Sorcerer’s Plant: Care, Feeding, and Consecration

2015/10/13

Before I continue the post proper I wanted to address a question I got and can’t easily work into the post.

“Why do you suggest big blade aloe plants?”

There are two reasons. The first is when the angel(s) gave me the image it was the large bladed type of aloe vera, and I have kept my plants as close as possible to their vision and instruction. The second reason is because you can actually cut off a blade to use in certain rituals, but the plant is an ally, so the destruction of part of its body should be a sacrifice. If it’s dozens of small blades one removed will not contain much power, and will not be noticed, but a larger blade will make you think twice before using it.

Previously I spoke a bit about the uses of the plant, and the type of plant selected and the basic preparation, now let’s shift to the methods of consecration.

There are two elements of the consecration, a regular routine one, and an irregular one.

I mentioned that the plant is a connection to places and spirits you work with, this is part of the irregular consecration.

I’ve talked before about collecting dirt, here and here. This is how you connect the plant to different places. Follow the method I mentioned (or something similar) where you are not just grabbing dirt, but making an offering for it, gather the essence of the place into it, and then collect the dirt.

Gather Nest dirt, which I mentioned but didn’t describe in those posts, but to reiterate a Nest is a power place, often conceptualized in the West as a Nexus point, a crisscrossing of Ley Lines or flows of nature energy. But a Nest doesn’t have to be such a crisscrossing (or rather my tradition claims that some lines are far beneath the Earth and only rear their Head in certain areas), sometimes there is a place of power disconnected for the area around. Gather dirt that is important to your practice. Power places, temples, graves that are relevant to your work, holy places, whatever.

Now if you don't have soil samples from various graves, power points, and dragon's nests, then store bought is fine...actually, no it's not.

Now if you don’t have soil samples from various graves, power points, and dragon’s nests, then store bought is fine…actually, no it’s not.

When you have the dirt I recommend sterilizing it. You don’t have to, but dirt can contain harmful microorganisms which can be damaging to plants, and if you’re using it to detect magickal attacks you want to avoid any confusion if it starts wilting. To sterilize soil you bake it believe it or not. Put the soil in an oven safe container, I find mini-cupcake pans are the perfect size for my soil samples. The soil should be slightly damp. Cover the container with tin foil and pop in the oven at 90C (200F), once the dirt reaches around 82C (180F) keep it at that temperature for half an hour. Don’t let it go much higher than that, because that can actually produce (so the gardening sites claim) toxins in the soil. After half an hour take it out, and let it cool. You now have sterilized dirt that is free of damaging organisms for your plant.

My plant has soil from the various Nests near me. Places along the shore where I communicate with the spirits of Lake Ontario, places on the Bluffs, a crypt that has been a focus of my magickal work for 12 years, places like that. It also has dirt from the Blue Hole in the Pine Barrens, and sand from the Atlantic ocean, Graveyard dirt from the focal points of the various Lords of the Dead in different cemeteries I’ve visited in Canada and the US, and even stuff as far reaching as dirt from the roots of the (supposed) Bodhi Tree, and sand from the shore of Lake Rakshastal in the Himalayas (a lake of special importance to me). Think about the places that are important and powerful to you, and the places you have spirit allies. Take dirt from there.

Adding the dirt to the plant is something that I do non-ceremoniously, though I only do it when I water the plant. Before I start I hold the dirt, and use it as a link to the spirit or place, and reach out and connect it, then I speak to the spirit and place and plant, and explain that I’m giving it the dirt to connect them, so they become linked. So that offerings to the plant are offerings to these spirits, so that the plant becomes a place where I can easily speak to those far away and draw on their forces. You don’t need to add much, and if you’re like me, you don’t want to use too much, because pretty soon your pot will be overflowing. I use maybe a teaspoon each time.

(As a sidenote: I mentioned that my last plant died. I took the soil from that pot, from the edge away from the roots, just in case they started to rot, and I sterilized that dirt and reused it with my new plant. That way it kept some of the energy of the plant, and the connections I had already established. It felt like they broke, but the guidelines are there, so it’s just a matter of charging this plant back up to connect.)

Now for the part of the regular consecration, this is what helps connect the plant to you, and helps it stand in as you during magickal attacks. It also, I believe, it was largely gives it the power to become something more than just a plant, but a more conscious spirit.

It is to be watered every New Moon, and every Full Moon. (Water in between if it needs it, but not a full watering)I use rain water (or melted snow in the winter), I wasn’t told to, but it just seems right. Every Full Moon it’s not just water I feed my sorcerer’s plant, but my blood as well. *insert people suddenly being squeamish for no good reason* It doesn’t have to be much, I usually only include three drops for a symbolic reasoning. I mix the blood in with the water, and give it to the plant. As usual it’s less ceremony and more altered state chatting with the plant, reminding it that I share my blood with its water, so that I may become part of the plant, and that the plant is part of me, to bind us together and to enliven the plant. On the New Moon I offer my plant water and semen. (Those who didn’t know my sex or gender, you at least know I have functioning testicles) I cannot speak for those without the ability to produce semen, either due to medical issues or have different gonads/genitals, though I suppose other sexual secretions would work, or a second serving of blood. When I water the plant this time it is much the same, just explaining and reinforcing our connection.

(Feeding the plant my blood and semen is why my sorcerer’s plant has earned the endearing, but inaccurate, nickname of being a cum-guzzling cannibal cactus.)

This really gives the plant its own presence, and as mentioned helps it become a sort of astral double that works well as a stand in for a lot of malefic magick. There is nothing done to make it stand in, it just seems to be a nature of the plant, a natural occurrence after it builds up enough force.

Now that the plant is active and developing, you can use it essentially as a remote altar. If you need to connect to a distant spirit or place, treat the plant as you would an image or statue on an altar. Reach through it, make the offerings to it, connect to it, and speak through/to it.

I mentioned cutting off the blades. When I find I really need a boost in a ritual, I need access to more force/energy than I can easily tap, or I want to be empowered by distant allies I cut off a blade, split it lengthwise down the centre and use its gel as an anointing oil. My forehead, temples, wrists, and any other appropriate power point is wiped with the gel and I find that really sends me up and out into the ritual. Also I’ve used it as a stand in for my own blood in other rituals when I’ve not been comfortable using my own blood.

The sorcerer’s plant has inspired other such botanical familiars in my work, and I’ve come across similar ideas since then, but this post is long enough as is, so I will leave it here.


Sorcerer’s Plant

2015/10/09

For well over a year I cultivated my sorcerer’s plant, and in that time it was a good focus and tool, and in the end it proved to be a great ally. Two weeks a good I began the process of consecrating and ensorcerelling a new one. Since people asked me about it, I asked the spirits who helped guide me to the plant, and I have a green light to talk about it. (I figured since it was part of a tradition of sorts, I needed permission to discuss it exactly, rather than in broad strokes)

So to start, just what is a sorcerer’s plant? It’s a hard question to answer, but most simply it’s a living (literally) talisman. Now a lot of us magickal folks (myself included) see some of our talismans and objects as alive, but this literally is alive on a biological level. A sorcerer’s plant has several purposes. It’s a focal point of power, it’s a very lively plant, and can be used to draw energy from, far more than you could from a regular plant, but it’s more than a battery, because it’s a focal point of different entities, and nests, and sacred places. (Nest in this tradition refers to a Dragon’s Nest, what most people would understand/call a nexus point of Ley Lines, a point of convergence of flows of power across the land) Through the plant you can access, if in a limited way, places and entities that are distant. (The spirits who set me about working on the plant told me that a long-lived and powerful sorcerer’s plant would eventually shift the flows around it to become a nest of its own. I don’t know if I believe that, or if it’s true, they might have been speaking out of their ass-trals.) It also has a more active plant genus attached to it, a more conscious spirit.

The plant also becomes an early warning system. The method of consecration causes a type of mirroring or interference between you and the plant, so a lot of stuff directed at you runs through the plant. In the case of attacks or malefic magick, this means the plant can absorb it, and it will affect the plant instead or first. Also the way it’s powered and connected makes it a great ritual ingredient for heightening trance states and the like. There is more to it, but any competent magickal folk will also start figuring out their own uses to it, and potentially tweaking it.

Regarding the early warning system, that is why I’m consecrating my second plant. I was recently a target of some malefic magick (since dealt with) which involved some pretty impressive signs. A dead mouse beside my offering dish, and the wards I drew on my walls before painting literally bled through the paint, and my healthy and living plant became mush. It didn’t just die or whither, it was suddenly a pile of goo held together by its skin. I don’t know what would have happened without it, but to turn a plant to mush, I’m pretty sure it took the brunt of it. I had found it useful before this, but this really drove it home.

Larger, fewer blades

Larger, fewer blades

So first one must acquire a plant to become the receptacle. I was told to acquire “the plant of immortality,” and my first thought was the Epic of Gilgamesh, but it was accompanied by a mental image of an aloe vera plant. Now supposedly (internet says) the Khemetic people called aloe vera the plant of immortality, but regardless it matches up, and makes sense to use aloe because of its gel (more on that next post). There are a couple of species of aloe vera, I personally recommend one with fewer larger blades, rather than many small ones. If you’ve never grown an aloe before, I recommend googling how to, they can be tricky plants, especially if you’re used to “normal” house plants, not succulents.

Too many small blades. Also avoid the more squat bladed species.

Too many small blades. Also avoid the more squat bladed species.

Then you need a pot, it doesn’t have to be a fancy pot, but large enough for the plant (again google what type of pots and setups are best for aloe), and preferably a touch deeper than needed. The most vague part of the instructions I was given was “make the pot magickal.” So I repeat that to you. I did it by using food colouring to paint the seals of some of my planetary angels on the inside of the pot and a few personal symbols related to the tradition. I used food colouring because it’s a terra cotta pot, so it absorbs well, and I didn’t want to use something like paint that would potentially be harmful to the plant.

Now plant the aloe into the pot, don’t fill it with dirt all the way to the top though. Leave some room. Almost to the top.

In most cases an aloe vera plant can be watered every two weeks, which just happens to sync up pretty excellently with the lunar cycle. I was told to water the plant on the New Moon and the Full Moon. Every once and a while in a really dry period I might need to give it a bit more in between, but save the full watering for the New and Full moons.

Next time I’ll discuss more on how it’s consecrated, nurtured, and worked with.


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.


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

2015/07/11

Start from the beginning

Last instalment in case you missed it

Uncovering Christianity through the Internal Logic of Liber Iuratus Honorii

Part of the challenge in understanding the Christian nature of Liber Iuratus Honorii is knowing what to take at face value and what may be a blind, something to throw an unwanted reader off track, such as hiding a non-Christian text in Christian imagery. To do this we must consider the text as falling into one of two major possibilities: either it is a highly unorthodox Christian text, or it is a non Christian text that uses Christian elements as a disguise to protect the owner in case someone managed to read the text. Remembering the church’s attitude toward magic, and the supposed judgement of the pope, it makes sense that a non-Christian magical text would pretend to be Christian in an attempt to protect the owner. Consider the name and nature of the text. It is called Iuratus or Sworn, because the book was to be held and received under an oath. According to the introduction, it is included in the oath that the text would only be passed on when the previous owner is dying, to a man who has been tested for a year and found holy. No copies can be made save for those passed on at the deathbed, the owner should die rather than betray the person who gave him the text, and if no worthy man is found, the text is to buried either by the owner while still alive or with him at the time of death. Considering the pope’s condemnation and “judging [practitioners] to death” it seems that between the oaths and the fear of execution anyone who owned a copy of Liber Iuratus Honorii regardless of its religious origin would be unlikely to share the text.

If this is assumed to be the case, then the inclusion of very specific Christian prayers —from priestly prayers like the Blessing of the Salt, to prayers more likely to be known to the laity like the Hail Mary, the Actiones nostras, the Athanasian Creed, and many others— would seem to be a sincere inclusion. If this was a non-Christian text, under the same oaths and restrictions there would still be the same threat of execution and thus need for secrecy, therefore there would be no need to reframe it in Christian contexts. If Liber Iuratus Honorii was really passed on at death, and under the oaths and threats, then it is not unreasonable to assume that the Christian elements are not there as a disguise, but are part of the system. If no one would ever read the text, save whom the owner approved of and passed the text to at death, then there is no need to disguise the text in Christian theology and language for protection. Under such conditions the Christian nature of Liber Iuratus Honorii would be genuine.

Continuing to look at the internal logic of the text, we must look at the framing narrative, which explains the supposed reasoning for the book being written down and oath bound. The text says the pope and his cardinals , having decided this art is of the Devil, must “pluck up and utterly to destroy this deadly root, and all the followers of this art.” The text has to be hidden and protected because the pope and the Church has decided it is evil. While this is not shocking nor inflammatory the author of Liber Iuratus Honorii continues to claim that “wicked spirits were gathered together, intending to send devils into the hearts of men… sowing hypocrise [sic] and envy, and rooting bishops and prelates in pride, even the pope himself and his cardinals” and this is what led them on this quest against books of magic and spirit conjuration. It was not because the texts were unholy, but because the pope and his cardinals have been coerced by demons, or “wicked spirits,” to this end. Returning to the idea that Christian prayers and symbolism were added to protect the owner if the book was ever accidentally discovered, as a palatable disguise, then the first paragraph would not accuse the pope of being under a demon’s influence and remove that palatable disguise. This again shows the sincerity of the Christian elements. If the text is oath bound and no one will read it there is no need to hide it in Christian terms, and if the Christian terms were a disguise they wouldn’t attack the pope, so it suggests that the text really was Christian.

There are other aspects of the text which support this reading of its internal logic. For instance, divine vision is the goal of the first book, yet several other effects happen in the course of the ritual, either as steps along the way or “side-effects” and one of them is the “forgiveness of sins.” One of the prayers used in the working itself says “this prayer aforesaid … doth obtain remission of sins” and later prayers continue to request and attest that “inward sins may be washed away.” At this time the Church was seen as the sole source of forgiveness, that through confession to a priest and their recommendations and blessings a sin could be washed away. Yet here the text is offering the practitioner the chance to do just that without the intervention of a priest. This should not be read as anti-Christian or non-Christian, but anti-Church as an establishment. The text is asserting the power of an individual to be forgiven through other means than the Church, even if it is a complex ritual. So while still Christian it does display some issues with the hierarchy and policies of the Church.


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