This is intended to be a brief review of the Almadel, from my own perspective and experiences. I realize that my writing can come across as an authoritative style, but in point of fact I am simply presenting my personal take on the subject as with all of these other things in the journal, and you are free to take it or leave it.
It is my opinion that the Almadel is the first of the "practical" arts that one should pursue in the Lemegeton series. This is due to the ease with which one can acquire the physical implements of the ritual, and to the way in which the spirits are approached. It is an introduction to evocation which allows the spirits to declare what is "right and proper" for them to perform. The magician is not encouraged to bring his preconceived notions of practicality to the ritual, seeking treasures and lovers or secret wisdom, but rather places himself before the spirits for the reception of their communication whatever that might be. The manifestations are not expected to be especially fantastic, the intent being merely to establish a genuine contact with intelligent beings of a benevolent nature.
The name of the art, Almadel, indicates the "high heavens." This is distinct from Heavens, which is in Hebrew the word Shamaim or "Names." The Heavens, the spiritual celestial realms, are extensions of the identity of God and are therefore identified as Names. The heavens of the Almadel are instead the skies or Altitudes of the physical world, representing the influence of God over the basic properties of the material world.
There are four Altitudes. In modern terminology, these are known as the Troposphere, the Stratosphere, the Ionosphere, and the Exosphere. These are each invoked in a particular season and color, respectively Spring (white), Summer (red), Autumn (green), and Winter (black). Each has a general purpose or theme. These are to be invoked sequentially, on Sundays in the first, 8th, 15th, or, 22nd hours of the Day, which is to say the "Day and Hour of the Sun," which facing East, South, West, and finally North for the Fourth Altitude.
The First Altitude is that of the Troposphere, where most of the weather on Earth occurs. This is the domain of the cycles of fertility, the development of living creatures and the habitability of the landscape. The Second Altitude is concerned with the reduction, removal, and barren climate as it represents the upper limit of the endurance of life on Earth and the point at which oxygen is transformed into ozone. The Third Altitude is concerned with festivity and enjoyment, and is represented by the upper regions of the atmosphere in which we observe the aurorae and the interaction of Earth with its magnetic field. The outermost layer of the atmosphere, our defense against the missiles of deep space, is represented by the Fourth Altitude which is reflected in practical goals of solemn responsibility.
The invocation is accomplished with a wax tablet. This is made from colored wax (see above), divided into three equal parts. One part makes four candles, another makes "feet" or stands for these, and another makes a wax tablet six inches across and about an inch thick. The exact shape of these objects, aside from the tablet, can be highly ornate if desired and there is plenty of room for exercise of skill in forming the feet into scrollwork or making especially nice-looking candles. The whole project required about one kilogram of wax. Upon the tablet there is an inscription of two concentric squares, a Star of David, and various names. Spanish translations of the Key of Solomon include puncture-holes at numerous points in the tablet, which are also indicated in the Lemegeton although their placement is not clearly described. my assumption was that the holes are made through the four pentacles, and that the candles are places in the circles in the corners, although the text says that the candles are to be placed on the four sides.
The central ring of names are the word Anabona (ONH-BUNH, "builder") repeated in each quadrant. In the outer sections are the words, "Praise the Lord Almighty. The Lord commands you to vacate, drop from the Hand of Glory, go guided from above."
Beneath the Almadel is a censer of its same color. The white clay is fired at high temperature, whereas the black clay is easily baked, so that aside from consistency in appearances the various colors represent a practical element of the work which is significantly different if practiced with traditional firing techniques. As one progresses further away from the earth, the temperature (of the clay firing) decreases by degrees. The entire process of working the clay was something I found quite revelatory and moving in its own regard, and brought a new dimension of the work to light that would have been invisible with a purchased censer dish.
The clay, like Adam, is a base material. We dig it by hand from the bed of a stream. It represents thousands of years of decaying organic matter, infused with processed silicates from the raw earth, which lay lifeless in the beds of streams. We mimic the hand of God by drawing it forth, seeing within it our beloved project rather than vile slime, and we mould it for quite a long time. We press it, turn it, and shape it carefully as Man himself is gradually drawn out of the floating dust of space and moulded over aeons into the intended form, a creature of earth and water exalted by the kiln of the world to bear fire and air.
The Almadel is essentially an altar, and combines features of the Altar of Incense with those of the Altar of Holocausts. The Altar of Holocausts is that of the outer court of the temple, where the sin-offerings are burned. The Altar of Incense is the golden censer of the inner temple, which would be carried in such a manner that it would retain its level even when going up or down hill, reflecting the prayers and fidelity of the people. This latter altar would use a coal from the outer altar, and a special incense. Since the incense of the temple is prohibited except in the temple itself, upon pain of excommunication, the Almadel altar uses Mastic. This is traditionally used in architectural drawings, quite appropriate for this art in which the spirits responsible are called upon as "builders" of the life on earth.
The offices of the spirits are not explicitly described in the Almadel. I would like to offer my own thoughts on the matter:
The Eastern Chora, appearing with fans:
GBRYAL (man of god) to grow in Character
ALYM+AL (ferocity of God) to grow in Strength
BRA+ChY+AL (God creates life) to grow in Health
LBSh (garment) to grow in Position
HLShYN (informed) to grow in Knowledge
The Southern Chora, appearing with flowers:
APR+YZO (ash sweat) to decrease Toil
GNUN (nursery) to decrease Responsibility
GRUN (throat) to decrease Slander
ARMUN (palace) to decrease Authority
GURM (cause) to decrease Misfortune
The Western Chora, appearing with bows:
OLPUN+YShUOH (swoon salvation) to celebrate Help
GLUM+YRUShH (embodied legacy) to celebrate Heritage
GDH+BUNH (river builder) to celebrate Construction
SRN+ABH (captain desire) to celebrate Passions
The Northern Chora, appearing with birds:
BAR+ChY+AL (living well of God) to understand Resources
GDY+AL (goat-kid of God) to understand Obligations
DLYL (sparse) to understand Limitations
KPYThH (binding) to understand Restrictions
These are invoked by setting down before the Almadel, reciting the conjuration. On the top of the Almadel is a triangular amulet made of gold or silver. I found this a most satisfying project, and endeavored to adorn it with scrollwork engraving on one side and a sapphire (representing the blue sky) on the front.
The text describes a "light" appearing over the Almadel. I have heard some odd reports to that effect, but for me it was nothing of the sort, neither any of the images given for the spirits. Instead I found myself illuminated on a variety of deeply personal issues and compelled toward some rather demanding courses of action. I believe that this work, more than anything else I have accomplished in occult practice, helped me to develop the authority necessary to properly execute the Goetia conjurations. If I had done this sooner, I feel that much of my past failures in the art, where the spirits decided to ignore or rebuke my requests, would have gone in a much better direction.
For example, one of the most notable events of that time was a stark lesson on the significance of charity, during which I was sorely chastened for exactly one full season. I found myself in a position to give, and give more, and to give even to the point of absurdity, without hope of a return or recognition. This produced in me a profound change of attitude towards material things, and I do not mean money and property alone, and sent me into a search for the deeper mysteries of wisdom and the foundations upon which the power of this art is laid. I was eventually moved to consider several of the more theological aspects of this work which I had previously neglected, and it has been invaluable in the development of my understanding.
Those who view this art as a technical procedure, or who regard it from a literary/historical standpoint, are missing out on the real work. The magical art, even "slavish devotion to the instructions of the grimoires," is a personal and individual work. Aside from the craft work involved, there are philosophical concerns that arise in the course of the work which force one to make and stand behind bold decisions in regard to what one wants from life and how one wishes to obtain those things. I see so many people struggling to establish a practical paradigm which fits their personal motif, seeking out the most-original or most-complete ceremonies, and ever struggling to do what is indisputably correct or whatever is awesome in the eyes of their peers. In my own work, I have decided to simply choose this one particular system and explore it thoroughly, regardless of its provenance, and I have not found that to be limiting or opposed to anything that I have believed was good.