Friday, April 19, 2013

Daimonic Agencies

In a recent post, R.O. responded to some of Gordon's comments regarding the demons of the Grimoires. In it, he equated the demons that reside within some of the handbooks of European magick as “elemental spirits,” which I take to mean that he was actually equating the Infernal Kingdom of Hermetic Magick to the Terrestrial, or Cthonic realm of Antiquity. In this sense, he seems to have plenty of evidence on his side.

If you take the time to look over the comments, you'll see Mr. Jason Miller appear and disagree. I was interested in the discussion between the two of them because I felt both were correct, but looking at the situation differently. R.O.'s sources for some of his discussion points are a fascinating combination of the works of Mr. Jake Stratton-Kent's True Grimoire (which is a very good piece of work) and his Geosophia volumes One and Two. Mr. Miller's comments follow along the lines of Richard Kiechhefer's assessments of the Grimoires in Magic in the Middle Ages, although he didn't reference a direct source.

Quoting Mr. Miller's comment (for those two lazy to go and take a gander; please note thatI've done slight grammar edits where applicable without overly changing the content of his comment.):
Demons were specifically sought after because they were:

1. Thought to be more powerful than ordinary spirits of nature, yet because of their demonic nature, more ready to grant boons of wealth and pleasure.
2. Thought to be causing mischief when not bound. The reason that you bind the demons after Abramelin is to give them a place in your personal kingdom rather than let them run amok. The demons in the Testament of Solomon all stem from a single demon that was exorcised from a possessed boy.

That's why the operator in these grimoires is so often called Exorcist.”

R.O. Follows it up with a direct reference to Agrippa:
Agrippa's scale of the number four, book 2, chapter 7 demonstrates the four “princes of spirits upon the four angles of the world” (Oriens, Egyn, Paymon, and Ayomon) are separate entities differentiated from the four princes of devils, (Sammael, Azazel, Azael, and Mahazael).

The princes are pretty clearly elemental. Yet they are still cast in the same "Infernal realm" as the princes of the devils.”

There occurs, early on in the first volume of JSK's Geosophia, a remarkable tale that serves to generate interest in the reader regarding what he or she is about to be introduced to. To try and keep from ruining most of the wonderful details Mr. Stratton-Kent provides, I'm going to limit myself to his source quotes and a few later quotes. I'm also going to mix in new sources so that you don't just get a Geosophia re-read. I will also be condensing the source material to what is relevant to this discussion, hence my quick explainations.

The sources he's culling from involve one Benvenuto Cellini, an adventurous fellow who found himself involved in Renaissance necromancy in 1535 CE. If you wish to read the entire escapade, I recommend cracking open the Geosophia and re-reading “Goetia and the Grimoires,” starting on the very first official page of the book. In any event: JSK shows how Cellini encountered a priest who was a practitioner of the magical arts of the Renaissance. Agreeing to take part in a ceremony, Cellini and the priest set up a circle and performed an initial ritual during which “several legions” of spirits appeared, and the Priest had Cellini perform his request to them, which was to be reunited with a lover named Angelica from Sicily. Following his request, the Priest reports that they will need another ritual to ascertain whether or not the spirits will aid in this request. At which point the adventure becomes interesting:

Way more freaked out than this kid.
“When we arrived again at the appointed spot, the necromancer having made the same preparations with that same and even more wonderful precision, set us within the circle, which he had again made with more wondrous art and more wondrous ceremonies; then to my friend Vincenzio he gave the charge of the perfumes and of the fire; and with him the said Agnolino Gaddi; then he put the pentacle into my hand, which he told me that I must turn in the direction towards the points he indicated to me, and beneath the pentacle I stationed that little lad, my shop-boy.” 
(Geosophia, P. 5)

We are already knee-deep in Necromancy that began in the Middle Ages and may well have flourished in Renaissance. The inclusion of the “little lad, my shop-boy” is a clear indicator of using a child medium for the evocation process. This tactic was fairly common in both antiquity and the Middle Ages. For comparison consider these sources:

Lamp Divination, PGM VII. 540-78:
“Put an iron lampstand in a clean house at the eastern part, and having placed on it a lamp not colored red, light it. Let the lampwick be of new linen, and light the censer. Then make a burnt offering of frankincense on grapevine wood. The boy, then, should be uncorrupt, pure.

Formula: “PHISIO IAŌ AGAENOUMA SKABARŌ SKASABRŌSOU ASABRŌ, because I emplore you this day today, this very time, to let the light and the sun appear to this boy, MANE OUSEIRI, MANE ISI, ANOUBIS the servant of all gods, and make this boy fall into a trance and see the gods, all who are present at the divination. Appear to me in the divination, O high-minded god, Hermes thrice-great! May he appear, the one who made the four parts of the heaven and the four foundations of the earth... (etc, etc.)” (Betz, 133. Consult for the full ritual.)
For a slightly potentially horrifying divination involving an “uncorrupted” (virgin) boy, consider:
PGM VII. 348-58:
Divination by means of a Boy
“After you have laid him on the ground, speak, and a dark-colored boy will appear to him.

Formula: I call upon you, the inhabitants of Chaos and Erebos, of the depth, of the earth, watchers of heaven, of darkness, masters of things not to be seen, guardians of secrets, leaders of those beneath the earth, administrators of things which are infinite, those who wield powers over earth, servants in the chasm, shudderful fighters, fearful ministers, inhabitants of dark Erebos, coercive watchers, rulers of the cliffs, grievers of the heart,, adverse daimons, iron-hearted ones BITHOURARA ASOUĒMARA... OTROUR MOURROUR APHLAU MANDRAROUROU SOU MARAROU, reveal concerning the matter I am considering. (Add the usual.)” (Betz, P. 127.)

Please take care to note the language of the above, and the Daimons being employed for the sake of dicovery on the part of the magician and keep that in mind for this next bit:

In his most excellent Magic in the Middle Ages, Richard Kieckhefer devotes the seventh chapter to “Necromancy in the Clerical Underworld.” It opens immediately with, as with the oracles in the PGM and the second ritual detailed by Cellini, a child oracle report involving what was now a largely infernal form of necromancy.

John of Salisbury in his Policratius tells an experience from his own youth. He was studying Latin from a priest, using the Psalms as the texts for study. As it happened, however, his teacher was an adept in the divinatory art of crystal gazing, and abused his rust by making John and a somewhat older pupul participate in these activities. The idea was to anoint the boys fingernails with some sacred chrism so that images would appear reflected in the nails and would impart information. Alternatively, a polished basin might by used as the reflecting surface. After certain “preliminary magical rites” and the requisite anointing, the priest uttered names “which by the very horror they inspired, seemed to me, child though I was, to belong to demons.” The other pupil declared that he saw “certain misty figures,” but John himself saw nothing of the sort and was thus ruled unqualified for this art...”
(Kieckhefer, P. 151.)


So, what occurred with Cellini? It's worth continuing into his account, for it grows truly fantastic and even puts misty demonic figures to shame.

The necromancy commenced to utter those very terrible invocations, calling by name a multitude of demons, the chiefs of legions of spirits, and summoned them by the Virtue and Power of God, the Uncreated, Living and Eternal, in the Hebrew language, and very frequently besides in Greek and Latin; to such purpose that in a short space of time they filled the whole Coliseum a hundredfold as many as had appeared the first time. Vincenzio Romoli, together with Agnolino attended to keeping up the fire, and heaped on quantities of precious perfumes. I, by the advice of the necromancer, again asked that I might be reunited with Angelica. The necromancer turning to me said: Do you hear what they have told you? That within the space of one month you ill be where she is? Then again he prayed me to stand firm by him, for the legions were a thousandfold more than he had summoned, and that they were the most dangerous ofinfernal spirits; and since they had settled what I asked, it was necessary to be civil with them; and patiently dismiss them...” (P. 5-6)
On the other hand the lad who was beneath the pentacle, in greatest terror said, there were a million of the fiercest men swarming round and threatening us. He said besides that four enormous giants had appeared, who were striving to force their way into the circle. All the while the necromancer, trembling with fright, endeavoured with mild and gentle persuasions to dismiss them. Vencenzio Romoli, who was trembling like a reed in the wind, looked after the perfumes. I, who was as much in fear as the rest, endeavoured to show less, and to inspire them all with the most marvellous courage; but the truth is that I thought myself a dead man on seeing the terror of the necromancer himself. The lad had placed his head between his knees, saying: we are all dead men. Again I said to the lad: These creatures are inferior to us, and what you see is but smoke and shadow, therefore raise your eyes. When he had raised them, he cried out again: The whole coliseum is in flames, and the fire is coming down upon us: and covering his face with his hands, he said again that he was dead, and that he could not endure the sight any longer...” (P. 6)
Thereafter JSK makes a fascinating, and quite revealing comment: 
“As Skinner and Rankine note, the four enormous giants, who cannot have been gathered at a single point, may well represent the Four Kings of the Cardinal Points who are frequently mentioned in Goetic texts.”

These Kings referenced are mentioned both in the footnotes to Trithemius' Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals and Agrippa, as referenced by R.O.'s comment quoted earlier above. However, a direct quote might help:
There is considerable variation in identification of the four kings of the cardinal directions. Here are a few: Agrippa, OP2.7 has (E, W, N, S): “Oriens, Paymon, Egyn, Amaymon,” however in OP3.24 he says, “Urieus, King of the East; Amaymon, King of the South; Paymon, King of the West; Egin, King of the North, which the Hebrew Doctors perhaps call more rightly thus, Samuel, Azazel, Azael, Mahazuel,” (See Cichus In Sphaeram Mundi, f. 21 apud quem: Zoroa. Fragm. O104; cf. Salom. ff. 28v-29r; sed addict. K: Reuchl. Arte 3, sig. O7r) MC has: “Bael, Moymon, Poymon, Egyn” or “Asmodel in the East, Amaymon in the South, Paymon in the West, and Aegym in the North”; “Oriens, Paymon, Egyn, and Amaymon”; or “Amodeo [sic] (king of the East), Paymon (king of the West), Egion (king of the North), and Maimon.”...”

Despite Brother B.'s protests, it is at this point we must diverge. There is absolutely no way that the Four Kings of the Cardinal Points are “mindless,” even if we discount the adventures of Cellini. They wouldn't appear in Renaissance and Grimoires so often if that was the case. And while his assertion that one can equate the demons of the Grimoires to the Decans is correct, he seems to be missing the point that there was a time-period in which dealing with Daimons or Daimones (Superior vs. Inferior – “Daimones,” when used by Neo-Platonists and other sources with the signature 'e' at the end of the word indicates an inferior spirit, which does not work with all of the spirits referenced in the Grimoires at all. Some are Daimones, and some are, explicitly, Daimons. Keep that in mind, friends.)

It is at this point we should jump back to the Child Oracle rituals of the PGM, in particular PGM VII. 348-58, which is now becoming quite revealing and helps us see how similar the pantheons of these spirits could be at times. The 'adverse daimons' are much beloved by the magicians of the PGM, for reasons that tie in with Jason's comments to R.O.:

“We should make it clear, however, that this syncretism is more than a hodge-podge of heterogeneous items. In effect, it is a new religion altogether, displaying unified religious attitudes and beliefs. As an example, one may mention the enormously important role of the gods and goddesses of the underworld... The underworld deities, the demons and spirits of the dead, are constantly and unscrupulously invoked and exploited as the most important means for achieving the goals of human life on earth: the acquisition of love, wealth, health, fame, knowledge of the future, control over other persons, and so forth...” (Betz, 1992. Italics are mine.)

But, Jack,” I'm sure you're saying to yourself, “that is all fine and well to show similarities in approach, but is there any evidence that the spirits in the Verum or Lemegeton descend from Goetic practices in late or earlier Antiquity?”

I'm glad you asked, blog-reader I just invented for my own purposes. In the second volume of the Geosophia, particularly if you ignore all the shining Gold in the True Grimoire, JSK explicitly references one such spirit. That spirit is Naberius or Naberus. He references the spirit as being Cerberus – but does not, if my recollection is correct (I seem to have misplaced the book. Sorry. I'll find it and double-check this weekend) reference his source. It took a bit of hunting, but his source seems to be Johannes Weyer in the Psuedomonarchia Daeonum (the anti-witch hunting badass that was a follower of Agrippa):

(17) Naberius [Naberus], alias Cerberus, is a valiant marquesse, shewing himselfe in the forme of a crowe, when he speaketh with a hoarse voice: he maketh a man amiable and cunning in all arts, and speciallie in rhetorike, he procureth the losse of prelacies and dignities: nineteene legions heare and obei him.

In the True Grimoire, he goes much further, showing that there is some argument to be made that the principle spirits of the Grimorium Verum can be linked to Greek divinities, particularly the ruling Cthonic divinities. These divinities, it should be remembered, are also “Daimons.” The word simply means “spirit” and does not imply that such a thing cannot be a God; for there are plenty of Daimonic Divinities that are indeed gods and the Gods are explicitly called Daimons in the Orphic hymns.

For example, the Orphic hymn to Sabazius explicitly reads:
Hear me, illustrious father, dæmon fam'd. Great Saturn's [Kronos'] offspring, and Sabasius [Zabazios] nam'd...”
During a brief, but particularly fascinating discussion I managed to involve myself in involving JSK himself, he noted that he also preferred the term “Daimon” for spirits. He went on to note, but was too busy (I suspect, at least) to source that the term “Daimon” was initially one that was ambivalent at best. The “Daimons” were gods, but considered particularly dangerous. While he did not say it, it seems as though the term both evolved to include any non-physical spirit (minus when they are manifesting, at least) and then split with the inferior “Daimones” (referred to as “Genii” in the Thomas Taylor translation of the Orphic hymns) even appearing in the first Orphic hymn:
The Stygian pool [Styx], and placid Gods [Meilikhoi] beside, and various Genii [Daimones], that o'er men preside; Illustrious Providence [Pronoia], the noble train of dæmon forms, who fill th' ætherial plain...”
In short: there are links between the practices of antiquity, and the spirits of the Grimoires. Furthermore, the divinities of the dead (such as Cerberus) seem to make a re-appearance, and the treatment of them would be similar to those which we see within the PGM. Some grimoires, such as CLM 849 (published by Kieckhefer in Forbidden Rites), even lack the strict hierarchy that some of the other Grimoires dedicate. The lines between the spirits of the dead, the spirits that rule over them, and medieval demons is so considerably blurred that all three seem to be involved.

But are they... elemental? Well, the earth-bound Biaiothanatoi (those who died a violent death, and are easily subject to magical compulsion) and Atropopaioi (those who are restless dead, and again subject to compulsion) certainly are terrestrial. They have nowhere to go, unless the magician makes a deal to secure their release into somewhere else or their allotted time comes to an end. The cthonic divinities, and their legions of spirits (some of whom may very well be of the two former classes), on the other hand are harder to say. The subject becomes muddled because Neo-Platonism and Greek magick began shifting divinities into the astral realms by mid-to-late antiquity, and even formerly 'terrestrial' or 'elemental' gods are extended a place on the astral. Dionysos, who was very elemental, is even shifted into a place in the Heavens. On the other hand, some Cthonic divinities continued to have their older, terrestrial, ruleship remain at least insofar as the magicians of the PGM are concerned. Like magicians turning to the Demons of the Grimoires, the magicians of that era consistently turned to them for a wide variety of every-day purposes.

What were they doing when they weren't being called upon, to answer Gordon's initial question that sparked this discussion? What they were always doing. Ruling shit. Causing trouble. Being terrifying. Being worshipped. Gathering hordes of the dead. In the case of Cerberus, he's still sitting at the gate to Hades as far as I know.

One imagines, quite easily, that if they did indeed make their way into the Grimoires of the middles ages and later Renaissance, that such a factor never changed.

EDIT:  Added a hyperlink to Psuedomonarchia Daemonum and fixed the quote.


Jason Miller, said...

See, I dropped that after my hasty comment made via phone because I was not quite sure I wanted to defend my point.

Now that I read your excellent article, I am still not sure...

I tend to approach my own practice from a more Vajarayana perspective and have to be careful not to project that when discussing hermetics and such with other people.

Gordon said...

I'm loving being accidentally involved in all this fancy talk. :)

Frater Acher said...

Great conversation, working on my blog reply right now... :-)

Jack Faust said...

Jason: Like I said, I liked what you said. I have absolutely no idea about the Vajarayana approach. It's completely and utterly alien to me and I would enjoy, at the very least, to be exposed to more of it. So write moar, damn it. Unless you're busy. In which case, it's all good.

Gordon: You rock. And the epic levels of rock echo forth and trigger... uh, this. Chaotes. What're we gonna do?

Fr. Acher: Most excellent. But if you unleash Iamblichus on me, I shall be deeply displeased. And then I'll get over it. LOL.

Gordon said...

@Jack It's how we roll. See you at the meeting!

Frater Acher said...

Gentlemen, thanks for all the great input. I learned a lot and it helped me understand my own take on the subject much better...

Here are some further thoughts - I hope we can agree to disagree? :-)