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The Arbatel, I’ve concluded, essentially is a treatise on how to live in harmony, ease, and intimacy with the energies of the Multiverse. It begins by saying that the Arbatel “Is made of nine Tomes of seven septenaries of Aphorisms.” (Et habet Tomos neouem Aphorismorum septies septenorum; Turner transliterates this phrase as “Containing nine Tomes, and seven Septenaries of Aphorisms.”) Although the Arbatel declares that is it a document that contains nine chapters that each contain seven sections of seven aphorisms (total 49 aphorisms per section), the only known, existing “tome” of the Arbatel is the first, called the Isagoge, which the author of the Arbatel says relates “the most general precepts of the whole Art” and means “Book of the Institutions of Magic.” It does read like an overview except for a portion (aphorism 17) that goes into some detail about the Olympic Spirits, leaving late Modern and post-Modern occultists fixated on just that and conflating information within the Arbatel with their own magical paradigms.

Behind the Christian-based medieval piety is a spiritual paradigm that harkens to—not Solomonic or Cabalist magic or Rosicrucian mysticism (which the Arbatel likely predates)—but classical Roman paganism in which every conceivable thing had a tutelary spirit underlying its reason for being with the idea that harmony came through cooperative exchange. The treatise also can be categorized as “qualified nondualism,” in which it is acknowledged that all things have their source and existence within rather than in relation to God. This is inferred in aphorism 13:

The Lord lives and all things that live do so in him.

The Arbatel stands apart from other notable medieval grimoire. References to ceremonialism and Solomonic and Cabalistic trappings are marginal. Rather, the tract references Pythagorean, classical Hermetic, and classical Roman mysticism.

Although I initially thought that Aphorism 27, which gives instructions about drawing the Seal of Secrets, referred to the Olympic Spirits, I later realized that, no; it is meant to be a floor plan of where various tutelary spirits reside according to the day, season, phase of the moon, moon mansion, month, and zodiac.

Last summer, while conducting dreamtime experiments related to the Olympic Spirits and Arbatel with three other persons, I—and others in the group—were confronted with cryptic messages about the Seal of Secrets being a gadget, a calendar, something to sort through, and also one’s own body. All these things are true, but we were so stuck on the Olympic-Spirit slant that we did not see the bigger picture.

·         I believe that the Seal of Secrets is a Western yantra of the Multiverse, the meditation on which, for the initiated, reveals the structure and interconnectedness of the macrocosm and the microcosm.

·         Imagine the seal being multidimensional. The very center is a tiny sphere representing Phul, the elemental world, form, the body.

·         Eight radials emerge from it which are like cones forming the armature of the Cosmos, each connecting the micrcocosm to the macrocosm. This is the pillar or channel within which is found the so-called six-rayed star. It is Ophiel, the Azoth, serpent power, and secret fire.

·         Enclosing the small central orb is another orb. This is Hagith, the elemental sphere—the Earth, Earth Mother, and its sustaining energies. The sphere is guarded and buttressed by angelic entities related to the elemental humors: air, fire, water, and earth.

·         Surrounding this is a cube that divides space into halves, representing duality, complementarities, oppositions, and tensions that move individual being into action and interaction. This is Phaleg.

·         Surrounding the cube is another sphere that is like a corona that vitalizes all within it. This is Och.

·         Boundlessly permeating all this and strung like a web on the armature is the Eros, Life Force, the World Soul, which is Bethor.

·         Enclosing it all and providing a Ground of Being, Limitation, and Intelligible Design is the Intellectual Principle, which is Aratron.

The Seal also is a mnemonic, calendar-like device in which a person can place him or herself in a certain 23-hour or so time span (i.e., mansion of the moon) in a particular part of a week, month, astrological sign, and season  and then reflect on, accommodate, or use all of the tutelary entities associated with that particular time frame. The problem is that the paradigm used by the author of the Arbatel is not explicit. Clues suggest that it wasn’t the same paradigm used by, say, Robert Fludd (1574-1627) or Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535), though.

Aphorism 27 includes the following information:

The Eastern secret is the study of all wisdom. The West is of Strength. The South, of cultivation. The North of a more rigid life . . . .  The use of this seal of secrets is that, through it, you may know when the spirits or angels are produced that may teach you secrets they receive from God . . . .

This might place an angelic entity associated with Jupiter in the East, Sol in the West, Saturn in the South, and Luna in the North. We know that in Roman lore, Jupiter was associated with wisdom, Saturn with cultivation/agriculture, the sun with strength, and the moon with the natural and elemental world.

This section of aphorism 27 goes on to make references to the horsemen of the apocalypse (a Christian reworking of “the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” [Zechariah 1:8-17, 6:1-8).

But they have names taken from their offices and powers, according to the gift that God has given to each one. One has the power of the sword [war; red horse], another of pestilence [death; pale horse], and another of inflicting famine upon the people [black horse], according to the will of God. Some are destroyers of cities [conquest; white horse], as those two [Michael and Gabriel, according to lore] were who were sent to overthrow Sodom and Gomorrha and the places adjacent to them . . . Some watch over Kingdoms; others are the keepers of private persons . . . .[tutlelary and guardian angels]

The author of the Arbatel continues, saying that persons and cultures have their own names for various angels—and also stresses elsewhere in the text—that spiritual entities, including the Olympic Spirits, are named after their offices and roles but may give more personal names and energy signatures to the people who enter into communication with them. In addition, the author states in the latter part of aphorism 27 that all that is needed is to address the angelic or tutelary entity “seriously, with a great mental desire, faith, constancy, and without doubt that what he asks he shall receive from God, the father of all Spirits. This faith surmounts all seals and brings them into subjection of the will of man. Calling angels through their characters follows this faith, which depends on divine revelation . . . .”

Update 6-21-13.  I plan to publish a book (e-book and print although the print will be costly in 4-color) about my experiences with the Arbatel and hope to have it ready by August of this year. It will include update material for this and my other blog and more.  Also visit http:sorcerersandmagi.blogspot.com. I also have a Rizzoma (closed chat) site where discussion on the Arbatel can take place. It is set up but the original lot of people invited to participate have mostly all not followed through. email me at sororzsd23@gmail.com for info.Arbatel pic

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Feb. 14th, 2013 11:28 am (UTC)
Arbatel of Magick
Dear Sophia, The reason why only one tome of this work has been published is seen in the first septenary of aphorisms. Thus: "Do not give holy things to dogs, nor cast precious jewels before swine". The wisdom spoken of in this work is for those who are pre-destined to recieve it-as the author states. Is their any doubt in your mind that if all the other tomes of Magick had been printed, they would have been abused left,right and center? I have this morning just seen an example of this where the seals of the Olympic spirits are been offered for sale on T shirts! Their is also no doubt that those who practise "dark magick" would also abuse great wisdom-in service of their master. Hence, I applaud the wise precaution of the original author of this work.
sophia_dione
Feb. 14th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
Excellent point. But here are my thoughts: One writer about the Arbatel--I don't remember where I read this, unfortunately-- commented that the original material reads more like a notebook or the preliminary ideas meant for a more ambitious text. I personally think--though it is only opinion--that the rest of the material was planned but never written or written and not ever found. I also believe that a lot of material that comes down to us through "grimoire" or through coded alchemy texts--and very much including the material by Dee & Kelly--were meant to be personal revelations and operations of the author(s) of the text and not material for public consumption across ages. Even Crowley's Book of Law and other tracts, Dion Fortune's visions, and the writings of AO Spare seem to me to be mystical reveries of the authors in which documentation of the ineffable or singularly personal interpretations of mystical (or kataphatic) experience is attempted. The content is then spun out into doctrines, standards, and observances (either by the authors tripping over their self-sabotaging egomania or others) and palatably intelligible meanings imposed on them.

Unfortunately, unlike in the East where mystical traditions have been preserved for eons, too much of the Western mysteries tradition is lost, in part, because of secrecy imposed on initiates during the classical era and also because of the West's habit of censoring, diabolizing, and destroying the intellectual and spiritual legacies of its conquered demimondes . We are left with reconstructions, which may or may not do justify to the original paradigms.

(Anonymous)
Apr. 12th, 2013 09:57 am (UTC)
Arbatel of Magick
Dear Sophia, there are various websites of people who claim to have invoked the Olympic Spirits-which no doubt you have read-but they all agree on one thing; none of them have said anything "new" about these entities. I concede that perhaps the spirit may have told them not to reveal anything that they are told-but one would think that some magickal information would filter out-but none is apparent. This lack of information tends to make me think, that these people have not really been in contact with any spirit, and that they have been largely imagining and fooling themselves. Also, have you noticed they mention using magic circles,banishing rituals,ritual equipment,etc, all of which is unknown in the Arbatel text itself. These people also have quite obviously gained nothing materially from any of these spirits,ie: wealth, knowledge,serving spirits,etc. The reason I believe, is simply because,as with alchemy; many are called, but few are chosen.
sophia_dione
Apr. 13th, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Arbatel of Magick
You make several excellent points. The Arbatel was composed long, long before the HOGD (Thelema etc) and its rituals monopolized hermetic magic. It was also written before Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry (which strongly influenced the HOGD). Further, the Arbatel is not in the same vein as Solomonic magic that was a adapted into standard Western Occultism. The introduction of the Arbatel claims that the Arbatel is supposed to be a series of books on different types of classical-era magianism. Those books do not exist or exist anymore, unfortunately, but the introductiont refers to magic based in Jewish tradition as “ prophetic” (ie, Kabalistic) magic, not Solomonic. Solomon is not mentioned at all in the Isagoge. The Arbatel identifies goetic magic as “Apollonic.”
As for the spirit model, I have mixed feelings. There are some postmodern magicians who like to keep the idea open about whether otherworldly entities really do exist “out there” and visit during evocation or invocation-- or prayer for that matter or whether one is experiencing mind stuff.
I had been of the opinion that the impressions I received during evocation work were just imagination and archetypal stuff within my own consciousness. My experience with the Arbatel, however, caused me to modify my view. I began to consider that I might really be in communion with otherworldly intelligences. Whatever was actually happening, it proved to be a very interesting and worthwhile transpersonal l experience. Whether our explanations for these experiences are “real” or not, the experiences themselves are real and does so the experiences in and of themselves can be valued without have to attach them to doctrines.
The rigmarole that some apply to working with the Olympic Spirits is not only unnecessary but insulting to them, I think. I believe that much of the content about how to approach the Olympic Spirits and why is an exoteric cover text for something of greater substance of a transcendental nature. A small few other people who I have communicated with the about the Arbatel and who have decided to forgo formalities and work with the Olympic spirits as I did, have reported having more robust, insightful, and encouraging experiences than they did when they tried to evoke these energies through formal ceremonial magic practices.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 21st, 2013 03:17 pm (UTC)
Arbatel of Magick
Dear sophia, have you also noticed how very short and straight to the point,the invocation of the Olympic Spirits is? Also the absence of any so-called, "words of power"(unless the name of Jesus Christ is a substitute for these). Contrast this with any of the other classical grimoires where demons are being invoked,which are full of incomprehensible words. Even those works which speak of calling angels have much longer prayers than that of the Arbatel. Again, I believe the reason for the short prayer comes down to a person being pre-destined to use it: wheras those who are not pre-destined obtain no result. In the end of course, it boils down to God having mercy upon those he chooses to have mercy on- but what do you think?
sophia_dione
Jun. 21st, 2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Arbatel of Magick
Greetings and much thanks for the input. You make an excellent observation about the Arbatel, and everyone I have ever advised about it has come back to tell me that the simpler and most amiable but respectful approach was the best, including folks who first dabbled with Enochia. They go on to become Arbatel enthusiasts. The highly ritualized approach to evocation, used by what we now call “traditional” ceremonial magicians is based in various medieval grimoire in the vein of Solomonic magic and other ancient ritual fanfare in a world where gods and other entities had to be approached in specific ways to obtain their good graces and maintain The Order of the Universe. Historians who specialize in the study of magic in culture have noted that a lot of material in medieval grimoire are mashups of godnames and jargon from different cultures and also garbled language and terms from more ancient sources, the originally meaning, intent (and proper spelling and pronunciation) of which were very often long lost—and some of it was glossolalia from trance reverie. When this is brought to the attention of a ceremonialist, the response it that it does not matter; “it” works. From here, I must quote the guys who formally established Chaos Magick (Peter Carroll and Ray Sherwin): “Belief is a tool.” If you really believe that if you do A, that C will happen, then you are doomed to that paradigm and that is how the world works for you (and I am here talking about ritualized activity and prejudices and preferences, not other belief sets). This is called “having a process.” It is not the be-all and end-all; it is just a pattern of formation that a person has bought into (or has been indoctrinated or programmed into). As for your second point, Christian piety and use of the name of Christ to establish authority was standard in medieval grimoire—much of which was put together by men affiliated with the Church (who were the people who could read and write and have access to scholarly reading material). I'm not sure whether predestination figures into efficacy. All I know is that I approached it innocently but also from a background steeped in "Advaita" philosophy, and I got a very robust response.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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