X. A Vineyard

ixion

X SOREK

Servitors: Ragaras, Laralos, Gesegas, Ekalak, Lagasas.

The word at the outer edge of the square, SOREK, comes from the Hebrew שורק (soreq), which means ‘a vine,’ and was also the name of the valley in which the biblical Delilah lived (Judges 16:4). The central cross is formed from the name of the spirit Ragaras, which may come from the Hebrew רגע (raga’a), ‘break,’ ‘disturb.’

The Vision

The first image that came was of a dark red-brown heart surrounded by darkness. My form appeared, which was just as black as the surrounding pitch, and I saw that I was carrying the heart over my shoulder as if it were a shoulder bag with a string attached. Then I realised I was in a cave and could hear the sound of dripping water and could smell the earthy dampness of the stones that encased me. On seeing an aperture in the ceiling of a cave I set my intent on reaching it and saw a rope ladder descend from it, which I climbed. At the surface I saw a lush and leafy landscape, though the earth around the vegetation was rough and rocky. In the distance was the lake I have seen in previous descended from the promontory I was stood upon, and I sensed that the tree with the dragon in it was nearby too though couldn’t see it. I looked at myself and saw that I was wearing black robes and thought for a moment that I was the monk who had been struck by lightning in the previous vision, but unlike him I was wearing a hood and the skies above me were blue with no sign of any coming storm.

Moving across the landscape, my attention was drawn to the heart I was carrying over my shoulder. I considered eating it but saw that it was aged, tough-looking and falling apart with decay. It was split all along one side which I prized apart with my fingers to pull out something that looked like an avocado stone. This too, was corrupted by time and age so I pulled that apart too, then discarded the heart onto the ground. From the stone, a beautiful butterfly with wings that sparkled with sunlight emerged, as though from a cocoon. In wonder, I followed it, knowing it was leading me somewhere I had to go. In an instant I was there. A small grotto with a waterfall shrouded in thick vines. Drawing them to one side I entered a small cave in which a woman stood. She was surrounded with red and white grapes and was pressing the white ones into wine with her feet. She gestured at a bowl full of red grapes on the floor next to her and bade me to join in with her. I pressed the grapes with my feet until all that was left of them was liquid and mulch. Then, looking at the mulch in a big, congealed pile, I couldn’t help noticing how much it looked like a heart. I picked it up and looked at it and saw that it definitely was a heart, so slung it over my shoulder to replace the old one I had discarded. The woman then spoke to me, but I couldn’t comprehend anything she said as her speech was that of birds. Then, as in the first cave, a shaft of light appeared in the roof and I ascended through it and found myself on yet another small hill with the lush and leafy landscape surrounding me.

I headed towards the edge of the lake, where the skies were growing dark. The sun, I noticed, was undergoing an eclipse. I sensed that, like in the vision of A Snow, a sacrifice had to be made to the moon, so I took the new heart I had been given, climbed to the highest part of the cliff via another rope ladder with the cry of a nightjar filling the air as I climbed, then laid the heart on the floor as an offering, and realising I no longer had a heart, took the stone I had retrieved out of the old one and slotted it into a hole in my chest. As I departed the place of sacrifice, I was aware that many dark spirits were feasting on the heart. As this occurred, I had a strong sense that there were also lots of miniature black clouds dancing all over the square that I held I my hand in the ‘real world.’ In sacrificing to the moon, I understood that I was sacrificing to the spirits under its influence, the sub-lunar spirits, and they would reward me greatly for doing so. After noticing this, I saw a bright and golden angel standing before me. It looked at me, shook its head sadly and played a sad chord on a lyre. I asked it for its name and it replied that it was called Keranda. Then I asked for it to reveal its nature to me and it responded by ripping its chest wide open to reveal its true form. It had a red body, as though scalded by boiling water and a long neck with a horse’s head sitting atop of it. In the cavity of its chest was a flaming wheel where its heart should be. Its inner edges were lined with tongues of flame that made the wheel resemble the maw of a shark from the viewpoint of its victim, or of the tongues of flame that surround the outer edge of the wheel that Shiva dances in, only inverted, appearing on the inside of the wheel. In the centre of the wheel was a Chi Rho upon which a naked, bearded man was affixed, his limbs aligned with the ‘X’ of the Chi.

As he stood there with his burning heart exposed, the ‘angel’ spoke, telling me that the wheel represented desire and that it was the ‘ordinary man’ who was impaled upon it. By sacrificing my new heart and replacing it with the remains of the stone from the old one, I had undone its work. It told me that this sacrifice had been a mistake as although the spirits who received it would indeed be glad and grateful and repay me efficaciously, it was angered by my action. The butterfly inside my old heart, he said, was a manifestation of his light but having set it free and sacrificed the new heart it had led me too, I would now have to rebuild it anew. With that explanation, the angel was gone and I felt like the entire world was spinning on a great axis in the same way that the angels fiery heart had.

I looked over to the landscape I had ascended out of and realised it was all part of the underworld. The lake, the tree, the caves, the waterfalls. Everything of the past few visions had been the same chthonic place. Then I saw the land, all set between two high plateaus, becoming healed, with the mighty cleft being filled in with earth with sweet grass growing over it until the landscape became the same one that I had seen in the vision of A Beautiful Lawn and A Rose Garden. As I contemplated the world above again, the words ‘and Death shall have no dominion,’ formed in my mind. Then the image of a constellation shaped like a lobster appeared in the sky close to where I saw the eclipse. The moon was there alone now, for it was night and the constellations were bright, though it had not reached it yet. Then a fiery lion appeared briefly, and finally, beneath the Earth, I sensed the image of the dragon, now asleep, with the tip of its tail resting in its mouth.

The ‘angel,’ Keranda may have derived its name from Hebrew חרד (kharad), ‘anxious,’ ‘fearful,’ ‘to treble or quake,’ ‘to drive in terror,’ ‘afraid,’ ‘in awe,’ which also features in the square under the name KERAD or KERADA. Alternatively, considering the context, it may be related to the Greek καρδία (kardia), ‘heart.’ The name of the poem it seemed to quote, And Death Shall have no Dominion, is one I am minimally familiar with, having heard it being recited once, but I had never actually read it. It’s possible that an unconscious memory of it was grasped upon at the imagery of the man fixed to a wheel due to the poem’s lines ‘twisting on racks when sinews give way, strapped to a wheel.’ This is also the case with the legend of Ixion, which I was familiar with, though his being the father of Centaurus who shares a degree of similarity in his nature to the spirit Barbatos is of note as I have renewed an old relationship with this spirit recently. Just as Orpheus played a lyre to sooth Ixion’s suffering for a while, so too did the angel strum a lyre, establishing some further archetypal link to the legends of Ixion and Centaurus. The lightning that struck a monk dead in the vision of A Grape or Grape Plant may represent the fate of Ixion, whom Zeus eventually struck down with a thunderbolt. The name of Ixion (Ἰξίων) is of unknown origin but possibly comes from ἱκέτης (iketos), ‘suppliant,’ possibly due to his being the first murderer who would have then had to beg Zeus for mercy. Zeus granted him entry to Olympus by purifying him, but later sentenced him to an eternity on a flaming wheel due to his desire to seduce Hera. He is equated to the first murderer Qayin here, whose name is reflected in the Lemegeton in the form of the spirit Raum, who is called Kayne and has the form of a Raven, a bird with whom Qayin shares some folkloric qualities. Centaurus, the progeny of the mating of Ixion and the cloud, spawned the race of Centaurs after mating with the mules of Mount Pelion, where he exiled himself away from civilisation.

The lobster may have represented the sign of Scorpio, which it has sometimes been depicted as, with its claws, or those of the Scorpion, actually being the sign of Libra. With the vision of A Big Lake seeming to inform me of the importance of the north solstice to some kind of ritual offering I should perform, I checked the position of the moon out at the time of the solstice and found that it would be a waxing first-quarter, close to half, in the sign of Libra. While the phase doesn’t fit with that which I saw in this or the vision of the Lake, the fact that it is in Libra at this time—the sign which precedes Scorpio—may have been a confirmation that some rite should take place at this time. The eclipse suggests this rite should have both solar and lunar significance.

The only spirit name that appears in the square that has not already been covered elsewhere is Ekalak, whose name may derive from the Hebrew חלק (khelaq), meaning ‘portion,’ ‘part,’ ‘lot,’ ‘share,’ ‘fragment.’

IV. A Beautiful Garden

IV SELAC

Servitors: Liriol, Mara, Sarasim, Aril, Amillis

The name forming the central cross of the square, LIRIL, relates to the name of the servitor Liriol and the Greek word λειριο, meaning ‘lily.’ The word around the outside of the square, SELAC, has its origins in the Hebrew שלח (shelakh), meaning ‘shoot,’ ‘branch,’ ‘sprout,’ ‘slough’ and ‘to send away.’

The Vision

I stood in the grounds of a park, with a great manor house visible in the distance. A large lawn lay before me which was surrounded by trees, but few flowers. Then I spotted a river off to one side of the lawn and approached it. In the middle of the river was a small island, upon which a beautiful garden grew. I decided to wade across the narrow river to visit the island, tearing a branch from a nearby tree to use as a staff to help me get across. As soon as I entered the waters, they grew turbulent, forcing me to swim over to the island even though they had seemed narrow and mild when I first encountered them.

On arriving on the garden island, I was only able to explore it for only a brief moments before I suddenly found myself far away from it, with no river or garden in sight and nothing but loose stones beneath my feet. Realising I had been transported far beyond the opposite bank of the river, I made my way back towards it on foot with the impression that I was heading south. When I came to the river again, the waters again seemed very narrow and shallow, but as soon as I entered them I realised they were horrendously deep and after only a few steps found I had to swim to the island. On arriving there this time, I found only a small, plain grove present there, then planted my staff into the ground in order to not be expelled from the island again. Two forks appeared at its end as I stabbed it into the soil, wedging it into the earth as I prepared for a struggle to remain on the island.

I sensed a shift in the world as the staff entered the earth and sent deep roots into the ground below and transformed into a great tree with a wide, thick canopy. I sought refuge under its boughs as I perceived that there were many malignant entities forming a circle around me. Night came in an instance as I sheltered beneath the eaves, with a gibbous moon peeking through the branches above. I cast a protective circle to keep the malign presences away and noticed how the waters of the river either side of the island grew turbulent again. It then dawned on me that I needed to keep myself in a still, silent state in order to make my environment serene. On doing this, the river grew gentle and the island began to bloom with flowers. All seemed calm now, with no other presences there but my own.

Then I noticed a woman appear, great in beauty and wearing a red robe. She peeled the robe from her body and revealed that she was not human at all, but a great snake. She slithered towards me and wrapped her body around my wrists, binding them tight. She spoke to me, though none of the words she spoke were familiar, being in a tongue so unusual that I was not able to even approximate their sounds, which were guttural and spoken with a harsh and loud voice. She seemed more human again as she spoke but had the presence of a vampire or of the spurned Lilith seeking to torment Adam in the days before Eve came to Eden. The garden we were in was no paradise however, but a silent, lonely place standing as a precarious bastion against the world’s perils. I focussed my mind on becoming more still and calm again and the garden flourished with florae as the balance resumed. Then I dropped into a deeper state of meditation, finding new passivity in the silence in which I heard a voice saying ‘the sacrifice has been commenced. Proceed and you will not know death.’ On those words, which did not seem obviously related to the vision, I meditated in silence for a few minutes before completing the session.

It was obvious throughout that the island garden, with its tree and snake, had taken on some of the qualities of Eden. There was no perfect state to fall from though, with its various fluxes and turmoils being connected to my own ability to still my mind and be receptive. When these peaceful states came, the garden appeared as a beautiful, serene place, but before long the peace was shattered by the coming of the serpent. Yet with its departure, I was left with the knowledge that the garden represented the illusory and impermanent nature of the sensory world, which is but a small, shifting island in the violent torrents of Being. This understanding, rather than any kind of ‘temptation,’ was the gift she gave. Although her words could not be made out, she brought a wisdom that was raw, direct Gnosis, rather than that of the intellectual faculties, which cannot adequately perceive the nature of reality of which the serpent spoke.

Throughout the vision, I could hear a female neighbour humming a strange, sombre tune, which fitted the slightly sorrowful feel of the vision rather well and didn’t distract me in the ways that noise disturbances often do. The end of her song coincided with the end of the session rather well too, accompanying the ‘active,’ visual parts but ending not long after the more meditative, ‘passive’ parts began.

After writing up the account of what I saw, I set about working out the names of the servitors present in the square, which it is always best to do after the event to prevent knowledge of the names’ meanings influencing the contents of the vision. This also allows one to determine how much objective, or at least synchronistic, reality there may be in the visions shown. Such was certainly the case in this vision, with the name of the spirit Sarasim coming from the Hebrew שרשים, which is the plural of שרש (sharash) meaning ‘a deep root,’ ‘origin,’ ‘source,’ or ‘basis.’ This was relevant due to the ‘deep roots’ the staff I held bore into the earth, with the branch that I crafted it from being directly related to the meaning of the word SELAC described above.

The name Mara also has some significance with its meaning coming from the Hebrew מערה (ma’arah) – ‘cave,’ ‘cavern,’ ‘grotto,’ ‘den’ and מער (ma’ar), meaning ‘naked,’ ‘nudity,’ ‘bare place,’ which represents the ‘grotto’ or ‘den’ of the tree I sought refuge under, the bareness of the island as I arrived there and the disrobing of the serpent woman to reveal her true form. Interestingly, Mara is also that of the death goddess who tried to tempt the Buddha with visions of beautiful women, who also represents the illusory state of the world, and therefore forms a connection to the symbolism revealed by the island that appeared in the vision. With there being no basis whatsoever for any linguisitic connection between the Sanskrit Mara and the Hebrew ma’arah, the symbolic similarity present in this particular vision cannot be entirely discounted. Also symbolically relevant was the fact that this vision’s ‘enlightenment’ took place beneath the eaves of a tree, which reflects not only the location where mankind tasted enlightenment in Genesis, but also that of Gautama’s achievement beneath the eaves of the Boddhi tree.

Liriol’s translation to ‘lily’ that I purported above did not seem very significant here, but the appearance of a spirit akin to Lilith may have been evident due to the phonological similarities between these words, with the repetition of the letters L and I in the Square indicating the Hebrew ליל, denoting the ‘night’ from which Lilith takes her name, which roughly means ‘night monster.’ That her appearance came after day turned to night beneath the canopy of the tree appears to confirm this connection.

Of the other spirits that appear in this Square, the name of Aril may be connected to the Hebrew ערל (a’aril), ‘uncircumcised,’ which reflect the spirits being seen as ‘pagan’ and therefore inimical to God in the Jewish context of the Abramelin. Amillis, meanwhile, resembles עָמֵל (a’amil), ‘worker,’ ‘labourer,’ ‘exertion,’ ‘toil,’ and is possibly named as such due to the servant spirits’ functional aspects as the ‘slaves’ of the Four Kings.

On Hidden Names

The appearance of the name FOLAK (Volac) in the square used to obtain a vision of a Pumpkin presents a notable phenomenon that is consistent among the squares of the Abramelin. That phenomenon is the appearance of the names (or close approximations of them) of spirits that can be found within other Grimoires, such as the Lemegeton. Looking at the Square used to obtain the vision of A Hunting Party for instance, it can be seen that the names AGAROS, STOLAS, ZAGAN (as SAGAN) and OSE appear in plain, scattered or anagrammed form, as do those of the Elemental Kings ORIENS and ARITON and the Book of Offices spirit SESON (an alias of Purson). While these manifestations seem vague, the pattern of their appearances are consistent with those of the servitors that are professed to be associated with the squares within the texts of the Abramelin, so this is a consideration worth bearing in mind when analysing the squares. As it is evident that it is not only spirit names that appear in the squares, but also the Greek, Latin and Hebrew words that are consistent with the themes of the Squares’ powers, it should also be considered that other meaningful words may also be hidden within them. Looking at the square for the Hunting Party again, it is apparent that it also contains the letters of the word GOETIA in close proximity to each other and fittingly—considering the nature of the astral visions they induce—the letters of the word ERGOT appear in such a fashion, too, suggesting a possible shamanic and entheogenic element in this form of magic.