Book Club Post

The Ritual of High Magic: Chapter 7

With this post we continue a monthly chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Lévi, the book that launched the modern magical revival.  Here and in the months ahead we’re plunging into the white-hot fires of creation where modern magic was born. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend reading the earlier posts in this sequence first; you can find them here.  Either way, grab your tarot cards and hang on tight.

If you can read French, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Lévi’s book in the original and follow along with that; it’s readily available for sale in Francophone countries, and can also be downloaded for free from If not, the English translation by me and Mark Mikituk is recommended; A.E. Waite’s translation, unhelpfully retitled Transcendental Magic, is second-rate at best—riddled with errors and burdened with Waite’s seething intellectual jealousy of Lévi—though you can use it after a fashion if it’s what you can get. Also recommended is a tarot deck using the French pattern:  the Knapp-Hall deck (unfortunately out of print at the moment), the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.


“Chapter Seven:  The Septenary of Talismans” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 257-270).


With this chapter we return again to the technical details of magic, and all the cautions and caveats Lévi offered in previous chapters about magical practice need to be kept in mind here as well. In this chapter he presents magical rituals that are meant to invoke the spirits of the seven traditional planets in order to consecrate talismans.

It will be useful first of all to define what he means by each of the important terms in this last sentence. A ritual is the dramatic enactment of a symbol or a pattern of symbols. Along with the robes, incense, and other hardware of the operative mage, it is used (in the words of our text) “to employ the imagination for the education of the will.”  In the broader philosophy Lévi has introduced, a ritual is a way of using will and imagination to impress patterns in the astral light so that those patterns will have magical effects. The odd words and equally strange actions that are included in magical rituals are never arbitrary; each of them helps shape the imagination so that it can direct the will.

A spirit, as we discussed in an earlier chapter, is an individual being whose body is made up of thoughts or feelings rather than material substances. To invoke a spirit is to attune yourself, using will and imagination, to the state of consciousness that is the spirit’s body, so that you can enter into that state and act from within it. Most of the things that human beings need or want can be attained tolerably easily once you achieve the necessary state of consciousness; financial success, for example, is rarely hard to attain if you put yourself into a state of mind in which you approach everything that comes your way as an opportunity to make money.

Johannes Trithemius. He’s the guy who taught magic to Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus, just for starters.

The seven traditional planets are the symbolic anchors for seven basic categories of human emotion and experience: the septem secundeis or seven secondary powers to which Johannes Trithemius, among many other mages in ancient and medieval times, assigned the rulership of the world.  Each of them has a period of rulership, according to Trithemius, for 354 years and 4 months; in case you were wondering, in November 1879 the world passed into the rulership of Michael, archangel of the Sun.  (It will remain under his rule until February 2234, when it will be handed over to Orifiel, archangel of Saturn.)

The seven days of the week are also allotted to the same seven powers:  Sunday to the Sun, Monday to the Moon, Tuesday to Mars, Wednesday to Mercury, Thursday to Jupiter, Friday to Venus. and Saturday to Saturn.  As our text explains at length, plenty of other things correspond to these seven categories.

A talisman, finally, is a material object that is used as an anchor for a pattern set in motion in the astral light. It is one form of the fourth element of the Great Arcanum, the ultimate secret of Lévi’s magic: the material anchor to which the twofold vortex of the astral light is connected, and through which the vortex brings about change in the world of matter. Talismans take many different forms in magical practice.  The kind that Lévi has in mind here is the most common form used in traditional Western magic, a disk of metal, wax, or properly prepared paper with appropriate symbols and words written on both sides.

With these definitions in mind, we can proceed to the rituals. Lévi is up to his usual wry pranks in describing these, and not just because it tickled his sense of humor. As previous chapters have discussed at length, high magic cannot be practiced in a mindless fashion, by rote; it is crucial for the aspiring mage to understand exactly what he or she is doing, and why.  Thus our text sets out requirements for the seven planetary workings that are lavish in the extreme, and cost much more than most readers in his time or ours would be able to afford.  Having thus portrayed “the ancient magnificence of the secret cult of the mages” in grandiose and deliberately forbidding terms, Lévi then notes blandly:  “It is with similar instruments” (emphasis added) “that the great magicians of the Middle Ages proceeded with the daily consecration of the pentacles and talismans relative to the seven spirits.”

“Similar” indeed!  Most medieval wizards were not much more able to afford carpets made of lionskins, solid gold tiaras, assorted precious stones, and the like than you or I. The gear they used in their magical workings were “similar” to the ones Lévi sets out in that they corresponded to the same planet.  In place of lionskins and a golden tiara, a floorcloth and headband of golden yellow cloth will do just as well, and if garlands and wreaths are out of season or impossible to come by for some other reason, symbols of the appropriate planet can be drawn or painted on the equipment of the ritual, embroidered or painted on the floorcloth and the headband, and so on. You can do any of the rituals in this chapter, and get good results from them, using materials that can be acquired for quite modest sums at any decently stocked craft store.

Next come the talismans themselves.  Lévi was enough of a traditionalist to expect these to be made from the seven traditional metals: gold for the Sun, silver for the Moon, iron for Mars, brass for Mercury, tin for Jupiter, copper for Venus, and lead for Saturn. The first two are prohibitively expensive for most people these days, but Lévi has an alternative in mind:  precious (or, though he does not mention this, semiprecious) stones can be engraved with the relevant symbols and used as talismans in place of metal. Since solar stones such as amber and heliotrope are a whale of a lot cheaper per ounce than gold, this is an option that traditionalists who don’t happen to be very rich should keep in mind.

A talisman of Jupiter, from the British Museum’s fine collection of magical artifacts.

Talismans of wax and paper also have a very long history behind them. Neither material has the natural resonance with planetary forces that the metals and stones just mentioned have, but operative mages down through the centuries have made use of a simple trick to remedy that. If you want to make a talisman from wax, take a small amount of herbs or incense resins that correspond to the planet you intend to invoke, and grind them to a very fine powder.  Melt the wax you will be using for your talisman, and once it is completely liquid, stir in the powdered herbs or resins. Pour the mixture into a disk-shaped mold and cool, and then engrave the symbols on the wax disk with a sharp tool such as a stylus. This will be found very effective.

With paper, a similar method can be used.  Get the kind of sturdy paper that is used for watercolor painting. Cut out a disk of paper as large as you want your talisman to be. Make a small amount of a strong tea from herbs corresponding to the planet you intend to invoke. Using a clean brush, paint the disk on both sides with the tea. Let it dry thoroughly, and then draw the symbols on the paper disk using pens or colored pencils. This is also quite effective.

The symbols are set out by Lévi. Each talisman has a pentagram on one side and a hexagram on the other side. In the middle of the pentagram and the hexagram are emblems corresponding to the planetary force to be invoked. The name of the planetary angel—Michael for the Sun, Gabriel for the Moon, Samael for Mars, Raphael for Mercury, Zadkiel for Jupiter, Anael for Venus, and Orifiel for Saturn—is written on the talisman in Hebrew, Arabic, or one of the several magical alphabets.  A piece of silk of an appropriate color is perfumed with the smoke of the proper incense, and kept available to wrap the talisman in once the ritual is over.

Then the ritual begins.  It must be performed, as Lévi suggests, on the day corresponding to the planet. An altar draped with a cloth of an appropriate color is topped with an incense burner, which is used to burn an incense appropriate to the planet. The Conjuration of the Four given in an earlier chapter is performed to invoke the powers of the four elements.  Then the mage picks up the talisman and, with the words Lévi gives, blesses it by water, by fire, by air, and by earth. Thereafter the conjuration of the Seven is recited to banish the seven planetary demons in the name of the seven angels and the power of seven names of God. This completes the ritual; the talisman is then wrapped in its silk and put someplace safe where it can remain undisturbed and do its work in its own time.

Is this the only way to consecrate a talisman, and are these seven talismans the only ones that can be made and put to work?  Of course not. As our text has pointed out more than once, the rituals it gives are examples and nothing more; the aspiring mage can use them as given, provided he or she understands them, or can make use of other rituals along the same lines, whether found in traditional writings or made up for the occasion—again, provided he or she understands how these rituals are structured and what they are supposed to do.

To make this point even more forcefully, our text presents two other sets of talismans with entirely different symbolism but equal effect. The first of these consists of military and civil medals and decorations. These are less potent than they once were, but to this day someone who is awarded a medal for heroism has received a talisman with significant power.  The public acclaim and respect that goes with the medal, expressed and focused through the ceremony in which it is conferred, gives the medal-talisman its power, affecting the mind of the recipient as well as the minds of the population more generally.

Another equally potent form of talisman comprises those medals, relics, rosaries, and other sacred items used in popular religious practice. The examples Lévi discusses here are from the Catholic tradition he knew best, but the same thing is true of the sacred items of every religious tradition that still remembers enough magic to be effective. (For that matter, even among evangelical Protestant churches that have forgotten all their ancestors once knew about magic, the Bible as a physical object is now and then credited with marvelous powers along talismanic lines.)  In the older, sacramental traditions, many of these objects are formally blessed with religious ceremonies, making them talismans in every sense of the word.

Another class of talismanic objects discussed in this chapter are the three working tools Lévi assigns to the operative mage;  the wand, the sword, and the lamp. The instructions for making the wand are even more florid and overblown than the lists of equipment given earlier for the planetary rituals, and like most of Lévi’s more complicated recipes, it need not be interpreted in any literal fashion.

The lamp, sword, wand, and knife, according to Lévi. Similar items can also be used.

Mind you, according to the principles already discussed, anyone who goes to the trouble to make a wand exactly to the specifications of our text will benefit from that action prodigiously, as it takes a considerable and sustained exertion of the will to do this—but this is far from the only sense in which these instructions can be taken. There is also a symbolic sense. Any reader of these pages who takes the time to think through the ornate instructions Lévi gives, reflecting on what each detail means, will end up knowing much more about the magical will and how to develop it than he or she does now.

Finally, there is the issue of a transmission of power from person to person, or as it is usually called these days, an initiation or empowerment. These exist in occult traditions. They are not essential—you can go far and accomplish much without them—but such a transmission is worth having if it can be had. Some of them are passed on in occult lodges, and some of them are passed on from one person to another in private. (In case anyone is wondering; no, I have not received the one Lévi is talking about in this chapter.)

The sword is a less complicated matter, since the training of the intellect is less difficult than the training of the will. Here again, the aspiring mage can follow Lévi’s instructions to the letter, or he or she can interpret those instructions as a symbolic guide for the development of the magical intellect—or, of course, he or she can do both. These days most operative mages use a dagger in place of a sword, and some traditions (for example, that of the Fellowship of the Hermetic Rose) have replaced edged steel weapons with other items for good symbolic reasons.  Each student of magic may make his or her own choice in the matter.

Finally, there is the lamp. This has dropped almost entirely out of use in modern magic, and this strikes me as a very unfortunate thing. The lamp, like the sword, may be interpreted in symbolic terms, as an emblem of the magical imagination, but it also has a remarkable practical role in ritual. If you follow the instructions given here—or even if you take the basic principles and use modern technologies in place of those Lévi had to hand—you will end up with a simple slide projector that will project an image of an angel into the smoke above the incense burner during the ritual. In the last paragraph of this chapter, our text hints at a ritual Lévi does not describe in detail;  the participants are a mage and a mesmerized visionary or scryer, the projected image from the lamp becomes the focus of concentration, and strange things happen.  Most people who do this kind of work nowadays use a crystal ball or magic mirror in place of the billowing cloud of smoke and the projected image, but Lévi’s approach may yet be worth exploring.

Notes for Study and Practice:

It’s quite possible to get a great deal out of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by the simple expedient of reading each chapter several times and thinking at length about the ideas and imagery that Lévi presents. For those who want to push things a little further, however, meditation is a classic tool for doing so.

Along with the first half of our text, I introduced the standard method of meditation used in Western occultism:  discursive meditation, to give it its proper name, which involves training and directing the thinking mind rather than silencing it (as is the practice in so many other forms of meditation).  Readers who are just joining us can find detailed instructions in the earlier posts in this series. For those who have been following along, however, I suggest working with a somewhat more complex method, which Lévi himself mention in passing:  the combinatorial method introduced by Catalan mystic Ramon Lull in the Middle Ages, and adapted by Lévi and his successors for use with the tarot.

Take the first card of the deck, Trump 1, Le Bateleur (The Juggler or The Magician). While looking at it, review the three titles assigned to it:  Disciplina, Ain Soph, Kether, and look over your earlier meditations on this card to be sure you remember what each of these means. Now you are going to add each title of this card to Trump II, La Papesse (The High Priestess): Chokmah, Domus, Gnosis. Place Trump II next to Trump I and consider them. How does Disciplina, discipline, relate to Chokmah, wisdom?  How does Disciplina relate to Domus, house?  How does it relate to Gnosis?  These three relationships are fodder for one day’s meditation. For a second day, relate Ain Soph to the three titles of La Papesse. For a third day, relate Kether to each of these titles. Note down what you find in your journal.

Next, combine Le Bateleur with Trump III, L’Imperatrice (The Empress), in exactly the same way, setting the cards side by side. Meditate on the relationship of each of the Juggler’s titles to the three titles of the Empress,  three meditations in all.  Then combine the Juggler and the Emperor in exactly the same way. Then go on to the Juggler and the Pope, giving three days to each, and proceed from there. You’ll still be working through combinations of Le Bateleur when the next Lévi post goes up, but that’s fine; when you finish with Le Bateleur, you’ll be taking La Papesse and combining her with L’Imperatrice, L’Empereur, and so on, and thus moving through all 231 combinations the trumps make with one another.

Don’t worry about where this is going. Unless you’ve already done this kind of practice, the goal won’t make any kind of sense to you. Just do the practice.  You’ll find, if you stick with it, that over time the relationships between the cards take on a curious quality I can only call conceptual three-dimensionality:  a depth is present that was not there before, a depth of meaning and ideation.  It can be very subtle or very loud, or anything in between. Don’t sense it?  Don’t worry.  Meditate on a combination every day anyway. Do the practice and see where it takes you.

We’ll be going on to Chapter 8, “A Warning to the Imprudent,” on December 13, 2023. See you then!


  1. Here are all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. A printable version of the entire prayer list current as of 11/8 may be downloaded here. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

    (Also, if you think you might be interested in having anyone pray in support of your own self-improvement, please have a look at the Ecosophia Prayer List Autumn Special.)* * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May the lawsuit for partition of the family land in which Jennifer, her husband Josiah, and her father Robert are involved be resolved justly and for the greatest good of all involved, including the land and its spirits.

    May the brain surgery that Erika’s partner James underwent for his cancer on October 16th have gone successfully; and may he be blessed, healed and protected, and successfully treated for all of his cancer.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    May Jeff Huggin’s friends Dale and Tracy be blessed and healed; may Dale’s blood and spinal fluid infection clear up sufficiently to receive a heart valve replacement; may his medical procedures go smoothly and with success; and may Dale and Tracy successfully surmount these difficulties.

    In the case of Princess Cutekitten and the large bank who is suing her, may justice be done, with harm to none.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.
    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are now to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  2. Very interesting. In more naive times, I fashioned a talisman out of a piece of birch (among other things) that had tremendous effects (although generally not very positive, due to my own mistakes in the fashioning process).

  3. On Magic Monday someone mentioned using the glyphs of the SGO for tailsmans. This is something I’ve been thinking of too. It could be done in the context of an open Golden Section Fellowship lodge, decked out with all the low-tech deindustrial trimmings. I love the idea of using herb steeped paper. That’s very much in the realm of reachability by most people, including the microserfs working underneath the baleful eye of the PMC.


  4. Quin, thanks for this as always.

    Fra’ Lupo, I’d hesitate to put any limit on the range of potential talismans! One of the things that John Gilbert used to teach to his students is how to charge a pebble — any pebble, found on the street or whatever — as a talisman. It worked, too.

    Justin, I can tell you from personal experience that just about any geometrical figure can be used for talismans, so by all means!

  5. Cathedrals would seem to be massive tailsmans -among other things.

    I also really love the idea of using the lamp in the manner you described. I still have to read Levi’s chapter tonight, but the idea of using it to project a symbol or script into incense smoke, to then be used for scrying is very appealing. & I agree, that the Lamp doesn’t seem to get as much space in print in contemporary magical books as the other tools of the Art. The Lamp of the Hermit comes to mind. If a Word or Verb was carved into its screen it really would be a lamp unto thy feet.

    The artist Marian Zazeela used a lot of light projections of calligraphy in her work. I could really see lamps being used in this way in some kind of futuristic contemplative tradition -using low tech means of course.

  6. What a timely post and much to think about! It just so happens that I had a rosary chaplet custom made that has a set of seven beads instead of the standard ten (as this particular chaplet makes use of the Biblical symbolism of the number seven). I also had it and two other standard rosaries consecrated this past weekend by a Catholic priest, who is blessing sacramentals once a month at the parish I attend.

  7. I found it interesting that Levi suggests to put a iron rod in the center of the want, when iron (or is it sharp iron?) disperses energy. I assume then, that it can also work for the magnetization operation.

    What is Levi referring to when he says that the proper creation of a wand requires an initiate already?

    The clarification that these can be taken allegorically is also very helpful… 8 years ago when I found the book I was thinking to myself: there is no way I can do all that to satisfy this nagging curiosity so I better study the philosophy for now. Good I didn’t, I was at a high risk of burning my fingers then.

  8. Hi JMG,

    I guess I am late. (An ischemic stroke is a good excuse.)

    —————> Hitler.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨🧤
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  9. @JMG,

    You mentioned Hebrew and Arabic as magical alphabets (amongst others).

    What makes these alphabets magical?

    Did they inherit magical properties from the old Phoenician script (i.e. magic inherent within the scripts themselves) or were they imbued with magic over time as they were used by various schools of magic and powered by practitioner’s energy over time? Or both?

  10. I woke up and saw this on a FB forum, then I read this post by you, and considering you’re not on FB, I thought I might share it with you. I’m posting as “Anonymous” because Cliff is as known for malefic magic as he is for astrological magic. How do you define a “talisman” as different from an “amulet”, and do you agree with how he defines a “talisman”?

    “Regarding John Michael Greer:
    I posted about this in a nested thread, and there’s a chance some of you missed it so I’ll expound further.
    JMG is a pretty old friend of mine. I’ve known him since around 2003, when I met him at a lecture run by Llewellyn Inc at PantheaCon. I was seated directly behind him and a fan asked for his autograph and then I realized who he was. I had long been an admirer, and eventually got up the courage to introduce myself to him. He later attended my first public absinthe party and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. I tend to think of him as a big brother, and have often peppered him with questions about lore.
    When Chris Warnock was struggling with Latin to complete his translation of Picatrix, I introduced him to John Michael with the hopes that they would collaborate. [JMG learned Latin for fun, because of course he would.] Nothing seemed to be happening, so it was to my complete surprise when they announced that they had completed the translation. I had been trying to get someone to translate Picatrix for me since around 1995, since I am not good with languages– and this was a dream come true at long last.
    Later on, I learned John Michaels’ motivation for doing this. He was fascinated with Giordano Bruno’s “On The Shadows of Ideas” and was trying to deduce the origin of his Decanic images in particular, and how they fed into their usage in the Golden Dawn tradition. He felt the Brunian Faces were indirectly derived from Picatrix.
    John Michael also believed that there was a hidden key in Bruno which would allow magicians to influence large groups of people; possibly to start or stop movements and global trends. I strongly suspect his intention was to use Brunian methods to combat fossil fuel usage, and reverse climate change. He’s probably still doing something along these lines, but I don’t think he found what he was looking for in Picatrix.
    When I last met him in person it was at ConVocation. He did a lecture on Picatrix, and mixed it up with some of his own notions on modern astrology. For unrelated reasons he had a bad experience and left in a very sour mood. I felt very bad for him. He now thinks the magical community is doomed, in its current form. (I think he is incorrect.)
    At some point he shared with me that was focusing his practical magic on methods from Franz Bardon and his own Celtic variations on Golden Dawn material and Druidism. He had lost interest in Picatrix and moved on.
    I invited him as a lecturer to the Astrological Magic Conference. He declined, saying that he had long moved on from the magic of Picatrix and Agrippa and couldn’t think of anything he could contribute. His attentions were elsewhere.
    When John Michael Greer talks about planetary talismans these days, he’s almost certainly not talking about Picatrix, Ficino, or Agrippa. He’s talking about Golden Dawn talismans and Bardonian talismans. To the uninitiated they may seem similar but they are not.
    The following is only my opinion:
    While I personally have seen evidence that both Golden Dawn magic and Bardonian magic are real and useful, I don’t think much of “talismans” from either tradition. I also don’t think they qualify as talismans of any sort, aside from the fact that they borrow imagery in some cases from Francis Barrett and writings from his era; especially the Mercurii.
    They are not invested with celestial spiritus, only that of the magician’s spiritus. They are not haunted objects. They are not alive in the sense Science of Images talismans are alive. Alive enough to give something like an electric shock when touched if angered, or cause chemical burns and break fingers when urgently trying to get their master’s attention. Alive enough to do the amazing things that texts like Picatrix promises.
    That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful, but I prefer SOI talismans and things which are arguably talismans from unrelated traditions such as Hoodoo mojo bags. A rabbit’s foot can’t cure kidney stones like a Picatrix Leo melothesic talisman is purported to do, but nobody ever said they could.
    The preceding is my opinion, but the following is not.
    Golden Dawn magic and Bardonian magic, however useful, is off-topic for this Group. We are focused on Astrological Magic, which we have defined for decades as the magic of Picatrix, Ficino and Agrippa and other expressions of the Science of Images.”

  11. “any decently stocked craft store”
    Looks like the Michael’s chain might be a good long-term stock pick for the next 211 years. If we’re moving into a time when society turns more towards religion and magic, maybe they’ll add convenient checklists and kits of supplies for various invocations. After that, if they don’t change their name to Orifiel’s, there will be a good opportunity for an entrepreneur…

    Is there any issue with using computer graphics on screen as a visualization tool for rituals, without a printout? For those not disoriented by a parade of colored blobs, setting up layers of imagery such as an diffuse angel gliding through the smoke?

    “to employ the imagination for the education of the will.”
    I suppose that’s where the New Thought people got their visualization ideas in the 1800s.

  12. How DO you charge a pebble according to the lore of John Gilbert?
    I really felt the resonance with what I am learning in the FHR, reading this.
    Thank you as always.

  13. Justin, cathedrals — and in fact churches and temples of all kinds — are in fact talismans; they are consecrated by a ritual, after all! As for the magical lamp, no argument there: I’d like to see it get much more use.

    MJ, a fine example of a religious talisman!

    Augusto, since I’ve never met an initiate who had the secret of Lévi’s wand passed on to him or her, I don’t know what might be done to the wand by an initiate. The iron rod isn’t pointed, and in fact it’s entirely contained inside the wand, with crystal at one end and resin at the other, so it doesn’t have the same effect.

    Northwind, good heavens. I hope you’re recovering well.

    Scotty, any script can be magical if you don’t use it for everyday purposes. Hebrew and Arabic are common magical scripts in some traditions because they’re associated with sacred texts.

    Anonymous, yes, I know Cliff Low tolerably well. He’s extremely knowledgeable about Renaissance magic but he doesn’t have the same kind of background in Golden Dawn magic, which is why he’s mistaken in his characterization of GD talismans. He’s also managed to garble quite a bit from our conversations; I don’t use Bardon’s methods, I don’t think the magical community is doomed (the Neopagan scene is another matter), and I’m baffled by his claim that I was interested in Picatrix for the sake of trying to use magic on people en masse; for ethical reasons, that’s not an option. He’s right that astrological talismans of the sort he uses and teaches are different in important ways from the sort of thing that Lévi and the Golden Dawn worked with; I’ve used both, of course, and in my repeated experience the Golden Dawn style of talisman is, for me, more effective at accomplishing my intentions. Of course his and your mileage may vary.

    Christopher, I have no idea if you could do that with a computer screen. I don’t happen to know anyone who’s tried it.

    Miow, if I ever do an in-person workshop and you attend, I’ll show you.

  14. I have been considering filling a blank book w various symbols, alphabets, and words or workings I use or have used in my practices.

    The symbols on each page could each be charged as could the book as a whole. Though I wonder if there would be confusion of some sort with multiple pages of symbols being charged for different intentions?

    While this may I suppose be considered a grimoire I am curious about its potential as a magical object itself.

  15. @John Michael Greer, I think you are quite right. I had an instance in which I (quite carelessly) fashioned a talisman out of a small sea stone, and it had (alas) quite potent effects.

    Perhaps more appropriate for your Monday AMA, but: have you ever encountered a situation where keeping a talisman has permanently altered or left permanent marks on an individual’s personality? I am dealing with such an instance and am wondering if, per Ficino, some rounds of treatment with Orphic hymns might not help realign the planetary influences.

    I suspect one of the reasons Picatrix (and Levi, in this case) advocates a degree of devotion in the mage and/or the invocation of angelic cohorts is to protect the mage from having workings possibly hijacked by unsavory actors from the Unseen and possibly getting derailed. I speculate that this may be an underrated aspect of workings in general these days.

    @Anonymous, I have only ever worked in a Picatrix/Ficinian vein with talismans, and “haunted objects” is a pretty apt description. Not to be taken lightly. Spiritus is a potent thing.


  16. John Michael–my family tradition is 7th generation Mormon, though I have formally resigned my membership in the corporation purporting to represent said faith.

    I have greatly enjoyed this series, and wonder if you are familiar with any of the folk magic traditions of the Joseph Smith family?

    They were deeply entrenched in texts like Barrett’s The Magus. Joseph Smith was reported to carry a Jupiter Talisman, and his brother Hyrum had a ceremonial dagger inscribed with the Mars sigil. Many of my Utah ancestors in the 19th century did things like inscribing talismans over their lintels, for instance, the Jehovah-Jehovah-Jehovah.

  17. Very interesting observations regarding talismans! It seems (to me at least) an obvious conclusion that money, especially coins, are literally talismans; though perhaps charged with energies that I personally may not want to propagate!

    Years ago I read that a theory that the origin of metal coinage was the (off label) use of tokens (talismans?) that were presented to people who made donations/contributions/sacrifices at pagan temples. The book was called Filthy Lucre, if I recall correctly (although there is a much more recent book of the same name and I don’t think that it’s the same book). The theory never really held water for me until today’s post pointing out the details of talismans, but now it makes sense. I can see how metallic discs with images and symbols, charged with specific energies, might easily have become a store of symbolic value that evolved into a convenient medium of exchange. Makes me wonder about what else might be lost with “cashless” transactions beyond anonymity!

    Thank you again for making Wednesdays interesting!

  18. Very true about the cathedrals! I am reading “Fulcanelli and the Alchemical Revival: The Man Behind the Mystery of the Cathedrals” by Genevieve Dubois… so the cathedrals are on my mind… and just acquired a copy of The Gothic Visionary Perspective by Barbara Nolan to add to the stacks (no shelf space!) -so cathedrals are on the mind.

    This reminds me also of the idea put forth by Josephine McCarthy that the mage her or himself becomes a tailsman over the course of their years doing the Work. All the training, exercises, initiations, rituals and magic that have have been done by and moved through the magician from all of their workings, charging them, and indeed literally consecrating them in some cases… I’m getting a charge just thinking about it.

    Peace to all!

  19. Anon, I am also a member of that group. I think Cliff has some useful and interesting information but I think you have to take his claims with a large dose of salt.

    For example, he keeps claiming that Picatrix talismans helped him get two mysterious strokes of fortune, one from an inheritance from a relative he didn’t even know existed, and another one I didn’t see him mention precisely. Yet at the same time, he charges people hefty fees for petitions based on the Picatrix.

    That’s between him and his clients, but he clearly has an agenda in claiming other forms of magic are not as effective.

  20. Hi John,

    What are the important differences between Picatrix and GD talismans in your opinion? Why would one fit an intention better than another? Thank you for your comment on Cliff’s words. I always like hearing about the Picatrix from experienced practitioners who aren’t promoting its usage.

    @Fra’ Lupo

    Thank you for your comments. I’m interested in hearing from and possibly connecting with anyone experimenting with the Picatrix (if open to it). I refuse to join FB so it can be a bit limiting sometimes to find like minded people.

  21. Eric, that’s a grand old tradition! In some of the older traditions of ceremonial magic the mage was supposed to prepare a consecrated book, each page of which had the symbols for one spell on it. If you want to pursue that, by all means.

    Fra’ Lupo, of course. In fact, that’s one of the things talismans do best — if you want to change some aspect of your personality, a talisman is a good way to do it. Equally, of course, it can have that effect whether or not you want it to do so.

    Dave, I’ve read some of the scholarly literature on the subject — D. Michael Quinn’s Early Mormonism and the Magic World View and John L. Brooke’s The Refiner’s Fire — and found it quite convincing, not least because Smith came out of one of the main hotbeds of early American occultism. I’ve hoped for some time that Mormons interested in magic would ignore the corporation, perhaps by affiliating with one of the independent LDS churches out there, and revive the richly magical world of early Mormon spirituality.

    Ken, that makes a great deal of sense. Money in the modern sense isn’t much of a talisman, since the coins are made of magically inert alloys, the paper bills don’t have anything done to them to make them hold a magical charge, and of course stray magnetic charges in computer memories are too transitory to have any magical effect at all — but then that’s par for the course; a lot of things in modern life are the mummified corpses of once-living magical practices.

    Justin, Dubois’s book is well worth reading. Do you have Fulcanelli’s own writings? They’re worth study, though of course very evasive. McCarthy is quite correct; I’ve found that daily practice of banishing rituals charges the aura to the point that an experienced mage can chase off evil spirits by just walking into a room.

    PicatrixEnjoyer (if I may), Picatrix-style talismans certainly work very well, and Cliff is quite good at them. It’s just that for me, at least, Golden Dawn talismans work even better.

    Bob, it’s purely a matter of the mode of consecration. I imagine you’re familiar with Cornelius Agrippa’s differentiation of magic into natural, mathematical (i.e., astrological), and spiritual magic? Picatrix-style talismans are consecrated by astrological election, absorbing spiritus from the heavens at a particular moment. Golden Dawn-style talismans are consecrated by invocation, calling down influences directly from the empyrean, unfiltered by the condition of the heavens. It takes much more work to do this latter — a Z-2 formula consecration ritual takes around an hour and a half, and you need some years of preliminary study and daily practice to get to the point where you can do it with effect — but in my experience, again, the forces you can bring through into a talisman that way are stronger and purer than the ones you get from the heavens. So it’s not a matter of different intentions — it’s a matter of how much work you’re willing to put into mastering the exaltation of consciousness needed to make the GD approach work.

  22. Hi John Michael,

    Dumb question time. I realise the talisman gets blessed by the Earth, but why is the Earth missed out in the cosmology which was also mentioned? Does the moon act as a proxy for the Earth, or does it have it’s own energy?

    For your interest, I set the symbols in the land around me, and that helps to focus the will to an end.



  23. @JMG, thank you.

    @Bob (#20), I don’t have any real background in GD rituals, but have meager experience in Picatrix/Ficino work. In my experience very potent, but also potentially dangerous. You can find me at


  24. Hello, JMG.

    When I read this part of the magical tools, I thought that the requirements were so high that the answer should be elsewhere. So I thought of the tools as allegories, not real physical objects.
    In this sense, I can see how the wand is the will, how to forge it, how to hide it, how to preserve it, and how to use it when needed. I understand why the bishop, who is smart and powerful, cannot use the wand when he is following his God’s will.
    I can see how the lamp is the imagination, how new forms and ideas can be found in the random shapes, the altered consciousness, like the artist who removes the outer shell of stone for sculpting the statue he saw inside.
    I failed to see how the sword is the intelligence (thanks). why it is double edged, direct, recognizable, and how to work with it.

    The physical objects would only be material reminders of all of the above, but they are not essential to the practice. I could just use my fingers, imbued with the work of the wand, as a focus for my will. I could just use my glance, sharpened by the attention, to pierce any logical problem. And I could just open myself to the realm of dreams to let the imagination provide original shapes, with a lid that I can open and close at will.
    The human body is armed with powerful tools indeed.

  25. No, not the sight.
    The SWORD is more likely the S(piritual) WORD. The language we use for thinking. Richelieu was well versed in the WORD. He could be initiated by another mage who knew how to use the word, and he became a master with words. Words are also double edged and they can cut. Words can be shown in public. They are engraved with our knowledge.
    The second tool of the mage is hiS WORD.

  26. John, I don’t have the actual text by Fulcanelli. I happened to find the Dubois book second hand at a cool book booth at an antique store just outside the city limits. I also picked up some George Macdonald & other good stuff from that one. I like this one because it is giving me deeper insight into the French occult milieu post-Levi. And filling my head up with ideas of alchemy of course!

    Also, Josephine reports the same thing. She mentioned the same thing about parasitic spirits that had latched on to people departing in her presence. Something to work towards! The MOE work seems to have made some changes in how people treat me , some of them random people / strangers.

    Oh, & one more thing. I got a phone call from an old friend, a painter, who had been commissioned to do a painting of Sophia, last night. He wanted to know some of the details about her. I mentioned some of the gnostic ideas, and the verse in Proverbs 9:1 “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. ” This painter is also an astrologer (recently graduated from the Midwest School of Astrology right in this city…) The bit about the seven pillars and how those relate to the seven planets was well taken. Then I opened the Levi book to read about the Septenary…

    All the best.

  27. I didn’t realize anyone besides Steiner talked about the archangelic ages. The present Michaelic Age is a very important theme in his writings.

    Is this idea common in other occult schools of thought, and have you found it significant in your own thinking and work?

  28. Augusto, no, the point is the thing that matters, provided that it’s made of conductive metal.

    Chris, for the same reason that fish probably don’t have a word for water: the influence of earth is active everywhere and at all times, while the influences of the planets wax and wane. The seven planets aren’t a complete cosmology, they’re just a palette of magical colors to use for specific purposes.

    Abraham, yes, you can certainly do that. Making the magical tools themselves — whether or not you use some version of Lévi’s formula — is useful, though, in the same way that a talisman is useful: it provides an anchor for a set of states of consciousness and the magical energies associated with them.

    Justin, if you have a chance, Fulcanelli’s The Mystery of the Cathedrals is worth your while, and it’s finally back in print (so no longer as outrageously priced as it was when I got my copy). The Dwellings of the Philosophers is nothing like so good, though if you can find a cheap used copy it’s worth reading. I’ll look forward to hearing how the painting of Sophia comes out!

    Dylan, Steiner got it from Trithemius. That teaching was very widely discussed in the European occult scene when Steiner was still studying with the Theosophists. I haven’t explored it as much as I probably should, but then there’s only so much time in the day!

  29. Hey JMG

    I just read the chapter yesterday, and something that interested me was Levi’s insistence that a talisman must not be seen or touched by someone who embodies the vices of the planetary force the talisman uses, a Venus talisman must not be interacted with by a “debauched man” for example. He says that not only would the talisman lose its power, but it may harm the person touching or seeing it in some way.

    What are your thoughts on this assertion, is it true?

  30. @JMG,

    You say that “a talisman… is one form of the fourth element of the Great Arcanum.” Fourth element as in fourth emanation? Or fourth element, as in Fire?

  31. In the chapter on the Septenary, Levi mentions six magical instruments (not seven).

    The wand relates to Will (so Geburah). The sword relates to Intellect (so Hod). The lamp relates to imagination (so Yesod).

    I can see the cup aligning to Netzach and the tripod with Tiphareth, which would leave the altar for Chesed. But so far, I cannot figure out why the altar would align with Chesed. (And perhaps none of the tools align with Spheres.) But if they did, does anyone see a reason that the altar would go with Chesed?

    Also, looking back on the Magician card… there is a sword, a cup, a wand, and a three-legged (tripod) altar. But there is no lamp. It seems that the Magician should have all the tools represented, which means something else is representing the lamp.

  32. J.L.Mc12, good question. The rule I was taught is that you never let anybody else see, or know about, your talismans — you stick them someplace secure and leave them there — so I’ve never had the chance to find out.

    Asdf, thanks for this. What I’ve read so far by Frater Acher has been very good, so this is promising.

    Random, neither. Fourth element, as in Earth, the basis of physical manifestation. As for the working tools, good! They’re fine fodder for meditation.

  33. Dear JMG Thank you for super interesting post once again. Totally tangential but it brought to mind my hearing years ago that a professional tennis player had been coached to look at and fondle their tennis racket strings when losing focus. Not only would the gestures serve as a prop for willful refocus, but I chuckled thinking it may have brought “magical powers” to the racket!
    Jill C

  34. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for the reply. Hmm, so the other planets bring a different flavour and energy to a working. Hmm. Hunters have been known to utilise different signs and portents, so as to introduce such effects into their activities as a beneficial effect. I’m assuming this is a similar sort of thing?

    As an interesting side note – I’m not entirely convinced that people are sensitive enough to see a talisman and know it for what it is, or was. My gut feeling suggests that material symbols are viewed as very shallow and obvious things these days. This is possibly the result of too much dark thaumaturgy being heaped onto minds via media. But that’s all only a guess. What do you reckon about that line of thinking?



  35. JMG, your writings found here and in your books (a bit of your income has come from me over the past year or so) has been a fascinating intellectual journey, like a dolphin exploring new seas ,for this pentecostalish trinitarian christian with a streak of Asperger’s. I can see that by your definition of a practitioner of magic I am a mage of sorts applying a system of magic. “The mage, or practitioner of magic uses rituals, symbolism, meditation and other methods to enter into unusual states of consciousness in which, according to occult teachings, subtle powers can be directed and disembodied entities contacted to cause changes in the world”

    When I read this post on Wednesday I asked myself what a talisman was in my method. The conclusion I came to was my body as in “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19.
    So as you can imagine I appreciated what Justin said in comment #18 and your response to it.

    And thank you for expanding my understandings of the mystery we walk through. I still regard my knowing of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as knowing the True and Living God, a knowing which I aim to hold it as a wand and a lamp of joy to benefit myself and others, not as a club.

    My magical package also includes encounters as they happen along the way with those who have passed on to God, angels, demons, and intelligences/forces in nature. As a Christian I don’t place my focus on them but instead walk in the ready inward gift of the Holy Spirit.

  36. Jill, many sports professionals have their own little rituals to maintain focus and attitude. Yes, that racket will have been charged by the repeated ritual (and more importantly, the player’s state of consciousness while doing it). I’m tempted to revert to my D&D days and describe it as a +1 Tennis Racket of Hitting… 😉

    Chris, exactly. As for the sensitivity, oh, consciously, sure — most people have been taught to screen out their own subtle senses. That just makes them more vulnerable to influences they don’t recognize and therefore can’t counter.

    Moose, I’m glad to hear this. Thank you for having the patience to join the conversation and help the rest of us broaden our understanding of your spiritual path as well!

  37. Hello JMG! Your article is good as always, but I have a question for you (I think the survival of magic depends on it). I am looking forward to seeing your article about what to do and what kind of methodology should be used in the Age of Memory after the end of the Age of Reason. I wonder when it may come (as you know). The situation of the world is becoming very complex and bleak and I think this information needs to be disseminated as soon as possible, to help future rescuers as much as we can) ? By the way, I’m on my way to becoming an Orthodox Christian and I’d like to play a part in the Age of Memory, which I consider to be probably the most important age of a civilization….so I look forward to a post from you.

  38. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for the confirmation, and the energy use you wrote about seemed to produce very similar effects.

    +1 Tennis Racket of Hitting! Thanks for the laughs. A notable weapon. 🙂

    Speaking of rituals. During drought years, when a storm finally arrives, I’ve been known to head outside and declare to the sky: “Is this the best you’ve got? I urinate more than this!” whilst getting rained on by said storm (that’s not the exact words I use, but you get the impression). Of course there are occasional backfires, such as the minor tornado one Christmas Day, that wasn’t good. And who can forget the minor landslide from the supercell storm? That was a bad thing. But overall, I’d have to suggest that it is a good thing to engage with the local energies, even should they be destructive. There are no guarantees, well at least none that I’m aware of. 😉



  39. Hmmm, this talk of talismans has me wondering about a DMH style talisman.
    Perhaps a paper or disc with an image associated with a station. For example, if you were looking for a fresh start or starting a project, then maybe draw eight candles in a circle, begin the rite at first light on Imbolc. Summon the appropriate seasonal nwyfre as described in the book and away you go!
    Alternatively, an Ogham talisman, start with a paper or disc and decorate with fews associated with new beginnings. Perhaps combining them into a druidic word of power?
    Can you comment on whether this has been shown effective, or is this the realm of experiment? It is constrained by timing, to be sure, but interesting to speculate!
    As always, thanks for curating this space!

  40. Yiğit, nothing I say or go is going to speed up the end of the Age of Reason or the beginning of the Age of Memory one iota. If you want to play a part in setting the stage for the Age of Memory, though, nothing could be easier: choose some things that you want to see passed down to the future, and get to work figuring out how best to transmit them to the future. The evidence of history suggests that individual action is the one thing that works.

    Chris, ha! And being an Australian storm, it just laughed and slapped you with some rain, right? 😉

    Jma19, excellent. Yes, both of those are options, and both of them work quite well in practice. Give it a try!

  41. JMG,

    Thanks for the post. Do you have any advice on what to do if a talisman isn’t working? I got great results while preparing it, but it fizzled out right around consecration time. I never know how much info is too much so that’s all I’ll share for now.

    Also, since Frater Acher was mentioned, in case you didn’t know, he quoted you (In a favorable light) on something you wrote on the thymos in his book Holy Daimon.

  42. JMG, in the new Subscribe Star post about Neptune you wrote something about a malefic asprct between Sun and Uranus. Did you, maybe, mean a malefic aspect between Sun and Neptune? Thanks, by the way, for the post; it seems that some of the assessments of Neptune by H. S. Greene were at least somewhat inaccurate.

  43. Good stuff on talismans and other magical practices. It seems to me that an established religion like catholicism has lots of sanctioned magic as part of its standard offerings that are widely used by its members. There’s a host of saints that you can pray to, there’s candles, holy water and incense, tons of rituals and of course churches, chapels and shrines galore, all of them to various degrees, repositories of spiritual power. Catholic priests will even cast out demons. As for talismans, there’s of course the cross, and saint mary amulets, st christopher medals an on and on, and let’s not forget holy cards, prayer books, bibles, etc etc.
    I don’t personally make much use of all this off the shelf Catholic magic, but it’s there for those who want to use it.
    I do some roll your own magic in areas specific to my interests, outdoor activities like kayaking and straying into the wilderness where magic offered by Catholicism seems too coarse grained. I carve talismans out of wood, make necklaces etc. This is where I stray into animism where connection to the land, water, plants and animals seems to be more helpful. Catholicism in town, animism out in the wild.

  44. About talismans, In my opinion they can be large objects as well. Frank Andrews Sr. Yupic elder wrote a book called my legacy to you. In this book he mentions that some men in the past had the ability to build magic cayaks that could heal themselves. On one occasion, a man who made such a kayak shot a hole in it when he slid his rifle into the cockpit. The hole healed itself. Not too many details given.
    But the general understanding in the culture was that attention to the building of the kayak was essential to its effectiveness in the hunt. Game would not approach an ugly or sloppily constructed kayak.

  45. Luke, some spells fail. Magic isn’t omnipotent! I’d encourage you to use divination to figure out what happened. As for Frater Acher, hmm! I wasn’t aware of that. Good to hear.

    Booklover, yes, it’s a typo. I’ll get in there and fix it when time permits.

    Greco, of course! One of my readers noted above that medieval cathedrals were talismans, and they’re rather bigger than kayaks. 😉

  46. Hello JMG, I had one more question for you; Lately, in my dreams and images, I see myself in a monastery as an Orthodox Priest… praying facing east. Could you have any advice?

  47. @ Greco #45 interesting! I feel almost exactly the same. Do you blog? I would be interested to hear more of your take on this.

  48. Hi John Michael,

    Let’s just say that I was slapped very hard, on both occasions! A +1 roaming storm, perhaps? 🙂 The clean up after the minor landslide took days, plus the drainage issue had to be corrected at the origin of the problem, to ensure that the incident did not occur again. You get to experience the wrath of the weather gods when you’re up in a small mountain range, surrounded by elevated plains. The weather gets interesting. When I lived in the big smoke, I never gave the weather forecast a second thought. Things are different on that front now. 🙂

    We’re having a super crazy highly variable growing season this year. When the winds blow down from the north west and across the continent, the air is very hot and dry. The other day the thermometer recorded 95’F. Except this morning was 41’F because the winds had swung around from the south (and will continue to do so for the rest of the cold week) originating from that vast (and possibly rapidly melting) frozen continent. And yet earlier in the week, the winds had swung down from the north east (a rare, but increasing occurrence) and brought a monsoon which originated over the Coral Sea. Bonkers, but I do expect to deal with a level of climate variability. Dunno, I don’t have any experience with growing plants in other parts of the world, but I kind of get the impression that things are more stable elsewhere?

    The plants are confused by the weather this season, but are mostly struggling on. And I reckon constructing a second greenhouse may a good idea. 🙂



  49. Yiğit, dream interpretation is a gift I don’t have — sorry!

    Chris, I bet you were! As for weather, it depends on where you are. The west coast of the US seems to be alternating between bitter drought and torrential rains, but here in New England all that seems to be happening is that the climate’s warming and the growing season’s getting longer. I didn’t have to shovel snow once last winter, which is pretty much unheard of in this part of the country; we’ll see what happens this coming winter.

  50. John… thinking on lamps, have you heard of a druid lamp? Im thinking specifically of one mentioned by Douglas Monroe in his debatable “21 Lessons of Merlyn” – one of the first books on magic, I got. (You have to start somewhere!… and though I heard the book criticized later it fired my 16 year old imagination.) He called it a Pelen Tan. I havent come across it anywhere else in druidry. It was stained blue glass globe with a candle that could be hung in a grove, and acted almost like a black light. Any thoughts?

    @a nony moose: glad the idea of mage as Tailsman resonated!

    Et al… I find Frater Acher’s essays often very illuminating.

  51. @Justin Patrick Moore, IMO one of the pernicious effects of the Neoplatonic influence in the first centuries of Christianity and perhaps Gnosticism was the abstraction and distancing of the Holy Spirit, though I admit I am speaking from the outer edge of my historical and philosophical knowledge. The experience of the gift and action of the Holy Spirit is portrayed in the Bible as being tangible and inwardly known in the body, resulting in felt life and a knowing of the Father and the Son which has been my experience. Won’t drag you through a bunch of verses to support this. It’s gift based from Jesus, not being attained through years of some contemplative system, that type of spiritual process is not laid out explicitly out in the New Testament as the means. I regard that approach as a later import into Christianity.

  52. Hi @A Nony Moose: I think I get what you are saying: there used to be a more embodied idea within Christianity of the Holy Spirit -the indwelling of it within the Christian body -and body. I also get what you are saying about it being a gift from Jesus -or Christ as I might say. It sounds to me like you are saying it can’t be acquired through works. Is that what you mean?

    Gnosticism had so many facets, some of it I personally can get behind, or with, and others doesn’t strike my fancy all that well. Mostly the flavor of gnosticism I don’t find myself in accord with is the kind that thinks this material existence wasn’t created by the true God but by a lesser being, and that it is imperfect compared to the perfect spiritual realm.

    While I understand why people say the material world is imperfect -it can be a tough, painful, and sometimes seem asinine- it can also be fun, delightful, totally entrancing, and a place of wonder.

    A counterexample to the body as temple or body as tailsman idea was put forth by the late gourmand and hedonist Anthony Bourdain. “Your body is an amusement park -enjoy the ride.”

    Personally I’m a bit more fond of the body as a tailsman type experience, but I won’t begrudge my misspent youth, and the good chunk of my adulthood, for the walk I took through the garden of earthly delights.

    I do think that “grace” is a reality that can be experienced and that it often comes unbidden in our lives. At the same time I also think that there are things that are worth working for including illumination, and the things that best might be accomplished through the wise use of magic and the application of occult laws.

    Hope you are well!

  53. Hi John Michael,

    Yup, things ain’t what they used to be. We’re having a very cold week, and it’s drizzling outside right now. More late winter, than nigh on summer. Variability being the norm here. Not sure what other folks in previously more stable climates will make of variability – they might not enjoy it.

    Thanks for mentioning the podcast with your good self and John Crowley. I had a chance today to listen to the chat, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Little, Big, is one of my favourite books. A true joy to read, and dare I mention it? The book is magic.



  54. Justin, no, that was one of the things that Monroe made up. “Pelen tân” is Welsh for “ball of fire,” for what it’s worth; I still can’t think of it without hearing Jerry Lee Lewis…

    Chris, the book is magic indeed. It amuses me to remember that it also dealt, in an offhand way, with climate change…

  55. @Justin Patrick Moore #54
    While the Holy Spirit is a gift, you are to “work” that gift as seen in these scriptures, “be filled with the Spirit” “Walk in the Spirit” “Pray in the Spirit” “Stir up the gift which is in you for we do not have a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power, love and self control” Jesus is introduced in each of the Gospels as the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit. Also “Christ” in the New Testament is merely a tile of Jesus who is the Christ. In the same sense as I may address my doctor as “Doctor” or by his first name or speak to theirs by calling him the Doctor and or by his name.. IMO the differentiation between Jesus of Nazareth and let’s say “Christ Consciousness” is a much later work around and not a deeper understanding or revelation. Yes, even in a polytheistic understanding the Christian god can be seen as a living god and walking with him can be seen as a magical system that gets results.

  56. @A Nony Moose #57:

    Thanks for this, and your verse citations. I understand about Christ being a title. I guess I will have to respectfully disagree about Christ Consciousness being a later workaround. I know it was really promulgated by the New Age movement, but it does have precedent among the various Christian mystics who experienced union with divinity since the time of Jesus.

    I guess my take on it would be closer to the patripassianist heresy, where the idea is that God became incarnate in Jesus as Christ. Since Christ and the Holy Spirit are different emanations of the one Monad, the individual is able to attain Christ consciousness because it permeates all things as it says in verse 77 of the Gospel of Thomas, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”

    That doesn’t mean it is easy… those mystics who experienced the union aren’t exactly thick on the ground, at least not now.

    Though I am a polytheist in one sense, I also believe in a supreme being, that we could call the monad or God here. Through the process of emanation the material world was created, but through the chain of being it goes back to the monad. Since Christ is part of the monad, that consciousness is also in all things.

    The Gospel of Thomas 108 also says, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him.” This to me suggests a possibility of Christ Consciousness.

    I realize quoting the Gospel of Thomas is enough to have me cast out of most mainstream churches, etc., but I personally don’t really care too much about believing correctly. My ideas about these things are subject to change, but the practices around such things have given me great experiences, and it is the experiences I cherish.

    I hope you are having a good week & I look forward to further conversations and seeing your comments in other posts

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