Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Well Met by Daylight

The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by Sir Joseph Noel Patton (1846)

[Preliminary Note: I am sampling a bit more from a text than I typically feel comfortable doing, especially since at present The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet by Rankine is pretty much one of a kind. If you happen to be a representative of Avalonia publishing – or god forbid Rankine himself – and you're pissed at how much I've sampled (two pages of text), let me know and I'll immediately reduce the size of sampled text. I'm hoping that my reasons for sampling so much text become clear in the course of this blog entry. - Faust.]
“Gin ye ca' me imp or elf,
I rede ye look weel to yourself;
Gin ye ca' me fairy, I'll work ye muckle tarrie;
Gin guid neibour ye ca' me; Then guid neibour I will be;
But gin ye ca' me seelie wicht, I'll be you freend baith day and nicht.”
(Chambers 1870, 324; taken from Wilby, “The Witches Familiar...”)
In his Popular Magic, Historian Owen Davies describes a number of cunning-men and cunning-women who claimed (at the very least) to have derived their powers from fairies. (P. 70, 95, 182.) This topic is discussed predominantly by Emma Wilby in her paper “The Witch's Familiar and the Fairy in Early Modern England and Scotland,” which was expanded upon in Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits. A lot of what the latter book deals with are what we could call “spontaneous fairy-encounters,” which sometimes resulted in a spirit serving a cunning-woman as a familiar. In her aforementioned paper, Wilby comments that the result normally did not involve the individual amassing great wealth – as is often imagined to be gained from familiar spirits – but rather that the cunning-man or cunning-woman was promised “a living.” This might involve being taught the skills of a craft, such as how to 'speak to the plants' to learn medicine, or magical arts (such as how to construct charms, or perhaps even call up and deal with other spirits), not to mentioning potentially healing or blighting those whom the individual wished.

While the spontaneous encounters are fascinating, recent books put out by David Rankine contain rituals which could also allow the individual to form alliances with fairy spirits through ritual means. The primary one being referenced in this blog entry is found on page 261 of his Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, and is a ritual to obtain conversation of Oberion, a variant spelling of Oberon. (You remember him, right? He's that King of the Fairies found in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, in the event you feel confused.)

Upon purchasing the aforementioned book, I was immediately interested in the ritual. However, between his comments in the introduction and reading the ritual itself, I realized that it was lamentably incomplete for reasons that will become clear momentarily.

In the introduction, he states:
The conjuration of Oberion at fo.115v-116 is clearly derived from material found in Folger Vb. 26(1). As well as having very similar conjurations, Vb.26(1) has two images of Oberion* (at fo.185 and fo.186) with the sun and moon on his right and left sides and the names of his four counselors around him (with their seals), Scorax, Carmelion, Severion, and Cabereon. These are the names subsequently used in the conjuration provided by Arthur Gauntlet in Sloane MS 3851.”
When you consult the conjuration supplied by Arthur Gauntlet, the issue that arises is the images – and the seals of the four Counselors – are called for but not included in the text. As such, without either of the two images appearing in Folger MS Vb. 26(1), one appears to be out of luck for actually using the text.

As for why one might want to use it, Rankine continues:
Reading the description of Oberion given in Vb.26(1) it is easy to see why a cunning-man would seek the assistance of the King of the Fairies:
'He appeareth like a king with a crown on his head, he is under the government of the (sun) and (moon), he teacheth a man knowledge in physick, and he showeth the nature of stones, herbs, and trees and of all metal. He is a great and mighty king, and he is king of the fairies...'” (P. 19)

Thus, I went out to find one of the two images discussed above. I was hoping to find an image archive of Folger Vb.26(1), such as one sometimes finds floating about educational archives, but had no such luck. Instead I stumbled upon this random image from the Grimoire... And realized that it was precisely one of the images I was looking for, however I'm not sure which of the two it is. VVF was kind enough to enlarge it for better viewing (without reaching over pixelation), and from that the seals called for were extracted and redrawn by themselves by VVF. (In the event we've mislabeled one of the seals and you're aware of it, let us know so we can change that.)

Thus, here is the text side by side with the images that it calls for. There is only one omission I've made, which is that the title that follows duplicated the word “Presently,” and was thus the duplicate was omitted. Additionally, I was unable to include the Planetary symbols that appear in the text and have instead substituted their names in parenthesis. Otherwise, this ought to be a fairly similar transcription from what appears in the book. (p. 261-262)

Oberion, from Folger VB.26(1)

Whosoever hath this following figure And shall use the invocation Presently shall Oberion Come in the likeness of a Beautiful man like a Soldier personally in the air or in a Glass.

The first day of the Moon Increasing and Ascending when she shall be strong and in the hour of (the Moon), Take a sheet of lead or of Silver And the Graven Image of the foresaid Spirit and his Sign above his head and his name in his forehead And the sign of the (Sun) in the right part about the arm and the name of the Angel of the (Sun) which is Scorax and the sign of the (Moon) in the left part and the name of the Angel of the (Moon) which is Carmelion Then say this invocation:


O Lord O Angels of the (Sun) and of the (Moon) Scorax and Carmelion I conjure and exorcise you by the virtue and power of the name of the Son of God which is + Alpha + and + Omega + and by this worderful name which is + Elli + and by him which hath framed you And by the figures which are written in this plate In the unity and omnipotence of the Creator and by this most high name which is + Tetragrammaton + which at what time soever by calling upon or Invocating Oberion whose Image is here graven and the name of the sign thereof are drawn forth in this sheet and that you make Oberion obey me and to appear in the Air In the likeness of a Boy of 7 years of age and that he perfectly and truly fulfil my desires so far forth as he is able without any fraud or deceit whatsoever in all things + Fiat + Fiat + Amen +...”

Then in the day of (Mars) following write the name of his counsellor in the Sheet which name is Raberion on the right side and his Sign so as it appear plainly. Then say this invocation:

I conjure thee O Spirit Kaberion by all things in heaven and earth in Hell and by King Solomon which hath brought thee under yoke and by all Signs and Seals and Rings and by the 4 Elements that support the whole world and by the Serpent lifted up in the Wilderness That thou counsel thy lord Oberion to put himself wholly to me In the shape of a boy 7 years of age and to his power to fulfil my desire in all things.

So be it + So be it + So be it +...”

Say this thrice in the day and once in the night Then on the third day to wit on the day of (Mercury) write the name of his Counselor which is Seberion as it manifestly appeareth in his sign. Say this:
I exorcise thee thou Seberion and command thee by this name Obriun or Obyron which befits no man to name save he that is in peril of death and is employed in this art And by all the Spirits as well Superior as inferior that without delay or any complaining you advise and counsel your lord Oberion to show himself familiarly to me in all things and at all times. So be it.”

Afterward you may read the names of the 4 Angels saying this: ...

(Rankine notes that the rest of the page is blank, and the next prayer following is in the second hand. So, alas, the ritual ends here.)


The following symbols also appear at the bottom of the picture, and may go along with Oberion's seal:

 * He also notes Oberion's presence in Sloane MS 3846. Rankine's The Book of Treasure Spirits (Avalonia, 2009) also contains Sloane MS 3824. This manuscript contains a section entitled “The Fairy Court and Treasure,” which pairs Oberion with Mycob as the rulers of the fairies. A short bit later the Seven Fairy Sisters (Are, Lilia, Rostilia, Foca, Folla, Africa, Julia, Venulla) who can be petitioned to learn the location of treasure make an appearance. The ritual that immediately follows makes use of all of the above. (P. 110) So, we have at least a few places where Oberion pops up for petition by the working magician or cunning-man. All of the appearances are exceedingly cool, in my personal opinion. And if I haven't made it clear: if any of the above interests you, I recommend all the referenced books.

10 comments:

the Valentines said...

Personally, I think a surprising number of the spirits of the old grimoires are equatable to the fair folk..

Jack Faust said...

Valentine: Yeah! I recall discussing it with you when we visited LA. At some point, I may harass you into drawing up a list of the ones that came across as the Good Neighbors. At present, VVF and I are trying to narrow down the explicit conjurations, and figure out how many we can make work. I totally plan on following this one with the Seven Sisters (conjuration? Invocation? evocation? 'Eh. Let's stuck to:) ritual. But this one may require mild modification as we can't presently afford a plate of silver. Lol.

Anyway, I'm sure far less explicitly Good Neighborly spirits abound in some of the more mainstream Grimoires.

the Valentines said...

Reminds me of the old exorcisms in the CLM 849. Seems like some components of the exorcism are counter-intuitive to working with the Kindly Ones given the lore I know, which is admittedly not a great deal. The whole iron plate and shit, seems more like a controlling, coercive element.

I think if I was going to try to fill out the exorcism I would maybe dabble in the Brigid/Brigitta synthesis, in particular the 'pious pagan' passages. Especially since the exo focuses on Old Glory as the prime mover. Just riffing here.

Jack Faust said...

Kinda similar. Most of the Grimoire is less explicitly malefic. However, Gauntlet has conjurations for Satan ("Sathan") in it, as well as some of our favorite Necromantic rituals from Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft.

But I think the weirdness of the conjuration stems from the sources (Folger MS Vb.26(1), Sloane, etc) of the ritual and some of the sources that show up in Gauntlet's Grimoire. It includes sections of the Heptameron, Agrippa, Psalms, folk magic (other "Fairy Familiar" spells are clearly folk derived and call for folk-based magical aspects, like the blood of birds, etc), and a ton of semi-published to presently unpublished magical manuscripts of the 1500s and 1600s. It's very, very Eclectic.

As for the treatment of the Fair Folk in the ritual above itself:
- The counselors are referred to as 'Angels':
Which could translate to the older iteration of the Greek 'Angelos' - 'Messenger.' Or it could be because their nature was benefic enough to refer to them as Angels. Or, finally, it could refer to the late-Medieval belief that Fairies were neutral Angels that didn't take a side in the War in Heaven and thus were willing to work with the magician to 'get back' to their previous state in the universe. I think any of these approaches or outlooks is appropriate and not as likely to offend the spirits as you might initially believe. But I'll get to my other thoughts in a moment.

- The "Graven Image" one is directed to make can be either Lead (Compulsive, Binding, and thoroughly Saturnian) or Silver (totally lunar, and the construction of which sounds much more like creating an Idol for the spirits, or at least a proper housing). The Lead instription by a Cunning-Man sounds to me like that's being performed by someone who is not fucking around and wants to eliminate most of the possibilities of backfire. Arguably, it might do just that if you lack the required skill to bind such spirits. But, nonetheless, totally coercive. I don't feel the silver plate instription is nearly so blunt-force.

What VVF and I intend to do is reproduce the image, albeit with her artistic talents towards how Oberon will look. This base image will be done on three consecutive Mondays prior to the working. We'll then take gold and silver-leaf paint and follow the directions for inscribing the seals as the text directs, complete with the prayers. On the third day, should Oberon wish to speak with us (I'm trying to decide if I should use fumigations/smoke materialization for the conjuration, a magic mirror, or Gauntlet's "Conjuration within a Glass" - I forget the page number - which I've never tried. He also has the standard crystal ball conjurations of the 1700s in the text, so that may also work), I'm immediately going to ask: "Is there a ritual manner in which you'd prefer to be called?"

If such as it the case, I'll make sure to take copious notes. If I feel a suitable friendship has been struck, I'll proceed to the Seven Fairy Sisters - since being on good terms with their rulers sounds smart before chatting them up. I also want to know if they teach you how to locate hidden objects/knowledge (generally), or literal treasure. Either sounds interesting to me.

I totally think you can hoodoo the ritual up. Cunning-men and women probably would not have balked at all at such an approach.

Good to hear from ya again, bro. Seriously.

V.V.F. said...

Re: Christian admonitions in the exorcisms...
Most people are familiar with the idea that the Good Folk won't tolerate the holy words and emblems of Christianity. But there are also examples of individuals who were willingly baptized as Christians, and even became saints themselves. (Such as St. Muirgen the mermaid, or St. Ethne, foster-daughter of Aengus Og.) So it's not impossible that Oberon and his lieutenants could be amenable to commandments made in God's name. There is another rite in Gauntlet's collection in which the magician gains a familiar by approaching one of the otherworldly host to offer salvation through partnership with him. Interestingly, he advises the reader never to vex this spirit with questions about her origins, her parentage, or "what manner of spirit" she is, which is very much in keeping with the relevant folklore. A lot of "fairy wife" prohibitions are essentially about keeping her true nature a secret. So while these are obviously syncretic rites, they seem pretty organic by my estimation.

the Valentines said...

The inspiration dried up and so I spent the summer on sky-scrappers. And now I have come back down again. Is good to be back in the fray.

The silver seems fully legit to me, given the old folklore and the emphasis on the lunar current. The iron less so, though I would wager that Oberon would not take well to adjuration, especially Christian adjuration. The iron would most likely work better as a protective seal than say an evocative focus or talismanic fetish, which I would assume the silver to be.

@VVF - I am passingly familiar with the folklore concerning the oil and water aspect of the Fey and the Christian stuff. I think a lot of people forget that war was once fought under the banner of deity and those relationships can change. So I am with you there. Brigid of Kildare (Irish Saint) is often conflated with Brigitta of Sweden, this was especially true in Ireland which is why I mentioned her earlier. In Brigitte's 'Revelations' there is a portion of the text dedicated to the 'pious heathen' or a pagan who is devout and honourable. Most of the text is fixated on Old Glory (Christ as the Enthroned King) which is an interesting syncronicity with the exorcism you reproduced above. (Christ as the Prime Mover).

Some unsolicited advice on folky adaptations. Drop 'ADJURE' as it is a forcing and instead of 'Son of God' as the title of Christ go for 'Lord of Glory' as it is less patriarchal Christianity, is the figure who elevates the pious heathen and is the spirit of the Invisible Kingship (like Oberon himself). Or at least, that's what I would try. Again, just riffing.

V.V.F. said...

I'm really digging those suggestions!

the Valentines said...

Also, on the Angel/Fey equation ... Dee thought the Enochian spirits were angels while Kelley (who could actually see them) was convinced they were not and describes them as fey in his journals. Which always made a lot of sense to me, since they were essentially genus loci.

Scylla said...

Just... throwing this out there. The King of The Fairies, is subject to the Sun and Moon. Lord and Lady maybe?

I mean, when you get into King/Queen of the Fairies, you also get into Lucifer and Diana, too.

Depending on your view you might get into "The first man and woman to die" too. And that could all effect how you do your approach.

Captcha for this comment: Deitypu

Lance Foster said...

I am interested in: "There is another rite in Gauntlet's collection in which the magician gains a familiar by approaching one of the otherworldly host to offer salvation through partnership with him."

Dion Fortune implies something along this line.

"That there was a danger was recognized by the Druids and Romans, for they raised altars and offered sacrifices to these woodland peoples, and it was an act of propitiation, for if you don't give, they take, and what they take is unfortunately something that you cannot spare. It is life-force, for they seek ever to come closer to man, to mingle with him and to take on his ratio, for it is said therein lies their hope of immortality.

Should we wish to help these 'Sheep of another fold', we can do so by a wish to understand their needs and by bringing to them a knowledge of the finer ideals of our later times, and that in that way the sacrifice need not be one that is hurtful to our health and sanity" (p. 19, Aspects of Occultism).