Recently I’ve been researching into the process of the granular division of time in the late medieval grimoires. In doing so I feel I’ve stumbled across some pretty significant information about this tradition. This article will expand on the following, that the conjuration of spirits has been a long standing tradition of not just calling the day and hour but also the season, the spirits within the season and a number of dynamic names attributed to terrestrial observation through the seasons. It will also address how common and old this tradition is as well as where some apparent deviation may occur within it, and where in time this tradition appears to have died. This article will highlight some substantial differences between early Solomonic conjuration methods and put forth a perspective that some of the older sources which appear in more recent work (renaissance and post-renaissance) might actually be missing very important context as a different standard of conjuration replaced the older method.
The sources which I used in this examination are as follows:
- Sefer Raziel HaMalakh: Translated and compiled by Alphonso X in the 13th century.
- Sepher Razielis: Translated and compiled by Alphonso X in the 13th century.
- The Book of Wisdom: Probably composed in the late 12th century.
- Liber Juratus: Evidence shows its existence in the 13th century
- Elucidarium Necromantiae: Likely composed in the mid 15th century
I’d like to first draw attention to a source known by multiple names. Sepher Razialis calls it, “The Treatise of Times of the Day and of the Night”. Sefer Raziel HaMalakh calls it “The Prayer of Adam”. The Book of Wisdom attributed to Apollonius of Tyana is the subject in its entirety. Liber Juratus and the Elucidarium include the content within their own texts as well. This source is essentially the division of the times and is crucial in the magic of these works. The break down is essentially this.
- The 12 months – some reference 13 months which is an indication of age. The Judaic months consist of about 30 days each totaling a year of 360 days. This means on the occasion a 13th month was added to the year, much like a leap year. So if a text mentions only 12 months, it’s an indication of a later source. The inclusion of 13 implies an earlier source.
- The angels which rule in the month
- The Hours
- The angels which rule the hours
- The days
- The Angels which rule the days
- The Seasons
- The angels which rule in the seasons – It appears that there is a head of the sign which rules the entire season and typically one angel for each month (or sign) within the season.
- The name of the Sun in the Season
- The name of the Moon in the Season
- The name of the Earth in the Season
From here on out the method of the changing names in the season become prominent. Sepher Razialis and Sefer Raziel HaMalakh both go into depth here about the emphasis of the four seasons being that each terrestrial thing has its own nature in each season. Water for example is very different in the heat of summer than it is when it’s ice in winter. And the trees and flowers are very different in each season as well. Let us continue.
- The names of the winds – We need to pause here as each source appears to use various words to describe similar things. For example, the word translated to “spirit” in Sefer Raziel HaMalakh is “Ruochoth”. Some suggest this means the winds. The Oxford Companion to the Bible states, “There is no distinct term for spirit in the languages of the Bible; the concept was expressed by a metaphorical use of the words that mean, literally, wind and breath”.
- The spirits of the wind
This is where we stop. It should be noted here that some discrepancies begin to happen at this level. Sefer Raziel HaMalakh goes quite a bit more granular breaking down the names of the winds in each season and the names of the spirits of those winds in each season. It continues to the names of the zodiac in each season, the names of the fire, the land, the sea and the air in each season and the names of the planets in each season, etc. It’s a far more comprehensive list than any other source I’ve set my eyes on. The Book of Wisdom appears to stop at the level of the winds. Sepher Razielis goes on to list the names of the elements in the four seasons, planets in the four seasons and the names of the spirits in the four seasons.
To review we have a very solid and unified format across multiple medieval sources. It should be noted the names which fill these offices are sporadic and share very little resemblance to each other which is an indication that this is a wider known tradition. If these names looked more like corruptions or errors in copying we could deduce there was a well established lineage and shared sources. The fact that the names are not recognizable from one manuscript to another indicates a well established tradition (framework) with no known shared sources. The fact that the format is unified is significant and should not be overlooked. It is telling of a widely popular hierarchy of spirits spanning from Hebrew to Greek sources and even appears in Arabic influenced sources such as Liber Juratus. While I can only speculate on the age of such a framework we do see remanence of it in some parts of the Greek Magical Papyri where the names of the sun in the hours are broken down. This is only a note on the speculation of how long a tradition such as this may have been in practice.
So now that we’ve established a spirit hierarchy within multiple manuscripts which share no distant sources, we can acknowledge that this tradition had to have been universal enough to be unified up to the point of the winds or directions. Let us move on to how this hierarchy was actually utilized.
Sepher Razielis makes several points on its use. “And then when you enter the bed, you shall name the names of the angels strong, dreadful, mighty and high, and then sleep. […] that there shall come to you some man, and he shall show himself to you in a vision that night […] And ask what you wish, and without a doubt he shall give it to you”. It also states, “And know that you shall name the names in their four seasons, and you shall profit when you shall know anything of them”.
Sefer Razeil HaMalakh also gives several examples. “Speak the names of the Earth in every season […] and succeed”. It continues to give countless examples of naming the names of the times in the day and night to succeed.
The Book of Wisdom gives us the following instructions, “When you want to perform an operation, chose among the hours we mentioned and utter the desired names of the days and hours, of the heaven and the sea, of the sun and the moon, of the angels of the seasons, of the lords of the towers who are over the seasons and of the winds”.
Now we get into the grand works of Liber Juratus and the Elucidarium. Hold onto your pants…
Liber Juratus (13th C) uses this method and works it into an operation much like is indicated by the Book of Wisdom. Liber Juratus explains how to make the circle by stating, “With this done, he should draw a circle of nine feet across, saying [prayer 18], in which he should draw two circles, write the names of the angels of the day and hour, of the month, of the time and of the aspect (decan)”. In addition to this it reads, “The angels of the hour are those who rule in the hour of the work; the angels of the day, those who rule in the day which you work; the angels of the month, those angels ruling the moon or beginning of the month; the angels of the aspect, those who rule the face where their dominion is, with the ascendant, all at the same time.” The Elucidarium builds its circle similarly from the hour all the way to the sun, moon and earth in its season.
You may notice here that Juratus and the Elucidarium seem to stop at the sun, moon and earth in the season while veritually all other sources continue to the winds at the very least. And it is here that I want to point out that Liber Juratus and the Elucidarium do not indeed stop at the Sun, Moon and Earth in the Season. But they actually continue the tradition of calling the winds from the directions. As indicated in Sepher Razeil, “And Solomon said, and all others agreed, that it was more instructive if each things should have seven names rather than four”. And it is in this spirit that Liber Juratus and the Elucidarium expand the four winds into the seven winds and turn those winds into the target of the operation itself. In doing so Liber Juratus (13th c) preserves the method within the context of a magical operation to work with the spirits of the times. This may also be the first appearance of the emphasis of “seven” terrestrially and under the four seasons within this specific tradition. Perhaps a foreshadowing of the cultural changes which resulted in the end of this tradition.
There are other significant attributes of this system, especially as they relate to magical operations. The primary difference is there is no unified observation of timing. While the Book of Wisdom does imply a handful of favorable hours on each day, it stands alone in its claim. Liber Juratus makes a curious note when operating with the winds that after you feast on your fish, that on the 11th hour you begin the work. It reads, “Then in the eleventh hour of the day, when you have been suitably satisfied with wind and fish, or any other meat, the master should raise up the winds once”. In SSM, it elaborates that if you fail to raise the spirits, that you try again the next day, stating, “because, if their movements are not revealed after nine times, with that turn you will be disappointed for that time. But you will improve, and on the following day, or the dy after that, you may pic k up the work again”. This is more evidence that the observation of the timing of the planetary day and hour are not observed as the 11th hour will change planetary onus each day. It also falls in contradiction of the favorable hours as we see in the Book of Wisdom further indicating the well established tradition of the division of time being in use long enough that different practices are utilized within it. Further more the use of naming the spirits of the division of time as mentioned in Sepher Razeilis and Sefer Raziel HaMalakh takes no regard to the time as you simply recite the hierarchy of the moment. In this widespread tradition observation of the day and hour was not used. You can read more on this here. Further more, the fact that Liber Juratus conjures all seven spirits of the air of all seven directions at once regardless of the day is no longer a mystery as it falls in line with the tradition of collectively naming the spirits within the division of time ranging from the month, hour and day all the way down to all the spirits of the winds of the directions.
The sad fact is however by the time we reach the 15th century we see the death of this tradition as it becomes replaced by planetary observation of the day and hour only. We see the omission of the full context of the tradition within manuscripts like CLM849 and even the Elucidarium Necromantiae as they break apart the collective range of the division of the time into the day only. Instead of calling all the winds of all the directions you now only call the wind of the target spirit. We see inclusion of observation from the Key of Solomon which is (and likely always was) heavy on the observation of planetary day and hour. But what we find most prominent is the partial retaining of aspects of this tradition (such as the emphasis of the four directions) being preserved only in part and without full context. The division of the unity or collective of the time with observation of only part of it results in a lack and understanding of how these spirits worked collectively. It leaves gaps in understanding the rulership of spirits in the division of the directions. What once was a wide practice of tracing the moment of time from the month to hour to day to season to the earth, sun and moon in the season down to the winds was replaced by the simplification of aligning planetary division. Thus, in the 15th century we faced the death of the tradition of the division of time as it was replaced by a seemingly more widely appealing system of planetary classification.