Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Aaron Leitch, author of several books, including Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical Language Volume I and Volume II, and Essential Enochian Grimoire.
“All the books which treat of characters, extravagant figures, circles, convocations, conjurations, invocations, and other like matters, even although any one may see some effect thereby, should be rejected, being works full of diabolical inventions; and ye should know that the demon maketh use of an infinitude of methods to entrap and deceive mankind. This I have myself proved, because when I have operated with the veritable wisdom, all the other enchantments which I had learned have ceased, and I could no longer operate with them…” [Book the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, Book II, Chapter 4: “That the greater number of magical books are false and vain.”]
The above quote from the Book of Abramelin has led some students to question how the Operation relates to other systems of magick, especially the Solomonic grimoires. There can be little doubt that Abraham the Jew is repudiating those very grimoires in his above diatribe—what with all of their characters and circles and conjurations. Of course, as I pointed out in my last blog, it is not unusual for a grimoire to declare itself pristine while decrying all other (largely similar) texts as false and diabolical. However, what makes Abraham’s above statement unique is that he claims the True and Sacred Magic will cause all of those other systems to stop working for you. Is that true?
In most cases where Abraham has added his own commentary to the Abramelin Operation, I have found it necessary to take his opinion with a grain of salt. The realities of working with your Holy Guardian Angel are not often as black and white (or dualistic) as he would have it. The same is true in this case: the relationship between Abramelin and your other magickal work is a bit more complex than the simple dismissal proffered in the above quote.
Before I performed Abramelin, I had spent many years learning magick on my own. I had gone through Don Kraig’s lessons (there were only eleven of them at the time) and devoured every bit of Golden Dawn material I could get my hands on, not to mention my experience in Neopaganism/Wicca. I had, by that point, constructed my own personal system of occultism that worked very well for me. Then I undertook Abramelin and, sure enough, that personal system ceased to have any relevance for me. It now sits enshrined in my old books of shadow, gathering dust on a shelf.
However, it was after Abramelin, and under the tutelage of my Holy Guardian Angel, that I was led to study other systems. More than anything else, I was led to Gnosticism, Shamanism, and some parts of Buddhism—all of which I was told represent (in parts) the True Religion of humankind. It was also during this period that I came to finally understand the grimoires and put them to use—again with the help of my HGA. In the end, I believe Abraham was going too far by making such a blanket statement. Maybe everything else stopped working for him, but I was actively led to other systems and areas of study.
Where this subject is concerned, students also bring many misconceptions about both Abramelin and the Solomonic grimoires to the table. Where the grimoires are infamous for the complex procedures one must follow to establish contact with the angels and spirits, Abramelin is thought to be greatly simplified. For instance, the Book of Abramelin instructs one to make a series of magickal word-square talismans, which can be flashed at the spirits at any time to (wordlessly) command them to perform a specific task. In fact, it even goes so far as to say the talismans aren’t necessary at all, and you can give the spirits instructions via a few cleverly coded words during conversations with other people:
“You are then to understand that once he who operateth hath the power, it is not necessary (in all cases) to use written symbols, but it may suffice to name aloud the name of the spirit, and the form in which you wish him to appear visibly; because once they have taken oath, this sufficeth. These symbols, then, be made for you to avail yourself of them when you be in the company of other persons; also you must have them upon you, so that in touching or handling them simply, they may represent your wish. Immediately then he unto whom the symbol appertaineth will serve you punctually; but if you should desire something special which is in no way connected with or named in the symbol, it will be necessary to signify the same at least by showing your desire by two or three words. And here it is well to observe, that if you use prudence, you can often reason with those persons who be with you in such a manner that the spirits, having however been beforehand invoked by you, will understand what they are to do.” [Book the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, Book II, Chapter 20: “How the Operations should be performed.”]
Based on these statements, many assume the Abramelin method of working with spirits is simple in comparison to the Solomonic texts. There seem to be no conjurations or ritualized procedure—just show the spirit the talisman and say a word or two.
However, this is not a complete picture of Abramelin, leading students to assume it is much simpler than it really is. Many seem to miss a key phrase in the above quote, where the spirits must have been “…beforehand invoked by you.” And in case you think this is simply a reference to your original invocation of these spirits during the Operation itself, let’s just read from the next paragraph in the book:
“But when it is a grave and important matter, you should retire into a secret place apart… There give them their commission regarding that which you wish them to perform, the which they will either execute then or in the days following.”
So there you have it. When working with the Abramelin spirits, you have to find a private location in which to perform a formal evocation ritual to call the spirits and tell them what you desire. Only then can you take their talisman out into the world and flash it at them when you want them to act. They don’t simply hang around you 24/7 in the off chance you might pull out their talisman and wave it in the air.
In fact, the Book of Abramelin has much more in common with the Solomonic texts than is first apparent. In both cases, you are given elaborate methods of establishing first contact with the spirits. After that contact is made, doing further work with the same spirits becomes much easier (that is, the elaborate ritual becomes unnecessary). What you see in, for example, the Key of Solomon is not the procedure you use every time you want to talk to those spirits.
They are also similar in that they focus almost entirely on that first-contact procedure, but say either precious little (as in Abramelin) or nothing at all (as with most Solomonic texts) about how to work with the spirits afterward. In both cases, it is rightly assumed the angels or spirits will be teaching you those details. Thus, ritual work with the spirits is not absent in Abramelin, it’s just that Abraham assumes your HGA will teach you how to do it, and thus does not provide the ritual itself.
He does give us a lot of procedure to follow, though. (If you haven’t got a copy of The Holy Guardian Angel by Nephilim Press, I strongly recommend you do—especially for my essay “After Abramelin…”) There is a ritual to follow if you want new spirits/talismans from your Angel, and one to follow if you want them from the lesser spirits. The instructions are generalized, but your Angel will fill in any gaps.
As for my use of the Solomonic grimoires—my Guardian Angel plays a direct role in that as well. She has taught me much that makes the grimoires usable. Plus, whenever I perform any Solomonic work, I begin by opening up my Abramelin Altar and invoking my HGA first and foremost. She is my intermediary spirit, who not only gives me permission to perform any magickal operation, but also facilitates it and makes it possible. Oh, and Abraham aside, She has never had a problem with my using sigils and characters.
And yes, the spirits listed in Abramelin are the same as the same spirits listed in other grimoires. And, no, the process of contacting and working with them is not essentially different than other grimoires. The difference is that other grimories give you step-by-step instructions whereas the Book of Abramelin leaves the details up to the HGA to teach you, either directly or by leading you to already-existing sources of knowledge.
In my experience, my Guardian Angel has never treated my work with Her as if it existed within some kind of Abramelin vacuum. She has led me to many founts of non-Abramelin wisdom. After all, it is the True and Sacred Wisdom that She is teaching, and that exists scattered throughout mankind’s spiritual pursuits. As with most grimoires, the Book of Abramelin is only concerned with getting you through the doorway to begin a much larger journey.
Have a nice trip, Aspirant!
Our thanks to Aaron for his guest post! Visit Aaron Leitch’s author page for more information, including articles and his books.