Monday, October 31, 2016

Reinventing the Almadel --A Tool to Evoke the Angels that Turn the Wheels of Time and Space

To everything there is a time and season for every purpose under heaven. –Ecclestiastes 3.1

By way of reading up on a 17th century magical book called the Grimoire Armadel, I stumbled upon images related to another text called the Ars Almadel (or Almandel), which is Part 4 of the Lesser Key of Solomon (also known as the Legemeton, compiled in the 17th century). The Almadel, which may be related to a medieval text called the Alrnandel,[1] describes the construction of 4 wax tablets, measuring 6 x 6 inches. They are used to evoke solar angels in their appointed times and seasons. See these blog posts on the Almadel Experiment by Frater Ashen Chassan for a more true-to-form information and imagery related to reconstruction of the Almadel:

The Almadel that appears in the Legemeton is a modified version of an earlier German text, which may be a version of an earlier Latin text that, in turn, may reflect earlier Judaic and Persian influences.[1] Although the earlier versions were meant to be tools to contact angels of the 12 “heights of Heaven” (that is angels corresponding with the zodiac or celestial houses associated with the solar year), the 17th century text mainly focuses on angels associated with the 4 quarters of space.[1]

In any case, in my life as an artist, mystic monger, and person fascinated with the history of magic in European culture, I woke up one morning feeling compelled to make an adaption of the Almadel. I had been making low, 24 x 24 inch tables, the tops of which are giclee canvas prints of my digital art.  I decided to fit all of the Almadel tablets into 1 digital 24 x 24 inch image. In doing so, I also had to make some decisions about how I wanted to adapt and modify the material I was working with.

Angel for Every Time and Season

Ancient Romans and other polytheistic cultures believed that all things were governed by spiritual principles, which they generally referred to as deities. This pantheistic idea of governance was somewhat maintained in the early Christian era, but the deific governors were reframed as angels and demons. This seemingly was a way to maintain a familiar paradigm but side-step forbidden concepts about polytheism and pantheism. Instead of a deity-driven world; the world was driven by angels and infested with demons all under God’s heaven and subject to God’s will, which the magician could invoke.

One of the higher aims of medieval high magic was to be in perfect alignment with the energies of the universe, and so we find magical books, such as the Picatrix, that are loaded with tables, mnemonic wheels, and instructions about what spirts are in charge of every aspect of time and space. Thus, at any given moment in any moon phase in any season, a mage may know the most auspicious actions to take, what actions to avoid, and which spirits to align with and which are most active and reachable at that very moment.

The Almadel tablets are one example of magic tables that are used to contact these spirits. These and other types of medieval magical and alchemical mandalas may be the Western equivalent of Eastern mandalas and yantras. In both traditions, the product is an assemblage of shapes, patterns, symbols, and magical words that have mystical or magical significance to the initiated, and the construction and use of the product is ritualistic.

My Image – My Process

I completed my version of an Almadel table early on a Sunday morning on this October’s new moon. That is, I added the god names to the image, created in PhotoShop Elements, on a Sunday before dawn, as instructed by the text of the Ars Almadel.

Earlier in the week, I layered images of the angels of the compass points and the zodiacal ecliptic with a tawny green-blue background. The inclusion of the zodiac is an acknowledgement that the table is meant to evoke the associated angels.

I also decided to add the Pythagoric anacrostic of the 72 names of God to the vertices of the 4 corners of the table top. This flourish was inspired by a passage I read in an article by Prof. Julien Véronèse in the scholarly journal Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft[2] in which Véronèse describes a table mentioned in the 4th book of the 13th century Kabbalist text the Liber Razielis Archangeli. It describes a rectangular table on which “76” names of God are to be written and the table “brandish[ed] toward the sky and the cardinal points for seven nights while reciting a prayer to the Lord.” Yes, I intend to try this as a consecration/”charging” of the table once the actual table itself is made.

Another element of my image consists of 3 concentric circles of words. The innermost rung consists of the names of the 12 angels assigned to the solar mansions (the zodiac). The middle rung contains the names of the 28 angels associated with the lunar mansions (as given by Agrippa), as the revolutions of the sun and moon are inextricably linked The outer circle is a passage from a canto called Omnia Sol Temperat from a medieval book of poetry called the Carmina Burana. The poem is about human love and the foibles of romantic devotion, but these lines here become a statement of spiritual devotion. I was inspired to include the poetic passage in the image after reading that earlier versions of the Amadel say that the evoked angels will become devoted to the mage and vice versa, securing the spiritual redemption of the mage.[1]

Omnia sol temperat purus et subtilis   
Ama me fideliter
Fidem meam nota;
De corde totaliter et ex mente tota

The sun warms all, pure and gentle
Love me faithfully!
Mark my loyalty;
Completely, in my heart and in my whole mind

The squares themselves all measure 6 x 6 inch, in accordance with instructions within the Ars Almadel. They appear in their appropriate colors; white for spring/east, rose for summer/south, green for autumn/west, and black for winter/north. The god names and designs of the Almadel differ somewhat in different historical copies of the text. Those within my image are mostly aligned with copies of the Almadel housed in the library of the University of Freiburg and the National Library of France.[1]

The stars in that version are supposed to be hexagrams, per instructions about placing the “pentacle of Solomon” in the 4 corners of the square. (The word “pentacle” could refer to a seal, not necessarily a 5-sided shape, in magical texts). Other versions of the Almadel show pentagrams instead of hexagrams. I decided to add pentagrams instead of hexagrams to remind of the 5 angels associated with each square that are named in the Ars Almadel.

As for the god names and terms written on the squares in my table top, the words on each square are identical but some words have been modified from what appears in the original template used. Namely, I chose to use corrected spellings (eg, Primeumaton [Prime mover] instead of Primeuiuaton and Henotheon [One God] instead of Henoytheon) and used more standard spellings of names or switched out some names for others found in other versions of the Almadel. I also replaced the term Selem with “Salem” (Peace) and the term Jatha with Yasha (Deliverance). Why? 1. It is important for the ritual tool to make sense to me as I basically self-initiate myself into its use and 2. Numerous scholars who conduct research on god names and voces magicae note that magical terms can sometimes be garble of what was once an intelligible word or phrase. The garbled term can then becomes standardized with repeated use--and so we find grimoire with the same seemingly unintelligible terms, meant to have magical efficacy, used again and again.

When I complete the Table, I intend to do evocation work with it as I had done with the Arbatel some years ago. In building decorative tables, I have plans to also build tables for ritual and magical use, like this Almadel table. The next to be featured will be an adaptation of the famous 12th plate of the Azoth the Philosophers (and yes, I take commissions and sell them). I’ll keep you posted.


1. Jan R.Veenstra.  The Holy Almandal. Angels and the Intellectual Aims of Magic. In Jan M. Bremmer, Jan R. Veenstra, eds. The Metamorphosis of Magic from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period. Louvain: Peeters. 2002:189-229

2. Julien Véronèse. God's Names and Their Uses in the Books of Magic Attributed to King Solomon Magic. Ritual, and Witchcraft. 2010;5(1):30-50 

Monday, October 24, 2016

What I Know about Witches YouTube Video

Modern witchcraft and  Neopaganism are new forms of spiritual expression that are nevertheless inspired by ancient forms and long-standing legends. In the context of 21st century  culture, they constitute a new and still evolving  paradigm for spiritual expression and the search for meaning.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A prank for the new teacher - Excerpt from the novel La Maga A Story about Sorcerers and Magi

Illustrated novel Leonard and his buddies set up a prank for the new teacher

Pass and photo ID. You can’t get into the class without an admission pass and photo ID: student ID, license to practice magic, magical association card. Did you not receive the notice?” the hall guard croaked. And she was frog-like—bloated with a thick, jowly face and bloody, popping eyes.
No one ever gave me a hard time about being a walk-in,” the man protested. “I promised my son that I’d take the class with him.”
“This is a closed class,” the hall guard snapped, firmly affirming in her gravelly voice: “You cannot be admitted without an admission pass and a photo ID!”
“Where do I get a pass?” the man asked.
“You don’t! The class is filled,” the froggy character said.
The man stormed away. The hall guard continued barking at students and adults about the entrance requirements as they congregated at the threshold of a small lecture hall. There, a controversial celebrity lady mage would be presenting a class called Lost and Found: Mystical Codes and Keys.
Leonard and his buddies, Anil and Bertrand, presented the appropriate documents and were admitted. Leonard’s father, Lord Consul Leo de Lux, followed them. He was one of the top rulers of the North Atlantic Sovereignty.

“Pass and ID. No one is admitted without an admission pass and photo ID,” the hall guard rattled. Upon realizing who she was now talking to, though, she froze. “You can go in,” she rasped.
Leonard de Lux Junior made quick work of setting up a prank for the new teacher while his father chatted with some people from the Royal Conservationist Party. He figured he’d get away with it and that his dad, who had been on the rag about this particular teacher, would get a mean laugh from the escapade.
With sleight of hand, Leonard dropped a stink-bomb , disguised as a lace sachet, on the professor’s chair. When she sat at the desk to study the seating chart and call the roll, she would, you know, make a smell.  Leonard twitched his eyebrows and sneered at his buddies. They all sniggered and sputtered so that their pimply, adolescent faces turned reddish and even gawkier.

Abridged; from Chapter 1. The Conus Magus Charm
from La Maga A Story about Sorcerers and Magi
 by Dionesia Rapposelli

Dear Readers--Don't forget that I am offering FREE, illustrated pdf booklets on topics related to magic and mysticism. Visit the Web site for links to the downloads. So far booklets include:
 All About the Magic Wand
The Arbatel, Olympic Spirits, and the Seal of Secrets of the World
What I Know About Witches

Planned Next:
The Stele of Jeu and the Divine Light (on the Headless Ritual)

Let me know what is on your wish list . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What I Know About Witches

A historical perspective on witchcraft and Neopaganism free PDF

Halloween/Samhain 2016 will soon be upon us as I write this. That means that we will be flooded with Internet content about witches, witchcraft, Neopaganism, and diabolism. I dusted off an article that I wrote years ago, updated and illustrated it and added it to my growing collection of FREE PDF booklets.

In this booklet, I draw from the work of leading scholars to debunk myths about witch history and explain why I think that modern witchcraft and Neopaganism are new forms of spiritual expression inspired by legends about antiquity.

In contrast to witch history presented by high-profile Wiccan and Neopagan writers of the 20th century, we now know that most of the people who were tortured and killed during the medieval witch-craze were Christian-folk who ran afoul of a disgruntled or paranoid husband or neighbor or whose reputation as a healer/curse-lifter cast suspicion on them.

And most people who actually did practice magic in medieval and Renaissance Europe also considered themselves to be Christians—not witches.

Practitioners were called “wise” or “cunning” folk, magos or magas, healers, fixers, unbewitchers, and  other names. They  engaged in healing through folk medicine. practiced divination, cast love and binding spells as well as treasure-finding/money spells, and they lifted curses and “unbewitched” clients, which involved identifying and neutralizing a witch. (That is, people who practiced folk magic were in the habit of ratting-out innocent people as well as other people who, like themselves, practiced folk magic.)

And how much was the Church really involved in the witch craze? You might be surprised . . . 

Witches generally were thought to be malignant creatures that caused disease and ruin. They were supernatural, bogeymen, but they could be real people as well. Calling or identifying someone as a witch was referred to as “scolding.” Scolding could lead to accusations and then legal action and violence against the accused.

Witch confessions were obtained through intense torture in which the accused were fed statements and repeatedly abused until they agreed to the accusation. For a taste of what an accused person could be expected to endure, play Professor Pavlac’s interactive narrative of witch persecution in early 17th century Germany at  

Despite the reasons that some modern-day witches and Neopagans give for why their kind have been persecuted and demonized throughout the Christian era . . 

There wasn't "their kind"; there were people, most of whom self-identified as Christians, who practiced folkways and didn't think twice about witch-scolding others.
  • People feared witches, which were bogeymen, and were suspicious of folks who professionally practiced magic not only in the Christian era but the pre-Christian era as well. Why? Because, as the Italian saying goes . .

 Qui scit sanare scit damnare

"He who knows how to heal knows how to curse."

Learn more