Abramelin the Mage
Written and compiled by George Knowles
should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential
work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the
Holy Guardian Angel. Once he has achieved this he must of course be left
entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied
upon to lead him to the further great step—crossing of the Abyss and the
attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple.
Aleister Crowley - Magick Without Tears, Ch.83
Abramelin the Mage (or Abra-Melin) is the name or pseudonym of an Egyptian sage who taught a powerful form of Kabbalistic magic. Little is known about him except for what is contained in a medieval manuscript preserved in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris. The actual manuscript was a French copy of a 17th or 18th century original manuscript written in Hebrew called: “The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, as delivered by Abraham the Jew unto his son Lamech, A.D. 1458”.
The manuscript reveals a Sacred Ritual operation by which a magician or spiritual aspirant might prepare for, invoke and finally meet with his Holy Guardian Angel. S.L. MacGregor Mathers of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn translated the manuscript into English in 1899, and incorporated some of its attainments into the Golden Dawn’s working rituals when compiling them. Since then the Holy Guardian Angel has found its way into many areas of modern Western mysticism.
Representative of one’s truest divine nature, the Holy Guardian Angel is equivalent to the Genius of the Golden Dawn, the Augoeides of Iamblichus, the Atman of Hinduism and the Daemon of the Gnostics. In Ceremonial Magic or High Magic, the single most important goal is to connect with one’s own Holy Guardian Angel, a process called the “Knowledge and Conversation” in which the magician or spiritual aspirant becomes fully aware of his own True Will. This concept of a Holy Guardian Angel and the importance of gaining contact with him, has greatly influenced modern Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism and perhaps to a lesser extent Neo-Paganism.
The author of the book is believed to have been Abraham of Würzburg (Abraham of Worms), a Jewish physician, Kabbalist, Magus and political advisor to such men as Emperor Sigismond of Germany (1368-1437). The book is divided into three parts or book’s, Book I contains his autobiography in which he describes his years of wondering in a quest for the “True and Sacred Source of Wisdom”. During his travels he learned about several systems of magic, but found the most of them disappointing.
just as he was about to give up his quest, he finds Abramelin in a small town
called Arachi (or Araki)
situated on the banks of the River Nile. There
he lived in a house atop a small
hill surrounded by trees. He
describes Abramelin as a man of venerable age, a courteous and kind man leading
a simple well-regulated life, who talks about nothing but his Fear of God and
avoiding the acquisition of wealth and riches.
Abramelin agrees to teach him the Sacred Magic, but in return extracts a promise that he give up his false dogmas and live in the Way and
Law of the Lord.
then gave Abraham two manuscript books to copy and asked for ten gold florins,
these he takes and distributes to the poor people in Arachi. On his return some days later, Abramelin explains the Sacred
Magic embedded within the two manuscripts, and instructs Abraham to follow the
procedures given therein precisely. When
his own time came, Abraham was to pass on his knowledge of the Sacred Magic only
to those he knew well.
In accordance with Jewish tradition, Abraham grants the mysteries of the Holy Kabbalah to his eldest son, but not wanting to leave his younger son Lamech without a means of spiritual fulfilment, he wrote and gave him the “Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage”. The first book ends with Abraham instructing his son Lamech on the kind of life he must lead if he completes the Sacred Ritual, and how its Sacred Magic should be used and properly employed.
After describing how he came to learn the Sacred Magic of Abramelin, in the second and third book Abraham explains in greater detail the entire Ritual operation (which takes six months to complete), as copied from Abramelin’s original manuscript books. Book II starts with the selection of an appropriate place for the summoning of various spirits and demons, for which a separate room called an Oratory (prayer room) must be kept and maintained in utmost purity. Here carefully detailed preparations need to be performed by the magician or spiritual aspirant while wearing specific vestments. The preparations include: protections, asceticism’s, purifications, prayers and evocations, which after the six months it takes to complete the Ritual, will result in the appearance of his own Holy Guardian Angel.
The most importance part of the operation is the invocation, or the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. The Holy Guardian Angel is considered to be an aspect of the “higher Self”, which when attained, assists the magician or spiritual aspirant through the remainder of the operation. Once the Holy Guardian Angel takes over as his mentor, it is from him that the True and Sacred Source of Wisdom and Magic are revealed. The next step of the process is to evoke other spirits and demons and force them to obey the Will of the magician. Once the magician has mastered the evocation of spirits and demons, and on an Oath of obedience and allegiance is able to command them to do his bidding, he can begin to put them to work as his familiars.
Book III the final book, is a collection of Magic Squares or Talismans, which the spirits and demons must swear upon when giving their Oaths. Each square or talisman can then be used to command a spirit or demon to perform certain magical tasks, similar to those used in other grimoires like the Key of Solomon the King, such tasks include: clairvoyance, divining metals and treasure, transmutation, magical self-defence, levitation or flying, metamorphosis, invisibility, necromancy, healing illness and various other feats of magic.
The first part of the operation, the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, is the perfection and purification of the conscious “higher Self” and opens a path of communication between man and the Divine. In the second part of the operation, the demons who are sometimes considered a man’s unconscious “lower Self” are evoked and brought under control by force of Will and Magic. It need be stressed here that to attempt the second part of the operation without the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, the magician or spiritual aspirant could become enslaved to those demons he initially desired to command.
It is difficult to be sure how much of this system of magic comes directly from Abramelin, or how much was embellished and added too by Abraham’s extensive knowledge of the Kabbalah. Despite this the Book of Abramelin the Mage still presents a viable, although archaic, method for achieving the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. As with many medieval grimoires of the past, magicians and others over time have rewritten the “Abramelin Operation”, and while maintaining the same core formula, have updated its procedures to reflect the advances of the modern age. The most notable of these rewrites is Aleister Crowley’s Liber Samekh.
Abramelin the Mage will always remain a mysterious figure in the history of occult mysticism, but the legacy of his system of magic will continue to live on for a long time to come. Today “The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage” is probably the most used and read of all the old grimoires.
First written and published on the 07th September 2007 - © George Knowles
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