Friday, May 31, 2013

Necromancy Sources: 2.0

[Written during: Day of Venus: Hour of Venus]
Now With Less Wankery.

A while back, I felt sufficiently compelled to draw together a list of sources on the magical practice of necromancy. Subsequently, since writing it, I have found myself coming back to considering some of the views that initially compelled me to draw them together.

I don't consider myself a necromancer. I feel that this is something I should put down immediately, to clarify my position. Necromancy is part of the intersection of a vast swath of magical practices, that after being officially suppressed and diabolized, intersected with the emerging strand of European beliefs we call “witch-beliefs.” Being a member of a tradition of witchcraft, that made it of interest to me. I suppose the thing that has taken me a while to realize is that, as well, a good deal of my obsessions in the last year have also revolved around the subject. I am, quite frankly, not sure what to make of that knowledge. I do not, nonetheless, consider myself an “expert” or “scholar” on either the subject of witchcraft nor that of necromancy.

Still, I want this entry to be a point of convergence for various strands of thought I have seen in the world of magical writings that I have found inspiring. As such, I'm going to try and include both blog authors and those in the traditional publishing business. In the event that I've left you out, I ask that you don't take it personally. I may be unaware of your writing or unsure of where to put it in this compilation.

I want to again reiterate that in this case, I am attempting to avoid all forms of intellectual wank and simply put down what I've seen, and what I like about it. In a few places, I will happily admit that I was wrong about something, too. If you show up here, it means I dig your work and want to promote it as best I can. At a few points, I may even mention books and authors I haven't read just yet, but based on other material I've read, sounds pretty amazing and is something I plan to pick up in the near future. For readers new to the blog, I'll also add links to things I've written that they may or may not find interesting. I hope that doesn't come across as blatant self-promotion... And if it seems so, I will happily separate the following into two posts.

Necromancy, Classical Goetia, Hero Cults, the PGM and Greaco-Roman Reconstructionists.

- Books -

The Geosophia: Volumes One & Two
by Jake Stratton-Kent:
This book contains an enormous wealth of information regarding Hero Cults, necromancy in antiquity, and the influence they had on later magical practices. It is the follow up to another work, which will be mentioned later. I was particularly enamored with his references to magical practices in classical necromancy and subsequent comparisons to rituals from the PGM. 

The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation by Hans Dieter Betz:
Do you know what will blow you away? Rituals from 2000 years ago involving elements drawn together from a broad range of magical practices encountered from Greece, Rome, and the Middle East. Plenty of the spells and rituals therein, at least in my experience, work precisely as they intended to do so. A few are, unfortunately, corrupted to the point of not being particularly useful. Nonetheless, this text has served me wonderfully for something like five years now, and I have been in love with the PGM since first encountering Stephen Flowers
Hermetic Magic.

Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies: Volume One by Emma & Ludwig Edelstein:
Who says that the heroic spirits can't heal you? This book will serve as a wonderful introduction to some of the cult practices of
Asklepios. Some of these practices were also involved in other Greek Hero Cults, such as Dream Incubation (Incubatio). This text is dense, but will provide some invaluable details to those interested in the less diabolic/infernal side of necromancy in Greece and Rome and a Healing Hero (Deity/Daimon; see the above work for the disagreements on what Asklepios... err, was thought as). 

The Book of Abraxas by Michael Cecchetelli:
Mr. Cecchetielli's book is particularly useful to those wishing to practice magick from the PGM and antiquity that also involves the celestial sphere. His set-up for rituals, some of the rituals he includes, and his comments on the
Defixiones are so good as to be unthinkable to pass up. I was a bit unnerved at how similar some of his ritual procedures were to my own, but some of his unique inclusions like The Coronastrum (p. 9) were especially inspiring. I very much intend to review this work at length and properly when I feel I better understand some of the minor changes he's made to rituals like The Stele of Jeu (his variant is entitled The Rite of Jeu and can be found on p. 25 of that work). This will require sending him a lengthy email at some point, which I hope he doesn't mind. The book has recently been reprinted, and you should get a copy before they run out. 

Jesus the Magician by Morton Smith:
This work first introduced me to the practices of the Goetes of antiquity; which, upon reading about, I declared: “I wish I could do THAT!” The comparisons between aspects of the Gospels and rituals of the PGM (particularly with Judaic and Christian magic interfaced with Greek magical practices) is especially enlightening. I strongly suspect that Mr. Smith (RIP, sir) cracked open a door... A door we should very much leave open in our investigations.

Restless Dead by Sarah Iles Johnston:
This text contains more information on the classes of the restless dead and their association with Hekate than I can possibly put down. I must admit that I have never finished reading it, because reading just three pages gets my intellectual wank going in an enormous way... And I have to put it down, think, and then return to it. Regardless, I've probably read most of it over the course of the last year and loved every moment of it. A text I have not read, but is worth mentioning (largely due to the love I have seen Melitta direct toward it) by the same author is Hekate Soteira. It is very much on my list of books to procure and work my way through in the next year.

Graeco-Egyptian Magick by Tony Mierzwicki.
This text focuses largely on the planetary forces and how they intersected with Greek and Egyptian magick. It is enormously useful for anyone interested in the rituals of the PGM, and shares similarities in approach to The Book of Abraxas. Of particular note, when it comes to necromancy, is Mr. Mierzwicki's comments on the soul of the practitioner and what was anticipated to follow death. Particular of how we shift, after death, to the Gate of the Moon, heading to inevitable Gate of Saturn before reincarnating. I found the last half of the book to absolutely fascinating, and it has proved to be very useful to me. Also of note is his use of Ptolemey's Tetrabiblios, a very useful text for many practitioners and which flows very much in accord with Mr. Mierzwicki's work.

The Syncretisms of Antinous by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus.
This author and blogger has produced an excellent piece of work on syncretisms, particularly as they apply to the
Cult of Antinous (Ekklesía Antínoou). Of particular note are this blogger's chapters on Hero Cults, Heroes, and Gods, as well as the plants occasionally associated with such beings. It is a thoroughly delightful work, and I heartily recommend it along with the blog and columns on Patheos. In fact, this person is my favorite author on Patheos. Of note are two of hirs other works: A Serpent Path Primer and The Phillupic Hymns. A Serpent Path Primer has excellent materials on syncretism, and The Phillupic Hymns has a number of hymns that magicians can easily put to use in their work. Phil, thank you very much.

- Bloggers & Blogs -

Sannion should be well-known to most of the bloggosphere. Every single one of his blog entries on the
Dionysiac Dead are amazing. Also of note are his comments on Orphism. Keep up the good work, brother.

Melitta Benu also deserves a special note. I do not pretend to always understand what she writes about, but I find myself learning more and more about the two Infernal Gods (Persephone and Hades) that she serves every time I read her blog. Of particular interest to plenty will be her entry
A Psuedo-Egyptian Rite for the Dead and Living.

Necromancy in the Middle Ages and into the era of the Grimoires

- Books - 

The True Grimoire by Jake Stratton-Kent
Who doesn't like
The Grimoirium Verum? And if you don't, why are you reading this blog? This book takes one of my favorite Grimoires and includes elements from Graeco-Roman Antiquity, from discussions on the links between demons and Daimons, to a very special place. I cannot recommend it enough. 

Crossed Keys by Michael Cecchetelli.
This book may not seem like it involves necromancy, but bears mention for two factors: the first is that it shares spirits with the True Grimoire, and the second is that it includes its own particular variant on the Hand of Glory. That it also involves Psalms and magical uses for them is a boon to those who enjoy working magick with the Psalms. It is highly recommended to anyone who picks up The True Grimoire.
 
Magic in the Middle Ages by Richard Kiechhefer.
This book is a veritable wonder of all manner of magical discouse relating to the middle ages. However, the seventh chapter is particularly good for getting a glimpse at the magical movements within the Church that spurred the Inquisition to action. Pared with a copy of Michael D. Bailey's essay From Sorcery to Witchcraft and Kiechhefer's other work entitled Forbidden Rites and you will have some pretty good scholarly material on the emergence of Necromancy between the 12th and 14th centuries, and how these concepts came to be applied to witch-beliefs that emerged around the same period and continued well into the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Book of Solomon's Magick by Carroll “Poke” Runyon.
This text is a goldmine of good information on mirror magic, a lot of which is drawn from later sources but can be applied to traditional Solomonic processes. Pared with Paschal Beverly Randolph's Sexual Magic and you will have a more-or-less full system of mirror practices which can be used for both traditional and non-traditional means. I love it, and I'm deeply indebted to the person who gave me my copy. It may not quite fit in with the above materials, but when you combine both the traditional perspectives it evolved out of, and Paschal's own work... Well. What's not to love?

- Bloggers -

Michael Cecchetelli's
The Lion's Den is astonishing, particularly when you get a look at the talismans that he puts up on there, as well as his occasional comments on magical practices.

Rufus Opus at
Head For Red also bears a special mention as the Agrippa's #1 fan, a title I give to him largely because he lives up to it.

I consider Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery a fellow Chaos Magician whether he likes it or not, but his blog is enormously useful and his comments on conjuration – from traditional to non-traditional approaces – are most excellent. I absolutely love both his
Protection and Reversal Magic and The Sorcerer's Secrets. You cannot go wrong with any of his books, nor with taking his classes.

Fr. Ashen's A Magician's Workings is another goldmine of information on traditional evocation and conjuration. He has recently released Gateways Through Stone and Circle, which I very much look forward to getting my grubby fingers upon when the chance arises.

Aaron Leitch, who I probably shouldn't have complained about two days ago, is well known to most of those reading this blog, I'm sure. His essays are absolutely marvelous, and I recall one of his books having some of the best information on Psalm crafting I've ever seen... Although I cannot, for the life of me, recall which of them it was.

Witchcraft: Flying Ointments, Witch-Flight, & Proto-Witches & Cults.

- Books & A Magazine -

Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson:
This text just plain isn't for everyone. It is, however, just plain awesome. From his inclusion of evocation and the idea that the witch is calling upon demons due to a form of kinship, to his Magestellus (a protective familiar spirit that shares similarities with the manufacture of the Hand of Glory and the Galgen-Mannelin of Jakob Grimm; see p. 145), it is hard for me not to just shout “BUY IT!” Every practicing witch should own a copy. I love the entire book. I have heard that in the UK, witches are a bit put off by the work. I have no idea why; I was introduced to it through Traditional Witches, and know of at least one Traditional Coven that considers it required reading for would-be initiates. It also includes a variant of the Theban alphabet/cryptographic writing language that is immensely useful to anyone.

 A Mirror of Witchcraft by Christina Hole:
I have no idea how hard or not this book is to come by. I got it after asking a spirit where to find some books and going on a walk-about, where I purchased a first edition as a used copy for like... Five dollars. They were well spent. Included in it are folk charms used by practitioners in the UK between the 16th and late 19th centuries, as well as chapters on how witch-beliefs like the idea that Fairies and the Dead lived side-by-side became prevalent. It is enormously useful. If you can find a copy? I recommend buying it. The charms alone are worth at least $20.

Abraxas Magazine: Volume One, Edition One.
This isn't a book, and it may be quite expensive now. VVF and I ordered it shortly after it was released. It contains essays that are, however, invaluable by a number of witches... Including members of the Cultus Sabbati and others. Daniel Schulke's The Green Intercessor and the essay on flying ointments are both excellent and worth the $50 we threw down on their own. If you can get a copy of this marvelous magazine? Do so. It is also worth mentioning that I am a fan of all of Schulke's other works that I've encountered, including Ars Philtron. I won't compare him to Chumbley, as his works deserve their own merits in their own right.

 The Book of Treasure Spirits by David Rankine
Want a book full of conjurations for spirits that might tell you where to find buried treasure? How about the
Sloane materials relating to Fairies and spirits of the Dead involved with Treasure magic? This book is for you. I can't express my love for it enough. Of particular note is the similarity some rituals share with the The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, particularly the rituals involving Oberon/Oberion. I'm not even remotely done with this material. I can't wait for midsummer, and I'll leave it at that. On the topic of the Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, which I also completely recommend, the Fairie Sibyllia ritual also shows up in the JSK's Geosophia, volume one. See my links at the bottom for things I've written about Oberion and the Fairie Sibyllia. Honestly? I love all of Rankine and Sorita D'este's works. Buy all of it, if you can afford it. I certainly plan to.

- Bloggers -

Lady Scylla is a long-time friend of mine, and I love everything she writes over at
Root and Rock. Of particular interest on the subject of necromancy are her discussions on the Toad Bone Rite (which I have never performed), and the most recent entry up The Dead You Know / Diaspora of the Dead / Holy Supper.

The Witch of Forest Grove was the person who, more or less, prompted me to post the first round-up of source material. I am of the mind that even if that information proved useful to some, my antagonistic tone towards her was undo and I owe her an apology. Since writing The Dead Man's Hand (see at the end) entries, I have come across a number of glowing reviews for her flying ointments. Her initial essay on the matter is especially revered by many who need an introduction to the topic. In fact, some of the things she left out inspired me to make my own comments. However much I may occasionally disagree with little quibbles that are largely immaterial, I have to say, she does damn fine work.

Harold Roth of
The Alchemist's Garden has been absolutely kind to me, even when I feel like a noob on a subject I never expected to try and tackle... And which has blossomed into a more-than-slight obsession. His work on his other website, as well as the plants he offers to sell, is so insanely awesome that anyone who can afford to should consider taking advantage of all of it. He sold the seeds of the initial mandrake I took several years ago to my Initiatrix, as well as the seeds that VVF and I are germinating right now for next year. Harold, you're a godsend. And thanks bunches for... everything.

 Afro-Carribean Magic and Traditions.

[
NOTE: I am not presently a practitioner of any ATR religions, groups, etc. I do not represent any of them, and I am including them both because I consider what I've read fascinating, and because this entry will be aided by further inclusionism. In fact, plenty of those bloggers and authors I plan to mention also discuss other topics brought up above. In the event I have said anything flat-out wrong or misleading please, please, please correct me and I will make due edits. PLEASE. I want to be as respectful as possible, and that includes not putting out crap.]

- Books -
 

Palo Mayombe: Blood and Bone by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold.
As a complete outsider to Palo Mayombe, this book is a godsend of information. It also includes comparisons revolving the Greek classes of the Restless and Heroic Dead to the African necromancy-based practices. This is another book that I pick up, read a bit of, and then put down to think about. It is
absolutely beautiful. At his blog, The Starry Cave, Mr. Frisvold also discusses a number of topics regarding 'traditional magic' in the spheres of witchcraft, Afro-carribean traditions (particularly Palo Mayombe), and a number of other topics. I totally recommend his book, and his blog. While I have not read Exu & the Qimbanda Night of Fire I fully intend to. I may not be a practitioner, and I certainly won't pretend to be one, but I absolutely love what I've seen of his work so far. I can only imagine Exu is more of the same. 

Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition by Yvonne P. Chireau.
I know very little about the African American conjure tradition, which made this book a bit of a godsend. It inspects both the cultural elements that came to make the Conjure Tradition so manifest in the Americas. Like the above, I put it down, think a lot, and then come back to it. I may not practice Conjure, but I very much enjoy reading about it. I also absolutely love the author's style of writing, which I am not precisely sure how to describe... Perhaps I should say that when she writes about her cultural heritage, the joy that is sometimes missing in other texts is very much present and very much increases the joy I feel in reading her words. I recently caught a post that she was going to close down her blog, and so I won't link to it. [
Note: Yvonne, should you somehow come across this and desire a link to your blog, let me know. I'll happily add it.]

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African American Conjure by Catherine Yronwode.
The sheer amount of information on rootwork provided in this book is... truly astounding. While not all hoodoo or conjure may lead to necromancy, it certainly holds an interesting place in the African American and Afro-Carribean systems. In fact, I'm honestly not sure this book really should be stuffed in with the others... But I recall enough stray comments about purifactory elements that I'm still putting it down. I hope a few readers may at least look into it, as well as the enormous resources provided by Ms. Yronwode's
Lucky Mojo site and learn more about practices that happen every day in many American cities. If you need no better reason? You live beside it; you might as well be informed.

[
NOTE: There are a few other books, like Society of the Dead, that I would like to include or reference. But as I haven't even started on them, I'll leave them for another entry like this... maybe next year.]

- Bloggers -

Conjureman Ali bears some specific mention, as I found his entries on
Exu and Pomba Gira were most excellent and very informative to someone who rarely feels like they even remotely understand any part of Qimbanda. His recent works on Santisima Muerte and St. Cyprian: Saint of Necromancers look absolutely fascinating. While I haven't gotten to reading them yet, I fully intend on it. If they are even half as good as the blog entries he puts up, I fully expect to love them.

Brother Moloch is someone I have... responded to with antagonism before, rather than doing my best to understand where he is coming from. He probably never even noticed, but regardless, it was rather foolish on my part. His recent entries on Psalms and the band-wagon-jumping of Western magicians to ATR materials have been very interesting for me to read and think about. I have also seen rave reviews of his books put out that make me very inclined to nabbing them sometime in the next year or two.

I have been friends with Ryan Valentine for a very, very long time. As such, I've wanted him progress to where he is now... And it's honestly been a bit astonishing to see the transformations the man has gone through. His recent entry,
Last Words entailed a profoundly touching point of convergence on the topic of death and family. Ryan, I wish you all the best and love you with all my heart, man. Even if we fight like dogs every now and again. (That may just make me love you more, in fact.)

Balthasar at Conjure Gnosis is someone I rarely have a chance to interact with, but whose blog I very much enjoy reading. I believe he was also included in the
At the Crossroads Anthology, which I ought to own... But don't... yet.

Rachel Izabella at
The Way of the Transgressor is Hard is someone I have only come into contact with in the last year, but who I very much enjoy chatting with. She recently was kind enough to post a very Hekatean-oriented post regarding ancestor veneration and a basic ancestor altar that is very similar to some of the non-ATR elements I have been taught. I wasn't sure whether to have Rachel amongst the witches, or the ATR and hoodoo practitioners... [Rachel, if you want me to move where I placed this, let me know.]

The Tatas over Palo-mayombe.com, meanwhile, make for an amazing read whenever they update. Thanks for helping me be slightly less ignorant, guys. Seriously.

Stuff I've written or sampled that you, the reader, may like which may or may not intersect with the above:
The Dead Man's Hand. - The Witches' BrewStimulant PowderWell Met By DaylightThe Taunnhauser GateAll Aboard the VenusbergCakes & Dread Goddesses & the Dead... 

Should, as per usual, you find anything you are sure is flat-wrong? Tell me. Otherwise, expect another round-up in a year or two.

Be seeing you,
Jack.

[NOTE: Minor edits may occur.]

2 comments:

Harold Roth said...

Aw shucks. :) I very much enjoy your postings.

Ryan Valentine said...

Much love! Got to get back to Cali one of these days.