Monday, May 16, 2022

“Use of the Demon Princes”, An overview of שמושי שרים

 

An overview of שמושי שרים , “Use of the Princes” 

In this post, we will examine some magical material regarding the demon princes.



The manuscript we will discuss in this post is Ms. YM.011.083 (Gross ms. #373) Fol. 1a –5a 

 An total of eight demonic princes, some with multiple versions of how to conjure them, appears in the first five folios of this manuscript. Interspersed amongst the princes are ten other magical operations. I have transcribed the non-prince material in italics for aid in distinction. The Princes of oil on folio 4 has become well known via the publication of many such variant versions published in Babylonian oil magic in the Talmud and in the later Jewish literature (Daiches, 1913). Indeed, the use of the black handled knife (athame), use of the magical circle and involvement  of a young boy (or girl) discussed there in use in the conjuration of the oil prince plays an important role in many of the other princes discussed in this collection as well. Although the remainder of this manuscript consists of various spells, amulets and other magical operations typical of other Jewish magical manuscripts, no further Princes are to be found.

Regarding the First Prince, of “Bedolach”, The Hebrew word Bedolach is commonly translated as Bdellium, which is a gum resin. However, it should be noted that both Septuagint (Gen. 2:12) and Rashi understand Bedolach to be an actual stone. Alternatively, Rashi translates it as crystal. 

List of Princes in order of appearance

(Fol. 1a)

שרי בדולח Princes of “Bedolach”

שרי מראה Princes of mirror (Involves the use of a large copper mirror-plate with the name Ashmodai etched in the center with other demonic names around the circumference.)

שרי שינה Princes of sleep

(Fol. 1b)

שרי עוגה Princes of the circle

(Fol. 1b-2a)

פועל המראה Operation of the mirror

לראות הרוחות To see the spirits

(Fol. 2a-2b)

אם If you are in need of something

(Fol. 2b)

שרי אשישה Princes of flagon (version I)

(Fol. 2b-3a)

שרי כוס Princes of cup (version I)

(Fol. 3a)

אחר Another [version of the Princes of cup]

להביא שד בצורת כלב To summon a demon in the appearance of a dog

לעשות שיבוא לך רוח בלילה How to summon a spirit at night

 (Fol. 3b)

שרי אשישה Princes of flagon (version II)

לראות שדים To see demons

אחר Another [version of Princes of flagon (version III)]

(Fol. 3b-4a)

לדבר עם עשרת (משרת?) To speak to ten (or an official? Unclear to me what the first letter is)

(Fol. 4a)

אחר אם תרצה לדבר עם הרוח בליל ו' Another. If you wish to speak with a spirit on Friday night

אחר שרי חרב Another. Princes of sword 

I translated this section on my blog post on magical swords (Nov. 2019)

אחר another [prayer to be said upon seeing a shooting star]

אחר אם תרצה לראות שדים Another. If you want to see demons

(Fol. 4a-4b)

שרי כוס Princes of cup (version II)

(Fol. 4b)

אחר  Another. Princes of cup (version III)

שרי שמן וכף Princes of oil and the palm (i.e., the palm of one’s hand)

אם If you write the names Adam and Eve on your wall, you can be certain that neither Lilith nor an evil spirit will ever enter your house.

(Fol. 4b-5a)

שרי כוס Princes of the cup (version IV)

 In addition to the Princes of the sword mentioned above, here are translations of two more examples: 

(Fol. 2a-2b) If you are in need of something and need assistance, write this sigil at midnight with ink with your left hand on your right hand. Afterwards, stand at the opening [of your house] and call out to the Great Satan and he will come immediately. He will ask you: what do you need? Do not answer him the first time. However, the second time answer and say thus: Bring one of your comrades, as the sign above. And they will come. Only know, that you can command them as you wish and this is the sigil:


 

 

(I have recorded this operation in my collection of magical seals, Magnus Liber Sigillorum, as entry #291. This one wasn't included in the 1st edition I printed in 2018. However, I'm getting ready to re-release it in an expanded edition with more material from my original manuscript. I'll post updates on that in future posts!)

(Fol. 2b-3a)

שרי כוס Princes of cup (version I)

Take a knife with a black handle and make this shape on the ground


and place a cup of fresh water with a grain of salt and a drop of oil and repeat with the water and salt three times. Light a wax torch and place on (or near?)the edge  of the cup and take a young boy who has not seen a seminal emission and tell him all the questions you have. Afterwards, place him in the circle before the cup and say this adjuration in his ear: I adjure thee Princes of the Cup in the name of Samael Hatafiel and in the name Yah Yahah Adonai Elohim and by the Shem Hamephorash engraved upon the Tablets and by the names of the holy angels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Nuriel that you come and tell this lad all that I inquire of thee and do not hold back from me. Repeat this twice or thrice.

 

 

 





Thursday, December 9, 2021

Magic Mirrors and Scrying

 

In this post we will explore the one of the most famous of all magica materia: The Magic MirrorBefore we delve into the different usages and instructions from the Kabbalah, it's worthwhile to note that some Biblical commentators find reference to magical mirrors in two Biblical verses: Genesis 26:8 and Judges 5:28.

 Genesis 26:8 states "And it happened, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a "chalon", and saw Isaac was playing with Rebecca his wife."
 You'll immediately notice I left one key word untranslated from the original Hebrew, the word חלון chalon which means window. Isaac "playing" with Rebecca is a euphemism for intimacy. Basically the verse implies the Philistine king was engaged in voyeurism watching Isaac and Rebecca through a window. However, Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian (1876-1970, Poland/England) in his Biblical commentary Lev Eliyahu (Vol. 1 p. 99-102) rejects this notion because it is unthinkable that Isaac and Rebecca would be so intimate in such a visible manner that could be watched directly through an open window. Instead, he puts forward a different explanation of this verse. Rabbi Lopian contends that the word "chalon" means something to look through and that although normally this is understood to be a window, here in the verse the word is referring to a mirror that Abimelech was able to gaze through, scrying, by sorcery and observe Isaac and Rebbeca without their knowledge!

Lets take a look at the second verse. The verse of Judges 5:28 states: Through the "chalon" peered Sisera’s mother, Behind the "eshnav" she whined: “Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why so late the clatter of his wheels?”

Here we find Sisera's mother looking for her son through a chalon and an eshnav, both words seemingly on the surface imply she's looking out a window. But why the change of words and what is the difference between chalon and eshnav? 

Rabbi Meir Leibush Wisser (1809-1879, Ukraine), better known as "the Malbim", in his commentary (Malbim) notes the word change and explains the difference. In this verse, chalon means a ordinary regular window while the  Eshnav אשנב (usually translated as a lattice) means a magic mirror which he calls it a "chalon hakosem"/ magic mirror (so we find Malbim also using chalon to mean a magic mirror as well). Sisra's mother gazes into the magic mirror to find out what happened to him. Malbim's understanding of the verse is that first she's looking out the window for Sisera. When he's late, she resorts to scrying to discover his whereabouts.

Now we will discuss from the practical Kabbalah tradition different usages for the mirror. This includes using mirrors to provide answers to ones questions, see angels or even communicating with Ashmodai king of Demons!

Rabbi Chaim Vital in Sefer HaPeulot (part 4,4  #196 ) gives the following instructions to adjure the "lord of the mirror" for communication. He states:

This is the adjuration on a new mirror that a woman has not looked at:

hamehor hod hitar titahor shechya shetchaya jihar makdehur haykfa maihekefa the great. YHVH is a great God bemantahor betaitahor dahor dihor is YHVH the great God. Bring down the lord in charge of the mirror with strength, he that spoke that forever shall be and be.

This [angel] is is from the high (or: supernal) ones with pleasant countenance and his body is covered with green peacock feathers and he has wings and his feathers extend down his  sole of his feet, yet his legs are like human legs. This is the form he will appear to you.

 

 זאת ההשבעה היא על העששית או על המראה חדשה שלא נסתכל בה אשה
בֶמְהוֹר הוֹד הִיתַר תִיתָהוֹר שֶכְֿיָא גִֿהָר מַקְדְהוּר הֶקְפָֿא מֶהְקְפָֿא הגדול אל גדול הוא יהוה בְמַנְטָהוֹר בְטֵיטָהוֹר דָהוֹר דִיהוֹר הוא יהוה הגדול אל גדול
תרד אדון המצוה על האשישה או המראה בגבורת מי שאמר לעולם היה והיה
וזה הוא מהעליונים בספר פנים וגופו לבוש כמו נוצת טווס ירוק ויש לו כנפים ויש
לו רגלים לבושים בנוצה עד תחת כפות רגליו ויש לו צורת רגלים כצורת רגל בני
אדם ויבא בזו הצורה



We find an another method recorded in Rabbi Yosef Tirshom's Sefer Shoshon Yesod Olam. Although normally each entry in this book is given a number, the page this is on isn't but it can be found on folio 587 of the manuscript.



To see in a mirror:
Take a new, complete mirror and say the following adjuration to the mirror while the sun shines: "I, so and so, adjure upon you in the name of heaven according to your good desire and in the name of [six names] and in the name of the youths who are dear before the creator [five names] and the names [six more names] I adjure upon you O angels in the name YHVH God of Hosts and in the name Apramiel in the east that you appear in this mirror with your leader and answer my question."
After that, place your right hand on the head of the youth and say: "Holy, angel of the splendor, the guardian of the entrances of the Garden of Eden. [?] the faith, and the eyes of this youth to see your understanding in this mirror."




Here we have yet another method using a child found on fol. 39 in  Ms. EE.011.026 from the National Library of Israel. 


To see in a mirror say: Aerayzar Gaday Funtifayir Liorion Higamia Tefion Lirion I adjure you that you appear to me in this mirror and show much "this and that". 

So shall he say three times. You also need to write this adjuration on the mirror; you shall see all what you desire. Some say, only a child who has not had a pollution may gaze in the mirror.

לראות במראה אמור אַאְרָיזַר גַדֶי פוּנְטִפֵיִר לִאוֹרִיאוֹן הִיגַמִאָ טְפִיאֹן לִירִאוֹן משביע אני עליכם שתבואו בזה המראה ותראו לי כך וכך מדבר פלוני: ג"פ וגם לכתוב זאת ההשבעה על המראה ותראה כל חפצך וי"א דוקא תינוק שלא ראה קרי יביט במראה


As in the method from Shoshon Yesod Olam quoted above, it's interesting to note that the concept of using a pure child to perform the operation is a common theme in adjuration of demonic princes. In my opinion, what this most likely suggests is that whatever visions are being shown in the mirror do not take physical appearance. If someone other than the practitioner would take a look at the mirror they wouldn't see anything. The vision takes place in the mind's eye, it is an internal mental construct.

Now, there is one more method to discuss. I have found in a few manuscripts the "operation of the mirror" to contact Ashmoday the king of demons. For example, here are images of the procedure from the National Library of Israel's Ms. YM.011.083 (Bill Gross Ms. 373) folio 1b-2a







To paraphrase, one is to take a shiny bronze mirror and etch the following names around the edge: Gaspari Mirkion Balatsar Rochon Maymon Akiron Toros Adi Ailish [note: I have found slight variations on some names in different manuscripts, for example Caspari (Kaspari) for Gaspari] and in the middle of the mirror to etch the name Ashmoday. [see the image drawn in the mss.] To ask questions from the mirror, bring it out to the sun or near a candle if at night. Using a knife with a black handle, draw round a circle and in the middle the name Ashmoday. On top of the name, place a high couch of three legs. On the couch, place the mirror erect. One then makes a lengthy adjuration to Ashmoday to answer your question while gazing into the mirror. Afterwards when one wishes to take leave out of the circle, another adjuration is said to Ashmoday to dismiss him and his host that they not cause damage to anyone.

Additionally, we will end off with noting the following Jewish custom in a house of mourning. Traditionally, the mirrors in a house of a mourner are to be covered up during the seven days of mourning. Various reasons are ascribed to this, some saying because looking at oneself in a mirror would bring joy to a mourner, while others state the reason is so that those praying with a mourner (a mourner prays at home and a quorum of men pray there with him instead of praying in synagogue) won't pray in front of a mirror (which is forbidden lest it look like one is praying to oneself). However, the most fascinating explanation is recorded in several works of Jewish customs (for example, see Sefer Ginzei Yosef by Rabbi Yosef Schwartz) is that "strict judgment" is in a house of mourning and we are concerned that evil spirits might attack the mourner through the mirror!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

New Book! Commentary on Rabbi Kaduri's "Sefer Kedushat Yitzchak"

 You may have noticed it's been a few months from my last post on the blog. I've been working on a new book which I am pleased to announce has just been published!

To understand this new book, let's first discuss perhaps one of the  greatest master Kabbalists who died in our lifetimes: Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri. Rabbi Kaduri, born around 1898 in Baghdad, Iraq and died in Israel in 2006 was a Rabbi and Kabbalist par excellence of our generation. Rabbi Kaduri would often give blessings and write amulets based on the traditions he learned from his teacher, Rabbi Yehuda Fatiyah (Baghdad,  1859–1942,Israel) who was likewise a master of Kabbalah and the traditions of how to make amulets. He also had preformed many exorcisms which he recorded the fascinating details of the events in his book Sefer Beit Lechem Yehudah. In turn, Rabbi Fatiyah was a student of the master kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Hayyim (Baghdad, 1835-1909). The list can keep going.... In short, Rabbi Kaduri comes from a long line of guardians of the secrets of Kabbalah. 

Rabbi Kaduri did not publish his writings during his lifetime. One of his main students, Rabbi 'adas printed a facsimile copy of Kaduri's practical kabbalah manuscripts entitled "Sefer Kedushat Yitzhak". This is a mammoth (six volumes!!) collection of amulets, incantations, meditations and all sorts of esoteric knowledge. The printing was slightly censored, leaving some of the sections out. I have been recently very privileged and honored to have had access to the original uncensored copies. 

As I read and learned  through the material I began to take notes for myself. I had no intent on publishing this as I wrote, but by the time I was finished, I felt once I had done all this research and work to write a commentary on the Sefer Kedushat Yitzhak it would be a shame not to share it with others. (In fact, it's considered the right thing to do to share one's Torah thoughts with others). Thus, with the blessings of the Rabbi who had given me access to the manuscripts, I went ahead in publishing my commentary.

 Unlike my previous two books which I published as either the original Hebrew with English translation or just the English translation, this new work of mine is published just in the original Hebrew. Rabbi Kaduri was personally against translating Kabbalistic treatises (a lot of Kabbalah uses specific terminology that can be either hard to translate what the message is trying to be conveyed or possibly misunderstood. I'm not saying it's impossible to translate Kabbalistic books from Hebrew, but  at times it's certainly more complicated that regular literature). As my commentary is directly on his book, I will be respecting his wishes and leave it in the original Hebrew. A lot of my commentary also cross-references to other kabbalistic treatises which aren't in translation either so it wouldn't be very useful if one can't read Hebrew anyway. That said, if you can read Hebrew, then you'll definitely want to pick up a copy for yourself!  Also, I've included at the end my treatise (in Hebrew) on kabbalistic rings, Behold With This Ring with the source material as a bonus.

Link to purchase the book on Amazon: HERE  

Here's some pictures from the book....

Title Page
Excerpts from the Kabbalistic manuscripts Sefer Kedushat Yitzhak of Rabbi Yizthak Kaduri with commentary by Rabbi Yosef M. Cohen.


pages 8-9. A variety of different recipes. bottom of p. 8-top of p. 9 how to invoke the prince of wine to make wine flow out of a wall by sticking a sword in the wall then pulling it out


For a dream query from the dead using an adjuration to, among others, Dumah the overseer of the dead (he's names in the image on the left) 


A discussion contrasting the preparation and Divine Names of the pentacle of Mars to ward of demons found in Rabbi Kaduri's mss. to that of the version found in the Key of Solomon

Hope you find this new book to be helpful in your studies in Kabbalah and spiritual journey......


.....but thy eyes shall see thy teacher (Isaiah 30:20)









Monday, March 22, 2021

Of Mice and Magic

 

The Jewish holiday of Passover is fast approaching and with it comes the cleaning of ones house and belongings of any bread or leaven food. Back in the day, the possibility of mice or other vermin moving around crumbs was a real concern and is one of the first discussions in the Talmud tractate of Pesahim (which deals with the laws of Passover). 

What about magically keeping mice away? Is there any practical kabbalah to keep those pesky varmints away? Lets take a look....

Rabbi Chaim Vital in his personal notebook of kabbalah known as Sefer HaPeulot does indeed have a solution. In section 4:4 #203 we find the following:

To remove mice from the house: Write these four shapes of mice on uncooked pottery vessels and place in the four corners of the house. Over the first one say: "Leave this house and never return forever!". Over the second one say: "Mice! Mice! Leave this house with the secret that God created you, and return not henceforth." Over the third say: "Mice! Mice! Leave this house and do not return to it from this day till the day of the resurrection of the dead.". Over the fourth say: "Mice! Mice! Make haste, not one of you may remain in this house! Quickly! Quickly!"



Sefer HaPeulot of Rabbi Chaim Vital. Fol. 95b


I'll also mention he quotes this formula in the name of "Rabbi Nathanel". I don't know who he is referring to.

We find one more example of magical pest control on fol. 52b in mss. Cod. Heb. 214 (Bayerische StaatsBibliothek). 

Tilsam [Arabic, Talisman] To send away the mice: Engrave these shapes [i.e. the sigils] on a red copper foil when the face of Leo rises for the first time. And these shapes are from the stars (?). Place it in the place that you wish and then the mice will flee from that location.



This one involves the engraving of three sigils on a reddish copper foil during a astrologically significant time ("face of Leo"). Unfortunately there are few words I can't make out (as of now) where I left the question mark. 

Bayerische StaatsBibliothek  Cod. Heb. 214, fol. 52b


But wait, I have one more "amulet" against mice to share:



This is a picture of the Krerestir Rebbe, Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner (1852-1925). This Hasidic rebbe of Hungary was considered a miracle worker amongst his followers. The story goes something like this: Someone complained to the Rebbe that mice were ruining his granary and Rabbi Steiner told him to tell the mice in his name to leave right away, which they did. After that incident, some Hungarian Jews decided to keep a picture of the Rebbe in their house as a charm against mice!  









Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Coffee Time! Summoning the Princes of Coffee: A Purim Parody

 Summoning the Princes of Coffee: A Purim Parody


The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates the events recorded in the biblical book of Esther. It is a holiday of great merriment, traditionally with the wearing of costumes, feasting and the drinking of wine. Some medieval rabbis wrote short parodies of the Talmud, using the same language and style to create funny "spoofs", often involving discussions of drinking wine from silly names like "rabbi wine", "rabbi beer" and "rabbi barrel" for example. This got me thinking, wouldn't it be fun to recreate a magical adjuration as a parody as well?  There are many adjurations for demonic princes over various reflective surfaces, why not coffee?!  Although this blog is a serious blog on magical topics, I've decided, in the Purim holiday spirit, to compose an adjuration over the "princes of coffee" in Hebrew with an English translation!  Enjoy! 


Using freshly brewed coffee, take a black handled spoon and recite the following incantation over the cup of coffee while stirring the cup: 

O Princes of Coffee, I adjure thee, Coffeiel, Caffeineiel, Arabicaiel and Robustael to answer my question. Answer me with the full strength of the caffeine in this cup and not in prevarication  as the decaffeinated demons of falsehood are wont to do. 

Gaze into the cup and Princes will answer your question. Then, bade them farewell and say: "Go in peace, as it is written my cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5)."

One may add some milk and sugar, but one who adds too much angers the Princes of Coffee and puts his life in danger [lit. his blood is on his head].


שרי קפה
על  כוס קפה מבושל חדש קח כף עם קתא שחורה ואמר זה הלחש על הכוס של קפה בשעת ערבוב הכוס עם הכף 
שרי קפה הרי משביע אני עליך קופהיאל קפאיניאל ערביקהיאל רובוסטהיאל לתרץ שאלאתי. ענני בכח העוצמה של הקפאין בכוס זו ולא בכזב כמו שעושים שדי הנטול
הסתכל בתוך הכוס והשרים מתרץ שאלתך. אחר כך שלח להם בשלום ואומר להם לך  צאתכם לשלום כמו שכתוב כוסי רויה
ואפשר להוסף קצת חלב וסוכר אבל מי שמוסיף יותר מדי מכעיס את שרי הקפה ודמו על ראשו