Tuesday, August 6, 2013

“Agrippa Was a Chaos Magician!” Redux

There is yet another fashion of Characters, common to almost all letters, and tongues, and very easie, which is by the gathering together of letters; as if the name of the Angel Michael be given, the Characters thereof shall be framed thus:...
In Hebrew
In Greek

In Latin

And this fashion amongst the Arabians is most received; Neither is there any writing which is so readily, and elegantly joyned [joined] to it self, as the Arabick. Now you must know that Angelicall spirits, seeing they are of a pure intellect, and altogether incorporeall, are not marked with any marks or Characters, and pingible figures, or any other humane signs; but we not knowing their essence, or quality, do from their names, or works, or otherwise, according to our fancies devote and consecrate to them figures, and marks, by which we cannot any way compel them to us, but by which we rise up to them; as not to be known by such Characters, and figures, and first of all we do set our senses both inward and outward, upon them; then by a certain admiration of our reason we are induced to a Religious veneration of them, and then are wrapt with our whole minde into an extaticall [ecstatic] adoration, and then with a wonderfull belief, an undoubted hope, quickening love we calling upon them in spirit, and truth, by true names and Characters do obtain from them that vertue, or power which we desire.”
- Agrippa, The Three Books of Occult Philosophy (Book 3; Chapter xxx: “Another manner of making Characters, delivered by Cabalists.”)

Years ago, it was R.O. who made the comment to me that is the title of this entry. Prior to that, hoary Chaote DeusExMachina commented to me that Sigils did not, in fact, truly derive from Spare and that they could be found in Agrippa's works. Meanwhile, and slightly off topic, a close inspection of the recently linked
Monas Hieroglyphica by John Dee reveals that (at least seen in a certain light) the core astrological symbols we use for the planets can be treated as sigils. All of this leads us to conclude that Spare – despite his loathing for many magicians* – was practicing, at times, highly traditional tactics of magical utility.

That he stood it on its head for matters akin to thaumaturgy is still fun, though.


* “Others praise ceremonial Magic, and are supposed to suffer much Ecstasy! Our asylums are crowded, the stage is over-run! Is it by symbolizing we become the symbolized? Were I to crown myself King, should I be King? Rather should I be an object of disgust or pity. These Magicians, whose insincerity is their safety, are but the unemployed dandies of the Brothels. Magic is but one's natural ability to attract without asking; ceremony what is unaffected, its doctrine the negation of theirs.”
The Book of Pleasure.


Jake said...

Indeed, Spare was very well read and in many ways traditional; despite never referring to influences and being adopted as an 'iconoclastic icon'.
He was familiar with and inspired by works on hieroglyphs and cuneiform, but also with the highly sigil oriented Grimorium Verum (something I long suspected, which was confirmed by noted Spare scholar Gavin Semple).
'In the first part are contained various dispositions of characters, by which powers the spirits or - rather - the devils are invoked...'
Language, Lovecraftian; Methodology, 'Sparean';
Source, the Grimorium Verum.

Jack Faust said...

Jake: I caught the references made to Spare in the True Grimoire and pondered them. Is the Gavin Semple reference you've made his excellent Zos Kia? Because if that is the case, I'll need to re-read it again as I missed something fascinating...

Harold Roth said...

But rememer we've been doing this with monograms since ancient times, too. These are sigils in the sense that they represent an individual. Was just looking at some Lautrec and noticed his monogram:

Le Fol said...

Nice post. I believe everyone is a chaos magician. That's part of the power and beauty of chaos magic: it's an all encompassing non-entity (despite the fact that we keep on attaching definitions and boundaries to it). The other part is that it's spontaneous and--to some extent--obvious. Just like nature.
Ok... sorry for the rant.