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Abramelin and the Golden Dawn

Ever since Samuel Mathers translated the French edition of the Book of Abramelin into English , the system has attracted a huge amount of interest from those within the Golden Dawn.  There are a number of stories associated with those Golden Dawn adepts who tried the system and came to grief. 
With the recent publication of the German version of Abramelin we start to see that Mathers’ edition had several important flaws and some would say that this is the reason why the Abramelin system was so dangerous.   Literalism is the curse of modern occultism and in the Abramelin system this is certainly true.  What many fail to see is that who ever wrote the Abramelin system had the idea that it was meant to be adapted to suit the individual.  There are also several blinds in the system that require a bit of intelligence to work out.  Once these are sorted out then it is possible to adapt the Abramelin system to suit the Golden Dawn.

In Whare Ra the Abramelin system was treated with what some might describe as respect while others would be more cynically say with fear.


An outline of the Abramelin system
The Abramelin system is a self initiation programme which was developed in the 15th century. The German system requires a year while the Mathers’ translation needed six months.  Time, ironically is not really an issue, the important thing seems to be a three fold division.  The German translation talks about year divided into three, but it could also fit into three, six, nine, 12 or 18 months. I prefer the idea of 18 months as it fits somewhat snugly into the ‘official time’ that it takes a candidate to get through the outer order and gives time for problems to appear or be faced.

What Abramelin describes is a system of regular work which increases in intensity in three stages.  During the initial stages this requires a morning and evening prayer and two hours of study of religious texts.  This intensifies until the person is required to take two weeks of isolation to commune with his Holy Guardian Angel.  Then, for three days, he meets with an army of demons who are required to bend to his will.  After this initiation program is completed the magician is given a serious of magical squares which form the backbone of a magical system.

What is important about the system is that it is entirely flexible.  Religion is not important so long as those taking part only believe in One God.  Prayers are not proscribed but are meant to be designed by the person carrying out the procedure.   While many think that the goal of the Abramelin system is “Knowledge and Conversation with your Holy Guardian Angel”, it does not seem to be the case. It is designed to make you a religious and pious man. The Holy Guardian angel is supposed to be guiding you throughout the three stages of work culminating in his instruction in the later stages.  There are some things in Abramelin which do not work either magically or for modern people.   Despite its tendency towards religious freedom it does lean towards Judaic law over other religions.  Rules on touching dead meat and women during menstruation are hang-overs from the Talmud.  Oddly the system claims that it can be performed by women.  This is quite enlightened for its time, although if the system was followed literally women would ‘fail’ by the fact Abramelin considers them ‘unclean’ once a month.

When meeting your HGA for the first time – don’t blink
Holy Guardian Angel
To understand the Abramelin system it is important to understand what he understood by the term Holy Guardian Angel. Many modern commentators on the system, including Crowley and Bill Gray have said the HGA is the same as a person’s Higher Self.  This Jungian term unfortunately does not hold up when the system is closely read. 

In the Middle Ages it was claimed that when a person was born they were given a Holy Guardian Angel and attracted a Demon.  The HGA was to guide and protect the person throughout their life and the Demon was supposed to tempt them away from the path.  In the Medieval Bulgarian church when a person was baptised they were told “do not listen to your demon and do nothing that will anger your Holy Guardian Angel”. 

Clearly then the HGA was not your ‘higher self’ but an Angelic entity which was God’s way of looking after you.  It was God’s way of communicating with you on Earth and might, perhaps, be the way of reaching your True Self.

Blinds or flaws in the system
While the Abramelin system functions well as a system that leads a person to a form of Angelic initiation the emphasis appears to be the manifestation of legions of demons.  After a person has performed their rites to contact what is called a “religious presence” they are required to invoke four demonic kings, eight dukes and loads of their little baby demons and servitors.  However if you have followed the system and read it clearly you cannot help but feel that this is unbalanced.  Even if the goal was knowledge and conversation with one’s HGA the encounter with all the subjective and objective evil in the Universe is a bit much.  As far as Angelic hierarchies are concerned the HGA is down the pecking order and yet it is supposed to have the clout to deal with the likes of Satan.

However there is a clue that Abramelin gives fairly early on in the book which suggests that his system is not entirely HGA related.  He requires operators to read his book extremely carefully which is often an indication in some esoteric literature that there is a blind being used and you need to engage your brain to get past them.

There are six days used to invoke spirits.  The first three days appear to be dedicated to the HGA while the other three days are connected to specifically named spirits.  The first four are Kings, then there are eight Dukes and then the lists of servators.  We know that the demons are organised as a mockery of the hierarchy of heaven.  Thus the four demonic Kings are a mockery of the four Archangels of the Direction, Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel.  The Number 8 is a mockery of the perfection of the divine number 7.  Thus we are looking for a seven fold Angelic hierarchy with servitors.

It is possible then that on the first three days of the Abramelin retreat one is supposed to invoke the Archangels of the Quarters, followed by the Archangels of the Sepheroth and their attendant angels.  They then call up their dualistic counterparts.  The system hints at a seventh day which is not described.  This would be the Sabbath day which is the day that traditionally God rested, but is also the holiest day in the cycle when the person is expected to communicate and worship their creator.  This moves the person beyond angels to the state of seeing the most High.  This would mean that the Abramelin system would have linked the candidate to all four levels of Cabbalistic creation.

Adapting the system for the Golden Dawn
In the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn there are three degrees that correspond directly to those of the Abramelin system.  In the outer order you are given the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and told to study.  In the Portal you intensify this study with the Supreme ritual of the Pentagram and attempt to unite the elements into a balance. Finally in the third degree the ‘next spiritual level’ is opened to you with both the LVX formula, The Lesser and Greater Ritual of the Hexagram and the Ritual of the Rose Cross.

Thus it is possible to overlay the system into the Golden Dawn so that it looks like the following:

The first six months
Ideally you should have a room that you place your altar and nothing else in.  You should purify and consecrate it and never enter it unless you are doing magical work. 

When you wake up have a shower, face east and perform the cabbalistic cross lesser invoking ritual of the Pentagram.  You should then write an invocation to the highest aspect of God that you know and request that it reveal to you its wisdom through its Holy Guardian Angel.  You should meditate on what you believe to be God or the highest spiritual aspect.  Think of the good qualities you have and use the current of the Pentagram to draw those qualities you want to have toward you. 

Before you go to bed perform the cabbalistic cross and the lesser banishing ritual of the Pentagram and repeat your invocation and add that you would request the Holy Guardian Angel protect and teach you while you sleep.  Work out how your personality falls short of your abilities and destiny and allow the current of the banishing pentagram to carry these weaknesses from you. 

The next six months
When you wake up have a shower, face east and perform the cabbalistic cross lesser invoking ritual of the Pentagram.  Then perform the supreme invoking ritual of the Pentagram and invoke the Most High. Purify and consecrate the room as you would in the 0=0 ritual. Feel those elemental forces inside you moving into balance.

Then you invoke your Holy Guardian Angel to lead you onto the right path of Wisdom and Understanding.  You should then meditate on your holy scripture (if you have them), sentences of the Golden Dawn rituals, esoteric books, the angelic forces or just wait upon your HGA to teach you.  You should lengthen the amount of time you spend on this.

Then in the evening, have another shower or at least wash your hands and face. Perform the Cabbalistic Cross, the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram and then the Greater Banishing ritual of the Pentagram and meditate on those aspects of humanity that are darker, those forces that are unregenerate.  See them gradually come into balance or to break them up.  You should ask for your HGA to help you in this.

The Third Part 

When you wake up, at noon, and before the bedtime session you should wash your hands, feet and face or have a shower.

The morning session should be performed as before only this time you should add the lesser invoking hexagram for the day (ie moon is luna) and the LVX formula.  You should then invoke your highest concept of God and ask to be given the honour of the company with the holy angels so they will grant and reveal the hidden Wisdom to reign over the unredeemed spirits and all creatures.  Ask that the spirit of God shall come upon you.  You should meditate on the energy of the Angel of the day and try to see its energy and power in operation.  Think of all the positive aspects of that planet that manifest in you.  You might like to consult your chart.

At noon perform the Ritual of the Rose Cross and repeat your prayer.

The evening session should be the same as the morning only this time you should perform banishing rituals.  Ask that the spirit of God shall come upon you.  You should meditate on the negative aspects of the planets that manifest in you and allow the energy of the banishing pentagrams to carry them out of your sphere of sensation.

The seven day retreat
You should make sure you are completely alone for seven days.  You should start the retreat on a Monday if you are a Christian or Sunday if you are Jewish.  If you are neither of these Monday is as good as any.  The idea is to end the ritual on your Sabbath day.  If you don’t have one, one person’s Sabbath is as good as another’s.

Shower, enter your temple barefoot.  Perform the Cabbalistic Cross Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram, Another Cabbalistic Greater invoking Ritual of the Pentagam, Purify and consecrate with Water and Fire, as the 0=0, take the oil of Abramelin in your left hand and recite the prayer of Abramelin or write something similar.  Here is my version:

“Almighty God beyond the limits of the Universe, who gave substance to the All, from whom all things proceed, to whom all will return.  You from whom all things find their expression.  When you forgive yourself, we are all forgiven. I recognise those things in me which make me weak, which prevent me fulfilling my place in the story of my life.  Oh thou who art the great story teller, you who become the story, the alliance between the creation and the creator is great.  You give unto people like me redemption and invite me to take what you can offer. So Adonai, give me mercy and take from me my excesses, wash from me all that is weak and fails to meet the standards you have set for myself in this life. Wash from me all that is unclean, renew my spirit and strengthen it.  Enable me to understand the secrets of your grace and the treasures of your knowledge.  Consecrate me through this oil of creation with which you healed all of the prophets, clean me and all it touches. Properly cleanse and heal me that I will be able to have the company of the holy angels, the sacred wisdom and the might that you have given, you initiate over the good and unredeemed spirits.
Amen.”
When you have said this prayer you draw a cross on your forehead with the oil and then mark the corners of your altar and magic equipment with it.  You should be wearing a white robe at this point but no slippers or socks.   Abramelin requires you were a silk head band around your third eye with the names of God written upon it.
You are also expected to write this phrase on the four sides of your altar:
“In those places where the memory of my name is grounded there I shall come to you and bless you.”
The phrase comes from Exodus 20:24 and the complete verse according to King James is “An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.”
On the first day you are to invoke your Holy Guardian Angel.  Abramelin will have you praying your buns off until the entity shows up.  However the normal method of evocation should do just as well.   He does not make it clear that this is what you are supposed to be doing on the first day, however on the second day you are supposed to be asking the angel’s advice about calling the good spirits, so the first day should be dedicated to your first knowledge and conversation.
The Second day you should follow the advice of your Guardian Angel about how to get in touch with the Angels.  As we have mentioned before Abramelin is vague about the angels you should call.  Judging by the way he has arranged the unredeemed spirits I would suggest you should call the three Supernal Archangels Metatron, Raziel and Tzaphqiel as a separate block. Then call the seven Archangels of the Sepheroth next,  Tzadqiel, Kamael, Raphael, Haniel, Michael, Gabriel and Sandalphon.

The third day should be dedicated to the ‘servants’ of the Archangels.  Again we are guessing here.  I have had several suggestions that these should be the Angels assigned to the paths of the tree of life but I think it is better to call upon the Angels of the planets.  You could call the Intelligences but not the spirits, who are a little bit too demonic in the GD system.  

These three days are supposed to be a communing with the Angels and your Holy Guardian Angel.  During this time you should be requesting each Angel support you in your Spiritual journey and give you control of the unredeemed spirits and the forces that the Archangels represent.  Like the unredeemed spirits these Angels are supposed to be pledging their support to help you.  You are not commanding them, as you do the unredeemed spirits, you are attuning yourself to their energy so that you can access it.

The system of invoking angels should be familiar to GD magicians who are ready to take the Abramelin working and do not need to be rehashed.  However it is worth pointing out that I would use a cut down version of what Regardie wrote in the Golden Dawn book.  On the first day you will have to call five entities, the next day seven and the day after 14 which is a pretty hairy schedule.

The fourth, five and six days are pretty much by the book.  Obviously you cannot call every demon in the Abramelin phone book and you should ask your HGA which ones you should call.  These will be the ones that most stuff you up in your life path.  While I like the idea of making the demonic spirits appear in a sandbox (it saves the problems of burnt hoof prints in the carpet and is easier to clean as demons are rarely house broken), I would draw a triangle of the art in the sandbox to enclose them.  I do not like the idea of demons going anywhere unconstrained.

The seventh day is another part of the equation that was not related in Abramelin but is fairly logical.  This is the Sabbath day which after that lot of evocations you will feel knackered and a bit sick.  However on this day you call upon all your angels and demons to lift you up to the Most High.  This is when you invoke your Higher Self.  This will require your Holy Guardian Angel’s help, but instead of invoking into the sandbox you invoke that force inside yourself.

Which wand?
The Abramelin book mentions a wand or a stick of almond which is to be used for the demons to touch and pledge their alliance.  The temptation would be to shove the lotus wand under the nose of the demons and angels on the grounds that in the GD system it would have a similar role.  Don’t do that what ever you do.  The Lotus Wand is not used in that way, in fact the closest GD tool would be the adept’s sword.  I would suggest that you use the wand of Almond and then use it as a tool for workings of the magic squares that you do later.
The Squares
Abramelin magical squares were placed on talismans by the Adepts of Whare Ra.  Although this was fairly uncommon, perhaps out of the fear that some Adepts had of the system.  However an adapted method of what was suggested in Abramelin was probably the best method.
On the Sabbath, have a shower, put on your adept’s robe, light the incense, olive oil lamp, perform the Lesser Invoking ritual of the Pentagram, Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram and your invocation to the Most High.  Call upon your Holy Guardian angel to help you understand or construct a word square for your current objective.  Don’t do anything until you can see the Angel in the temple with you. Then stare at the tablet.  Some letters will be highlighted, or seem bolder than the others  and these will be the name of the spirit you have to call.  You might also notice a sigil appear on the square.  Write both of these down.

Some of the squares are created by the Angels and others by the unredeemed spirits.  Some are a mixture of both.  Abramelin gives specific instructions about calling the Dukes.  He says you call the lot and then the one who is really in charge will write his servant’s name in the sand for you.  You then make the Duke and this servant take an oath to do what you want.

For a number of reasons I am not happy with this approach.  It puts the entire magical system in the hands of unredeemed spirits.  A magician who leans too much on these, however in tune they are with their Higher Self or HGA is going to end up concentrating too much on the negative.

However it occurred to me that Abramelin was not providing the whole system.  We seem to have two contradictory methods of obtaining the names and sigils of the being that is supposed to help us.  The first involves our HGA and staring at the square until the sigil is seen and the other involves grilling the Dukes of Hell. 

Clearly one is the method of finding out the Angelic names and the other is the method of contacting the Demonic.  What is also strange is that all the squares given in the book are controlled by demonic entities.  Abramelin can be read so that you ask your HGA for information about some squares and demons for the others, but the problem is that all the squares have some demonic entity connected with them . It seems then that the entireal magical application of the system is about the controlling of unredeemed spirits.

However Abramelin has hinted that these are not the only squares that are meant to be used.  It is possible to construct others, find out the name of the good spirit and go from there.

Say, for example, we wanted to create a square that would help bring about peace.  We would ask our HGA and he or she would give us the word, Shalom which is Hebrew for peace.  We can lay this out in a square thus:

S
H
A
L
O
M
H
A
L
O
M
S
A
L
O
M
S
H
L
O
M
S
H
A
O
M
S
H
A
L
M
S
H
A
L
O
We call upon the Holy Guardian Angel to reveal the name of the Angel in charge of bringing about peace and we see the following letters highlighted.
S
H
A
L
O
M
H
A
L
O
M
S
A
L
O
M
S
H
L
O
M
S
H
A
O
M
S
H
A
L
M
S
H
A
L
O
On the surface we have an angel called Halom, however when we ask for the sigil we get the following:

square

So our Angel is called Alhom.  We draw his name on a piece of paper with his sigil.  We know that peace is attributed to the Sephoroth of Chesed so we ask Tzadqiel to send forth Alhom in the name of El to bring about the peace we need.

The Book of Abra=Melin, the Mage as delivered to by Abraham the Jew to his Son Lamech, translated by SL MacGregor-Mathers, De Laurance Company, Chicago, 1932
The Book of Abramelin, a new translation, Abraham von Worms, compiled and edited by George Dehn. Ibis Press, Lake Worth, Florida, 2006
The demon Amayon is apparently in charge of healing.  He is, according to the Book of Moses one of the four princes of devils over the four quarters of the earth and not really a nice chap.  You can argue that since all illnesses are caused by demons then binding a really big one is a good idea.  I am not sure I buy that argument.

5 thoughts on “Abramelin and the Golden Dawn

  1. What is the advantage of working this system rather than staying with the more classical cabbalistic angelic system. The Sephirotic and planetary angels cover the whole of creation. Why step out of this and get you hands dirty with demonics, unless your looking to scare the children?

  2. I think the sensibilities of children are over rated 🙂 I am not selling it… really… just reporting on it and how it might work. Oddly the reason I think I have a problem with darker magic is that it is just soooo christian and dualistic.

  3. I wondered from the comment about getting your HGA to tell you which demons were stuffing you up was an attempt at getting you to face and deal with the negative and more unbalanced aspects of yourself. A sort of antidote to those living out a blissed out New age heaven state. Personally I have more than enough to deal with without deliberately going looking for it.

  4. Beautiful ideas on the Abramelin system.Did it work when you did it? Like it or not we live in a dualistic universe unless you ascend beyond the polarities at the upper sephirot. Shalom!

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