This image,”Man and the Moon” © Cathy Schoenberg
The time I chose for conjuring Phul was a Monday night (naturally) with a full moon, during the sun sign of cancer. It all sounded quite moony to me while I was planning it, but in retrospect, I should have considered that the moon being in the sign of capricorn (the opposition of cancer) might have been a bad influence. Nevertheless, that was my plan. I also think that although there are undoubtedly many rituals that require lots of detailed planning over weeks or months, in this case having too much time to ponder and plan worked against me.
I had previously purchased and read Frater Rufus Opus’s excellent book A Modern Angelic Grimoire, and had thought of conjuring the Olympic Spirits using the methods in RO’s book. I made a Table of Art from that book on thick poster board, and laminated it. I scouted about for nine good purple candles (not that easy to locate in Budapest), and I busied myself with completing my set of elemental weapons (which you can read about here, here and here) .
And I did research.
As much as one is told in various sources that the Arbatel is a popular grimoire due to its simplicity and its easy ritual, I wonder who decided it’s so popular and what they based that opinion on, because there is really very little material about it either on the internet or in printed books. I came across a smattering of evocation records that described rituals, running the gamut from very simple (as described in the grimoire itself) all the way to full-blown, pull-all-the-stops-and-get-out-all-the-props Golden Dawn-style ceremonies. I read through these and settled on something in between: RO’s grimoire (essentially an adaptation of Trithemius) with the LBRP before and after to set up the ritual space.
About two weeks before the date I had set for the conjuring of Phul, I woke up in the middle of the night from a very strong and vivid dream. I keep a journal, pen and flashlight next to the bed, but it is often the case that I fall back asleep before I can rouse myself to sit up and write down a dream. That’s what happened on this occasion. When I woke up the next morning, I was pissed off, because I was convinced I’d had a big fish on the line and it got away. I passionately prayed that I would eventually remember this dream again.
It was about a week later that I kept waking up at intervals throughout the night, with vague memories of a dream that was eluding me. I would lie there trying to recall it before I sat up to write it down, and each time I’d recall that it had something to do with “a circuitous journey” with my old college friend Phil, but then I’d fall asleep again.
After dawn, lying half awake, I repeated these words about a circuitous journey to myself again, then suddenly sat straight up in bed. Phil is Phul! A circuitous journey is analogous to the path of the moon! What really nailed it down in my mind was that my friend Phil’s sun sign is cancer, and I always thought he was the quintessential cancer.
And then the memory rushed back to me and hit me like a brick: this was the strong and vivid dream I’d had a week before and forgotten. The exact same dream.
So the dream went like this:
I am on a circuitous journey, on foot, at night. I am not with Phil, but following him. We are engaged in the perverse sort of anti-authoritarian behavior that Phil and I savored so much when we were students: not respecting generally acknowledged boundaries; asserting our right (as children of God, as children of the earth) to go anywhere we wish. But this sort of behavior isn’t accepted by the world, so as we sneak through people’s suburban yards and breach fences, I’m a bit nervous that we’ll get seen through a window (I can see people inside houses doing evening stuff, like watching TV and eating dinner), and then confronted. Most of the time I don’t see Phil, I just know I’m following him at some distance. I arrive somewhere where I think I will meet him, but he’s not there. Has he already moved on? Is he yet to arrive? Was he ever here?
It was clear to me that this was a precognitive dream, or even some sort of preliminary contact with the spirit, but I was puzzled as to its meaning. To be honest, it wasn’t exactly encouraging.
(Coming up next — “Phul me twice…!”)
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