So last time I rambled on the importance of specific languages in calculating the name of an angel. It had a lot of open-ended and circular problems. Are languages important, why, and which ones? It led to some interesting discussion in comments, twitter, and an email. (At first I was confused how this person got my email, until I remembered I put it on my About page, just so people could get in contact with me without having to post a comment. I guess my brain is too full remembering The Raven and Pi to 23 digits to pay attention to what I do with my blog.) This is more of me working out my thoughts in writing, and hoping for some good ideas.
Now the process of calculating an angels name surely complicates matter and if you just stick with already named angels and demons that will make it much better. I remember when I first got into spirit work I had this strong instinct that by knowing the name of a spirit I had influence over it, by knowing their Name I could control them. Over years I found this idea represented in Babylonian/Akkadian/Sumerian magick, in Egyptian magick, western Ceremonial Magick, even in Vedic and Buddhist magick. Names have Power. Along with this is the parallel idea that Sigils/Seals have the same control/influence. Simply I’d say a name is auditory and a sigil is visual but they are the same thing.
Traditions may argue how much power and influence the name or symbol gives you, but they largely agree that they do. So that makes this a lot simpler than calculating a name, here you have the name provided for you, and a seal, and that makes it simple… as long as you never look at another text. When I received my Goetia of Dr. Rudd I was surprised by how many of the names and seals were close but not the same as my Mathers version. I had come to understand a lot of this magick through the doctrine of names. But what did it mean when Halphas/Malthus and Raum have their names and seals rendered differently? If my power over Malthus or at least my ability to contact or communicate with em is based upon my possession of eir seal and name how did I accomplish anything if I had it wrong? I can’t reach you if I dial the wrong number, can you reach a spirit with the wrong name/seal? This preoccupied me more than some people’s focus and questioning of the inclusion/absence of the Shem ha’mephorash angels.
I was able to wrap myself around this, and that became less of a concern until I realized it wasn’t just names and seals changing, but spirits were being stolen, or split, and combined. This opens up a magickal can of worms on its own, but I want to focus on names here. If the name is the connection and control of a spirit, what happens when a name of one spirit gets applied to another apparently unrelated entity? Or more curious to me, when a spirit’s name and existence was completely a mistake? Halphas above is a good example, Halphas is the 38th spirit of the Goetia and Malphas is the 39th and they share similar abilities and may have been a scribal error initially. Or Berith the 28th spirit of the Goetia whose name is actually the Hebrew term for the covenant between YHWH and the people of Israel (Belanger 70) and was probably included in Christian occult texts because they knew this “Berith” had power, but didn’t know who (or what) it was, so obviously a demon.
So where do these entities and power come from? Is there something inherent in the word and what it represents? While not a demon the covenant between YHWH and the Israelites is arguably a powerful thing (if you believe it) and maybe the name taps into that? Maybe it’s the collective attention (fear) of generations of priests and magickians that give these names and seals form and force, even if they’re drifting off of the original. But how does that apply when the name of someone gets applied to someone else, or a name from nothing but a mistake? Is this an issue that transcends the language issue? Absolutely but it is the naming that has me wonder, because if names and seals matter, then how come they work when they’re wrong?
Again I have no answers to offer, but in traditions that value the power of names and seals, how can we reconcile the fact that these change, or are added, misappropriated, or scribal errors? I’ve been leaning toward the idea that it isn’t what you use, but the process, but I’m still working some of that out in my life and in my head.
Belanger, Michelle. Dictionary of Demons. Llewellyn, 2010. Print.