally I should point out that several magicians claim that it is not necessary to “see” a spirit in order to evoke it properly. Lon Milo Duquette for example has claimed success with Goetic operations, but readily admits that when he evokes a spirit he feels its presence rather than seeing it. In Chaos Magick, an evocation refers to evoking the effects of a magical force to physical manifestation, not necessarily to evoking a visible appearance of the force itself.
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Tagged as chaos magick, dark mirror, eliphas levi, Enochian, evocation, franz bardon, goetia, John Dee, Lon Milo Duquette, paschal beverly randolph, skrying