The Book of Ceremonial Magic
§ 3. Concerning Continence and Abstinence
The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, referred to Cornelius Agrippa, but composite in character and spurious in attribution, as already seen, gives an exceedingly curious explanation of the rule of sanctity prescribed by all forms of Ceremonial Magic. The instruments used in the Art are ineffective without consecration. The act of consecration is the act by which virtue is imparted to them, and this virtue derives from two sources, the power of sanctification residing in Divine Names and in the prayers which incorporate them, and the power of sanctification residing in the holiness of the person consecrating. 1 An indispensable part of this holiness was the preservation of chastity for a defined-but, it should be observed, a limited-period preceding operation, and it was to be combined with a fast of graduated severity. In their directions concerning these points the Rituals of Black Magic differ little from their prototypes, the earlier Keys of Solomon, the work of pseudo-Agrippa, 2 or The Magical Elements of Peter de Abano.
Here is the direction of the Neophyte which occurs in the Grand
Grimoire: "You must abstain during an entire quarter of the moon from the society of females, so as to protect yourself from the possibility of impurity. You must commence your magical quarter at the same moment with that of the luminary itself, by a pledge to the Grand Adonai, who is the Master of all Spirits, to make no more than two collations daily, that is to say, in every twenty-four hours of the said quarter of the Moon, which collations should be taken at noon and midnight, or, if it better please you, at seven o'clock in the morning and at the corresponding hour in the evening, using the following prayer previously to each repast during the whole of the said quarter:--
I implore Thee, O Thou Grand and Powerful ADONAY, Master of all Spirits! I beseech Thee, O ELOIM! I implore Thee, O JEHOVAH! O Grand ADONAY, I give unto Thee my soul, my heart, my inward parts, my hands, my feet, my desires, my entire being! O Grand ADONAY, deign to be favourable unto me! So be it. Amen.
Then take your repast, disrobe as seldom and sleep as little as possible during the whole of the said period, but meditate continually on your undertaking, and centre all your hopes in the infinite goodness of the Great Adonay. 1
The Grimoire of Honorius, which is intended exclusively for persons in Holy Orders, restricts the period of fasting to three
days, as will be seen later on, and makes no condition of continence in those who are devoted to celibacy. The Grimorium Verum prescribes a similar period and adds that the fast should be most austere, that human society and human communications must be avoided as much as possible, but those of women especially. The Book of True Black
Magic varies the instruction as follows: 1 If the Priest-Exorcist would succeed in operation, he must, when all things else are prepared, abstain from every labour of soul and body, from much eating and drinking, from all luxury, from all vice, and he must meditate on those things which he is about to put in practice for nine complete days before undertaking the work; his assistants--if any--must do in like manner, so that all may be truly fulfilled. Let them begin by the following prayer, which should be recited twice in the night and once in the day.
O Lord God Almighty, be Thou favourable unto us, though unworthy to lift our eyes to Heaven by reason of the multitude of our offences! O God all-merciful, Who wiliest not the death of a sinner, but rather his true conversion, bestow Thy grace on us! O Lord, O God, full of compassion, aid us in this work which we are about to perform, that Thy Name may be blessed for ever! Amen. 2
The concluding days of the fast should be additionally
strict, the meals being limited to bread and water, with abstinence from all sin and repetition of the above prayer.
144:1 Here the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy merely reproduces the instruction of the genuine work. "Consecration is a lifting up of experiments, by which a spiritual soul, being drawn by proportion and conformity, is infused into the matter of out works according to the tradition of Magical Art rightly and lawfully prepared, and our work is vivified by the spirit of understanding. The efficacy of consecration is perfected by two things especially, viz., the virtue of the person himself consecrating and the virtue of the prayer itself. In the person are required holiness of life and a power to consecrate. The former, nature and desert perform, the latter is acquired by imitation and dignification."
Book III. c. 62. The virtue of prayer derives from its institution by God, the ordinance of the Church, or the commemoration which it may make of sacred things.
144:2 So also in the Third Book De Occulta Philosophia, which is especially devoted to Ceremonial Magic, the student is directed to abstain "from all those things which infect either mind or spirit," and above all from idleness and luxury, "for the soul being suffocated by the p. 145 body and the lust thereof, can discern nothing that is celestial," c. 55. The fourth book merely says: "Let the man who would receive an oracle from the good spirits be chaste, pure and confessed." Compare Peter de Abano: "The operator should be clean and purified for the space of nine days before beginning the work; he should be confessed also, and should receive the Holy Communion."
145:1 Grand Grimoire, Book I. c. 2.
146:1 An adaptation of the Key of Solomon, Book II. c. 4.
146:2 The following is added in the Clavicle, loc. cit.: O Lord God, Father Eternal! O Thou Who art seated upon Cherubim and Seraphim, Who beholdest the earth and the sea!
Unto Thee do I lift up my hands, and beseech Thine aid alone--Thou Who art the fulfilment of good works, Who givest rest unto those who toil, Who humblest the proud, Who art Author of all life and Destroyer of death. Our rest art Thou, Protector of those who call upon Thee; do Thou guard and defend me in this undertaking, O Thou who
livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.