Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Syncretic Egyptian / Graeco-Roman magic from the collection of texts known as the Papyri Graecae Magicae.
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talerman
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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#11 » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:56 am

Thanks Neshimoron and Ged,
you are competent, you read Skimmer and it seems to me that you know why you are complaining.
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Brother_Moloch_969
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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#12 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:26 am

Nashimiron wrote:I was hesitant about posting this, given that the last person who criticized a Stephen Skinner publication disappeared from the internet. But, what the hell, at the risk of exposing myself to a vengeful blasting current.... :o


Pfffft please. Now whose making outrageous claims here? Dr. Skinner is a class act and he does not resort to any such shenanigans. It's just not his style. The man is a Type B egghead scholar type not a Type A in your face type that would take issue with you dissing his work. Vengeful blasting. LOL!!! Good one!

Nashimiron wrote:When I got this book, my feelings mirrored grimoire scholar Alan Thorogood's reaction to Skinner & Rankine's transcription of Enochian material "interest turned to bemusement turned to exasperation"
.

Lemme say this, when it comes to Enochian, what I know about that subject can be engraved on the head of a pin in Sanskrit. However just because some alleged Enochian scholar claims another alleged Enochian scholar is at fault, does not mean it is automatically so. I have seen arguments like this rage for weeks in the old Yahoo Groups on lists like 'Ritual Magic' or Aaron Leitch's 'Solomonic' with nary anyone coming out the clear winner. Enochian is the bastard child of the occult whom no one likes to admit is theirs yet everyone claims they can't wait to adopt.

Nashimiron wrote:In fact, I could continue quoting Thorogood on the above book,

Some of the supporting material is not very well researched and independent editorial input might have prevented several egregious errors creeping in....the hypothesis... is not supportable by any stretch of the imagination.


Except Enochian is NOT what we're talking about here; we're discussing Stephen Skinner's book on Solomonic material, aren't we?

Nashimiron wrote:as this applies also to elements of "Techniques...",


How does the two books tie into one another?

Nashimiron wrote:although I would add that some of what he writes concerning the PGM seems to me to be downright deceptive and he appears to be riding on the safe assumption that most of his readers will be overwhelmed by the PGM and so unlikely to notice the not-so-occasional fudge.


Please refrain from the ad homien attacks to Dr. Skinner and prove your assertions.

Nashimiron wrote:One thing that stands out to me from the book first appears in the section titled "Circle of Protection". He admits that there are only two occurrences of circles drawn on the ground, (and, I should add only one of which the magician stands upon), but supports his argument that circles are commonplace in the PGM by saying that we can assume the reason circles are never mentioned is because their use was taken for granted.

This is simply bunkum. He is very subtle when he describes the phrase in question as "do the usual" for this turns it in to a command to perform a specific act. The truth is, I can't think of a single occurrence of "do the usual" in the PGM. As far as I am aware it is always "add the usual".

So what is the word being translated as "add the usual"? It is Koina and variants. In Supplementum Magicum II - which is in Skinner's bibliography- it is defined as


Are you certain you are not confusing two different terms? You mention in the above example "Koina" and then in the next paragraph quote, you use "KOINON" which has a different suffix.

At best this is is an example of what is considered off the mark though I do not see any deliberate attempt at faulty scholarship. Will it interfere with the PGM's spells and incantations overall? No. Because have we bothered to compare Dr. Skinner's work to Flowers & Mierzwicki for reference - if for nothing else to see if they too made this error?

Let's also remember Dr. Skinner is a researcher not necessarily a practitioner and the PGM is a mammoth amount of material to wade and sift through. Even though the man is dynamic researcher it has to be maintained that mistakes can and will occur in works like the PGM. However what you're assuming is above and beyond what is considered mistake so you're implying Dr. Skinner knowingly withheld this information even though he knew it to be false, is that it? You can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law?

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Pablo
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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#13 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:26 pm

Actually believe me. Dr Skinner is a Kick ass practitioner from the old school. My Teacher in Magic knew him back in the day and I contributed some material to one of his books on geomancy.
A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. Mark Twain

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Leonardo_Drakon
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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#14 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:47 pm


Having met Dr. Skinner, I agree that he is a class act and more than welcomes intelligent discussion and critique regarding his work.... I also think that Techniques is a fantastic resource for those hoping to better understand the PGM; however, I do agree with certain points made by Nashimiron.

My biggest critique of Techniques is that Dr. Skinner tends to over-emphasize the Egyptian elements while de-emphasizing the archaic Greek traditions (i.e goetia) that undoubtedly also contributed to the rituals of the papyri. As a counter-balance to Skinner's work, I point people to Jake Stratton-Kent's Geosophia (who takes it in the opposite direction, entirely focusing on the chthonic realm and the archaic Greek goetic tradition). Together these works paint a much more holistic picture of the PGM and the precursor traditions that influenced the scribes.

I too have a bone to pick regarding Skinner's conclusions about the ritual circle...I just don't see any evidence of it in the papyri and I just don't believe it was part of "the usual" preparations made for ritual. The protective elements are almost always clearly defined in the papyri as phylacteries - or lamens - worn by the magician and generally described in great detail...if the scribes go to the extent of describing these protective elements, why would they entirely omit the circle if indeed they were using it?

As a general statement and one based entirely on my practice and experiences, I believe much regarding the practical applications of PGM spells can be grasped when seen in light of spirit-working traditions such as those found in the ATRs/ADRs instead of the overly-ritualized (and overly -intellectualized) forms of ceremonial magic that have become popular in modern western occultism. Many of the spells are focused on creating spirit-vessels or fetishes (whether it is creating stones, rings, wax figurines or 'deifying' animals via the waters of the Nile) as physical vessels to interact with spirit. Again, here we find parallels to modes of working with spirits more akin to the living African and other indigenous traditions than the literary grimoires.

However, we undoubtedly find elements that resonate with the so-called Solomonic and Cyprianic grimoires, in particular I like to point people to PGM IV. 154-285 which is in itself a mini grimoire with language that clearly resonates with the invocations of the Heptameron. But even in this 'most grimoire-like' spell, the protective element is clearly defined as a lamen worn by the practitioner and no mention of a circle is even made...the invocation of the spirit(s) occur initially outdoors atop a roof (with the initiate enacting a ritual 'death' wrapped in burial shrouds) to make initial contact with Helios and Typhon as the authoritative spirit for later operations. The ritual that follows (the lecanomancy rite, which I believe Skinner correctly identifies as a "Evocatory scrying practice" rather than 'bowl divination" as it is often understood) is explicit in the type of water to use, the type of oil to use, the invocation, and the protective lamen (engraved with Typhon's 100-letter name)...but with zero reference to a circle, and indeed when we look at classical Greek art depicting similar practices individuals are shown looking into bowls often seated with no indication of a drawn circle. I find it much more likely that the circles as protective 'spaces' made their way later into the western traditions via Arabic magical traditions, but that is a topic for another day.
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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#15 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:17 am

Circles seem to come through the Semitic sources from Babylonian as far as I can see and as such the circle based process is a distinct form which evolved separately to the magical processes that feature in the PGM. That's why I think it's a fundamental error to think they are both the same. He has failed to see two entirely distinct traditions. In other places the traditions merge, but for some reason not when it comes to circles and swords, both of which he wrongly claims they do.

Skinner seems to be trying to retrofit the PGM to early modern grimoire magic. I think it is maybe an instinctive response to assume that magic requires a circle and a sword but in the PGM and other magic it does not. I don't think (going from memory) there are even circles in Sepher Ha-Razim.

Background reading for circles:

Thompson - Semitic Magic

Arab magic survey, despite the Al-Mandal practice seeming to mean "the circle", they are not actually employing circles:

Ink, Oil and Mirror Gazing

By the way, I'm not opposed to the idea of using prayers etc from the PGM in a context that requires a circle. There is no reason not to do a Golden Dawn style Solomonic influenced evocation using an invocation from the PGM as the preliminary invocation. But you would be stretching credulity to suggest that this is how the PGM tells you to go about it.

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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#16 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:33 am

Brother_Moloch_969 wrote:Are you certain you are not confusing two different terms? You mention in the above example "Koina" and then in the next paragraph quote, you use "KOINON" which has a different suffix.

At best this is is an example of what is considered off the mark though I do not see any deliberate attempt at faulty scholarship. Will it interfere with the PGM's spells and incantations overall? No.


Hi Brother Moloch. Just to address this specific point - what Skinner is saying is that this group of phrasing using koina and variants is translated as "do the usual" but "do the usual" does not as far as I can see occur a single time in the PGM. So he has misrepresented the English, never mind the Greek.

Any work studying the PGM has to analyse the content of that text. (No shit I hear you say!). So subtle misreadings which alter the intent of the original text are a bad thing.

Does it interfere with the spell overall? Yes absolutely because he is changing the bit at the end where you are instructed to speak to the spirit after you have summoned it with an instruction to cast a circle (a bit late by then I would have thought).

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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#17 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:49 am

It's just occured to me that the discusison around translation of Koina- could go in a fruitful direction. As it's established that the meaning of the phrasing is misrepresented in Skinner's book, it also becomes obvious it is not well translated in Betz. Instead of "add the usual, whatever you like" etc it should be more clear that it is an instruction to break from the ritual form and speak directly to the spirit in the common tongue. Instead of "add the usual" it could say "speak freely, ask whatever you want".

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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#18 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:56 am

Nashimiron wrote:
Brother_Moloch_969 wrote:Are you certain you are not confusing two different terms? You mention in the above example "Koina" and then in the next paragraph quote, you use "KOINON" which has a different suffix.

At best this is is an example of what is considered off the mark though I do not see any deliberate attempt at faulty scholarship. Will it interfere with the PGM's spells and incantations overall? No.


Nashimiron wrote:Hi Brother Moloch. Just to address this specific point - what Skinner is saying is that this group of phrasing using koina and variants is translated as "do the usual" but "do the usual" does not as far as I can see occur a single time in the PGM. So he has misrepresented the English, never mind the Greek.


In all fairness, Flowers does pretty much the same in his "Hermetic Magic". Dr. Flowers mentions using some standard ritual to proceed - as you use in your own working - such as a purification rite. Like Dr. Skinner, he does not go into detail about this allowing for the reader to make up his own mind.

Any work studying the PGM has to analyse the content of that text. (No shit I hear you say!). So subtle misreadings which alter the intent of the original text are a bad thing.

Does it interfere with the spell overall? Yes absolutely because he is changing the bit at the end where you are instructed to speak to the spirit after you have summoned it with an instruction to cast a circle (a bit late by then I would have thought).


I'm not stating that the intentional misdirection of the reader is not some how wrong; rather I'm not certain I agree fully with your premise that this is a blatant screw up here. Looking at Webb's "Seven Faces of Darkness", he states on p. 50, "To perform the spells given in Chapter 6 of this book, you will need a ritual framework." This indicates the PGM spells were not meant to be used without some sort of frame or ritual backdrop to work the spells with. Dr. Flowers says pretty much the same thing in his "Hermetic Magic" as well. It is just that these two manuals are meant not as scholarly references but rather as working texts thus they provide this framework.

Framework does indeed include circles, circle creation and so forth because both Webb & Flowers mention the use of a circle to separate yourself from the forces being summoned. So if two occult scholars like Webb and Dr. Flowers suggest a circle, what is so wron with Dr. Skinner's suggestion of using one? All over the mistranslation of a word and its variants? In fact, I do not believe Dr. Skinner had anything to do with that himself rather I believe that was Betz especially if Webb & Flowers drew the same conclusion.

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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#19 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:22 pm

Brother_Moloch_969 wrote:I'm not stating that the intentional misdirection of the reader is not some how wrong; rather I'm not certain I agree fully with your premise that this is a blatant screw up here. Looking at Webb's "Seven Faces of Darkness", he states on p. 50, "To perform the spells given in Chapter 6 of this book, you will need a ritual framework." This indicates the PGM spells were not meant to be used without some sort of frame or ritual backdrop to work the spells with. Dr. Flowers says pretty much the same thing in his "Hermetic Magic" as well. It is just that these two manuals are meant not as scholarly references but rather as working texts thus they provide this framework.

Framework does indeed include circles, circle creation and so forth because both Webb & Flowers mention the use of a circle to separate yourself from the forces being summoned. So if two occult scholars like Webb and Dr. Flowers suggest a circle, what is so wron with Dr. Skinner's suggestion of using one? All over the mistranslation of a word and its variants? In fact, I do not believe Dr. Skinner had anything to do with that himself rather I believe that was Betz especially if Webb & Flowers drew the same conclusion.


There is nothing inherently wrong with using a circle with PGM work or modernizing the practices to make them relevant for today's practitioners, but the issue that both Nashimiron and myself see is the assertion that it *was* used by the magicians of the PGM. There is simply nothing in the text to support these views, and it really become suspect when you start to see just how much detail is put into describing other protective measures such as the phylacteries and yet the circles remain ominously absent. I greatly value Dr. Skinner's scholarship but with this particular issue it seems to me that he is projecting present-day concepts onto the past.

This is the same issue I have with Flower's work where he superimposes a qabalistic structure onto the magic of the PGM and seemingly cuts and pastes rituals to make them "feel" more familiar and similar to the ritual structures of GD ceremonial magick. Can one work the PGM in this manner? Sure, I suppose...but to say that this is the way the Thebian practitioners themselves worked it is a bit far fetched. Plus, as I mentioned in my earlier post above, when you really take a broad look at the papyri you start to see techniques and modes that are a lot more consistent with living spirit-working traditions than ceremonial magick. Approaching the PGM in this manner - creating spirit-vessels and fetishes as described in the text and forming relationships with the spirits of the papyri works without any of this additional layering of circles and qabalistic structures. So to say that a framework consistent with our modern understandings of ceremonial magic is necessary to work the PGM is as if one were stating that in order to work Palo Mayombe, Quimbanda or Voodoo you need to employ a framework of circles and opening and closing pentagram rituals, this is just not correct.

Nashimiron wrote:It's just occured to me that the discusison around translation of Koina- could go in a fruitful direction. As it's established that the meaning of the phrasing is misrepresented in Skinner's book, it also becomes obvious it is not well translated in Betz. Instead of "add the usual, whatever you like" etc it should be more clear that it is an instruction to break from the ritual form and speak directly to the spirit in the common tongue. Instead of "add the usual" it could say "speak freely, ask whatever you want".


This is a really fascinating!
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/mor ... koina%2Fn0

"common", "impart", "partner", "communicate" ...all seem to resonate with your statement. I can get behind this definition
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Nashimiron
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Re: Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic - Add the Usual

Post#20 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:07 am

Leonardo_Drakon wrote:This is a really fascinating!
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/mor ... koina%2Fn0

"common", "impart", "partner", "communicate" ...all seem to resonate with your statement. I can get behind this definition


Also, look at the context where the word appears. It's always at the point where you have evoked the god / spirit and would expect to be talking to it.

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