On Monday, 22nd of November 2010, a night of full moon and during the first hour of the moon I performed the first ritual of the Arbatel series. The ritual of the Olympic Spirit of the Moon whose governor is Phul.
A close friend and I had been working since the beginning of the year, with multiple interruptions of our day jobs, to bring together the full Arbatel ritual structure as well as all necessary paraphernalia. Both of us are practicing magicians since many years and so we had the usual stock of ritual equipment. As I am living on the countryside we also had the luxury of a spacious temple, fitted into an old saddle factory barn next to my house.
The following document is my personal report on the preparation, completion an conclusions of the evocation of the Olympic Spirit of Phul. Everything expressed is an accurate and honest account of the preparation and work done between December 2009 and November 2010. Everything stated is also nothing but my personal experience and opinion. Still, I hope it will serve others in their practical work and can contribute to further maintain both of pillars of our craft - science and art.
Our journey started from Joseph Peterson's critical edition of the Arbatel - the magic of the Ancients from 2009. This beautiful book provides the full Arbatel text in Latin and English translation. Moreover, the Arbatel rites had been performed multiple times before and several magicians had kindly shared their experiences online.
What was rather obscure, however, was the actual ritual structure that is supposed to frame the Arbatel prayers. As it wasn’t given in the Second or Third Septenary andthe main corpus of the Arbatel was lost or never even published, we had to fill in these blank spots ourselves.
On first reading of the Arbatel aphorisms it becomes obvious that there are no clear instructions included on how to ‘call’ the Olympic Spirits. It might seem ambiguous for example wether the prayer in the Second Septenary, Aphorism 14 is meant to be integrated into a larger ritual structure or simply recited in front of an altar, with the sigil of the Olympic Spirit underneath a holy cross.
The author, however, hints at several points in the text to the fact that the spirits are to be summoned or evoked rather than prayed to under the protection of God alone. The most obvious hint is the fact that the author deliberately offers his knowledge to “the true and divine Magician” and not to a scholar, mystic or monk. Secondly, the language in the quote below invokes the impression of a master-servant relationship which is so typical for many Grimoires. This type of relationship is hard to establish in a mystical prayer without any protection of a magical circle or other consecrated paraphernalia that extend the might of the magician beyond his individual persona:
“The true and divine Magician may use all the creatures of God, and offices of the Governours of the world, at his own will, for that the Governours of the world are obedient unto them, and come when they are called, and do execute their commands (...)”
(Third Septenary, Aphorism 17)
These indications led us to believe that the author actually meant ‘evocation’ when he wrote ‘prayer’ in the following two quotes.
“Magically the Princes of the seven Governments are called simply, in that time, day and hour wherein they rule visibly or invisibly, by their Names and Offices which God hath given unto them; and by proposing their Character which they have given or confirmed.”
(Third Septenary, Aphorism 17)
“When you would call any of the Olympick Spirits, observe the rising of the Sun that day, and of what nature the Spirit is which you desire; and saying the prayer following, your desires shall be perfected.”
(Third Septenary, Aphorism 21)
Finally, at the end of the evocation that follows the quote above the magician gives a license to depart to the spirit. This ritual element together with stated gratitude of the magician for the appearance and obedience of the spirit are clear testaments that the Third Septenary of the Arbatel is meant to provide instructions on how to actually summon the Olympic Spirits in a ritual setting rather than purely praying for their appearance.
Having clarified the basic approach to the evocation of the Arbatel spirits, we were still left with a lot of blanks in the actual ritual structure. Especially the frame rituals for establishing a banned, consecrated space and heightening the mind and trance of the magician had to be decided.
We settled on the principle to try the most simple approach first - and alter it as we continue to perform all seven Olympic Spirit rituals in case the desired effects weren’t achieved with the initial structure. Therefore we chose the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram together with a slightly adjusted version of the Ritual of the Hexagram as frame rituals. The adjustment in the hexagram ritual was to replace the symbol within the Hexagram with the sigil of the spirit in question. I.e. for Phul we would draw hexagrams of water in all quarters of the earth and one additional hexagram above the altar facing west. Yet we would use the sigil of Phul in the centre as opposed to the traditional head of an eagle.
This allowed us to come up with the following basic ritual structure:
Finally, we had to decide on the locus of evocation, the place for the spirit to manifest or concentrate its influence in. We settled on Trithemius’ famous Table of Practice as the appropriate place to bind the spirit forces in. The creation of this device took almost six months and I have shared the related report in this article.
Having clarified our structural approach to the rite let me briefly talk about my personal attitude and intention for the acts(s). It was important to me that the successful communion with the respective Olympic Spirit should be the only goal of the rites. Rather than performing the rituals for reasons of personal material gain or spiritual support, my focus should be entirely on understanding the nature of the Olympic Spirits themselves. The series of rituals therefore was conceived as an exploration into the nature of the Olympic Spirits through evocation and spirit communication.
With this brief introduction to our general approach, let me share the description of my personal experience of the Arbatel ritual of the Olympic Spirit of Phul. I have tried to keep this description as true and faithful as possible to what happened on this morning. Therefore the report might come with some obvious statements for experienced magicians but hopefully provide many personal details I had hoped to hear about during the early years of my own magical journey.
“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)
I entered the temple an hour before the first hour of the Moon on Monday, 22nd of November. It was very cold in the unheated, large room and I moved through the darkness as I prepared the circle candles, altar and paraphernalia for the ritual. My hands were numb by the time I settled into my meditation position under a warm black cloak and brought my mind to rest. I 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 (HGA). I felt calm and focussed, yet excited and tense at the same time as always before such a ritual I had prepared for several months.
Then I put on my sacred robe and paraphernalia. The belt for taming my desires, the crown for taming my mind, the moon stone ring for directing the energies released from my right, the Lamen to protect my heart and to put it under the protection of the operating spirit, Phul.
(Note: here is a digital copy of the Lamen of Phul used in the ritual. The design follows my general approach for creating a Lamen: in the center the sigil of Phul is depicted, surrounded by a sigil of circles and crosses which my HGA gave me specifically to protect and charge talismans. This is surrounded by Psalms, or in this case by the first and the last sentence of the Phul evocation. I printed this design, copied it with carbon paper on virgin papyrus and painted it with colors on the papyrus surface. Finally I cut it out and slid it into the Lamen frame (see below). This frame is a simple cubic frame from copper which allows me to wear the Lamen tied around my neck and back in the middle of the chest over my heart.)
I entered into the circle which I wouldn't leave until the ritual was completed. I lid the candles and started with a kabbalistic cross to center the energies of my body, spirit and the ritual space of the circle. I took the dagger and started to perform the lesser banishing ritual starting in the East. On closure I welcomed God behind the gates of the four directions of the sky and returned to the altar facing West.
Next, I recited the first prayer of the Arbatel text, invoking the protection of God and consecrating the Table of Practice. Then I lid the charcoal which took longer than usual as it seemed not to be entirely dry. I put the incense of moon on the glow and the sweet mixed smell of copal, olibanum, myrtle, sandalwood and jasmine started to fill the circle.
At this point in the ritual the consecrated space of the circle extended high above and below me. When I closed my eyes I saw the dark centre of Kether high above me. On the next level below it was a circle of nameless angelic beings whose dark shapes I perceived in silence. Below this circle of angels the sun of Tiphareth or the blinding light of my guardian angel hung above me glowing in the dark. Surrounding me I perceived the four archangels and their pentagram gates to the four directions of the sky and the sublunar elements. Underneath my feet opened an abyss of darkness over which I was able to walk just like a dancer on the wire finding his place between heaven and earth. Thus - if looked at from the outside - my place was within the Etz Chiim, right on the middle pillar and reflecting the astral perception of Yesod.
Wether this astral structure surrounding me is a projection of my heightened imagination or a pure and rather objective external perception I cannot tell. I am aware that Rufus Opus is describing a similar astral structure in one of his older posts. I can only confirm that this perception or imagination comes without any effort or conscious intention at this point in the ritual. It is completely effortless and I can look at it from different angles with closed eyes on turning my head. May others find out whether this is a subjectively projected thought matrix or a living mandala of our spirit... It makes no difference to the results of the ritual and the act of spirit communication.
- picture of ritual dagger and sword, before polishing & consecration -
I grabbed the dagger again and performed the adjusted hexagram ritual of the moon. Instead of the traditional elementary sign I drew the sigil of Phul in the middle of the hexagram body. As I opened the four hexagram gates I could feel the energy in the circle intensify. It didn't had any specific quality; the energy simply became denser as if the air pressed against my robe and clothes tighter than before. As usual at this point my mind was focussed and in a light trance. My eyes don't move at free will but follow the tightly arranged movement of my body as if their sight would touch and change any object they met. Every movement in the circle is conducted clockwise, at any point my hands are taking the shape of a prayer mudra in front of the Lamen or holding the dagger tightly. My eyes are focussed on my hands or any object they are touching... I returned to the altar, facing west and added more incense to the coal. Then I recited the evocation of Phul.
This evocation I had to repeat three times until I could feel the text come alive. In my mind this hymn - maybe every part of these prayers - need to be recited as if speaking to a lover you’ve been missing for a long time. It's only when I can feel the words in my heart, rushing in my blood and breaking down the barriers between my physical body and the space in the circle that I am content to move on to the next phase. To be quiet honest, understanding this crucial element of any successful ritual probably took me half a decade of magical training. One could think that modern ritual magic puts so much emphasize on technique, on timing and tradition that it almost has forgotten about the heart and its central role in communicating with spirits?
With the risk of getting derailed, let me make this point really clear: It took me nine years of training to truly figure out that my HGA is in touch with me - literally - every second of my life. Our bodies mingle, our lights transform and our thoughts meet in dreams. The (Abramelin) goal of higher communion with it/him/her that I had aspired to for such a long time is actually present in my life every day. It's only my consciousness that failed to allow me to participate in this communion consciously. For years I had been living like a blind, furiously working to repair the sight of my eyes with great techniques and tools. However, often it simply makes more sense to accept blindness and use hands to feel and touch instead. My ultimate goal always had been to move my state of being from one Sephira to another, one by one and to advance on my spiritual journey - wether I am guided by the sight of my eyes or the touch of my hands. I recall a quote that our guardian angel is praying downwards to us since the first day of our lives. Only once we stop and concentrate on our faith and its/his/her presence around us, are we starting to pray upwards to it/her/him...
I recited the prayers several times until I could fully feel the effect. Then I put the liturgic book down... Well, maybe this is another point worth getting derailed? It seems a fundamental discussion if a magician enters into the circle with the entire ritual tex learnt by heart - or with a cheat sheet as some might call it or a liturgic book as I call it. Even though I had problems learning texts by heart from early days on, I still wouldn’t accept any compromise if I felt using a written copy of the prayers would be 'cheating'. As a solitary magician I have all the time in the world to prepare for a ritual. No rush, no hectic, every step in its own time. Every full moon returns and no constellation is worth a rushed or ill prepared ritual.
I still decided to use a written copy of my prayers as it enhances accessing and remaining in magical trance for me. Because I can fully concentrate on the flow of gestures and words and I don't need to worry about forgetting the next line or misspelling a deity or barbaric name. All my energy goes where it belongs: in the awareness of the words and images that reach my mind, in the automated movement of my body in the ritual and the empathy and energy that fills my liturgies and vibrations of names. For other magicians another approach might work better. This is not about wrong or right, this is about creating the desired effect with the least effort. Every magician has to find his/her own access and what makes the machine - made up of body, soul and mind - switch into perception of and interaction with the higher planes with the least effort.
I put down my liturgic book and started to stare into the black mirror on the Table of Practice. I had practiced Tratak - the technique of staring at a single point without blinking your eyes - for several years. Still on some days it works better than on others. I actually don't worry too much about getting my staring right. The long, undisturbed look into the mirror is a wonderful way to enhance the state of self-hypnosis as Carroll Poke Runyon so clearly and passionately describes. It 'blanks' all senses and helps opening up awareness to and perception of what lies behind our physical senses. This is the moment where I start hearing, where I start getting in touch and communion with the spirit I called.
When I felt stable in my magical trance, I closed my eyes and looked upwards. Only at this moment did I realize that the moon had descended right into my circle. It hung over my head like a huge silver cloud. Had I raised my hand I could have touched the round belly of the moon. The entire circle under my closed eyes was filled with silver light.
In this state of awe I asked my first question and listened for an answer. Now, let me be open on how this type of spiritual telepathy works for me. In this state of raised consciousness and trance it simply is a matter of formulating a single thought or question, speaking it out loud - and then waiting for an answer to arrive on the paper of my mind.
The answer normally takes shape of a single letter first. I hear the vibration of a letter in my mind. Then it is like the fumbling of a blind; I reach out from one letter to the next until I have the full word or sentence clearly captured in my mind like on a chalk board. Sometimes these words make sense in a language that I speak and sometimes I need to unlock them subsequent to the ritual as they might be a gematric key or a plain hebrew word I don't know. How I know which letter or words is 'right' is hard to describe. The best comparison I can come up with is the process we know from movies, when the thieve tries to find the combination of a safe to unlock the door by paying complete attention to the sounds of the turning wheel of the lock. The right letter or word just clicks on a heart-level. However, the one rule of thumb I discovered long ago is that every answer from an external entity comes as a complete surprise. The reply breaks establish thought patterns and works like an intervention to things I took for granted or did not see at all. The best analogy might be the conversations with creatures from lucid dreams we recall in the morning. If their answer doesn't come as a surprise but matches our conscious expectations we aren't really in touch yet. From personal experience I would say Tattwa or kabbalistic paths journeys are a great preparation and exercise for this type of spirit communion.
In this case my first question to Phul was: Who are you and what is the name of your Olympic Spirit? The first letter I received was a capital 'R'. While waiting and keeping my mind calm I heard the full word 'Rider' and then the full answer: 'I am a rider, I ride the light of the stars.'
This answer perfectly captured the essence of all of the questions I had brought to the ritual - yet took me completely by surprise. As often in these cases for me the first contact and sentence with the entity works as a key that unlocks the safe door to a wealth of understanding that hits me completely unprepared. In this case it was no different. Phul's answer that s/he is a rider on the light of the stars opened my heart to the message and provided me with a deep (non-verbal) understanding of her/his nature and function in alignment with the other Olympic spirits or planetary forces. The following questions served to fully verbalize this knowledge.
As Phul hadn't directly answered my question on the name of its Olympic Spirit I repeated this part. Phul answered the name to be used in calling him is Aka if called as a male and Lakal if called as a female entity. However, the letter 'k' was written slightly different: it was a double k mirrored around the vertical axis of the letter and merged back to back, thus providing a letter that 'looked' into two directions at the same time and resembled the wiccan sign of the waning, waxing and full moon. The simplicity of this name yet the depth of thought around it made me instantly smile.
- the secret names of Phul as given to me during the ritual -
- the tripple moon in the Wicca tradition -
I continued with a question on what would hinder one from making contact with Phul/Aka/Lakal. Phul immediately replied 'clothes', followed by: 'Take off your clothes and approach me naked. Clothes hinder the contact with me.’ For a second I saw myself naked in the yard outside my temple, surrounded by night and snow and ascending on the light of the moon.
I returned to the belly of the moon that still hung above me, round and ripe like the belly of a pregnant woman and asked my next question: Which parts in the human body do you govern? Phul replied without hesitation: 'All the waters in the human body and the resulting processes and fluids of the spleen.' Luckily I know nothing about neither standard nor occult medicine. So I simply accepted this answer and continued to listen...
At this point I lost the sequence of questions I had prepared for Phul in advance of the ritual. Like a wave Phul’s presence started to cover my mind and thought. I heard the answers to my previous questions again and mingle with additional information I hadn’t asked for... Below is the best report I can give of this wave of presence that filled every inch under my magical robe. It was flowing through the Lamen on my chest, through the serpent on the crown on my forehead and through the top of my skull into my body and mind.
Phul said: “I am a rider. I am riding the lights of the stars. I am binding the lights of the planets and direct them like a group of wild horses. I am the gate through which they enter and I am the gate through which you ascend. Anything that passes through me transforms, I am a collector and I am shapeshifter. I am a concave mirror unifying everything reflected. I am the keeper of the treasure house of pictures, collecting the pictures of humans and stars. I rule all waters and fluids in the human body and the effusion of the spleen. My influence is solvent. My light is making you receptive to life. I am the water in the chalice of your body in which the might of the planets is united, through which all creation is present within you. I am the state of passive absorption, of calm conception, of acceptance without resistance, there is no good or bad no wrong or right in light of my mirror. You can approach me in the light of the moon. Take off your clothes and take a baths in my light. I am not talking in symbols, my resistance are your clothes. Ride on my light and ascend to me. Stride through the gate that I am and advance into the space beyond me. My name is Aka as a man and Lakal as a woman. Come and enter.”
Once this wave was reducing its presence I knew that I had been blessed with as much knowledge as my untrained mind could take at a time. Coming to the closure of the ritual I felt full of gratitude for the communion and contact with this gentle yet powerful spirit. My heart was full of thankfulness as I felt the presence of Phul around and above me and the impact of her/his answers on my mind. The best analogy to a similar experience in Malkuth must be the gratitude a farmer feels when he stands in front of a field freshly broken up and sowed with the right nurturing weather approaching him... What a blessed and sublime experience to be in touch with this planetary spirit without the usual numb filters of Malkuth, yet to meet him/her eye to eye and heart to heart.
I made the sign of the closing of the veil and felt the energy of Phul disappearing out of the sacred space of the circle. I grabbed the dagger, turned around to face east and started the closing lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram.
My mind was centered on the presence of the four archangels as I closed the ritual. Then I recited my standard license to depart to allow all spirits and energies still bound from the ritual act to return to their normal place and state of being. I closed the lid of the censer and wiped out the altar candles.
A few of my personal conclusions from this ritual are included in the description of the rite already. The direct contact and interaction with the spirit Phul was a humbling experience, may it have happened on a subjective or objective level. For magic to work luckily this distinction is irrelevant.
However, I do want to share a few observations and thoughts that evolved once the rite was completed. First of all, it’s an interesting question to consider whether I can tell the different influences the paraphernalia used in this rite had on the actual experience. I find myself unable to answer this question with precision. Obviously the incense had a direct effect on my conscious, as had the coldness in the room, the darkness of the veiled temple space as well as the long time of preparation for the rite. Yet, the specific influence of the dagger, the crown, the lamen or - maybe most importantly to me - the Table of Practice I cannot tell.
It seems to be a distinct feature of any ritual experience that the performance of the rite creates a space of synchronized sensual experience. I.e. all senses are activated and fully focussed on a single experience. It is the visual and sensual stimuli - which were carefully prepared and aligned in advance - combined with the tight choreography of movements, gestures and recitations which are creating a unique experience that aligns all senses. The ritual effect can best be compared to metal chipping in a magnetic field which all adopt precisely the same orientation and thus changes consciousness in the ritual performer. in this state of heightened awareness, trance or even self-hypnosis a space is opened in which no past or future but only present time exists. No reflections or associations on past or things to come, nothing outside the temple walls or the line of the circle on the floor enters into this space. At least in my case this goes along with the inability to actually differentiate specific sensual influences subsequently - as they were all united while living through the experience.
Thus, whether the presence and voice of Phul entered predominantly through the lamen on my chest, through my ears, through my forehead or the top of my skull I cannot tell. Yet, I can tell that all these organs were in contact with Phul’s voice at the same time. On reflection I can see psychologically how much the Table of Practice helped to induce self-hypnosis as the black surface of the mirror captures the gaze so easily while not providing any fixed objects for the stare to settle on. From a magical perspective, however, I am unable to tell how the spirit influence was transferred between the outside of the circle, the Table of Practice, the lamen and my bodily and mental senses.
So much to the ritual experience itself. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the actual messages I received from Phul and how they relate to more traditional information on the Moon in magic.
On looking at the two names received from Phul we have to differentiate between the spiritual entity Phul and the Olympic Spirit of the Moon. Phul is the name of the actual visible star, i.e. the moon according to the ‘Olympic speech’. Yet it’s not the actual name of the respective Olympic Spirit or - as they are also called - governor or prince of the government.
There are seven different governments of the Spirits of Olympus, by whom God hath appointed the whole frame and universe of this world to be governed: and their visible stars are Aratron, Bethor, Phaleg, Och, Hagith, Ophiel, Phul, after the Olympick speech.
(Third Septenary, Aphorism 16)
The true name of the Olympic Spirit of the Moon is referenced as a ‘constellation’ and undisclosed by the author of the Arbatel. The reason he provides for this is that the true names of the Olympic Spirits only are effective for the Magician to whom they were revealed under the specific constellations of the ritual performed. Their efficacy seems to be limited to about 40 years, which at the time of the transcript of the Arbatel was slightly more than the average life expectancy.
“There are other names of the Olymick spirits delivered by others; but they onely are effectual, which are delivered to any one, by the Spirit the revealer, visible or invisible: and they are delivered to every one as they are predestinated: therefore they are called Constellations; and they seldome have any efficacie above 40 yeers. Therefore it is most safe for the young practisers of Art, that they work by the offices of the Spirits alone (...)”
(Third Septenary, Aphorism 18)
In light of this it seems plausible that Aka and Lakal are the names of the Olympic Spirit of the Moon which are effective between 2010 and somewhere close to 2050 for my personal magical use. I promise to put a note in my diary to check on this in January 2045... - On a more practical note currently I cannot tell if and which actual difference there is between Aka, Lakal and Phul. This would require additional rituals, dedicated to Aka or Lakal and more direct communication to see what they have to share.
From A perspective of Gematria the values of AKA and LAKAL are 22 and 82. I could not find any relevant connections to hebrew words of similar value which hint at the moon. The only interesting fact seems to be the Notarikon of the name of god ‘Yehova Elohim Yehova Achad’ (i.e. Yod-Aleph-Yod-Aleph) which also has the value 22. However, I didn’t find any planetary references for this specific Notarikon or name of god. Neither did the sum of 104 or the checksums of 4 and 10 produce any results based on my limited gematric knowledge and skills. Should you have deeper insights and spot connections I have missed, please do contact me and share them.
As in the previous cases Phul’s reply on this question was very direct: All fluids in the human body as well as the effusion of the spleen are under his rulership. I verified this against my personal standard book on planetary medicine, Samuel Sagan’s ‘Planetary Forces Alchemy & Healing’ from 1996.
As one would expect Sagan confirms that the moon is ruling all fluids of the human body. The spleen and its function in the human body, however, is assigned as the main organ of Saturn. This is derived from the fact that in occult medicine the spleen’s function is to transform external Od/Prana/Chi consumed from food into energy that carries the specific signatures of the individual and can be integrated into the physical and astral body.
So Phul’s reference to the spleen as his organ in the human body creates an interesting connection between the Moon, Phul and Saturn. If one studies the function of Saturn in the human body and psyche a bit deeper one learns that he truly is the archetype of a gatekeeper. Saturn is the essence of the creation of borders and separation and next to the spleen his main organ of the human body is the skin. The skin is the organ which separates us as individuals from the environment, a gatekeeper that provides a sense of being distinct and captured in a specific shape.
If I just follow what I have learned from Phul he seems to be a reflection of Saturn at the other end of the planetary spheres. Where Saturn marks the border (of the human body and) the classical solar system into the alchemical 8th Sphere, Phul is the opposite gate out of the planetary realm and into the sublunar realm. Only at this point did I understand why so many classical magical sourcebooks put such an emphasize on the sublunar (i.e. below the sphere of the Moon) and supralunar (i.e. beyond the sphere of the Moon) spheres of planetary influences. It is the essence of Phul’s function in our body (microcosm) and solar system (macrocosm) that is represented by this distinction.
Finally, I checked and realized that this also made sense from a kabbalistic point of view. Saturn is the first Sephira above the Abyss. Thus representing the border before one fully ascends into the first triad of the Tree and becomes absorbed in Chokmah and Kether ultimately. On the other end of the tree Yesod is the first Sephira below the veil of Paroketh. Thus representing the last Sephira before one transcends the borders of human personality into the full awareness of spirituality. Both, Moon (Phul/ Yesod) and Saturn (Aratron/ Binah) are gatekeepers to the most concrete realm of human experience on the one hand and the most sublime and transcendental realm of human experience on the other hand.
May the serpent bite its tail.