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The Rituals of Transcendental Magic

§ 1. The Arbatel of Magic

THE term transcendental must not be interpreted in any exalted or philosophical sense when it is used, informally and conventionally enough, in such a connection as the present. It has not been adopted because it is tolerably appropriate, but rather in the absence of a better word of definition in respect of the claim implied, and because also it has been previously admitted in the same connection. It is perhaps loosely equivalent to the Haute Magie of Eliphas Lévi, which I have rendered Transcendental Magic, not as a satisfactory equivalent but because there is no current or admitted expression which corresponds more closely. When due allowance has been made for the conceptions which may be presumed to underlie the subject, it must be said that in Ceremonial Magic there is as much and as little Transcendentalism as in the phenomena of modern mediumship. Whatever might be claimed for the intelligences with whom communication is sought to be established, they reveal themselves by their offices, which are either fantasic or frivolous. In such an association it should be understood that material interests are to be included in the second class; in the first would be comprised those which are outside realisation by reason of their extravagance, while at the same time they are unconnected with spiritual aspiration.

Supposing that it were an exact science, there would be

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nothing in Practical Magic which interlinks, for example, with a true or with any Mystic Purpose. 1 Hence, by Rituals of Transcendental Magic there must not be understood a collection of processes by which the Divine in Man is sought to be united with the Divine in the Universe. The works of St. John of the Cross, of Ruysbroeck, of Eckart, of Molinos, of Saint-Martin, even the Imitation of St. Thomas à Kempis--these contain the grand processes of true Transcendental Magic, were it other than desecration to apply a term which is worse than ridiculous to treasures which would be disparaged by the association. Here there must be understood simply those occult processes and that so-called Theurgic Ceremonial, in which there is at least no explicit connection with Black Magic, which not only contain no dealings with evil spirits for evil purposes, but appear to eschew all such communication, for what purpose soever. An exception--which, properly understood, is, however, an exception only on the surface--should be made in favour of the procedure adopted by the Church for the expulsion of diabolical powers from persons in the flesh, not because the phenomena of possession are necessarily other than pathological, even in those cases which would appear to be marked and obstinate, but because, on the terms of the ecclesiastical assumption, the Rite of Exorcism is a far more exalted Rite than anything which obtains in Transcendental Magic. In this matter, as in many other cases of much higher importance, no tolerable justice has been done to the position of the Catholic Church. It should be observed in addition, that while Ceremonial Magic is concerned with a variety of

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processes which may obviously tend to produce in unwary operators the phenomena which characterise possession, there is scarcely a single process in any one of the Rituals--White or Black, Composite or Transcendental--which makes any pretence of relieving persons so afflicted. 1 There is, therefore, no reason to doubt on which side of hallucination the apparatus of the Rituals has been developed, and the sympathies of reasonable students will be with the honourable institution which condemned the practices and sought to liberate the victims, leaving possession itself as an open question, and in this sense as a side issue.

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Even with the qualification which I have registered, the putative Transcendental Rituals are exceedingly few. There is--1. The Enchiridion of Pope Leo the Third. 2. The Arbatel of Magic. 3. The Celestial Magic of an anonymous German occultist, entitled Theosophia Pneumatica, which must be held to represent and to save enumeration of one or two similar handbooks. Of these, the first is included among the Rituals of Ceremonial Magic: by the invincible ignorance of almost every person who has undertaken to class it. On the other hand, the

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third borrows all its importance from the second, in which, upon both counts, the interest evidently centres. As regards its origin, its authorship, and even its scope, there is, however, considerable mystery. Within my own knowledge, there are no copies in manuscript, or none at least which are prior to the end of the sixteenth century. It appeared in a tiny volume at Basle and bore the date 1575. 1 Back-dating and imputed authorship are the two crying bibliographical sins of Grimoires and magical handbooks, and the antiquity of the Arbatel rests under a certain suspicion on account of its literary connections; at the same time it would require the knowledge of an expert in typography to pronounce certainly on the reliability of the date indicated. The text is in Latin, but there is a slender possibility in favour of its being the work of an Italian. 2 It makes a reference to Theophrastic Magic, which indicates the influence of Paracelsus, and, although it is difficult to speak with any certainty, seems to hint at an early period of that influence, the period, in fact, of Benedictus Figulus, slightly antedating Rosicrucian enthusiasm, and thus accounting for the omission of all Rosicrucian references, which, in view both of matter and manner, might have been irresistibly expected had the work been posterior to the year 1610.

It should be observed that the Arbatel has no connection with the cycle, hereinafter considered, of the Keys of Solomon,

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and it is permeated with Christian ideas. The authorship is completely unknown. Arbatel, or ארבעתאל {Hebrew ARBOTAL}, is probably not an assumed name, but indicative of an instructing or revealing Angel. The use of this Hebrew term is, however, peculiar in connection with the fact that the references to the Old Testament are few and unimportant, while the sayings of Christ, and the New Testament narrative generally, are subjects of continual citation. Solomon, moreover, is not mentioned in the frequent enumerations of adepts and wise men.

So far concerning the origin, authorship and date of the book. It remains to say that it is incomplete. Of the nine "Tomes" into which it purports to be divided, we possess only one. It is not unlikely that the rest were never written, because the author has left us a plan of his entire proposal, and it is evident that his first book more than once overlaps what should have followed. As it stands, the Arbatel of Magic is concerned with the most general precepts of Magical Arts--in other words, with the Institutions. It is entitled Isagoge, which means essential or fundamental instruction. The missing books are those of Microcosmical Magic, or Spiritual Wisdom; Olympic Magic, that is, the evocation of the Spirits of Olympus; Hesiodiacal and Homeric Magic, being the operations of Caco-daimones; Roman or Sibylline Magic, concerning Tutelary Spirits; Pythagorical Magic, dealing with the Genii of the Arts; the Magic of Apollonius, giving power over the enemies of mankind; Hermetic or Egyptian Magic; and that, finally, which depends solely on the Word of God and is called Prophetical Magic.

It is an open question whether all of these books could have been completed without a proportion of that dangerous instruction which makes for open Black Magic. The Isagoge, however, must be exempted in part from such charge; the Seven Septenaries

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of aphorisms of which it consists contain many moral and spiritual exhortations, which, if they are not exactly unhackneyed, are on the surface quite unexceptionable, and might indeed rank among the more exalted of their kind, were it not for the art with which they are connected. The initial groups of these aphorisms serve to introduce the Ritual of the Olympic Spirits, dwelling in the firmament and in the stars of the firmament, between whom the government of the world is distributed. There are 196 1 Olympic Provinces in the entire universe, so that Aratron has 49, Bethor 42, Phaleg 35, Och 28, Hagith 21, Ophiel 14, and Phul 7. These Provinces are termed visible, but even as the Seven Septenaries of Arbatel cover the whole ground of reputed Transcendental Magic, so these seven successive multiples of the same mystical number may most probably be taken to indicate powers and offices. It is further said that the Olympic Spirits rule alternately, each for 490 years, which would be mere confusion were separate assemblages of spheres permanently assigned to them.

The powers possessed by these Intelligences are very curiously set forth. They rule naturally over certain departments and operations of the material world, but outside these departments they perform the same operations magically. Thus Och, the prince of Solar things, presides over the preparation or development of gold naturally in the veins of the earth--that is to say, he is the Mineralogist in Chief of Nature; he presides also over the quicker preparation of the same metal by means of chemical art--that is, he is the Prince of Alchemists; and, finally, he makes gold in a moment by Magic. It is in this way

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that Ceremonial Magic connects with while it assumes to transcend Hermetic Art. 1

There is another curious instruction, with regard to the names and characters of the Spirits. In opposition to much of the traditional doctrine of Magic, it is affirmed that there is no power in the figure of any character or in the pronunciation of any name, except in so far as there is a virtue or office ordained by God to both. The names, moreover, are not definite, final or real names, whence they differ with different writers accordingly as these have received them. The only effectual names are those which are delivered to an operator by the Spirits themselves, and even then their efficacy seldom endures beyond forty years. It is, therefore, better for the student, says the Arbatel, to work only by the offices of the Spirits, without their names; should he be pre-ordained to attain the Art of Magic, the other parts of that Art will offer themselves of their own accord.

The sources of occult wisdom, it proceeds, are, firstly, in God; secondly, in spiritual essences--that is to say, the Angelical Hierarchy; thirdly, in corporeal creatures, the reference being probably to the signatura rerum of Paracelsus; fourthly, in Nature--that is to say, in a knowledge of the secret virtues of natural things, as, for example, herbs and precious stones; fifthly, but after a long interval, in the apostate spirits reserved to the last judgment; 2 sixthly, in the administers of punishment in hell, which seems to connect with the classical conception of avenging infernal gods; seventhly, in the people of the elements, that is, the Salamanders, Sylphs, Undines and Gnomes or Pigmies.

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The secrets deriving from these sources range from the highest achievements of reputed mystical science 1 to the bourgeois ambitions of daily life, from the Regeneration of Enoch and the Knowledge of God, Christ and His Holy Spirit--wherein is the perfection of the Microcosm--to the attainment of honours and dignities, the ingathering, of much money, the foundation of a family, good fortune in mercantile pursuits, and successful housewifery both in town and country. The prolongation of life, the transmutation of metals and the talismanic cure of all diseases, with other "paradoxes of the highest science," also figure in the list.

Meditation, inward contemplation and the love of God are the chief aids to the acquisition of Magical Art, together with great faith, strict taciturnity and even justice in the things of daily life. Finally, a true magician is brought forth as such from his mother's womb; others who assume the function will be unhappy. 2

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The powers and offices of the Seven Olympic Spirits are as follows: ARATRON governs those things which are ascribed astrologically to Saturn. He can convert any living organism, plant or animal into stone, and that in a moment of time; he can also change coals into treasure and treasure into coals; he gives familiars and reconciles subterranean spirits to men; he teaches Alchemy, Magic and Medicine,

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imparts the secret of invisibility, makes the barren fruitful and, lastly, confers long life. He should be invoked on a Saturday, in the first hour of the day, 1 making use of his character, given and confirmed by himself. 2

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The affairs of Jupiter are administered by BETHOR, who responds quickly when called. The person dignified by his character may be exalted to illustrious positions and may obtain large treasures. He reconciles the Spirits of the Air to man, so that they will give true answers, transport precious stones and compose medicines having miraculous effects. BETHOR also grants familiars of the firmament, and can prolong life to seven hundred years, subject to the will of God, which qualification imparts an air of caution.

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PHALEG governs the things that are attributed to Mars. The person who possesses his character is raised by him to great honour in military affairs.

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Solar interests are administered by OCH, who prolongs life to six hundred years, with perfect health therein. He imparts great wisdom, gives excellent (familiar) spirits, composes perfect medicines, converts any substance into the purest of metals, or into precious stones; he also bestows gold and a purse, quaintly described by the English translator of the Arbatel as "springing with gold." He causes the possessor of his character to be worshipped as a god by the kings of the whole world.

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The government of Venereal concerns is entrusted to HAGITH, and the person possessing his character is adorned with all beauty. He converts copper into gold in a moment and gold instantaneously into copper; he also gives faithful serving spirits.

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OPHIEL is the ruler of those things which are attributed to Mercury; he gives familiar spirits, teaches all arts, and enables the possessor of his character to change quicksilver immediately into the Philosopher's Stone.

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Lunary concerns are under the government of PHUL, who truly transmutes all metals into silver, heals dropsy and provides Spirits of the Water, who serve men in a corporal and visible form; he also prolongs life to three hundred years.

Legions of inferior spirits are commanded by each of the Governors, who also have Kings, Princes, Presidents, Dukes and Ministers ruling under them. Ceremonial Magic usually administers the hierarchies upon a colossal scale. The invocation of the Governors is simple. It is performed in the day and hour of the planet which is in correspondence with the Olympic Intelligence by means of the following:--


O Eternal and Omnipotent God, Who hast ordained the whole creation for Thy praise and Thy glory, as also for the salvation of man, I beseech Thee to send Thy Spirit N., of the Solar Race, 1 that he may instruct me concerning those things about which I design to ask him [or--that he may bring me medicine against the dropsy, &c.]. Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be dome, through Jesus Christ, Thine only begotten Son, Who is our Lord. Amen.

Unless the Spirit, in the words of Robert Turner, be "familiarly addicted" to the operator, he should not be detained above one hour, and should in either case be "licensed to depart" as follows:--

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Forasmuch as thou camest in peace and quietness, having also answered unto my Petitions, I give thanks unto God, in Whose Name thou camest. Now mayst thou depart in peace unto thine own order; but return unto me again, when I shall call thee by thy -name, or by thine order, or by thine office, which is granted from the Creator. Amen. [Then add:] Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou art upon earth; therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business, and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.--Eccles. v. 3, 4.


25:1 By Practical Magic is here intended not certain forms of the putative: transcendent science said to be imparted by occult initiatiors, and to be totally distinct from childish attempts to discover hidden treasure, to obtain the ring of invisibility, and so forth; the reference is intended solely to the Magic of the Ceremonial Literature. I believe that the exotic form belongs to the deeps rather than the heights because it is phenomena, procedure, but the distinction--which I have discussed otherwise--is advisable to note here.

26:1 There are, of course, innumerable processes for destroying spells and enchantments; among them one occasionally meets with an exorcism to be used in a case of possession. There is one in the edition of the Grimoire of Honorius published at Rome in 1760. It is supposed to be efficacious both for men and animals afflicted by Satan. In the edition of 1800 there is another process, which prescribes holy water for aspersion, in the case of a human being, and, in that of an animal, salt exorcised with blood drawn from the bewitched creature. See also my remarks on Sloane MS. 3884.

27:1 Arbatel, De Magia Veterum, Basileæ, 1575. The mottoes on the title are Summum Sapientiæ Studium and In omnibus consule Dominum, et nihil cogites, dicas, facias, quod tibi Deus non consuluerit.

27:2 The possibility is warranted by references in the 30th and 31st Aphorisms to some obscure points of Italian history. It is said that by a judgment of the Magicians it was decreed that no Italian should reign over the kingdom of Naples; now the monarch at the time was an Italian, and he was dethroned in due course. To restore the national dynasty the decree must be annulled by those who made it. A magician of greater power might be able to enforce this, and also the restitution of a certain Book, Jewel and Magic Horn, of which the Treasury Of Magic had been despoiled. The mastery of the whole world would pass into the hands of their possessor.

29:1 The original edition of the Arbatel reads 186, and ascribes 32 provinces to Bethor, which breaks the progression of the septenary and is probably a printer's mistake. It is followed, however, by the English and German translators.

30:1 It was also by the magical hypothesis a gift from heaven, brought down by the Angel Uriel.

30:2 This reference, taken in connection with the matters proposed to be treated in the seventh book, points conclusively to the intention of including the government of Evil Spirits in the scheme of the Arbatel.

31:1 It should be observed that the mystical achievements are barely mentioned, and that their attainment is imparted by a spirit possessing the office, which is conclusive, as I need not point out, respecting the use of the term. The author of the Arbatel, however, considers it good enough Mysticism, as does Eliphas Lévi, to cause oneself "to be worshipped as a god," in virtue of the sigil of Och.

31:2 When his highest authorities disagree, the occult student is liable to get at the truth, and will find occasionally that it is not at either end, nor yet in the middle. It is edifying to compare p. 32 this express statement of a ruling ceremonial process with another, not less express, which we owe to the reconstruction of all the processes and the reputed recoverer of the true practice of Magic. "Furthermore, certain physical organisations are better adapted than others for the revelations of the occult world; there are sensitive and sympathetic natures, with whom intuition in the astral light is, so to speak, inborn; certain afflictions and certain complaints can modify the nervous system, and, independently of the concurrence of the will, may convert it into a divinatory apparatus of less or more perfection; but these phenomena are exceptional, and generally magical power should, and can be acquired by perseverance and labour."--"Doctrine and Ritual of Transcendent Magic," by Éliphas Lévi, English translation by A. E. Waite, p. 196. In this case the genius of enlightened differentiation rests entirely upon the later adept, As a matter of fact, occult writers have always recognised that there is the Natural Magician and the Magician according to Art. Vel sanctum invenit, vel sanctum facit--it has been said of Magic, and so also magical knowledge means magical power; where it does not find it, it brings it. I speak, of course, ex hypothesi. But such knowledge is not of Rituals or Grimoires, of Arbatel or another, nor is the word Magic, nor is the process practical in respect of an external procedure. That which is termed. Occultism is the art of desecrating the inmost Sanctuary.

32:1 See Part ii. c. 6.

32:2 It should be understood that the characters of the so-called Olympic Spirits are, so to speak, their official seals and are mot to be confused with the images attributed to the planets, These were of various kinds in correspondence with the variety of influences and were worn as talismans or charms.

34:1 This is merely a typical form subject to variations according to the spirit who is evoked.

Next: Section 2: Theosophia Pneumatica