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Book review Graeco-Egyptian Magic – Everyday Empowerment

 The Egyptian Papri provide us with very important authentic magical techniques.  The only difficulty is that they are hard to approach from a modern mindset. 
The biggest issue, besides having to drown some unfortunate street cat, or endangered species, are the names of power which are a mixture of Coptic, Middle Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Hebrew.  Most of them are pronounced using a form of classical Greek.
Graeco-Egyptian Magic – Everyday Empowerment  by Tony Mierzwicki provides a way into this really interesting system of magic.  Mierzwicki calls the book “intermediate level” and while I would hesitate to call it a book for beginners it has a few things which rule it out for advanced use.
The bulk of the book is taken up with invoking the seven Aions or the seven planets.  Mierzwicki gives an interesting opening and closing and then a series of rituals to make a contact with those Gods.
This is an excellent idea and I decided to follow it as an experiment.  Mierzwicki provides you with the tools you need to pronounce the barbarous names of power but you have to really work it out for yourself.  In the ritual he will give you the word OUKRA and give you the pronunciation in the back (OOK-RA) with the R slightly trilled.  It would have been more useful to have the pronunciations in the actual rituals he gives.  But hell, an author should not have to do all the work.
The opening rituals is not bad but will take some getting used to if you are from a Wiccan, or even Golden Dawn tradition.  It works by invoking the unknown Aeon of Aion into your circle.  This is extended by using the Greek Vowels to open the six directions of space.  The Aeon of Aion energy is then divided into two by vibrating two different “male and female” names of power. 
There then comes a very long “blasting open the portals” by using the vowel sounds.  Four weeks into my experiment I gave up on this and replaced it with supreme pentagrams.  I could not make the vowels do much other than give me a sore throat. Mierzwicki ’s logic I really liked.  These were the names given to the Aeon of Aions at the quarters.
There then followed some interesting adaptions from the Egyptian Papyri to complete the opening.   What I found was that the Aeon of Aeon tended to be Thoth energy… in other words Thoth in his guise of the head of the Ogdoas and the creator of all.   That worked for me but I didn’t think about it until a bit later.
Then you chose the god you want to bring into your life. Mierzwicki uses invocations from the Orphic and Homeric Hymns as general invocations and then spells from the Egyptian Papri to bring the godform in.
There is not much unity between the different godforms.  For example, Mierzwicki gives you alternative forms for each of the main godforms which you are expected to visualise.  However in some of the godforms he does not give any.    This weakened the ritual for Aphrodite considerably.
The other issue was that Mierzwicki appears to have assumed that the targets of the papyri were Greek gods, rather than the more exotic Greco-Egyptian mix.  This belief lets him down completely in the “Ares ” working because, as he points out, there are few spells connected to Ares in the Papyri.
To get around this problem he uses a love spell which is supposed to bind Aries and bring him to you.  Not really something I would want to do.
In fact the Papyri are full of Ares gods forms, just not under his Greek or Roman name.  The role is taken up by Typhon or Seth and there are numerous spells too him that will get him to show up without having to bind you with love shackles.
In fact the famous “bornless ritual” which is beloved of GD and OTO magicians uses a composite Set- Bes figure to perform an exorcism.  
There appears to be an idea that you can use some of these spells and the names associated to them for other purposes.  I am not sure that is entirely correct.  In the Ares case shackling the god as if he is a love object is not the same thing as invoking him.
I also think that Mierzwicki played down some of the underworld aspects of these godforms and I would have liked to have seen his take on that issue.
This might seem like I am being hyper-critical and I am not.  I am still working my way through this book and am having valuable insights.  It is also invaluable as I work my way through the Papyri to come up with my own system.   
There is some very useful material here which can save you hours of internet research.  To find out the meanings of some these names you have to do a lot of research to find out what you are invoking.  Some of the names are actually lost to time, so you can waste a lot of time chasing dead ends.
What I also find valuable in this book are the examples given from Mierzwicki ’s workshops of people’s actual experiences so you can see the sort of effects the rituals have with others to compare them to your own.  I think I will attempt to make this a feature of my own writing on esoteric rituals to provide guidelines.
Anyway I think this book is very important and well worth buying if you are interested in approaching this fascinating field of magic.

Addition  which did not make it through the comment checking system (being too big to fit)
Jake Stratton-Kent replies:

Though I haven’t read this book, I’ve seen it discussed elsewhere – and responded positively. Looks like I better grab a copy when the opportunity arises. Anyhow, I’ve been familiar with the PGM (and
before that Goodwin’s ‘Fragment’, and the Leyden Papyrus) for a long time, and any modern look at them has to be welcome.

That said, there are some interesting issues to be examined here, which may sharpen up PGM studies.  The first is, recasting the papyri as planetary magic retrospectively is probably not the way to go (the difficulties with Ares and Aphrodite reflect this ‘non-alignment’);
the papyri are not the Heptameron or the Grimoire of Turiel, and should not really be approached as an alternative way of looking at these methodologies.

Astrology was certainly the main model of magic of this period, however, the decans, lunar mansions, celestial pole and other details are at least as significant as the planets. Reference to Hellenistic astrology would also be useful in a book of this kind, I don’t know if
that is addressed, but at intermediate level and with an astrological context, it is certainly required.

Also there is much in the PGM that is not specially astrological so much as concerned with this or that god specifically, not to mention the very large role of the dead. I echo the earlier comment about the all embracing importance of the Chthonic realm in the implied cosmology. The author’s response to the earlier comment appears contradictory. In any case, the underworld is so important to the
overall conception that it requires addressing from the beginning of  any approach to the papyri – *before* we ever get to intermediate level. This requirement might be lessened considerably were there not widespread ignorance of the real import of the term ‘Goetia’; as addressed throughout my writings for Scarlet Imprint.

As a grimoire magician of sorts, problems surrounding use of animals and other exotic items is something I’m more used to solving than a Golden Dawner – though there are also contextual angles (like drowning = deification, and the legend of Osiris). I don’t support cruelty to animals  and can look to Orphism to traditionalist support for finding alternatives (also applicable to later issues of the same kind). There is also a section of the PGM which ‘interprets’ such uses in terms of
plants, a good place to start.

I agree with the author about Aeon, he is distinct from Tahuti – more similar to Sabaoth and Zurvan, as god of eternal time (thus distinct from the ‘extra-cosmic’ deity of Platonism, normative Judaism and of course Christianity). The relevance of such a deity to a ‘Late Pagan’ astrological context is fairly plain, and does not actually tail off there. This may be legitimately reprised – IMO – by those operating later planetary magic ala grimoires and other sources. These are issues I will be addressing further in the near future.

My campaign regarding the Headless One reaches back some decades, with earlier blanket rejection of my thesis gradually giving way to ‘what everyone knows’ being reassessed; but the case is not yet closed. He is not a suitable candidate for an Ares ‘stand in’; there is a quite distinct astro-cosmological context which is not planetary in nature. See Hadean Press for a pamphlet approach to this important figure, and even more so the forthcoming ‘Testament of Cyprian the Mage’ from the Scarlets.

>From my perspective the PGM are no more suitable for an unreformed Golden Dawn approach than is ‘Archaic Goetia’; indeed as things currently stand Goetia (properly defined) and the PGM are compatible mainly with each other. Both are badly served when transferred to ANY context involving the supremacy of a transcendental deity and demonisation of the underworld. Such problems may be overcome, but the Occult Revival requires some serious rethinking, some ‘ecumenical’ or ‘meta’ models and proper appreciation of its roots in order to achieve this. We should take our collective time over this and do it properly – reaching outside narrow focus peer groups to wider interactions to
achieve it. Quick fixes should be avoided.

In the meantime I recommend both the Solomonic list and in particular the Grimorium Verum list on yahoo for discussions in and around some of the issues – including reassessment of Archaic Goetia as the root of the subsequent Western Tradition, in which the PGM and the syncretic period play a major role.

Jake Stratton-Kent 

12 thoughts on “Book review Graeco-Egyptian Magic – Everyday Empowerment

  1. Good morning Nick very interesting this post. I got a translation of Greek Rituals from Egyptian papyri and some of them are very interesting, but sometimes asks very difficult things such as bat’s blood or other substances. How do you replace those deficiencies in modern practice?.

  2. Yeah the gods used to like you drowning cats…. the thing is to think about it as a symbol (if you cant face finding human fat). THe drowning cat thing is a case in point. It is designed to force the cat goddess to pay attention. What you can do is charge a statue of the the goddess and drown that. But you should get the idea.

  3. The “bornless ritual” was to invoke Seth-Bes a composite being…. who was a mix of the dwarf god Bes and the Set. The bornless (or headless) one was an exorcism and Bes was one of the gods popular with Ancient Egyptians. Mixing it with the god of the deserts provided it with additional scarey power.

    1. I never knew that Bornless ritual was invoking the Seth-Bes or any deities. All I know was that is a exorcism ritual and Crowley changed and incorporated the Greater pentagram ritual into the ritual. By invoking the 4 supreme elemental gods and commanding/convincing them to listen to you, you’re ultimately raising the authority of yourself and taken charge of the Universe. Or exorcise the impurity in yourself until you’re ready to attain the K&C with your angel if you’re taken in a exorcism perspective.

      I’ve changed that of pentagram of elemental Gods to Hexagram invocation of the 7 planetary Gods which I don’t know if that’s any better/worst xD

    2. Hi Master Lin,

      There are three versions of the Bornless ritual for you to choose from:
      • The original invocation of the Headless god, which is an exorcism, titled “The Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist”
      • The Golden Dawn Bornless One rite, which is a preliminary to Goetic evocation.
      • Crowley’s Liber Samekh, which was used to bring his HGA into manifestation.

      Crowley actually changed the spelling of some of the “Barbarous Words,” thereby changing their pronunciation. Note that the Chaldaean Oracles, in verse 155, state:
      “Change not the Barbarous Names of Evocation, for these are names in every language which are given by God, which have in the Sacred Rites a power ineffable.”

      The Neoplatonists considered the Chaldean Oracles to be divinely inspired. Using them as a guide, my personal preference is to stick with the original version with the original pronunciation.

      However, as with all rituals, the best version is the one that works best for you. Try them all, and decide for yourself.

      As an interesting aside regarding pronunciation, a similar debate is occurring amongst those who practice Enochian magick. It’s clear that the Golden Dawn pronunciation was very different to that used by Kelly and Dee. Yet Crowley using the Golden Dawn version managed to scry his way through the 30 Aethyrs. So what’s the best version to use? Again, the best version is the one that works for you.

      I think it was Israel Regardie who stated that a simple self-written ritual can be more powerful than a complicated ritual that you’re not fully committed to. Once you master the basics and have a good idea of what you’re doing, it’s important to start improvising and experimenting to see what works best for you. It’s clear that you’re already doing just that.


  4. Tony and I have created a CD that is available to help readers pronounce all the words of power in each of the rituals.

    Readers have a choice of just pushing play and letting the CD do the work (which I don’t personally recommend), or if they want to get more out of each ritual, they can use the book and following along with the CD to learn. This way they are putting their own energy into each ritual.

  5. Hi Nick,

    It’s pretty cool having someone with your expertise take the time to seriously work through my book and review it. I also enjoyed your insights. Now, for a few responses to your comments.

    The pronunciation in the PGM is actually Koine Greek rather than Classical Greek.

    Your point about the lack of a pronunciation guide is a tough one to address. On the one hand, it’d be great to have the pronunciation next to each word, but when you look at some of the long strings of barbarous names of power, it just didn’t seem practical. I figured that those familiar with the pronunciation would just breeze through it, while those who weren’t could invest in the CD which has all the rituals in their entirety:

    I find it fascinating that you should intuit “Aion of Aion tended to be Thoth energy… in other words Thoth in his guise of the head of the Ogdoas and the creator of all.” [correcting Aeon to Aion]. I have run workshops with separate workings for Aion, Thoth and Ogdoas, and they have all felt different to the participants and myself. I’ll be covering all this in the sequel when I finally finish it.

    Your comment about the absence of godforms weakening the ritual for Aphrodite is fair. However, I am constrained by what I have in the PGM texts, and there are no godform visualizations given. In workshops, I ask participants to study ancient representations of the deities (where available) to help them focus.

    The aim of the book, as you have noted, was to work with the 7 Greek planetary deities. Your suggestion that these shouldn’t be seen as the Greek gods, but rather than as a more exotic Graeco-Egyptian mix is actually very valid and something which I probably should have emphasized a bit more. There are exotic elements in the invocations, and some PGM spells have references to myths no longer known to us.

    I agree with you that the Ares ritual is challenging. [Your spelling of Aries is actually the zodiacal constellation.] Again, I was constrained by the fact that there is no PGM ritual explicitly invoking him. The closest was the “love” spell binding which uses a representation of Ares. I did the best that I could with the material at hand.

    I see your point of substituting “Typhon or Seth”, or more properly the compound deity Seth-Typhon for Ares as they have a martial aspect. However, I see Seth-Typhon as a separate deity. Again, I’ve run workshops invoking him, and his energy is different from that of Ares. [As an aside, the people who focus on him most, the Temple of Set, have never to my knowledge equated him with Ares.]

    The famous “bornless ritual” actually uses the Headless God. Again, I work with him, and see him as separate from Seth-Typhon. Even though some of the PGM spells for the Headless God appear to be derived from the name “Bes” the nature of this deity appears to be totally different to that of the deity called Bes by the Egyptians.

    You wrote “There appears to be an idea that you can use some of these spells and the names associated to them for other purposes. I am not sure that is entirely correct.” This approach actually characterizes the whole book. I take the words of power associated with a deity from a spell and use them as an invocation. Without this approach, the PGM remains a cookbook of spells which cannot be applied to any purpose other than for which they were written. You will find that there are strings of words of power that are repeatedly applied in different sorts of spells as you go through the PGM material. Perhaps I should have been a bit more forceful in my justification of this approach?


    1. Hi Tony,

      So what’s your thought about Crowley’s version of Bornless ritual? Since it was brought to fame by him, and he had also changed some of the pronunciation of of the original version. Is this a good idea? I mean since he has produced the greatest effect, would it be more appropriate to follow his version and maybe develop a version of our own (I’ve changed the drawing of pentagram of 4 elemental Gods into hexagram invocation of 7 planetary Gods)?

      Thank u

  6. Continued…

    You write that I “played down some of the underworld aspects of these godforms.” This is actually in keeping with the mindset of the ancients. Descents into the underworld were commonplace and transformative. Magickians would descend for initiations. Ordinary individuals would visit underworld oracular sites. There is some wonderful reading material on this in:
    Fritz Graf. “Magic in the Ancient World.” Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

    I didn’t think you were being hyper-critical. You were stating your own truth.

    I think it’s great that you’re forming your own system of working with the PGM. I’ve been contacted by a few people who are doing just that. The PGM spells represent a forgotten system of magick and the best that anyone can do, is come up with a plausible internally consistent reconstruction. You’ve already made a start through the incorporation of “supreme pentagrams.” I came across a similar modernizing expansion online which was quite fascinating. The most important thing is to come up with something which works for you. I prefer to keep things as authentic as possible, without the animal cruelty aspects which come up occasionally.

    Thanks for your remark about liking the examples given from people’s actual workshop experiences. I have never come across anyone else doing this, but felt it would be useful. Keep in mind that some of my participants had epic visions. I distilled these down to find elements of commonality.

    You actually misspelled my name – it’s Mierzwicki – do you think you’d be able to correct it?

    Thank you very much for your thoughts. You’ve given me a number of ideas for possible inclusion in the sequel.

    Tony Mierzwicki

  7. Hi Jake,

    Thanks for sharing your erudition. I am a great fan of your Geosophia.

    By way of explanation, my primary interest is theurgic ascension. As you know, such ascensions are part and parcel of Hermeticism, Gnosticism, the late Jewish apocalyptic writings, and are alluded to in the Chaldean Oracles. The most complete rite that we have is in the Mithras Liturgy.

    I work with a 9 sphere model consisting of the 7 planets, the ogdoad and the ennead. Given that there are no extant theurgic rites, I use the PGM to provide invocations to experience each of the spheres as a preliminary to working the Mithras Liturgy. The deities I use are listed here:

    The fit is not always perfect, but I do the best with the materials I have at hand, and is the result of trial and error experimentation. I copyrighted this approach years ago, as it has worked very well for myself and my workshop participants in the US and Australia. I fully acknowledge that someone else might come up with a different combination.

    As stated in my first response, I endeavour to keep things authentic, with the exception of the occasional animal cruelty aspects. Like you, I look towards Orphism and Pythagoreanism in this regard and have been vegetarian since 1997.

    This is the format I’ve used for my workshop series for the last 12 years. My book, “Graeco-Egyptian Magick” covers the Greek planetary deities, whereas the sequel will cover the remainder.

    Regarding Aion, I see him as the Hellenistic equivalent of Zurvan Akarana, and have outlined some of my thoughts here:

    Not all academics agree, with Zaehner and others identifying the Leontocephalic Kronos as Ahriman.

    Thanks for your references to the Headless God, I will be tracking these down. I agree that the jury is still out. I have my own thoughts, but won’t discuss them until I have them in print.

    Tony Mierzwicki

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