'Homo homini lupus est.' - 'Man is a wolf to [his fellow] man.'
(Plautus Asinaria, 195 BC)
Well, I should warn you - this might be the most foolish post I shared yet. For one, because the two reports of magical experiments from the 1920s which I have translated for you don‘t shed a very positive light on our art and ancestors. In fact, they are probably amongst the worst examples of how to practice magic. As so often the anonymous magician involved seems to have held sufficient half-knowledge to be dangerous - dangerous all at the same time to himself, to his scryer, to the beings he worked with as well as to his own cat.
More importantly, however, it might be foolish to publish such material because foolish people don‘t die out. Thus rather than helping us to learn from the past and avoid errors we - as a tribe - committed already, it might fuel more foolish acts. Which is why I chose to provide quite a bit of context and perspective without diluting the original source text. If after reading all of it you still think there is anything to be repeated here, I simply cannot help you. Nor would I take any responsibility for your actions or their consequences of course.
Having made this hopefully very clear, and without further ado, here we go... Just click on the image below and the translated text will open in a new window as a PDF file (1.8MB). Feel free to download and use it for private use only. Once you have had time to read through it, bite into the table top and laugh hard - you can find additional perspective and considerations on these 'experiments' below...
Well, let‘s discuss if and why digging out such an old account of two magical experiments is worthwhile? To start off, let‘s take a look at the bright side - the skills we find in the operating magician and the (few) things we can learn from his report.
Insights and Learnings
It seems the gentleman writing under the pseudonym of Zinnenzarius was quite experienced in practicing magic with a medium as a scryer. Unfortunately we aren‘t told a lot about the specific setting of their work - especially during the first experiment. Nor are we given any explanations about how Zinnenzarius induced somnambulism upon his medium? Did he leverage a form of hypnosis, did they use drugs, indian cannabis especially as it was common during these days?* Whichever method Zinnenzarius applied, we can take one thing from his accounts for sure: The fashion of experimenting with spiritism and mediumism of the early 1900s might have helped to revive a very ancient form of ritual magic, i.e. performing rites or evocations in tandem - leveraging one fully conscious operator and a somnambulant medium.
(*Note: On page 97/98 of the small book the author Grötzinger - not the magician Zinnenzarius - is sharing a detailed technique for inducing somnambulism on a medium.)
While there are obviously many flaws in the way Zinnenzarius leverages his medium, he did do a few things correctly: First of all, he was smart enough to ask for guidance on aspects he wasn‘t skilled on personally through the help of his medium (e.g. the magical sigils used to bring back the medium or the right time of operation during the 2nd experiment). Secondly, his attempt to learn more about the ,magical ABC‘ after he had been told by the spirit that he couldn‘t even spell the most simple words correctly, was a smart move. Trying to rediscover elements and knowledge of such celestial script can be read to stand in the ancient tradition of rediscovery of the ,Lingua Adamica‘ amongst Jewish and Christian Kabbalists.
Thirdly, when he got stuck during the end of the first experiment he used his medium to look into the future and learn about new techniques that would help him move on. Another smart move which tells us Zinnenzarius at least understood that the concept of time is different in the physical and spiritual realms.
Furthermore, the operator did seem to hold a sound knowledge of how to work with magical seals, both astrally and physically. One might argue it was the only technique he knew how to apply and thus did himself more damage than gain through it. However, despite the question wether he applied the sigils and names for the right reasons, he seemed to have swift reactions in applying them effectively - especially during the second experiment.
Finally, not Zinnenzarius himself but Mr. Grötzinger - the author who is sharing these anecdotes in his book - shows that he holds some solid, even though possibly just theoretical understanding of ritual magic. The plain advise after the first experiment not to share any personal physical substance or fluids with the spirit is obvious of course. However, the advise at the end of the second experiment is more interesting: Much debate has happened over the last decades on how to work with angelic protection when evoking e.g. Goetic spirits. The central question in this discussion is wether each demon is countered by a specific angelic antipole? Mr. Grötzinger confirms this question and shows us that even during the early 1920s such knowledge did exist and assumingly was successfully applied in demonic rites.
Flaws and Mistakes
So what about the flaws and mistakes made in these attempted rites and what can we learn from these? Well, I guess some people might say there are so many - just throw away the entire report and don‘t bother. From a purely practical point of view I guess I would agree. From a more historic perspective, however, I think there are a couple of interesting points to be called out.
The most obvious seems to me that Zinnenzarius at any stage of the rituals described completely fails to build a constructive relationship with the spirits he is engaging with? Both experiments to him seem to be nothing by a method of ,extracting‘ occult knowledge from his medium about a realm he doesn‘t seem to hold any first-hand experience about. While he is attempting to find out names and seals of the ,demons‘ who approach through his medium, he isn‘t inquiring anything about their nature, their needs and wants or their relationship to the place he is performing magic from... In essence the operator is exemplifying the flawed and age-old attitude of trying to coerce and force every living being around him to support his very limited and highly personal agenda. What this ultimately leads to is a very one-dimensional approach to magic (and life!) which in turn results in ongoing power-fights and trickery as well as dysfunctional relationships both in the human and spiritual realm.
Additionally, Zinnenzarius‘ concept of active and passive parts in the rituals explained is flawed. One of the reasons why both of his rituals fail in the end is because he is thinking of himself as the only active, guiding part and the medium as the passive and executing arm of this magical operation. Any rider who treats his horse in such way, any hunter who treats his dogs in this way knows pretty little about his art...
Of course there is little we need to add or comment on once a magician is taking inspiration from movies - and aims to re-enact the ,magic‘ seen in it without doing any proper research in advance. While Zinnenzarius is aiming to transform his magic into an occult version of a ,Myth-Buster‘ show, he didn‘t even bother to research the story of the golem in detail. Creating a golem is one of the most advanced acts of ritual Jewish magic - as it includes the creation of mindfulness and ultimately consciousness in an earthen vessel built entirely for this purpose. It is about merging the forces of life and the substance of matter by use of utterance. It is definitely NOT about summoning a demon and just locking it up in a cat‘s body. Why on earth would anybody want to do this? It actually reminds me of scientists who try to sew a fish‘s head on a mouse's body and wonder why the act is so difficult to perform - and why the bloody animals resist it so much? Of course, the answer is to simply apply more pressure and get on with it. Why? Well, because creating the first fish-cat - or demon-cat in our case - is simply worth it... Not so much, me thinks.
Finally, a magician who thinks of his rites in terms of return-on-investments should rather stick to commercial business; he would probably be rather good at it? In magic there is absolutely no place for a sense of entitlement on the magician‘s side. In fact if magic truly is aimed at learning new things, exploring and broadening our horizon of what we know about the occult realms - there cannot be any sort of expectation on what one might find or get in return. Expectations that need fulfilling simply bias and distort the entire process. Magic on this level needs to be as free from the operator‘s personal desires and wishes as possible. The lock on the door to the highest forms of magic is unconditional service - and each rite on our path can help us advance in this direction a little further. However, 'magical service' is a concept clearly pretty foreign to our Zinnenzarius.
At the end of the day magic is no different than any other science we engage in today: Unless we are really mindful about approaching things with the right personal values, filters and inner attitude it‘s very easy to create more damage than good. With regards to this fundamental aspect of magic it seems little has changed since the early 1920s? Far too often we still operate like children, naively following anything that‘s new and shiny, trusting our own limited agendas more than the world around us.
Since the days of Zinnenzarius we have invented automobiles, plastic, nuclear power, genetic-engeneering and successfully created a whole new world of self-exploiting consumerism. However, it seems our maturity as magicians, as human beings has not increased at the same pace with which we burdened ourselves with more responsibility for our actions? -- If this is anywhere close to where we are today, maybe it is time for us to ask more often why we do what we do? To pause and reflect and really understand the motives that drive our actions. Rather than pointing out risks of striking a pact with demons or missing angelic protection - asking such simple question could have been a more helpful intervention to protect Mr. Zinnenzarius. To protect him not from future demonic attacks or pacts but from a much more dangerous source of threat: himself.
'Omnia sponte fluant, absit violentia rebus.' - 'May everything flow on its own accord, may violence be far from things.' (Johann Amos Comenius)