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 The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage

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Stacey/Cirrius
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PostSubject: The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage   Sun Sep 27, 2009 5:06 pm

S. L. Mathers, in his edition of this text, places the Book of Abramelin at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries. Like the tradition of the Notary Arts, the Abramelin system stands apart from the grimoiric mainstream. Its focus is much more spiritual in nature than one might expect from the Key of Solomon or Goetia. The principal upon which the text is based is that all material happiness can only come from spiritual evolution.

The text is divided into three books. The first is an autobiography of the author - a man who calls himself Abraham the Jew. There may be a symbolic relation to the father of Judaism, though this Abraham writes of living during the reign of Emperor Sigismond of Germany (1368-1437 CE). Abraham describes his years of wandering in search of the True and Sacred Wisdom (more echoes of King Solomon), and his several disappointments along the way. In fact, the tale takes on the traditional tone of a quest. He learns several forms of magick, but finds them all lacking, and their practitioners to be less than they claimed. At the last moments before giving up the quest, Abraham meets an Egyptian adept named Abramelin, who agrees to teach Abraham the Sacred Magic.

Abraham wrote this text for the sake of his son Lamech (another Biblically-inspired name). According to the story, Abraham had granted the secrets of the Qabalah to his oldest son, in the tradition of Judaism. However, he did not wish to leave his younger son with no Key to spiritual attainment, and thus Abraham left behind the Book of Abramelin.

The second two books, then, are composed of the instructions for the Sacred Magick, which Abraham copied by hand from Abramelin’s original. The first part (book two) describes a heavily involved procedure of purification and invocation, resulting in the appearance of one’s own Guardian Angel. Of course, the concept of the personal Guardian (and the invocation thereof) extends well before the dawn of written history. The system outlined in Abramelin itself shows amazing similarities to tribal shamanic procedures. The purifications take the standard grimoiric forms of seclusion, fasting, cleanliness, and a heavy dose of prayer. A separate room- called an Oratory (prayer room) must be maintained in utmost purity during a six month period, as this is where the Angel will appear and bond with the aspirant at the end of this time. Afterward, the Angel takes over as Teacher for the aspirant, and it is from this being (and only this being) that the True and Sacred Wisdom and Magick will be discovered.

Once the cooperation of the Angel is assured, one continues to summon forth such demonic princes as Lucifer, Leviathan, Astarot, Belzebud, and several others (twelve in all). These beings are commanded to deliver an Oath of obedience to the mage, as well as the use of four familiar spirits for day-to-day practical tasks.

The final book is a collection of magick-square talismans, which the demonic princes and spirits must swear upon when giving their Oaths. Each talisman can then be used to command a spirit to perform a task, in much the same fashion as those in the Key of Solomon the King. The functions of the talismans are those common to grimoiric material- finding treasure, causing visions, bringing books, flight, healing the sick, etc, etc.

There is some speculation that book three was a later edition to the work. I don’t know if this is the case, though it is true that it contains more contradictions and general mistakes than the second. In fact, those who have made use of the Abramelin system have found book three of little concern. Abraham himself hints at the reason for this in Book Two, chapter 14:

Though the following advice may be scarcely necessary for the most part, since I have already explained unto you all things necessary to be done; and also seeing that your Guardian Angel will have sufficiently instructed you in all that you should do…
It is very possible that Book Three represents only “Abraham’s” version of the True and Sacred Magic, which will, of course, be different for everyone.

I also feel I should state that the talismans are specifically useless for those who do not first undergo the six month invocation. They have no power in and of themselves, as they work only by showing them to spirit helpers who have touched them and sworn the Oaths. Of course, that can only be done with the aid of one’s Guardian Angel, which can only be achieved by following the entire six-month operation. Some of the most common urban legends I have heard concerning the dangers of grimoires were centered around those who have attempted to make use of book three of Abramelin by itself. Much more than this, however, I believe people simply find it of little use at all.

The Book of Abramelin granted one major concept to our modern practices- that of the Holy Guardian Angel. The Golden Dawn adopted the “HGA” straight from the pages of Abramelin, and the system of Thelema adopted it from the Golden Dawn. Both traditions agree on the vast importance of gaining Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Abramelin is one of my own areas of focus, and I could not agree with them more. In time, both the Golden Dawn and Thelema have developed their own methods of invoking and working with the Guardian Angel; though I have to admit that I find the Abramelin system to be the most impressive method
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