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Aug 30 2010

Hymn to Saturn and Saturn’s Seal of Protection

Sorita d’Este posted this nice translation of the Orphic Hymn to Saturn which I believe is from Thomas Taylor’s under appreciated translations of The Hymns of Orpheus so I thought I’d print it also and give readers an idea of a magical use for it:

Etherial father, mighty Titan, hear, great fire of Gods and men, whom all revere:
Endu’d with various council, pure and strong, to whom perfection and decrease belong.
Consum’d by thee all forms that hourly die, by thee restor’d, their former place supply;
The world immense in everlasting chains, strong and ineffable thy pow’r contains
Father of vast eternity, divine, O mighty Saturn [Kronos], various speech is thine:
Blossom of earth and of the starry skies, husband of Rhea, and Prometheus wife.
Obstetric Nature, venerable root, from which the various forms of being shoot;
No parts peculiar can thy pow’r enclose, diffus’d thro’ all, from which the world arose,
O, best of beings, of a subtle mind, propitious hear to holy pray’rs inclin’d;
The sacred rites benevolent attend, and grant a blameless life, a blessed end.

Taylor was a poet at heart and though he takes some artistic liberties his versions of the Hymns keep the inner meaning of these prayers to the gods intact. For purely religious uses Taylor’s translations are excellent, it is essentially a prayer book for Pagans.

I have used the Hymn to Saturn when creating what some call the Seal of Protection from Sudden Death but others know simply as The Saturn Seal of Protection or some variation thereof. Creating seals is a process that requires a little more depth than a blog post but for a quick and dirty how to I recommend Anna Riva’s Secrets of Magical Seals which will have you up and running within a day.

I often include this seal in charm bags I make, or sometimes I simply put it in my wallet when I know I’ll be in some rough areas. I draw it on a small square of good quality paper (parchment is expensive, but purists can actually get the real stuff made by taxidermists) in Dragon’s Blood ink. I am usually burning some sort of protection incense when I do this because it’s part of a larger ritual, but if you’re just dashing off the square a Saturnian incense is appropriate.

I put my name, birthday and magical name on the back of my seals, but that’s just how I learned to do them. I then anoint the seal with an appropriate oil. The anointing of seals is not optional. While this is done the Hymn to Saturn makes is a powerful incantation to help “charge” the seal.

The Zazel written up top is the “Spirit” of Saturn which is kind of the blind “force” that we are imbuing the seal with, the essence so to speak. Agiel is the ‘Intelligence” of Saturn which is a sentient manifestation of Saturn energy which directs or allows the use of this force.

I hesitate to claim this seal will or won’t protect you, mainly because there is at least one person out there litigious enough to sue me after putting themselves in harm’s way while carrying their poorly constructed seal. However I have lived in some bad neighborhoods, I have been shot at once, had guns pulled on me three times and jumped, chased etc. I’m still here so … probatum as they say.

Aug 27 2010

Amateur Ghost Hunter Dies Hunting for “Ghost Train” … On Active Railway

This is why I started Spell and Ritual. There are too many armchair occultists (or as in this case, “paranormal investigators”) who lack not only the basic knowledge of their field but common sense.

From WISTV.com:

STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) – A man who was with about a dozen people who were looking for a legendary “ghost train” in Iredell County was hit by a locomotive and killed early Friday morning.

The incident happened on a train trestle at 2:45 a.m. near the 900 block of Buffalo Shoals Road.

Christopher Kaiser, 29, died at the scene and two more people were injured, according to Iredell County Sheriff Phillip Redmond. Kaiser’s body was found below the trestle down a steep incline, he said.

The injured patients were airlifted to a local hospital.  Their condition was not immediately known.

“During the investigation, witnesses told deputies they were at the site in hopes of seeing a ‘ghost train’,” the Iredell County sheriff’s office said in a press release.

The sheriff said the incident coincided with the anniversary of a train wreck that occurred at the same location in 1891.

Crewmen on the train tried to warn the group to get off the trestle and most were able to get away. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Christopher Kaiser’s family and friends at this time of need, of course.

But if I may be so crass as to illustrate a larger point about the growing occult community, which includes these “paranormal investigators” who seem to primarily be thrill seekers looking for scary experiences to share with friends, I would like to ask the following questions:

1) Why was it necessary for them to be on the trestle to investigate the supposed ghost sightings? A follow up to that would be why not send only the people physically capable of reacting quickly if trouble developed?

2) Why didn’t anyone check the schedules of trains, call the railroad to get permission or even scout out the location to see how active the area was? In other words why wasn’t this “investigation” grounded in the real world?

3) Couldn’t the “ghost train” be seen from the ditch the unfortunate Mr. Kaiser ended up in?

The answer to all these questions seem obvious to me. But they weren’t to Kaiser and company. And that’s not his fault.

It’s ours. And by ours I mean the wider occult community that ignores the growing trend of amateurs and dilettantes getting on television and claiming expertise about hunting ghosts or hunting monsters who are really just hunting for quick profits by teaching people to hunt for trouble.

Standing on a section of train track where there’s no place to run waiting for a ghost train is not just foolish, it’s pointless. Had their little adventure been successful and they saw a ghost, what would have been accomplished? Who among us hasn’t seen evidence of ghosts and spirits? And how many of us know of safer and more meaningful ways to explore the outer reaches that we could show people like Kaiser if we weren’t too busy trolling forums and pretending we’re “above” these ghost hunters?

I have always seen the place of the American occultist, whether Thelemite, Chaos Magician, Wiccan or good old fashioned Witches and Warlocks, as a sort of Merlin to the American round table. The fact that we hoard ancient and arcane knowledge, often for selfish reasons, makes us important voices to help steer the wider Judeo-Christian society away from dangers they don’t actually understand. We should strive to be advisers and experts on the things the Christopher Kaisers of the world don’t know but find themselves involved in. This man is dead because he thought he needed to be on that trestle to experience a haunting. We know better but no one shared that with him.

Clearly I’m not of a mind that some Witch somewhere knew what he was up to and sat idle. But we allowed television shows like Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State to supplant real expertise, and to dispense falsehoods. Ghost Hunters, in particular, represents paranormal research as an amusement park ride available year round for people with free time on their hands. Paranormal State does worse in many ways.

And what if Kaiser and company faced metaphysical instead of physical danger? Would the Twilight themed Silver Ravenwolfery disguised as occult expertise that these shows dispense actually be enough to protect them? If you had a child who was going “ghost hunting” would you allow them to prepare by watching these shows and perusing the Internet?

The community of practitioners in America should speak out about the dangerous pseudo-occultism that is being embraced by the mainstream. Christopher Kaiser died because no sane occultist told him he could see this supposed ghost while standing somewhere safe – that he wasn’t going to see something on the tracks he couldn’t from on the road or frankly through a Black Mirror. But how many others are fed on by spirits they disturb, or “crossed” or are otherwise victims of forces they don’t understand?

And how much responsibility do you and I share for that?

Aug 27 2010

The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems

This book is nearly one hundred years old and many modern readers have complained incessantly about it’s “simplicity” and one Amazon review I saw even claimed it was “overly literal.” I can only assume that these complainers prefer the vague platitudes of modern New Ageism or the incomprehensible fantasist like a Kenneth Grant to good old fashioned lore complied by people who use their classical education to explore the mysteries. That’s fine for hobbyists but for practitioners book collections aren’t for the coffee table, they’re references that will be well used and read often. The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems will be read often.

I frequently checked out a version of this book from my college library and was pleasantly surprised to see a new printing of it available on Amazon as well as a scan of it on SCRIBD. It has brief, yet thoroughly researched, explanations of almost every symbol used in amulet and talisman creation utilizing historical research, and the authors’ exploration of how Zodiac stones were used by our ancestors will help you in your own formulations. The book covers talismans from Hindu, Jewish, Chinese, Egyptian, Roman, Gnostic, Greek, Muslim and Christian traditions so there is very much something for everyone.

(1922) The Book of Talisman, Amulets & Zodiacal Gems

Aug 23 2010

How to Banish a Fever

Another one from The Long Lost Friend. I of course recommend seeking medical treatment for serious illness, but this is a magical remedy from a time when there was little recourse for a fever. Some believe that we may be heading to that time again but that’s another story.

How to Banish a Fever

Write the following words upon a paper and wrap it up in knot-grass, (breiten megrieb) and then tie it upon the body of the person who has the fever:

Pomat Sineat,

Pomat Sineat,

Pomat Sineat

Though The Long Lost Friend is mostly a book of Christian magics, I’ve always liked the almost Shamanic feel of this. The act of tying words that have only a magical meaning to a person with grass rather than string would speak to what Paul Huson called the “deep mind” in his classic Mastering Witchcraft. Next time your friend has a cold try it out and see.

Aug 23 2010

The Pulsa Denura: Haredim Cult Death Curse

Haaretz ran a story titled “The mysterious death of an Orthodox Jewish millionaire – murder or suicide?” which relates the strange death of Solomon Obstfeld. Obstfeld had rented an apartment to a Rabbi at below market prices, but the Rabbi had n0t paid any rent for a period of months so Obstfeld threw the man out. Before returning to Israel the Rabbi cursed Obstfeld with the Pulsa Nenura (Whips of Fire), a supposedly ancient curse using Kabbalistic formulas to call upon the Angels of Destruction to kill the victim.

Obstfeld died under suspicious circumstances.

Whether from this curse or the Rabbi’s hired help (which those close to Obstfeld believe is what actually happened) Obstfeld’s death has pushed this strange ceremony into the public eye and I will leave it to readers to form their own opinions about its effectiveness.

But first let’s start with the true history of the Pulsa Denura. I am no expert but I know of no legitimate Kabbalist who has ever purported to use such a curse. The ever unreliable Wikipedia claims the idea of the Pulsa Denura can be traced back to the Babylonian Talmud, but scholars say the original was specifically a curse that could only be given by God to one to his Angels. There is no traditional Kabbalistic basis for this ceremony being used as a curse.

The consensus seems to be that this rite was created in the early years of Israel’s reemergence by a Rabbi named Amram Blau who led the Haredim, or what we would call ultra-orthodox Jews. The rite is basically an elaborate excommunication ritual with a curse incantation thrown in. It was and is used as a political tool by the Haredim, who count among their numbers active anti-Zionists seeking the collapse of Israel, and also a large proportion of that state’s welfare recipients since most of the Haredim men actually refuse to work for “religious” reasons.  In this conflicted and overly pious community the Pulsa Denura can be seen perhaps as the expression of a group that feels both powerless and neglected by the wider Jewish community which it both despises and relies on.

Of course, as Chaos magicians will tell you, the truth is what you want it to be. The academic veracity of the curse may not pass muster but that doesn’t mean the curse can’t work. It has a high success rate, though the keen observer will notice that almost all the victims of this curse were old, already targeted by violent extremists or, in Obstfeld’s case, involved with shady characters like a Rabbi who may have hired a hitman.

Here’s video of the Pulsa Denura being performed:

My Hebrew is, shall we say, limited so I am uncomfortable publishing text to the rite. Hebrew speakers will find the text is out there. For religious purists it should be noted that it is impermissible, according to Jewish mystical tradition, to pray for something bad to happen to someone.

Like The Black Mass, which required the services of a de-frocked priest, the Pulsa Denura cannot be performed by just anyone. A group of scholars (some say ten) must perform the ritual in front of the tomb of a Jewish “martyr” after three days of fasting, starting at midnight. If the victim is without sin, the Angels will instead kill those that called them, myth says. The process will seem familiar to many of you that have slung some curses before.

In Israel the ritual isn’t particularly taken seriously, but is always a spectacle which draws the media. But there is no question that the rite contains elements of traditional Black magic. Perhaps the creator of the ritual read more than just the Zohar?

Aug 22 2010

Knight People: The Last of the Old School Magic Shops

I was spoiled as a fledgling Wiccan. I lived in New Jersey and ended up commuting to high school in Manhattan in the late 80s. In my all traveling I found many used bookstores with vast occult sections, passed by street vendors selling hard to find amulets and I frequented the finest occult shops. Magickal Childe in NYC, and Spellbound in Bloomfield (later to move to Belleville, NJ before closing all together) were “old school” shops where you could get everything you needed for any ritual. I became used to being able to buy candles, oil, alter cloths, alter tools, robes, wands and everything else I needed in one stop. Halcyon days, my friends.

When they closed they were replaced with “New Age” shops that specialized in cheap gemstones, books by Deepak Chopra and self-righteous moralizing. As Barnes and Noble closed down the bookshops, and the old occult shops fell by the wayside I had to find botanicas that catered to Voodoo and Santeria to buy oils, pour through Ren-fest catalogs to seek new Athames and lurk in antique shops hoping some old Warlock’s estate had been acquired. Here in South Carolina the local supposed occult shop is secreted in the back of a weekend flea market known mainly as the place to score stolen goods and the ingredients for methamphetamine production. Needless to say I struggle to find the goods I need.

I resign myself to this because I’d rather struggle to find goods then pay for some hausfrau’s yoga lessons. It may be a pretension but I prefer to buy my materials from those who know what they are actually used for.

Some people are of the same mind and I recently was able to recommend an actual magic shop to someone and thought I would share that recommendation online. I spent a few years in a college town called Middletown in Connecticut which is the home of not only Wesleyan University (where I received my Master’s degree, apropos of nothing) but one of New England’s finest magic shops, Knight People.

Knight people is a small shop but what they lack in size they make up for in quality of their goods and the people who work there. When I was a customer I mainly dealt with one of the co-owners named Melissa who I understand is now an author of supernatural fiction. She is a very nice woman who was knowledgeable and always willing to help you find what you need. The other co-owner is Emile who is also their in house psychic who does astrological charts as well as tarot readings. Also a very pleasant and knowledgeable person.

Again, Knight People is not a large shop but they carry almost all the basics you need. Because it’s a college town their book selection leans heavily toward the younger crowd but I have found some interesting self-published chapbooks there, so it’s worth browsing. Their selection of ingredients for various preparations is also impressive. They, of course, do business online and I urge anyone who is in the position of having to order material from online vendors to consider them.

I have added their store’s link to my blogroll section because I have done business with them for many years and fully endorse them. If you’re in the area pay them a visit, they often hold psychic fairs where some of the area’s better readers ply their trade. But get out of Middletown before winter sets in. Trust me.