Sunday, February 26, 2023

New edition of Magnus Liber Sigillorum!


As most of my readers know, I published an English  translation of parts of my Hebrew treatise (Sefer Chotamot Rabba) of Jewish magic as Magnus Liber Sigillorum back in 2018. 

I am pleased to announce that a new, expanded second edition is now available!! (Actually available for several months now, but for various reasons I didn't have time to make a public announcement)

This edition now includes more sections translated, indexes of topics, angelic and divine names, corrections to the (very few) printing mistakes in the first edition, page numbering and as a bonus, my treatise on magical rings, Behold With This Ring!

Available in two editions: Regular hardcover and Clothbound hardcover with dust jacket

Clothbound hardcover with dust jacket

In addition to the above link for the clothbound hardcover with dust jacket, it is also available from Barnes and Noble HERE and on Amazon HERE

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Vampires in Jewish Lore


Vampires in Jewish Lore

Ever hear of a Striga? Few have nowadays. The Striga [old French: Estrie] (שטריאה) is a European supernatural creature that is essentially a woman that has been cursed into a vampire-like monster. Similar to the vampire, the Striga drinks blood to live. Armed with magical powers, the Striga has the ability to shapes-shift into a cat. Additionally, shaking  her hair out loose will give her the ability to fly, and keeping it bound up will stop that ability. Once a Striga has attacked someone, it is necessary to eat from her bread and salt. Likewise, the Striga must eat bread and salt of her victim to thrive. One source reports that if a Striga is found in the grave with an open mouth, it is necessary to stuff it with rocks. In fact, archeologists report this practice in “deviant” graves, i.e. people suspected of being vampires or the like. (For an example, see: ) The first three sources are culled from Sefer Hasidim, a late 12th cent. text of Jewish ethics, laws and stories attributed to Rabbi Judah the Pious (Hasid). In some of the sources presented, the Striga is grouped with mares and werewolves who have similar characteristics.(Apparently, the werewolf mentioned is a male version of the Striga.)


Sefer Hasidim # 1465
There are women who are called Strigas (שטרייאס), mares (מרש) and werewolves (ורוולש) . They were created at twilight. They could perform a certain act and thereby change form. There was once a woman who was an Striga, and she was very sick. Two women were with her at night; one was sleeping and one was awake. And the sick woman stood up beside [the sleeping woman] and shook out her hair and tried to fly and tried to suck the blood of the sleeping woman. And the woman who was awake screamed and woke her friend and they grabbed the sick Striga, and after this she slept. And if she had been able to attack and kill the other woman, then the Striga  would have lived. But since she was not able to attack the other woman, the Striga  died, because one that issues from blood needs to drink the blood of living flesh. The same is true of the werewolf. And since the mare and the Striga need to shake out their hair before they fly, one must cause her to swear to come with her hair shaken out, so that she cannot go anywhere without his permission. And if one strikes an Striga or if one sees her, she cannot live, unless she eats of the bread and salt of the one who struck her. Similarly, if she attacks someone, he must eat from her bread and salt. Then the soul will return to the way it was before.


Sefer Hasidim # 1466
There was a woman who was suspected of being an Striga, and she would attack people. She appeared to a Jew as a cat and he hit her. The next day she asked him to give her some of his bread and salt, and he wanted to give it to her. An old man said to him “Be not overly righteous” (Ecc. 7:16). Where one has an obligation to others, one must not show excessive piety, for if she lives, she will harm people. Thus the Holy One, blessed be He, created her for you [as a test], just as he created Amalek for Saul and punished him for letting him live.


Sefer Hasidim # 1467
There was once a woman who was a Striga, but she allowed her victim to take from her bread and salt. In such case, one should have mercy on her.


Manuscript Oxford 1567, 41b
Know too that there was a witch, a Striga, who once was caught by a man. He said to her, Do not [try to] escape from my grasp, as you have caused numerous deaths in the world. What can I do to you so that after your death you will not consume [people’s flesh]? She said to him, If you find [a Striga] in the grave with her mouth open, there is no remedy, for her spirit will attack the living. And there is no remedy unless a spike is hammered into her mouth and into the earth. Then she will attack no more. And for this reason, one should fill her mouth with stones.

Sefer Ziyyoni (New 2005 Barzani pub. Edition, p.31-32) ספר ציוני
Rabbi Judah the Pious writes that from Japeth (יפת) issues the Mares –not those created at twilight, and the souls of the Strigas (שטיירש) …

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Dream Stones

“Dream queries”, שאלות חלום  in which some adjuration or ritual is performed to induce a heavenly answer in one’s dreams (or even written out on paper) is very commonly found in manuscripts of practical Kabbalah. In fact, an entire book entitled שאלות ותשובות מן השמים  Responsum from Heaven was authored by a medieval rabbi (Rabbi Jacob of Marseille , 12th cent.France) in which the author records his questions and answers produced through such means. Although the concept of a dream query is well attested in the Kabbalah, in this article we will focus on a very unique method to induce such dreams.

This method requires the use of three stones procured from a flowing brook in the name of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Next, certain sigils are to be written on the stones. The stones are then placed under the head at bedtime and one will have a dream containing the answer.  I have found this in two separate manuscripts. The seals are drawn very similar with just minor variations. Nevertheless, I faithfully recorded both versions down in my collection of sigils, Magnus Liber Sigillorum as #310 and #317. 

The first manuscript, is Gross #282 fol. 22b

The second manuscript, is Moussaieff #1053 fol. 51 (and also mentions this is בדוק, meaning this was been tested)

I myself tried using the stones and will share my experience.

 There is a large park just a five minute walk from my house that actually has a natural, flowing brook in it. Thus, getting the stones was easy. Many of the stones were not the right size (too small or too big) or just oddly shaped which wouldn’t be conducive to writing on, so I took my time to select stones till I found some that “felt right”. Since the manuscripts didn’t mention if I need to verbalize that these stones are for the sake of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob or just have in mind, I decided to play it safe and say this was my intention out loud. Next, after bringing the stones home I left them to dry well before writing the sigils. I used a medium tip black permanent marker for this. Although I was hoping to able to draw all the seals on one side, I needed to have the seals “wrap around” the stones a little. Although the majority of amulets make no mention, sometimes, amulet instructions require the sigils to be written all on one line. Since there was no mention of writing all on one side of the side of the stones, I see no reason the sigils can’t be written around the stones the way I did. I tried to take pictures from a few different angles/sides  so you can see how I drew them. 

My results: Every night that I tried using the stones under my pillow I did dream. I had thought I would hear or see something which would be a definitive “yes” or “no” to my questions or some direct guidance. Perhaps I was so busy looking for a simple yes or no that I missed the answer! It is also possible that I the other version of the sigils is the correct one and maybe nothing happened at all, or I messed it up some other way by mistake. Although I won’t discount those possibilities, I feel that the truth is something was going on in those dreams –it is I who didn’t understand them. 

If you do decide to try out the Dream Stones for yourself, take heed to keep your intentions pure and holy, this is not some “cool” parlor trick to try for fun. If you have any experience with the stones you’d like to share, please leave a comment! 

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!