The Ritual of OPHIEL
Here is the account of the second ritual of what I came to call my Abramelin Experience; the ritual of the Olympic Spirit of Ophiel (Mercury). With five rituals to go to complete the full circle through the seven spheres of the Olympic Spirits, this was the first ritual beyond the sublunar realm of the Moon.
During my first ritual on the Olympic Spirit of Phul (Moon) I had learned that it functions as a gate or burning lens to filter, adjust and combine the influences and forces of the planets above it. Thus this ritual for Ophiel would lead me beyond this gate and outside of the realm where planetary influences are adjusted to become receptible for the organism of Earth.
Before we go into the details of the ritual let me make a comment on my background with planetary magic. I have been working with planetary forces, talismans and rituals for about seven years. While this is far less than I wish it was - as there is so much to explore and learn - it allowed me to build a solid fundament of dealing with these forces and putting them to use in my life. Most of my planetary rituals had been set up and conducted according to the classic Golden Dawn approach and expanded with more recent techniques for solitary practitioners by my previous teacher or myself. (Note: One of these innovations for example is the Etz Chiim Sigilization Technique which I have described here.) What I want to point out is that the sources of my previous planetary experience all came from one particular tradition with innovations built on it. Starting my work with the Arbatel Grimoire I was aware that the results, communication and relationship with the spirits might differ significantly from earlier experiences.
I am clarifying this here to highlight two points: First, I am still using Golden Dawn frame rites (Lesser Banishing Pentagram and Greater Hexagram Ritual) to banish and induce ritual trance, from that point on the ritual structure departs from the original GD approach and uses the Arbatel Grimoire mainly. Secondly, all of my previous planetary rites had been invocations, i.e. I used my body and consciousness as a vessel for the planetary influence and then acted as a personification of the respective divine principle. The Arbatel rituals, however, are all of evocative nature; thus I am using a version of Trithemius’ Table of Practice as the ‘locus of manifestation’ for the spirits. I hope this provides sufficient context for the account of this rite.
Note: In the following I will address Ophiel with male gender. This is obviously not correct as he doesn’t have a gender - as far as I can tell. However, using the neutral gender didn’t seem right either as it felt to impersonal; using a female gender on the other hand didn’t indicate the right relationship for me being male. Reflecting on my experience with ‘him’ during the ritual, addressing him as a male spirit seems appropriate for this personal account only. This is only one of the many points that highlight the limitations of our language to express ritual experiences.
The date of the rite of Ophiel was during the hour of Mercury at 7:15pm on the 29th of December 2010. During this period (10/12 - 30/12/2010) Mercury was retrograde; it is generally assumed that the influence of Mercury is changed to the negative during these days. The most often referenced characteristics are:
- challenges in communication
- challenges in commerce, esp. for creating or signing contracts
- likely time for misunderstandings
- likely time for technical problems, esp. for IT communication devices
- likely time for unforeseen changes to plans, esp. meetings & schedules
- good time for revision of (esp. written) projects that had been started before
Now, why did I chose a retrograde day for this rite? Well to be honest, why not? My rite was completely focussed on the understanding of the nature of Ophiel and achieving direct communion with him. I didn’t mind wether he was in a quiet, stormy or indifferent mood as long as we could achieve communication. Secondly, there is a plethora of advice to avoid Mercury-related projects or actions during his retrograde times. Yet, I still have to see a similar amount of ritual accounts where magicians describe what exactly happened during these rituals. Taking a conscious risk I chose to begin this list of ‘retrograde ritual accounts’...
Most of the preparation for this rite happened on the day of the ritual itself - simply because I wanted all required steps to be completed on the day of Mercury as well. As I had the general structure of the ritual laid out already and all paraphernalia were readily available in the temple I just needed to fill in the things dedicated to Ophiel. These were three preparations in essence: the liturgic book, the lamen and adjusting the altar and temple space to reflect Mercury’s influences.
1a) The Liturgic Book
As this was the second Arbatel ritual the liturgy of the rite was easy to adjust. The basic invocation and prayers all remained the same. However, one thing I noticed I missed to report in my previous account is the fact that I added an additional evocation text in the middle of the ritual. The main reason why I chose to include this additional evocation was to expedite my ritual trance.
The final prayer to God in the Arbatel before the ritual communion is 5,5 lines long in my German translation and - more importantly - doesn’t address and evoke the Olympic Spirit directly but through intervention of God. Knowing my personal access to ritual trance I could tell this liturgy wouldn’t be long enough to enter a sufficient state of trance for spirit communication. What I needed to add to make this work for me was a liturgy in which I am addressing the Olympic Spirit directly, praising his might, divine qualities and rulership. However, my aspiration was to find a liturgic frame text that I could maintain for all seven Olympic Spirits - as all of them have essential characteristics in common if one takes a perspective of how they govern and influence life on earth. Luckily I found elements for this frame evocation in the Greek Magical Papyri, more precisely in PGM IV. 986-1036. This section contains a “God-bringing spell to be spoken” which was a great fundament to build an Olympic Spirit evocation from. The sequence contained poetic lines that seemed as if they had been written with the memory of the Olympic Gods in mind, e.g. “You who are seated on top of the world and judge the universe, surrounded by the circle of truth and honesty.” Thus I meditated on the Olympic Spirits and the source text from the PGM and came up with this adoption:
“Ophiel, I evoke you, Great Spirit, mighty Head, come forth from the circle and the infinite expanse of black sky! You, whose current is flowing through the essence of creation, you are birth and death, you are day and night, powerful Head appear to me now, holy Ophiel! You, o Lord, who imprints himself into the elements of this world like a form into wax, who is blessed by angels, demons and intelligences, appear to me now and answer my questions, great Spirit, mighty Head, Ophiel! Come forth and appear to me, for I am calling you under the protection of the one and only God and speak the name of thy holy rank Ophiel. Powerful one, seated on top of the world and ruling over the universe in your matters, you are surrounded by the circle of truth and honesty, come forth and appear to me, Ophiel. O Lord, Eternal One, who existed before fire and wind, before water and soil, come forth and appear to me, for I call thee by the name of your holy rank Ophiel. Powerful One, whose name I wear on my heart, whose name is mighty and powerful, who changes destinies and controls the currents of lives! Holy One, seated among the seven holy thrones, who resides on the summit of sacred Mount Olympus, come down, come forth and appear to me! For that I may hear thy sacred voice clear and gentle and receive answers to all my questions. Kiss my mind with your wisdom and kiss my heart with your voice! O Lord, I'll call you in the name of your Holy rank Ophiel.”
Well, as you can see not being a native-speaker I can’t write in the beautiful old English tone of ‘Thee and Thou and Thine’... but you get the point of the evocation and if anybody intends to work from it, I am sure you’ll be able to make it sound like a proper hymn. For any German speakers I decided to make the complete German version of the liturgic book for Ophiel available for download here in the ‘Arbatel Experience’ folder.
One final point to clarify on the evocation: I deliberately chose a tone and style that sounds as if the respective Olympic Spirit is the ruler over the entire world; as this is what they are within their domain. I am not sure how you felt as an emperor if one of your servants praised you along the lines: “Mighty One, whose influence ends in the North about two miles from here and in the West where it stretches out until the local river, and in the East etc.” I have this notion that rulers - and this is what they are in their domain - aren’t particularly fond of boundaries. Therefore I aimed to strike the fine balance between making the specific Olympic Spirit appear as the tent-pole of creation while also pointing out that there are seven thrones in total and that they rule over the world in their matters.
1b) The Lamen
In creating the Lamen I basically followed my previous approach: I constructed the full lamen online, printed it, copied it with carbon paper on virgin papyrus and finally painted it on the papyrus by hand. I am fully aware that a true purist would despise this approach and even create the ink to be used according to the Grimoires. While I admire such a diligent approach it is still something I need to learn and adopt for my own practice. For now, this hybrid approach of using new and old techniques in a joint manner needs to suffice.
The one thing I changed for this Lamen was that Ophiel’s version also has a reverse side. I didn’t include this for Phul as his name doesn’t allow to create the respective magic kamea from hebrew letters (see figure below). On this occasion I want to express my deep thankfulness to Nineveh Shadrach for all his wonderful work on planetary kameas - as well as to unveil the Arabic sources of magic to Western readers. His book ‘Magic That Works‘ still provides one of the best approaches to achieve ritual communion with your Holy Guardian Angel.
(Note: The Lamen of Ophiel as used in my rite; above with the traditional seal of Ophiel plus the design described in account of my rite of Phul, backside below with the textual kamea for the Olympic Spirit Ophiel as used on the reverse side of the Lamen)
Creating the Lamen in the style described above normally takes around four hours. While painting the Lamen on the papyrus I listened to Gustav Holst’s and Niccollo Paganini’s ‘Mercury - The Winged Messenger’ in a loop. At some point during this meditative process I found myself thinking that creating this Lamen is nothing else than being a surgeon who heals a wound of imperfection - to restore the sigil of Ophiel to full health and power. It felt as if the characters of the Lamen had slept in the papyrus and waited for me to carve them out, and free the shapes from the nothingness of the paper... I took this as a good sign for the powers of Mercury to slowly build up in my mind.
Two hours before the planetary hour of Mercury the clock started ticking and I could feel the usual tension rising just like before any important ritual: at that point my mind is completely firm like a sailor who knows a storm is coming up but who won’t change course. My heart, however, is trembling and full of fear of the unknown encounter. The polarity between these different energies in my body almost creates an electric current that turns all my senses internally and allows me to focus on one thing at a time only. This is why it is so important that at this point I have a clear plan and paths through the final ritual preparation and into the ritual itself. The space of organic improvisation only opens again once I have left Malkuth behind and arrived in deep ritual trance within the consecrated circle...
I took a ritual shower and imagined the water of the seven planets cleansing my physical and astral bodies. I put on my meditation robe and went into the temple.
For completeness, here is the ritual structure which shaped the following experience:
- Kabbalistic Cross
- Lesser Banishing ritual of the Pentagram
- Welcoming of God in the four quarters of the circle
- Adjusted Hexagram ritual of Mercury
- Gesture of the opening of the veil
- Arbatel prayer for protection of God and consecration of Table of Practice (from Second Septenary, Aphorism 14)
- Arbatel prayer to God for the appearance of Ophiel (from Third Septenary, Aphorism 21)
- Evocation of Ophiel (adopted from PGM IV. 986-1036)
- Communion with Ophiel
- Gesture of the closing of the veil
- Lesser Banishing ritual of the Pentagram
- Ritual license to depart
2) Ritual Description
“All things are possible to them that believe them, and are willing to receive them; but to the incredulous and unwilling, all things are unpossible (...).”
(Third Septenary, Aphorism 20)
An hour before I entered the temple I had started a fire in the fireplace to heat up the large room. During the last ritual the cold had made my feet and finger numbers and negatively influenced my concentration and state of trance. There was no way to get the room to normal room temperature as it was unheated normally and surrounded by snow but the goal was to not see smokes of breath when doing the evocation.
I entered the temple, arranged the sacred robe and paraphernalia to be worn and meditated my standard opening: long breaths of Pranayama followed by a journey to a wooden platform high above the forests where I swept the floor and met my holy guardian angel. Then I took the Lamen and activated it by the use of Mercurial oil. I spread oil on the front and backside of the lamen and massaged it into the papyrus while seeing the forces of the Lamen taking shape on the astral plane. At this point the nearby church bells rang the beginning of the hour of Ophiel. I got up, put on the holy robe, the belt for taming my desires, the crown for taming my mind, the moon stone ring for directing the energies released from my right and the activated Lamen over my heart area. I blew down the candles in front of the black temple veil and entered the circle.
Once I had lit the candles in the inner temple I stood in the West, facing East and conducted a qabalistic cross to center the energies in my body and mind. I took the ritual dagger from the altar and performed the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Interestingly, when visualizing the archangels I instinctively let go of the traditional shapes of their bodies. The classic GD designs of prescribed paraphernalia in their hands and colors of robes suddenly seemed and odd and artificial. Rather I remained in the form of the holy Tau and allowed the natural energy to emerge from each quarter and take shape and space in the circle. Immediately each quarter filled with pulsating and whirring energy; I could spot geometrical patterns shaping the air in different ways in each quarter but the impression wasn’t lasting enough to distinguish clear shapes.
I called forth God from the four quarters and felt his immense presence outshine the glow of the archangels and shield the ritual space. Then I broke the charcoal and lit each piece over one of the altar candles. As the black powder started to spark, I realized that this coal had become my ritual offering. It was the physical placeholder of the slaughtered animal over whose coals incense would have been lighted in old times. Back then the dead body, the charred bones and burnt blood, mixed with smoking incense offered the ritual dwelling for the divine powers evoked; today this place had been taken by the burning coals in my hands. What I lit in the fire of the candles was food for the spirit to be evoked and a resting place for its powers as long as the ritual lasted. I laid down the burning coals in the incense holder and shifted it as close to the Table of Practice on the altar as possible. Then I put the incense of Mercury on the glow and conduct the gesture of the opening of the veil.
The next phase was to conduct the adjusted Hexagram Ritual; adjusted as I had replaced the traditional symbols within the hexagrams with the sigil of Ophiel. On drawing and invoking the first hexagram, however, something unexpected happened: I suddenly perceived a rotating energy sphere out of two double tetrahedron around me, embracing the entire space of the circle in its spinning field. I had activated this specific energy structure in my astral body during daily meditations over the previous week; yet when performing the ritual I hadn’t thought of it at all. Suddenly it was clear and present, elevating the energy of the entire circle space, lifting everything inside to a much higher frequency. My conscious was overwhelmed by the effect and I had to concentrate to continue the Hexagram Ritual while still keeping the rotating energy sphere present in my mind. One of the distinct features of this energy structure is a rotating golden glow in my chest area. On finishing the four outer hexagrams I realized that this golden orb underneath the Lamen had become the centre of the circle space. Energy was rushing into the circle from each opened hexagram and concentrated in this orb in my chest area. When I moved around the altar the four currents of energy from each quarter followed my movements and remained focussed on it. I finished the Hexagram Ritual with the fifth hexagram above the altar. At this point the golden orb moved out of my chest and settled high above the altar.
I am describing this process in detail as I never experienced such a vivid and clear perception of the flows of energy while opening the sacred ritual space. I have worked on an altar shape (pictures can be found here) to absorb and intensify the energy currents from the four quarters; yet the rotating energy structure seemed to be much more effective in intensifying the amount of energy drawn into the circle space.
At this point of the ritual I was so captured by the experience that I easily could have stayed with it, observing the influx of fields of energy and their coiling around the golden orb above the altar. I was humbled and captured by this wonder of nature... After some time I forced myself to move on.
I took up the liturgic book and recited the Arbatel prayer to God’s blessing and consecration of the Table of Practice (from Second Septenary, Aphorism 14). My awareness shifted back to the influx of energy and golden orb above the altar. I pulled the shining globe down into the black mirror on the Table of Practice and recited the prayer to God for the appearance of Ophiel (from Third Septenary, Aphorism 2). At this point it felt as if the evocation of Ophiel wasn’t even necessary anymore to enter communion. However, I continued with the liturgy and sang the evocation.
I am saying ‘sang’ as on reciting the evocation I felt that many parts of it actually wanted to be vibrated in different melodies, especially the recurring name of the Olympic Spirit of Ophiel had to be sung. I had no idea which melody to use and allowed my intuition and heart to take over for me... As I had mentioned in my account of the Phul ritual, at this point my mind is in a relatively stable ritual trance and the actual sounds of my words matter much less than the energy they release from my heart and mind. It is one of these things I wished I had been ready to understand much earlier: Spirits don’t have physical eyes or ears to see and hear. Unless forced into physical shape, they are blind to my material body and deaf to the sounds of my mouth. Yet their senses are subtle and wide awake on the astral plane: Here they can perceive all shapes and patterns released by my body and they can hear all astral sounds vibrating in the rhythm of my spoken words. So in order to communicate with them it is me who needs to understand the astral language spoken by my body, heart and mind.
At the moment I finished the evocation the church bells started to ring. Now, for all of you who are planning to set up a temple at the moment; let me share this piece of painful personal experience: never ever set it up in a catholic village around 200m from the local church. It is completely absurd how often and at what times these old church bells still ring. I can only assume this was Ophiel’s type of retrograde humor - as the bells continued to ring wildly for about three minutes. During this time I kept my stare focussed on the surface of the black mirror, remained still and concentrated in order not to lose my state of ritual trance or allow negative emotions to arise. While I was focussed like this I realized that the golden sphere had changed its color and structure. Now it was a solid globe of green-blue-is color as if made from crystal. I raised my view and realized that the globe was the bottom end of a larger geometrical structure which was Ophiel. The shape was made of an octahedron in the middle part which tapered above and below; at the bottom end within my black mirror as well as in the middle of the shape I saw two large globes of condensed energy and spirit power.
(spirit shape of Ophiel/ Vitruval as perceived during the rite)
Thus, I asked Ophiel my first question on the true name of his Olympic Spirit. I had to repeat it several times until I received an answer - my ritual trance was still slightly unstable after the long wait for the church bells to stop ringing. I allowed all other perceptions to fade out of my mind and keep my awareness filled by the octahedron shape. In the middle of the large globe above me I perceived the letter ‘V’... It took some time until I understood the full name which read VITRUVAL. On perceiving the full name I realized that it wanted to be sung just like the name Ophiel during the evocation before. I started to sing the name and only then realized it’s true shape and power which seemed to be hidden in the rhythmic sequence of it syllables when sung. The communion with Vitruval / Ophiel immediately stabilized.
From that moment on all answers came without any hesitation and prompt like flashes out of the central globe above me. While talking to him I also learned a lot about the nature of Vitruval. He seems to be highly playful; yet it is the playfulness of an electric or natural force that doesn’t understand the fragileness of live on earth. It seemed as if the electric energy of an entire storm was compressed in the rotating globe above me. The difference to the presence of Phul was clear and immediate: I fully understood why a force like this needed to be mirrored or filtered before entering into the sublunar realm... The crackling tension that filled the shape in the centre of the circle seemed like a pressure wave of light that wasn’t created to adjust its power in order to interact with subtle forms of live - but to extend into vast and endless space around it. The presence of Ophiel is the pure opposite of confined space... Here is the account of the swift communication that took place between us, his answers following my questions without any hesitation:
Frater Acher: How does your influence reach earth?
Vitruval: By use of my shape, by use of the gate below.
FA: Which part in the human body do you govern?
V: All electric currents and all gases
FA: Which human experiences do you govern?
V: The piercing through borders, the cutting through the veil, the arrow in full flight, the movement outside of shapes, the quest, the message
FA: Which substance in alchemy do you govern?
V: Explosive gases
FA: Which geometrical shape expresses your powers best?
V: What I am now, an octahedron tapering above and below
FA: What is your relationship to the Sephira Hod?
V: We are one blood, but two hearts
FA: What is your relationship to my Holy Guardian Angel?
V: We are dancing. My movement is fixed around own axis, your angel is wandering from star to star
FA: How does initiation into your current happen?
V: For humans it doesn’t. Initiation into my current would burn you like high-voltage. You can bed yourself on cat fur, allow your body to charge electrically, that allows us to connect easier
FA: How can I cleanse your energies in my body?
V: Become conductive. My energies do not reside in you, my powers are passing through you, you cannot keep or confine them within you. The one thing you can do is to turn yourself into a good conductor, cleanse yourself and become conductive to my forces
FA: Which offering do you wish from me?
V: Sing my name
So I sang his name. As I intoned the name VITRUVAL in rhythmic form like a mantra it seemed the energy retained in the geometric shape started to spin and intensify... Quickly my singing became so demanding and intense that I lost all external perceptions. My voice grew louder and louder, pronouncing each syllable of the word in its own rhythm and melody. Finally, I remember myself standing in front of the altar and screaming the vibrations of the name into the presence of the spirit. My chest and knees were shaken by the force that came out of my mouth and my ritual trance was so deep as if my mind had surrendered to the presence of this spirit. I continued to sing in this manner for what seemed a long while... Here is my best translation into words from what my heart and blood learned about Ophiel during this intense ritual chant:
Ophiel said: “I am the wheel of fire, I am throwing sparks into the night! I am throwing my light into the prism of the Moon, I am the transgression of limits, I am the piercing through the veil, I am all the broken seals. Nothing is darker than silence to me, nothing more agony than stillness. But look, I have my own kind of silence: I am silent and sparks are playing on my hair, I am silent and currents crackle on my skin, I am silent and electricity shoots through my veins and lights up the networks of wisdom and knowledge. I am the perpetuum mobile, the machine of eternal movement, I don’t need anything except for knowledge to continue to spin... Calling One, become one with cat fur, with copper and glas and I will pierce through you and will take shape within you. But my shape is like an explosion - visible only in one moment before it falls back into darkness, for I am shapeless and living within the shapes of others. I am the gas cloud compressed in the alchemical flask, I am the pressure below the lid. You humans will only know me in pinches, but I hold a world.
At some point my body was empty and hollow. I vibrated the name for a final time, bowed and made the gesture of the closing of the veil. While my body was completely exhausted my mind was still electrified. It would have been too easy at this point not to banish but to try to take these energies with my into my daily life. A mistake I have done before - luckily with less powerful spirits. Thus, I took the dagger and performed the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagrams. I took time to truly connect with the four quarters and feel the presence and currents of the archangels. Then I uttered the ritual license to depart and finished with a last qabalistic cross.
As I am finishing this report it is the 20th day after the ritual and I am still in the process of making sense of the experience. Where Phul allowed me to communicate with her in a sublime and moderate manner, Ophiel was the power of an electric storm overflowing with curiosity and power while being held confined within my circle and the Table of Practice only. Due to very precise answers much of the nature of Ophiel / Vitruval has become clear in the previous chapter and doesn’t need to be repeated here. So let me keep this final paragraph as short as possible and simply point out a few additional insights and questions I took away from the rite...
3a) Retrograde Rituals
Personally I am attributing much of the intensity of Ophiel’s presence to the fact that Mercury was retrograde during the time of evocation. In light of this I found this advise on how to deal with mercury being retrograde very helpful:
“The best mode to be in during a Mercury retrograde is one of "non-reaction", and with earth signs being impacted, physical environment will be changing continually during a Mercury retrograde. Treat the time period as a time of gathering information, yet because the information will be in constant change it would be like trying to comb your hair in a wind storm. Best to wait until the changes stop before attempting to make things orderly. Therefore, just let the winds of situations blow around you without reacting. Once Mercury turns direct, take a look at the information that is still around at that time and go about putting everything in order, while maintaining the fine art of flexibility.”
(Karyl Jackson, http://www.alphalifetrends.com/mercuryretrograde.html)
I am not quite sure if Ms Jackson was fully aware of how appropriate her metaphor of ‘combing your hair in a wind storm’ actually is? However, my take is exactly the same: Don’t be afraid to walk out into a storm, but respect it and know how to engage. Don’t stroll and dream while the storm might throw branches, stones or cars at you. Don’t expect to follow your own agenda or things to go as planned, but allow yourself to immerse in the experience and - if necessary - become one with it. You rather leverage the force and direction of a storm, than pushing against a current that ‘we know in pinches, but that holds a world’.
Had I conducted this ritual with any other goal in mind than to simply achieve communion with Ophiel, I am pretty sure the results would have been ‘unexpected’ to say the least... In the presence of retrograde Ophiel think of yourself as a butterfly and consider how you best survive this storm: close your wings and inhale.
3b) The many faces of Mercury
I have conducted several Mercury rituals before and approached the deity in the form of Hermes. These experiences were completely different from the ritual above. In one of the previous (invocative) rituals I experienced Mercury in the form of a hawk. Ophiel, on the other hand, seems to be the air that carries the hawk.
Another correlation that comes to my mind is the following: Traditionally each planet has a specific intelligence and demon assigned to them which are used in ritual in form of their sigils and names for vibrations. For Mercury its intelligence is called Tiriel and its demon (also called spirit in some sources) Taphthartharath. While Cornelius Agrippa explains the intelligence of the planet to be benevolent and the demon to be malevolent, this isn’t quite how I have experienced or learned to differentiate these two essential planetary forces. I remember my teacher introducing me to the concepts with the following picture: the demon is the current of power of the respective planet, the intelligence is the grid or matrix that provides structure and direction to this power source. A similar comparison might be to say the demon is the engine and the intelligence the steering wheel... This interpretation is also confirmed by Soror A.L.:
“(...) you should never use the spirit or demon, without depicting the sigil of the planetary intelligence also on the talisman. On the physical level this would resemble a person who has tremendous energy (spirit), but not knowing (intelligence) how to use it. Such a person can be active but dull like a chicken with head cut off to use an analogy that fits well with Taphthartharath. Spirit needs a Direction, needs intelligence.”
(Soror A.L., Die Magische Pforte, p.69)
If we follow this differentiation of demon and intelligence, I would be inclined to see a connection between Ophiel and Mercury’s demon Taphthartharath. Maybe not so much a familiarity in nature but in how they are able to affect the physical realm. Judged by their sheer power and impact both of them seem to have the ability to directly influence events on the material realm. While Taphthartharath’s influence might be more chaotic in nature when lacking the structure and intelligence of Tiriel, Ophiel’s influence is much more deliberate and precise - a ‘governor’ of the fate and destiny of mortals as Rawlinson D1363 explains. This understanding of the nature and influence of Ophiel is also in line with David Rankine’s interpretation in light of the explanations given in Rawlinson D1363:
“It is also interesting to observe that unlike archangels which are considered to be made of the highest aspect of air, the Olympic Spirits are comprised of a balance of the four elements, indicating a much more physical sphere of influence. This is an extremely important distinction, as all the spiritual creatures described from Hebrew sources, such as archangels, angels and demons, they are all composed of a single element, usually air.”
(Rankine, David, Practical Planetary Magick, p.81)
3c) Astrological Dependencies
Assuming a strong connection between the Olympic Spirits, i.e. Ophiel and the material realm we need to consider that their influence actually might underlie and depend on general astrological constellations at any point of evocation. This could lead to the practice of creating an entire horoscope for each ritual evocation, explaining the nature of the spirit to be evoked at that specific point in time.
For example on the day of my evocation Mercury was in a Sextile with Saturn and in a Quintile with Neptune; the Sun was in conjunction with Pluto and Jupiter in conjunction with Uranus. Mercury, furthermore, was located in the second decane of Sagittarius (19° Sag, 39’4’’ retrograde). The Picatrix explains this decane as follows:
“In his second decane a man ascends who drives cattle, and before him is a monkey and a wolf. This is decane is assigned to the moon and is a decane of deep sadness, roaring, the crying, fear, grief and the hard-heartedness.”
(Picatrix, 2. Abhandlung, 11.Abschnitt, p.138)
Following this lead it might be interesting to note that right after the ritual of Ophiel a sudden irruption of Plutonic forces took place in my life (and body). The conjunction of Sun and Pluto at the time of the rite might be an explanation. Another could be that Pluto governs all forces that create true transformation: Deleting subconscious programmings and replacing them with new ones is the essence of true transformational changes as represented by Pluto. (Meyer, p.36) Here we come across a striking similarity between the forces of Pluto and Ophiel - both being related to transgression of limits and ‘cutting through the veil’. The only difference being that traditionally Ophiel/Mercury is cutting through the veil of secrets and hidden knowledge, whereas Pluto is piercing through the veil of subconscious fears...
Unfortunately what has to remain open at this point of my Arbatel Experience is the exact answer to the astrological influences taking place during the rite. Following the initial lead of a ‘retrograde’ Ophiel it seems there is more to the way we experience these planetary spirits than their nature alone - but a complex context of astrological influences that can alter the ritual experience and repercussions.
3d) Gematria of VITRUVAL
Let’s close on a short note on the Gematria of the term Vitruval.
The hebrew transliteration I chose for the term is Vav-Yod-Teth-Resh-Vav-Aleph-Lamed; which returns a value of 262 according to the AIQ BKR method of Gematria. (Note: Should you be interested in Gematria the free Gematria Calculator might be of help for your work which is available for download here.)
Related to the value of 262 we find the following expressions among others:
- eye to eye
- secret chambers, rooms, conclaves
The term ‘eye to eye’ is explained in the Zohar as the perception of those who ‘see’ God when they are filled with the Spirit of Wisdom (Coleman p.309). This interpretation fits very well into the context of the ritual - as it was Vitruval that allowed me to enter into the deeper state of spirit communion and ‘see’ Ophiel’s spirit eye to eye.
Finally, the term ‘secret chambers’ reminds me of the fact that in Kabbalah each name is a key to unlock a secret room. Vitruval was a key that was given to me on that night and opened a space of experience that certainly used to be ‘secret’ or occult to me before. It was also secret for a reason - just like high-voltage power-lines are kept out of reach - because for us to absorb Vitruval’s forces in a healthy and prosperous way we take him in pinches, even though he holds a world.
May the serpent bite its tail.
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