Review: Legend of Zelda Tarot

2015/07/30

Legend of Zelda Tarot – Britt Hoyer
2013

I know this will come as a shock to many, but I’m a huge geek. Now that you’ve recovered from the surprise I’ll continue with my review.

lozt3As soon as I found out there was a Legend of Zelda Tarot I had to buy it, I didn’t care it if was good, if it was true to the historical tarot system, I just knew I needed to possess it, and I haven’t been disappointed.

The Legend of Zelda Tarot is a fan made project, not an officially licensed Nintendo product. It is based off the Coleman-Smith tarot, but illustrated with characters and themes from the Legend of Zelda.

Each Suit, and the Majors, draws their imagery from another game in the Legend of Zelda series. The Major Arcana draws from Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask, Rupees (Pentacles) are based on A Link Between Worlds, Swords are based on Skyward Sword, Bottles (Cups) are based on Wind Waker, and Wands are based on Twilight Princess. These suits match the games fairly well, and artistically it is very interesting to see the variation in styles, the more cartoonish Bottles compared to the more realistic Majors, or the styling of the Swords. It is especially interesting when the same character (Zelda or Link) is illustrated on several cards to match the styles of the games.

lozt1The art is amazing, it’s not just a matter of matching images, Hoyer has done an excellent job of illustrating the characters into new roles. She has also done a great job of “translating” the images and symbols. In a few cases I feel a detail was missed in favour of the Zelda themes, but over all these can be overlooked, and require some shifts in how a card is read. For instance the Lovers card has the two lovers looking at each other, which changes the dynamic and meaning of the card. Or for a symbolic miss on the Wheel of Fortune the four elemental creatures have been replaced with creatures that don’t match elementally. I can’t tell if I’m bothered by the loss of the Elemental/Zodiacal symbolism, or if I should take it as the fact that Hyrule (and the related worlds) are another place, so need their own symbols. Many of her interpretations were brilliant, I’m especially fond of Batreaux as the Nine of Swords, and despite the complaint about the creatures on the Wheel, the card itself is delightfully geeky having both the Four Great Fairies, and TARO-TORA-ROTA written in Hylian (as it appears during the era of Ocarina of Time) around the Wheel.

lozt4There is not an accompanying book, which is understandable, though unfortunate. Though the deck does come with a few cards containing keywords, so those unfamiliar with reading the tarot can at least get a rudimentary sense of the readings until they learn more. The cards themselves are a good card stock, they feel just slightly thinner than standard tarot, but it is hard to say. Also while most tarot decks are printed on flat stock, these cards are printed on card stock with air cushions. (Air cushion is when a card has very slight indents on the surface, when you look at it up close it appears to have almost a canvas/woven appearance.) This makes the deck a lot better for shuffling than most decks, something I actually really appreciate. In terms of production values the only place the deck falls short is the box. The box is made of a thinner stock than the cards, my top flap had been ripped off by the time it reached me (a fluke of packaging, but shows the strength of the material). While this is a point against the deck, to be honest most tarot boxes never last, so the fact this one is more flimsy than most, really isn’t a problem in the long run.

While this deck is a bit niche in the appeal, both to myself and my clients, it is a great deck, and I do plan on working with it. If you’re a tarot reader and a Legend of Zelda fan, then you seriously cannot go wrong with this deck.

I perform a reading whenever I get a new deck, asking it about itself, which I’m going to share now, so you can get a sense of the deck.

What will this deck teach me: Ace of Swords: On a general level, this means the deck will teach me to read with clarity. The deck will teach me to separate what is important from what is not to better understand the situations. Now here we see where the Zelda theme adds another layer. This card is Fi, so for a card about teaching, we’re already off to a humourous start. Fi is one of the many babysitting characters of the series, who teaches you how to do things, and in general guides you through the game. You probably ignore Fi, but call on them when you’re stuck or confused, meaning this deck will teach me to look a bit deeper, to think differently and problem solve.

What is the strength of this deck: Hanged Man: This deck is open, it’s receptive, and it’s easy to work with. By accepting it as it is, it allows me to view things from another perspective. From a Zelda perspective, this card is Sheik, which makes me think the strength of the deck lies in its ability to deceive, not in a malicious sense, but in the sense of being what it needs to be at the time.

What is the weakness of this deck: The Hermit: The meanings of the deck are a bit insular, without knowledge of the series you can’t really get the full depth of the reading. (Though in defense, I’d argue the same goes for the Christian/Golden Dawn imagery in most tarot decks which even many readers are ignorant of.) Zelda-wise the card is Dampé, specifically after he is dead. This strikes me as saying a weakness of the deck is that is isn’t too active, that it will only show you what you’re looking at, meaning you really have to be clear on the questions you’re asking. (Which could relate back to the deck teaching me to look deeper and read with clarity)

Finally I’d like to share a simple spread I created for this deck. Unsurprisingly it is based on the Triforce.

Triforce Spread

triforcetarotspread

This spread is a problem solving spread. It doesn’t give you a sense of the future, which is a good thing because if you’re actively following the advice of the cards and trying to do something, any future it shows you’d be trying to change anyways. You can either use this spread for a specific problem, or for more general advice on where you should direct yourself in your life.

The cards are dealt facing to the centre of the Triforce, so the top of the card is closest to the centre, for the sake of reading reversed cards. The Triforce cards are where you need to apply a trait in your life. The quest of the Hero isn’t about letting things happen, it’s about applying, about doing. So these cards are always about action you need to take. The Goddess cards are gifts you will receive, things that will work in your favour, opportunities to look for, what will help you. The caveat is these will tend to be things that won’t really come along until you’re applying yourself. You have to prove you’re worthy of the gifts.

1: The Centre: The centre of the Triforce represents you, your problem, your situation. It may explain the root of the problem, or why you’re having trouble with it, why you can’t see it clearly.

2: Power: This is where you need to apply Power in your life. This is where you are weak, and you need to apply strength to solve the issues you’re facing. This could be externally, or internally, something you need to confront in the world, or deal with in your self.

3. Wisdom: This is where you need to apply Wisdom in your life. What aren’t you seeing clearly? This is where you’re turning a blind eye, where you aren’t seeing the full picture, where you need to look deeper. This can show where you’re not thinking clearly, or show how you should reframe and rethink about the issue.

4. Courage: This is where you need to apply Courage in your life. This is where you’re holding back, this is where you need to let go and do what needs to be done. What aren’t you facing, what aren’t you addressing? This is not the area where you need to think and plan, this is where you need to go forth and conquer.

5. Din: The gift of Din is the blessing of Power. What support is there for you? What reserves do you have, how will this situation turn to your favour? Is this an opportunity that opens for you, or a treasure you have to grab and use? Where will you find the Power you need to continue?

6. Nayru: The gift of Nayru is the blessing of Wisdom. What will be revealed to you? What knowledge do you have that you can use now? Is this revelation internal, or is the insight brought from elsewhere? What clarity is brought to you, and how does that change your situation?

7. Farore: The gift of Farore is the blessing of Courage. What pushes you forward? What will help you push forward in the tough spots, what keeps you going? Is this a breakthrough in the problem, or support from someone? Is this a never say die attitude, or the renewed courage when you see the armor of your foe crack?

So geeks of the tarot realm, go out, and get The Legend of Zelda Tarot, it’s awesome, fun, and useful.


Rant: Call To Action. Shake The World!

2015/07/26

(Note: I admit, this is a rambly rant, alas without Gordon’s aid of whisky, and unreasonable in some ways, but it’s also true and needs thought.)

Our world is an awesome place, and this is an amazing time to be alive. Our life expectancy is higher than ever, our health and quality of living is on average the best humanity has ever seen. We’re breaking down atoms to find even more building blocks of reality, we’re finding Earth-like planets 1,400 light years away. We’re surrounded by the sum total of human knowledge invisibly streaming past us from computers to satellites to tiny devices in our hands to answer all our questions. This is amazing.

VNV Nation – Nemesis makes a good soundtrack for my thoughts right now.

Four years ago the Conservative Party of Canada rigged an election by misleading registered non-Conservative voters on where to vote, and we’ve had an illegally elected government since then. This government has gutted environmental rights and destroyed huge swaths of a beautiful country; it’s muzzled the media, dismembered support for the scientific and artistic fields, and has shifted Canada away from our role as peace-keeper back towards a military nation.

In the United States gun crime is sky-rocketing to the point where tragic mass-shootings are being run of the mill news stories, there have been over 200 (!) mass shootings in the States this year already. Police corruption and abuse is rising, barely a week goes by without another story about some officer who attacked and killed someone without just cause, and sadly often without even provocation. Despite having a black president racial turmoil is coming to the surface in horrifying ways as the aforementioned mass-shootings, and police brutality are disproportionately focused on the black population.

Greece is on the verge of economic ruin.

DAESH / I.S.I.L. is running through the Near East murdering, raping, and destroying millennias worth of amazing history and threatening entire cultures. (And we still have pagans who seem more upset over the media calling the ISIS than they are about the horrors they are causing)

Globally the rich get richer, and the poor get fucked over. We have the largest wealth disparity in history…and that includes the era of European kingdoms while peasants lived in mud and wood huts. Despite all the progress sexism is making a revitalized stand. Trans-people are being accepted by the media (as long as they’re already famous, and/or beautiful in a heteronormative sense), while trans-people are murdered and harassed by society (and the police). More and more countries are passing pro-same-sex marriage laws, and yet the suicide of queer teenagers seems epidemic. We’re at an ecological tipping point and we might not recover before humanity is eliminated. The world is entering another mass extinction period, and still as a species we slash, burn, and destroy the planet.

This is fucking horrible.

I love this planet. The people on it are amazing beautiful beings.
I hate this planet. The people on it are useless fucking shitbags.

It’s hard to reconcile this. Sometimes when I reach my mind out into the world I feel the beautiful silence of the globe spinning, the waves of force balancing and bouncing back between the heavenly bodies, my mind is stretched between the love and community people have. Other times I reach out and I hear fire and blood, a world screaming, I’m hit by people and gods who are weeping and wailing.

In Vellum and Ink by Hal Duncan, one of the characters is essentially a magickal terrorist-anarchist. He zips through London with his Curzon-Youngblood Mark I chi-gun, blasting orgone bullets through fascist cops, and lobbing jism-laced grenades to distract/destroy the political status quo with intense lust and unstoppable orgies. He fights, becoming a god-demon-hero-villain because he sees the world is wrong, and he has the power to change it…not just the power…the responsibility.

Now obviously that’s fiction, I don’t have a magickal gun that is powered by my tantric control of my life force, but it’s an idea that really hit me when I reread the books recently. Why do so many magickal folks sit on the sidelines?

I strongly advocate for practical magick: stuff to improve your life, move you forward, things with tangible results, and criteria you can confirm or deny. Yet, I cannot and do not deny the mysticism, I didn’t spend months in a temple-closet talking to the wall to achieve communication with my Holy Guardian Asshole because I wanted tangible results, that was mysticism.

Yet with most of us, we do magick that focuses on us, and magick that focuses on the Cosmos, but we miss everything in between.

A year ago DAESH moved into northern Iraq, encroaching on the ancestral home of the Yazidis. In an odd combination of human interest and gruesome voyeurism several news sources started talking about the Yazidis and their persecution, and the fact they were essentially facing extinction. Suddenly out of nowhere people knew about the Yazidi, most knew next to nothing, but they knew they existed. Then in an odd turn I began seeing calls for prays and magick to help save them. Most of the requests and suggestions were based on Western magick (not that there is anything wrong with that, any port in a storm), people making evocations, prayers, Qamea sigils, and the like, things to call upon Melek Tawas, the ultimate angel of the Yazidi religion, and to ask for eir help. Some was authentic, most was created as needed, some was derived from Feri, but it was there. I stepped in, being fairly familiar with the religion, and provided actual prayers and rites from the tradition, and offered up my suggestions.

It was strange, I don’t know what brought the other sorcerers I worked with to the table, but they were committed to trying guerrilla magickal warfare to help the Yazidi. We worked on a variety of things from different angles, persuasion to get the major governments to step in more with evacuation aid, things to obscure and hide the Yazidi as they fled, things to deter DAESH from their pursuit.

I have no idea what good we did, if we influenced anything, or if we were impotently throwing our magickal forces (or just our imaginations) at something far beyond us. 50,000 Yazidi fled, trailed by DAESH militants, only 5,000 were killed. A horrible tragedy, but originally the news was much more dire as they fled up the mountain with no escape, only buying time, a few people predicted none would survive.

Maybe I’m being ridiculous, maybe I’m being unreasonable. But I don’t know why I don’t see this type of action more often.

Make your life better, make your self better, but what about the world? Look at the horrors, what can you do? I’d like to think we’re all doing stuff on mundane levels to help make the world better. That we take opportunities to educate and confront people around transphobia, that we volunteer with those in need, that we protest and petition and pressure our governments to make the right choices. But as always, we’re supposed to be magick workers, and while we’re not out there calling lightning from the sky and working miracles, we are causing change, and if you’re not, you’re not working magick.

Let me repeat that: Like everything in magick, if all you’re doing is magick, you’re not being effective, you should be fighting to make a change on the mundane levels as well, without it you’re just hoping for change, not making it.

Part of this started bubbling up again when Rachel called on us to curse a transphobic preacher. She saw a problem in the world, and wanted to confront it, and whatever she does in her mundane life, she knew she needed to apply magick to the problem. Even if all it resulted in was a magickal standoff of counter-spelling, she saw the fucked up world, and asked us to toss our magick at it.

Why don’t we do this more often? We focus on getting better jobs, more money, and lovers. We focus on skrying the spheres, putting more notches in our black mirror as we try to summon more spirits. Why don’t we focus on the bigger issues. It’s harder for me to believe, the more I realize that my path, and the path of many others, shows the fundamental indivisibility of phenomena, that we’re all connected.

That said, we have to be realistic. We can’t fix everything for everyone. Even the greatest sorcererous miracle workers didn’t save the world, but they shifted it. What happened to their likes? Even John Dee supposedly helped avert a battle with Spain by magickally calling a storm to sink their navy. Magickal journals and literature from the World War II era are littered with people tossing their magick against the Nazis.

Don’t try to fix everything. Pick an issue, pick a strategy, and work on it. We won’t magick our way out of homophobia, but maybe we could protect queer youth until they’re in safer places, and cut the suicide rates. We won’t return cops to a valued and respected position without corruption just by magicking it, but maybe we can make the courts harder on the police brought in on charges of abuse, or make the good cops more able to stand up to corruption. We won’t stop deforestation, but maybe we could move more environmentally minded executives up the ranks, to start shifting policies.

It’s a pipe dream, and it’s unrealistic, but then again, aren’t all great magickal goals? Maybe it will get us no where, or just maybe your hours of effort might save some transwoman’s life, and won’t that make it worth it? Maybe, just maybe, you return some asshole cop to his humanity before he takes a life, and won’t that make it worth it? Maybe, if we’re lucky, you’ll affect a politician’s heart, and they’ll support more resources for homeless shelters and get another kid off the street, and won’t that be worth it?

We have to do more than just Wake up, we have Shake up, and take charge.

I’m rambling, I admit, but I challenge all of you, to find some injustice in the world, something big, something beyond your life, your neighbourhood, your city, something so big you’d never think of trying to fix it. Then make a plan, find a specific element in this injustice, and make a magickal plan, figure out how to attack it, how to shift it, how to heal it. Piece by piece we nudge the world toward a better place, we make change more possible, we make it easier for those of us working on the mundane to succeed to improve these things.

This isn’t your Grandma praying for the “Good Christian” candidate to win the election, this is raw, desperate, but targeted magick, trying to throw a wrench in the gears of a systemically corrupt status quo, and bring some good into the world.

Sometimes your magick should be practical and realistic. Other times you should be willing to throw everything you got into shaking the world, and maybe, just maybe we’ll make it a better place.

VNV Nation – Everything


Iuratus Roundup

2015/07/21

Since I’ve completed my essay/series on Liber Iuratus, I’m compiling all the links into this post, to make it easier for people to access later on. Thanks for the interest and support as I shared my journey into the text. It was one of my favourite papers to research, even if it involved reading and rereading the text with a fine-toothed comb.

Liber Iuratus Series Intro

The Construction of Christianity Through Conjuration

Analysis of Non-Christian Elements and Their Integration with Liber Iuratus Honorii

Analysis of Non-Christian Elements and Their Integration with Liber Iuratus Honorii Part II

Analysis of Non-Christian Elements and Their Integration with Liber Iuratus Honorii Part III

Uncovering Christianity Through the Internal Logic of Liber Iuratus Honorii

Uncovering Christianity Through the Internal Logic of Liber Iuratus Honorii Part II

Christian Elements, The Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience

Christian Elements, The Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience Part II

Christian Elements, The Depth of Knowledge, and Authorshop and Audience Part III, and Conclusion and Works Cited


Iuratus: Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience- Conclusion- Works Cited

2015/07/19

Start at the beginning

See the previous instalment in case you missed it

The faith and devotion of the practitioner are constantly referenced throughout the text. In the introduction it is said the book can only be given to a man “both Godly and faithful, whose Godly behavior had been tried for the space of a whole year.” He is to be not just a devout person, but observed and tested for a year to prove himself worthy. When actually performing the rituals the practitioner is to be clean, to fast, and pray with devotion. That he must be “very penitent and truly confessed of all his sins.” Very similar requests appear throughout the text. Anyone undertaking this practice must attend Mass and take communion daily for a period of at least a month, which indicates the level of faith and devotion the practitioner must have. Coming at it from another angle it is warned that undertaking parts of the ritual “for an evil purpose” would lead to “death unto him.” It makes a case for the notion that the practitioner truly must be, not just a Christian, but a devout and Godly practitioner, undertaking the rituals in the text for only the highest ideals.

The Christian nature of the text and practitioner is repeatedly highlighted by the idea of divine authority. From the introduction it is said that “it is not possible that a wicked and unclean man should work truely [sic] in this art, for men are not bound to spirits, but the spirits are constrained against their wills to answer men that are cleansed or clean, and to fulfill their requests.” This is internal justification through the practitioner’s own holiness, it is saying that for this to work the practitioner must be cleansed or holy, and that the art of this book cannot work for those who are not holy. It is not just a personal devotion that enables the practitioner to commune with angels and spirits; it is asserted that such an ability is through the grace of YHWH. The ritual prayers say that they are completed “through God’s help” or “through … [God’s] mediation” . These rituals are framed that it is through the power or permission of YHWH that they have any effect. Contrasted with the earlier notion that the text cannot successfully be used by pagans or Jews it further supports the idea that the text is meant to be used by a Christian, and is dependent on their Christian faith and devotion.

When considering the author and audience of Liber Iuratus Honorii it becomes clear that the most likely candidate for both is a member of the clergy. The practitioner is required to be very devout and pious, and the author is highly skilled in Latin, knowledgeable in Greek, Hebrew, very familiar with Church prayers, rituals, scriptures, and Christian writings. On its own this suggests a priest or another member of the church. Such education would be largely the domain of the clerics, the scribes, and the nobility, limiting potential authors and audiences. The depth and breadth of knowledge, along with the literacy and devotional requirements leave very few potential authors or readers, but a priest would be on the top of that list.
This isn’t as unlikely as it initially seems. Despite being linguistically inaccurate the practice of summoning spirits was regarded as necromancy, regardless of the purpose of the summoning, or the nature of the spirit. To repeat a question and answer of Richard Kieckhefer “Who were the necromancers? Both in legend and before the law it was clerics above all others who stood accused of necromancy.” He goes onto explain that “cleric” is a hard word to define, for it can include anyone who has any level of ordination which includes doorkeeper and acolyte. The training was not through a seminary, but more of an apprentice relationship with another priest. Sometimes their ordination was not about a holy calling, but a way of getting an education, and one of the lower orders of ordination was that of exorcist “and in the ordination ceremony he would receive a book of exorcisms as a symbol of his theoretical function.” They were given the book as a “symbol” of office; it wasn’t something they were trained in, but more something if needed they would turn to the text for. This is another peculiarity, as one might assume these rituals would require training, but the Liber Iuratus Honorii was also passed on at the time of the master’s death , meaning the practitioner also received no training in the use of the text. Kieckhefer suggests there was a “clerical underworld” which is not really defined in terms of structure (if any) or purpose (if any), but that to some extent there was a collection of priests who studied and practiced this type of conjuration. Considering the amount of knowledge displayed all throughout the formation of Liber Iuratus Honorii, and the proposed existence of the clerical underworld it is reasonable to assume that the author of Liber Iuratus Honorii was a priest.

Concluding Thoughts

The Christian identification of Liber Iuratus Honorii is evidence of a complex process of religious thought and religious exchange. Initial readings reveal seemingly contradicting ideas: summoning angels to stir up war, devotional prayers and confession to Jesus, condemning the pope as a puppet of demons. Yet each of these contradictions are a thread in a complex textual and ideological tapestry, evidence of Jewish Qabalah and Islamic conjurations, intensely devotional Christian worship, and anti-Church sentiments. Individually these threads conflict and confuse, but if the reader slows down and reads the text as a whole from a distance, than the picture begins to become clear. Liber Iuratus Honorii becomes hard to conceptualize as anything but a thoroughly Christian text, written in such a way that makes it inaccessible to the laity, but perfect for a priestly audience. Clerical in origin and Christian in nature, Liber Iuratus Honorii shows the detailed and complex currents of medieval Christianity through an unusual but devout text.

Works Cited (In order of reference)

Joseph H. Peterson trans. Liber Juratus Honorii, or the Sworn Book of Honorius. Esoteric Archives. http://www.esotericarchives.com/juratus/juratus.htm (accessed February 25, 2013)

Robert Mathiesen. “A Thirteenth-Century Ritual to Attain the Beatific Vision from the Sworn Book of Honorius of Thebes.” in Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic. ed. Claire Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 143-162.)

Richard Kieckhefer. “The Devil’s Contemplatives: The Liber Iuratus, the Liber Visionum and Christian Appropriation of Jewish Occultism.” in Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic. ed. Claire Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 250-265.)

Katelyn Mesler. “The Liber Iuratus Honorii and the Christian Reception of Angel Magic.” in Invoking Angels: Theurgic Ideas and Practices, Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries. ed. Clair Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012. 113-150.)

Owen Davies, Grimoires: A History of Magic Books (New York: Oxford Press, 2009)

Henry Cornelius Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, trans. James Freake, ed. Donald Tyson (Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications)

Clair Fanger. “Covenant and the Divine Name: Revisiting the Liber Iuratus and John of Morigny’s Liber Florum.” in Invoking Angels: Theurgic Ideas and Practices, Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries. ed. Clair Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012. 192-216.),

Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Philip T. Weller, trans., The Roman Ritual (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1964)


Iuratus: Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience Continued

2015/07/17

Start at the beginning

See the previous instalment in case you missed it

To reiterate and expand an earlier point, a variety of Christian texts are incorporated into or referenced by Liber Iuratus Honorii. A partial list drawn from Mesler’s work on the text includes: “passages from scripture, the baptismal rite, the preface for Easter, the Ave Maria, the Salve Regina, the Apostle’s Creed, the Pater Noster, the Sanctus, and the Creed of Athanasius” as well as Jerome’s letters and Pseudo-Augustine. It is obvious that Honorius is very well read in matters of Christianity, and educated in general. Mathiesen attests “the Sworn Book is clearly not a translation from Arabic, Hebrew or Greek, but an original composition in Latin by a person who was fully conversant with the liturgy and ritual of the Roman Catholic Church” and more than that “it is clear that the author had some knowledge of the liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church.” We are dealing with an author who knows Latin, Catholic and Greek Orthodox ritual, Greek, and at least some Hebrew. His knowledge is not just appropriated; it permeates the text in overt uses of prayers, to subtle references and even hidden messages. When the pope and his cardinals decided that books like Liber Iuratus Honorii had to be eliminated, Honorius said that a council of 811 “masters” came together to decide what should be done to preserve the tradition. The idea that there were 811 masters using texts like this seems odd, as well as the specificity of the number, but 811 is the numerological value of IAO (ΙΑΩ), a Greek name for God, the equivalent of the Hebrew YHWH. This, Mathiesen suggests, is a mirroring to the Council of Nicaea having 318 members, as that is the same numerological value as “the name of Jesus and his Cross.” The author is trying to validate the nature of the book as coming from God himself by having as many masters as the value of IAO. Knowing the Greek numerical value of a name though is not a matter of simple information or appropriation, but seems to show more understanding and a broader knowledge base as well as an ability and desire to integrate this knowledge into the text.

Having looked at the knowledge of the author, the character of the practitioner should be examined. The text itself recognizes that there are “three kinds of men that work this art: Jews, Christians, and pagans.” Honorius asserts that only Christians can use the rituals of this book properly. The pagans do not “constrain or bind” the spirits, and the spirits pretend to help the pagans but are in actuality deceiving them farther away from Christianity. The Jewish people are in the same predicament. The spirits will not obey them for they are not Christian, for they are not “signed with the sign of God…the cross” which is another way of saying they are not baptized . Even worse they are accused of not using the text for Divine vision, and are barred from entering Heaven for not recognizing Jesus. It seems unusual to condemn Jewish people more heavily than pagans, but perhaps the author is responding to the atmosphere of the time, or perhaps Honorius is trying to hide his connection with Judaism and Jewish sources evidenced earlier in the paper. It is made clear that only a devout Christian can make the rituals in the text work properly. Pagans and Jews can use it, but unsuccessfully. While the pagan usage of the rituals is left open, Jews are accused of using it not for Divine vision, but rather the other goals listed .

It is claimed that Christians would “only [work] truely [sic] to come to the vision of the Deity.” For the Christian the only purpose of the text is this “vision of the Deity” and all the other goals mentioned are to be taken as superfluous, though their inclusion is likely evidence of the attitudes and actions drawn from Honorius’s source text.


Iuratus: Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience

2015/07/15

Start at the beginning

See the last instalment in case you missed it

Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience

Though the Christian identity of the text is well supported at this point, the Christian elements should be examined to support this idea, and to further the argument that the author and audience of the text was not just Christian, but of the priestly orders, part of what Kieckhefer terms the “clerical underworld.”

In contrast to the adoption of Hebrew god names, the divinity in Liber Iuratus Honorii is referred to as the “Alpha and Omega,” “the father, son, and holy ghost,” and “the destroyer of death.” The references to the trinity and the Alpha and Omega mentioned in the Revelation of Saint John are both common naming conventions in Christianity, but the destroyer of death is a bit more obscure and is possibly a reference to 1 Corinthians that states “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” This part of the naming convention could possibly show the “sincerity” of the Christian nature of the text, as “destroyer of death” is a more obscure reference and shows a greater familiarity with the Bible than referring YHWH as the Alpha and Omega. Throughout the text common names and titles from Christianity are used repeatedly to refer to YHWH as well as the more uncommon names.

jur1[1]Another element of uncommon knowledge shows up in the ritual structures explained in the text. Part of the work on summoning the angels involves the creation of a complex seal. The creation of the seal includes a set of prayers to say over some blood which is used as ink in the process. The first prayer is the same as “The Blessing of Salt” used by Catholic priests to exorcise salt before putting it in holy water , only the word salt is replaced by blood. The prayer is currently contained in the Rituale Romanum –the ritual handbook of a Catholic priest– which was only standardized in the 17th century. (While predecessor texts have existed since the 15th century they tended to be more regional and temporary. ) After the compilation of the Rituale Romanum anyone who could read Latin and obtain a copy of the text could find “The Blessing of Salt.” Though the text currently sits at more than 700 pages it would be a lot to go through if they were not aware of what they were looking for. Liber Iuratus Honorii was written in the 13th or 14th century though, before these texts existed, at that time such prayers and rituals would have been part of the training of a priest, possibly part of an oral tradition. So the question is how would the author of Liber Iuratus Honorii know the prayer? It is possible they learned it from the local priest, or that it was something the laity might know, but it also opens up the possibly that the text was written by a priest, if not for a priest. Continuing this thread the format of the ritual for conjuration even has some loose similarities to the ritual of exorcism. In both cases the practitioner/exorcist is to attend confession and mass , then they move into prayers of adoration and beseeching divine aid in their task , which finally moves to include the calling of the spirits and commanding their obedience. One of the lower orders of the priestly hierarchy at that time was the exorcist, so the details and structures of the ritual of exorcism would be available to many lower priests . The blood used to consecrate the seal is the prayer said over salt for holy water, while the prayer used to consecrate the magic circle for the ritual is the same used by the priest to consecrate the host in communion. The ritual preparation includes finding a “wary and a faithful priest” who will perform mass and prayers for the practitioner all the while inserting prayers from Liber Iuratus Honorii into the mass service. While this could mean the practitioner himself, it could also be another priest who has the same interest. This builds the case that the author was a member of the clergy, or somehow familiar with their ritual structure and prayers. The requirement of another priest suggests that the author may not be alone in his interests.


Iuratus: Uncovering Christianity through the Internal Logic of Liber Iuratus Honorii Continued

2015/07/13

Start at the beginning

The previous instalment in case you missed it

Another place this circumvention of Church authority occurs is in the promise of releasing three souls from purgatory. Again this was part of the classic authority of the Church; souls in purgatory could be eventually released (or released sooner) through the performances of masses in their name. In the final prayer of the first section of the text, just before the vision of the divine is granted there is a request to “breakest the brazen gates and deliveredst thy friends out of the dark places of hell.” Now here the text says hell, but before, and after this section it says purgatory. Regardless, freeing souls from hell or purgatory is quite a claim for an individual to make. Even the priests of the Church could not just release a soul from purgatory. It took continued prayers and rituals to gain that release, but Honorius claims this ritual can offer just such a release immediately.

Twice there is this circumvention of the Church authority, or the Church monopoly, through the personal forgiveness of sins and the release of souls in purgatory. Earlier in the ritual it is required for the practitioner to attend mass and confession, but by the end through prayer, devotion, and ritual they have become an authority of forgiveness unto themselves. Again I feel this should be framed not as a challenge to the Christian nature of the text, but more of a personal liberation and challenge to the structure and monopoly of the Church in such regards. The domain of forgiveness was that of the priests, so this text could be seen as a threat to that domain, or possibly an extension of the priestly authority and power which connects to the idea addressed later that the author was a priest himself.

The text can be conclusively identified as Christian based on the contents. The oaths that prevent the text from being wide spread, coupled with the danger of the text being discovered, suggest that the text’s contents are genuine as there is no need to hide or disguise a text that no one will read. There are also the elements that are contrary and inflammatory to the Church which would have been excluded in a non-Christian text in disguise. Since a non Christian text hiding in Christian imagery and language would strive to be palatable to the Christian masses as a safety precaution, it can be concluded from the statements challenging the Church’s authority and the threat and oaths that Liber Iuratus Honorii was written as a genuinely Christian text.


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