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Angel of the Day

MAGIC, INVOCATIONS, AND PRAYERS

Ceremonial magic and folklore traditions that utilize spells and talismans have long been called upon to supposedly tap the power of angels. For instance, the casting of circles for protection is an ancient practice that is used by magicians as a means of keeping at bay negative energies and entities. During the Western medieval period, for example, circles were drawn on the floor around the seriously ill and around newborns and their mothers to protect them from demonic forces.

A standard part of casting a circle involves invoking the directional powers. Traditionally, the four principal archangels were associated with the four directions: Raphael rules the East, Michael rules the South, Gabriel the West, and Uriel the North. When a magician casts a circle, the four angelic powers are invoked from each of the four directions. Invoking the directional energies may take place while the circle is being drawn, or as a separate step in the operation.

As the magician formally begins casting the circle he or she faces one of the cardinal directions (usually the East) at the perimeter of the circle, extends a ritual instrument (e.g., a wand or sword), and begins to draw an imaginary circle in the air while moving to the right. The magician continues slowly around the perimeter in a clockwise direction until reaching the starting point, thus completing and closing the circle. When the directional angels are invoked during this operation, the magician pauses at each of the cardinal points and invokes, in succession, the archangel of the East, the archangel of the South, the archangel of the West, and the archangel of the North. The invocation may be complex, or it may be something as simple as “May the archangel Raphael protect me from all evil approaching from the East” (substituting the other archangels and directions at the other cardinal points). At the end of the ceremony the casting process is reversed; each of the directional powers is banished as the magician moves counterclockwise.

Some conjurations sound more like prayers than magic, as in the “Conjurations of the Good Spirits” found in Gustav Davidson’s Dictionary of Angels:

O you glorious and benevolent angels, Urzla, Zlar, Larzod, Artal, who are the four angels of the East, I invocate you, adjure and call you forth to visible apparition…. (p. 357)

By way of contrast, Davidson also includes spells with less socially desirable ends, such as the “Death Incantation”:

I call thee, Evil Spirit, Cruel Spirit, Merciless Spirit; I call thee who sitiest in the cemetery and takest away healing from man. Go and place a knot in (N . . .’s) head, in his eyes, in his tongue, in his windpipe, and put poisonous water in his belly. If you do not go and put water in his belly, I shall send against you the evil angels Puziel, Guziel, Psdiel, Prsiel…. (p. 358)

This kind of magical angel lore is often dismissed by contemporary angel watchers who view angels as helping spirits who should not be manipulated. And, while perhaps still a living tradition to practitioners of ceremonial magic, it has all but disappeared at the level of popular folklore.

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