Monday, April 2, 2018

How to Trithemius (Part 1 - The Tools)


Around 2014, I was revisiting an analysis I had done of the Golden Dawn Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, and I stumbled across a blog by Rufus Opus where he borderline trashes the ritual, and argues it's not useful unless you are already hardcore into the Golden Dawn. As an LBRP fan, I was immediately shocked and thought, "who the hell is this guy, and what system does he use if the LBRP and Golden Dawn suck so much?" So I purchased two of his e-books, "Neoplatonic Basics" and "Modern Angelic Grimoire." In his books, he seemed to base his practice around what was at the time not a very popular grimoire entitled "The Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystal" (DSIC for short). DSIC is a grimoire that appears in Francis Barrett's The Magus and is attributed to Johannes Trithemius, though the actual authorship is under dispute. It is a fairly simple ritual that involves building a set of tools: an ebony wand, a set of seven lamens, a circle, an ebony or ivory crystal pedestal, and probably most famously, a circular table of practice upon which the crystal is placed. These tools are then used in a very short and simple ritual, whereby you summon the seven planetary archangels: Cassiel (Saturn), Sachiel (Jupiter), Samael (Mars), Michael (Sun), Anael (Venus), Raphael (Mercury) and Gabriel (Luna).

Since first discovering this grimoire, I have worked various versions of it, both modern (e.g. Rufus Opus's "Seven Spheres" OP) and the original script. I've also worked it both alone, and with my wife as a scryer. It is easily the most success I have had in contacting spirits, with some visions so intense I had to look away from the crystal. Today, I'd like to talk a bit about what I learned about doing the operation, how the different versions work, and how the grimoire is adaptable to a wide variety of practices, and can be used as it's own complete system of magic. A free copy of the grimoire can be found online at Joseph Peterson's Esoteric Archives.

The Tools (Do I Need All This Stuff?)
Short answer is "yes." Long answer is, "it depends on what you want out of it."

The first step in working the DSIC operation is construction of the tools. This is a highly important aspect of the magic. Part of the reason the ritual is so simple, and doesn't require complex formulas, god names, etc, is because it's implicitly assumed that you have been initiated into the system by making the proper tools. The one tool that most people agree can be skimped on is the ebony pedestal and crystal housing, but I am of the opinion that it's good to make some version of it, even if you can't afford a bunch of gold to make it to spec. So lets get started on what those tools are.

The Ebony Wand
The wand is very much an archetypal magical implement, and DSIC includes it's own wand. It is to be made of ebony, with gold lettering. When I first started the ritual, I actually just used an ebony "harry potter" looking wand. It gave me results and I still have that wand, but I now use it in my Golden Dawn workings for drawing hexagrams. With the help of my wife, I now have a wand that's more to spec, and I can assure you it's significantly more powerful for working this specific grimoire. To make the wand, you need a dowel of ebony (18 or 12 inches will work), and you can get one for a reasonable price from Bell Forest Products ( Once the dowel is stained, you need to put gold lettering on it. Some people engrave the lettering and then fill the engravings in with gold leaf, others paint it on with some sort of gilding paint. My wife and I both hate leaf, so we went with gilding paint. One side of the wand should say "AGLA ON TETRAGRAMMATON" and have a maltese cross, a hexagram, and a hexagram with a yod on it. The other side should say some variation of "Ego Alpha et Omega"/"I am the Alpha and the Omega." I took a cue from Frater Ashen Chassan's Gateways Through Stone and Circle and wrote "EGO TO ALPHA KAI TO O" in Greek characters. Pictured below is my wand.

You may bless and consecrate the wand as you see fit.

The Circle
Like many Solomonic systems, Trithemius recommends a physical circle, with a specific design. This design includes 4 hexagrams, one in each cardinal direction. In the quadrants between the hexagrams are the names Adonai, Tetragrammaton and Elohim, and in the final quadrant which should face the crystal, the planetary symbol and sigil of the archangel you are summoning. This means that there are theoretically SEVEN different circles. In the ritual, you consecrate the physical circle by tracing over it with your wand and saying:
"In the name of the blessed Trinity, I consecrate this piece of ground for our defence; so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.
Many modern interpretations of the ritual forego the physical circle,  using a variant of the above prayer as a way to "cast" an astral circle. I've done it both ways, and while it works with the astral circle, I find it a lot more effective to bite the bullet and make the circle. As for dealing with the issue of seven circles, what I did was have the circle design printed on a tapestry, with one quadrant blank:

I then made the 7 archangelic sigils on poster board in a size that would fit in the circle, as well as 7 planetary astrological symbols. I switch out the sigils and symbols depending on which angel I'm calling. If I use the circle for other operations (e.g. Goetics), I tend to use Michael and the Sun as a general purpose protector. If you go this route, try to make the sigils in the proper planetary hour.

The Lamens

The ritual requires you wear a lamen around your neck. You should make a lamen for each archangel. I would recommend doing this in the proper planetary hours. View it as a "preliminary initiation." Below is an example of the lamen for "Raphael" (thanks Digital Amber). Note that the name of Raphael on the top is written right-to-left, and in "Celestial Script" (see Agrippa). I believe this follows Rufus Opus's instructions, and it's what I use.
The lamen is supposed to be made of either virgin parchment or silver, but I find that fresh cardstock paper works just fine. I cut out a 6x6 inch square of the paper, and then drew the lamen within the bounds, cut it out, and attached string to it. One thing I must emphasize is use a compass and ruler, draw it in pencil first, and then go over with ink, preferably sharpie. I saw a post in the Solomonic Facebook group where someone complained of not getting results, and when the OP posted pictures of the lamen, they looked sloppily done by hand. Putting some effort into making it look as perfect as possible is important for attuning to the system and having a good "subjective synthesis" when you do the operation (and now I cringe for using a Lisiewski term). Remember, again, that making the tools is the initiation ritual!!!

The Table of Practice

Like many renaissance systems of angel magic (e.g. the Almadel, Enochian, Rudd's System), DSIC includes a table upon which your scrying medium (ideally a crystal ball) is placed. Generally, the outer circle has the names and symbols of the seven planetary archangels, and the inner has the "kings of the four directions." For a long time, people used the four elemental archangels "Raphael, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel" around the circle, but after convincing arguments from Jake Stratton Kent on the Solomonic Facebook group, I think most people agree it's actually supposed to be the directional kings. These are Oriens (east), Amaymon (south), Paymon (west), and Egyn (north). Above is the design I used for the table, with the exception that I used Greek characters for the four kings, again following Ashen Chassan's example.

One note - as was pointed out in the comments, the diagram I pilfered above is for a *north* facing altar (e.g. like in RO's Seven Spheres). If you want a table that faces east, you should have Oriens at the top. For any altar configuration, the proper directions of the kings can be found in Agrippa's Scale of the Number Four from his Second Book of Occult Philosophy.

Ebony Pedestal and Gold Crystal Housing

This is by far the most cost prohibitive tool from the entire operation. Most people don't even use it, but still report results. It requires housing the crystal in a carefully carved ebony housing, with gold plate around the crystal that has the names of the four elemental archangels on one side, and the word "TETRAGRAMMATON" on the other. Below is a drawing from Barrett's The Magus that shows how it would look.

Ashen Chassan and Jason Augustus Newcomb have both made beautiful versions of it that I encourage people to google. When I first started working with the grimoire, I didn't use any version of a crystal housing. Then, I realized that the names on the gold housing are extremely important. By including both the elemental archangels AND the directional kings, you are in essence tying the ritual to a cosmology that goes from the 7 planetary spheres, through the elements, and down to the physical world. This, to me, is very important for visible manifestation of the spirits. Additionally, some sort of housing can block glare from the candles. My solution was to use gold foil paper and make a band, or ring, that would go around the crystal. On the outside of the ring, I put the names of the archangels. On the inside, I put the TETRA-GRAMMA-TON as well as the four symbols required by the grimoire. See pictures below.


Today, we outlined the various tools from the Trithemius grimoire, but I'll point out, this grimoire can be successfully used to make spirit contact even if you go simple with some of the tools. Initially, I used a plain ebony wand, an "astral" circle, and no form of housing on the crystal. I still made contact, which is what motivated me to work with the system further. Rufus Opus apparently was able to contact Gabriel using a coffee cup full of inky water on a paper table of practice, with a compass as a wand. Don't let a lack of resources stop you from trying to contact the angels. I will say though, that the closer you get to the original specs, the more intense the manifestation will be. There's a huge difference between scrying in the spirit vision, and having a visible manifestation of the spirit. While both may be useful, the latter is such an intense and amazing experience that it's hard to put into words, and I was only able to achieve it with my most recent toolset and repeated practice of the ritual. Next time, we'll go over tips for performing the rite, the applications of the different versions (e.g. Rufus Opus's Seven Spheres versus the traditional script), as well as how the system can be molded to summon entities other than just the seven planetary archangels. I'll also talk about my experiences with the system both working the operation solo, as well as with the help of a scryer, and why you should try both.


  1. Hello fFC - Nice work - a rather technical question/remark : I'm on the verge of making my 3rd generation TOP , I feel like if you make the Table, and you look at the Triangle, you have the little pentagram and the hexagram near you and the Maltese/ teutonic cross farthest. In a lot of cases, the altar will be East - orientated, so doesn't it make sense to put Oriens on top ( direction of the Maltese cross), and following clockwise, Amaymon, Paymon and Egyn? Or do you place your altar North - faced?

    1. Yes - you are correct that if your altar faces east, you should have Oriens at the top, according to the scale of the number four in Agrippa. I have two versions of the table myself. One with Oriens at the top, one with Egyn at the top, depending on whether I am facing east or north. Rufus Opus's "Seven Spheres" version of the rite has Egyn at the top (which I guess I must have unintentionally pilfered that image from an RO fan), and I think it's because he incorporates parts of the Stele of Jeu (Bornless/Headless rite), which instructs you to face north during the initial invocation.

      Perhaps it would be a good idea if I modified my blog to make that more clear?

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  3. Hey, awesome blog! I'm currently in the process of crafting the required implements for the DSIC, and had a stupid question re: the wand... I just got an appropriate length ebony dowel from the website you listed and was wondering what sort of stain you used and if you used a polyurethane top coat after, before writing the symbols in gilding paint?

    1. So I actually didn't stain, but painted directly on and then sprayed on a sealant. I know others have stained the wand to make it darker.

      Sorry for the delayed reply, I was taking an extended internet hiatus.