The Quest for Abramelin the Mage – video
THE ABRAMELIN EFFECT
Quest for Abramelin, the Mage
A Cryptoporticus Video Production, by Iona Miller, 2010
The Sun of the One I love has risen in the night,
Resplendent, and there will be no more sunset…
I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart, and I said
“Who are you?” and he said “Your Self.” –Hallaj
The Book of Abramelin, Classic Occult Text
Modern Translation & Commentary by Georg Dehn (Ger.) and Steven Guth (Eng.)
In his introduction, Abraham narrates to his son the story of how he came upon the great magician in a small town, Araki near Nag Hamadi, on the banks of the Nile river. His interest in various magickal practices had led him on a tour of the civilized world, seeking out magicians and Qabalists, taking what he could learn from each.
After describing how he came to learn the Sacred Magic of Abramelin, Abraham proceeds to explain in great detail the entire necessary operation, from the selection of an appropriate place, to the summoning of various spirits and demons to do the bidding of the magician. The book carefully details the qualifications necessary to become a magician, protections, asceticisms, purifications, evocations, vestments and prayers.
The goal of paramount importance to the operation is the invocation, or knowledge and conversation, of the Holy Guardian Angel. This is the first written use of this term, which is now extremely common in modern occult literature. The Holy Guardian Angel, considered by many modern magicians to be the “Higher Self” or Augoeides, assists the magician through the remainder of the operation. The next step of the process is to evoke the denizens of hell, and force their allegiance and submission to the magician. Once the magician has mastered the evocation of good and evil spirits, commanding those spirits to do his will, and overcoming rebellious spirits, he can begin putting the spirits to work.
The last part of the book gives specific instructions for clairvoyance, divining metals and treasure, warding off evil magick, healing illness, levitation, transportation, making oneself invisible, creating illusions, reading minds, and many various powers and magicks, both white and black, which the magician may now utilize.
The “Abramelin operation,” as it is often called, in reality consists of two seperate operations. The first operation, the attainment of knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, is the perfection and purification of the Self. It opens the path of communication between man and Divine. In the second operation the evil demons, who are sometimes considered the magician’s “lower Self” or negative character traits, are conquered and commanded to do the magician’s bidding by force of will and magick. This second operation would therefore fall into the category of medieval magick called goetia.
Grimoire Magic: the Wisdom & the Secret
Writing itself was originally imbued with occult or hidden power and was the preserve of priest-magicians. Tangible magical archives are the tip of the occult iceberg of oral and folk traditions. Therefore, a book of magic is also a magical book. The knowledge they contain and the gnosis they imply have been widely suppressed yet are fundamental to the history of the last 2000 years.
Written magic spread from the Middle East of pre-historic Mesopotamia into Europe, but its roots remain in their countries of origin. For example, there is a solid connection between The Picatrix (Ghâyat al-Hakîm fi’l-sihr) and the Kurdish-speaking Yezidis with Indo-European roots and the Harranian Sabians. The central figure of Yezidi faith is Melek Taus, a benevolent angel depicted as a peacock that fell from grace but redeemed himself. In repenting, the angel wept for 7,000 years filling seven jars which quenched the fires of hell (Yezidi, Melek Taus).
The Picatrix, (The Aim of Sages), influenced Occultists since it was first collated in 10th century Arabia. Primarily a handbook on talismanic magic, the book also serves as a compilation of Arabic texts on hermeticism, astrology, alchemy and magic in the 9th and 10th centuries. Used by Marsilio Ficino, William Lily, and a host of other astrologers and magicians past and present, the four volume work describes a way of working with planetary energies that is grounded in both astrological practice and material reality.
The Corpus Hermetica sparked revolutionary beliefs, creating an Egyptian revival that is not yet over. The Greeks and Egyptians worshipped Hermes-Trismegistus as Hermes and Thoth, respectively. Hermetic texts are the basis of sympathetic magic. Astrological magic also filtered in from India to the writings of Islamic Arab and Persian scientists and magicians. Purported Books of Enoch containing astronomical, astrological, and angelic lore were circulating at the time of Jesus. From the Ptolemaic era of Hellenistic syncretism, Egypt became the center of magical fusion for Greeks, Romans, Christians, Jews, and later Muslims. It was reknown as the home of the most adept magician priests.
The Bornless One
Some Say Abramelin, Some Say Abra-Melin
The Book of Abramelin is a medieval grimoire or magical recipe book full of devils and angels in the style of The Picatrix, the Greater Key of Solomon, the Lesser Key of Solomon, also known as The Lemegeton and the Sixth and Seventh Books of Mose. The later is actually derived from Abraham’s Second Book.
If St. Germain’s Triangular Book is the most secretly held esoteric text, Abramelin is among the most widely referenced and imitated. But that was not true until 100 years ago, when Mathers translated it from the French. Abramelin concealed its secret until the Occult Revival, while less authentic, more sensational grimoires proliferated. DeLaurence barely mentions Mathers in his popular reprint of The Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin. The missing parts of the original MS remained dormant through the era of pulp grimoires and mass-market divination.
Such grimoires have been feared as well as valued and revered. These books of magic are also repositories of knowledge, some of which wound up in European libraries outside their cultural context of specific periods and places. The Abramelin text is distinguished by the likelihood that the author, Abraham of Worms, actually made a pilgrimage to the Egyptian hermitage of the magus and copied an ancient text there. Researcher Dehn has found evidence that Abramelin, who lived near Nag Hammadi and the Valley of the Kings was influenced by local gnosticism and other syncretistic beliefs, including Coptics, Sufis and the cult of a “Nameless Angel”. None of this could have been deduced by an untraveled European author.
Some say “The devil is in the details,” meaning solutions break down when you examine them closely enough. Some say “God is in the details,” meaning opportunities for discovery and creativity come from digging into the details. Both are true, but the latter is more interesting. “The daemon is in the details” is more encompassing. The “Knowledge and Conversation” of the Holy Guarding Angel is a vital part of the Abramelin Operation to embody. To Crowley, finding one’s true will or purpose in life was the only justifiable use of such Knowledge or gnosis; any other use was black magic.
Aleister Crowley adopted Mathers’s partial translation of The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage from the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Holy Guardian Angel became the foundation of his magical system of Thelema. Crowley equated it with the Genius of the Golden Dawn, the Augoeides of Iamblichus, the Atman of Hinduism, the kabbalistic Ruach, and the Daemon of Plato. The “Silent Self,” is genuine divine nature. A Tibetan master has said: When day and night become a circle of infinite luminosity you will be living the spiritual greatness of life itself in human flesh.
Crowley made its frequent invocation paramount:
“It should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Once he has achieved this he must of course be left entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied upon to lead him to the further great step—crossing of the Abyss and the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple.”
Even though the Holy Guardian Angel is, in a sense, the “higher self”, it is often experienced as a separate being, independent from the adept. In modern terms, it is an encounter of ego and archetype, the I and the Not-I. “Knowledge and Conversation” with one’s Angel as self-realization or self-actualization marks it as a singular process/goal in magic. Yet no matter how we strive, we can never fully embody our conscious and unconscious potential, so the angel remains “The Bornless One”.
Abramelin, the Mage
The Abramelin grimoire is framed as an autobiography in which Abraham of Worms describes his journey from Germany to Egypt and reveals Abramelin’s magical and Kabbalistic secrets to his son Lamech. Internally the text dates itself to the year 1458. His tale of visiting various magicians is a “meetings with remarkable men” that pre-dates the similar quest of Gurdjieff and the re-creation of the journey by Dehn.
The story involves Abraham of Worms passing his magical and Kabbalistic secrets on to his son, and tells how he acquired his knowledge. Abraham recounts how he found Abramelin the Mage living in the desert outside an Egyptian town, Arachi or Araki, which borders the Nile. Abramelin’s retreat sat atop a small hill surrounded by trees. He was an Egyptian mage and taught a powerful form of Kabbalistic magic to Abraham. He was a “venerable aged man”, and very courteous and kind. He discussed nothing but “the Fear of God”, leading a well-regulated life, and the evils of the “acquisition of riches and goods.”
Abramelin extracted a promise from Abraham that he would give up his “false dogmas” and live “in the Way and Law of the Lord.” He then gave Abraham two manuscript books to copy for himself, asking for ten gold florins, which he took with the intention of distributing to seventy-two poor persons in Arachi. Upon his return fifteen days later, after having disposed of the payment money, Abramelin extracted an oath from Abraham to “serve and fear” the Lord, and to “live and die in His most Holy Law.” After this, Abramelin gave Abraham the “Divine Science” and “True Magic” embedded within the two manuscripts, which he was to follow and give to only those whom he knew well.
Angel and demon lore traces back to the times of Zoroaster and has roots in Babylonia. The main difference in modern practice of such rites is the religious practice within Judaism and the secular practice of the Western Occult Tradition. The practice is not limited to the Golden Dawn or Thelema lineage, but the most commentary on the subject has come from that quarter. That bias can be overcome by expanding the meaning of the operation by viewing it in a cross-cultural context and through its effects as described in Jung’s depth psychology. It is a means of connecting with our upwelling geyser of creativity that is the fountain of our transcendent nature. This effect is amplified and stabilized in The Middle Pillar Exercise.
“As an empirical concept, the self designates the whole range of psychic phenomena in man. It expresses the unity of the personality as a whole. … it is a transcendental concept, for it presupposes the existence of unconscious factors on empirical grounds and thus characterizes an entity that can be described only in part, but for the other part, remains at present unknowable and illimitable.” –Jung, [32, ¶789].
Magic is an art. Its medium is the unbound self. In magick, the Holy Guardian Angel’s power is in the secret and its secret is in the power. It can not be told because it is experiential. The self is transcendent because it points to an unlimited future and unbounded creative expansion of the evolutionary process. This is something that no being can comprehend. Of course we can have some sense of the future structure of the evolutionary process, but that tells us nothing of its essence. It tells us nothing of what it is like to be a more highly evolved being. Augoeides is an obscure Greek term meaning “luminous body” or “shinning image”. It is a synonym for the body of light and the Holy Guardian Angel.
The most substantial difference consists in the location of the immortal or divine spirit of man. The ancient Neoplatonists held that the Augoeides never descends hypostatically into the living man, but only more or less sheds its radiance on the inner man – the astral soul. The Kabbalists of the Middle Ages maintained that the spirit, detaching itself from the ocean of light and spirit, entered into man’s soul, where it remained through life imprisoned in the astral capsule.
During the period in China, 1906, Aleister Crowley was performing his Sammasati meditations to explore the causal roots of his karma. Even though he acknowledged that “cause” itself was an illusory concept, the term “Augoeides” came into Crowley’s thoughts as the name of the central god-form of his Abra-Melin Operation. Augoeides signifies one’s Higher Genius in the Golden Dawn teachings, and in classical Greek “glittering” or “self-glittering one,” employed in the third century in De Mysteriis by the Neoplatonist Iamblichus. Augoeides became Crowley’s new name for his Holy Guardian Angel.
Jung saw the Self as one of the archetypes. It signifies the coherent whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person – ‘the totality of the consciousness and unconscious psyche.” It is expressed in mandalas which symbolically integrate the four (in One) cardinal directions, and/or the four elements (fire, earth, air and water). The self is transcendent because it points to an unlimited future and unbounded creative expansion of the evolutionary process.
This totality is something that no being can comprehend. Of course we can have some sense of the future structure of the evolutionary process, but that tells us nothing of its holistic essence. It tells us nothing of what it is like to be a more highly evolved being, wielding full emergent potential. The human and divine self are co-existent. We can derive and embody meaning from trying to imagine and connect with our luminous bodies.