This week’s practice was kickstarted by a chance find of Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works on a trip to Madison, WI for work. I had been trolling the local brick and mortars for works by Hilde, but had been skunked for many months now. My stop at ‘A Room of One’s Own,’ after a meal of some absolutely simple and divinely delicious dal and roti and Himal Chuli, looked to be another snipe hunt, as there were almost now esoteric or occult books there, but then I found her, on a second look at the metaphysical section, on a bottom shelf. The words of Hilde manifested into my life.
I still haven’t been able to recapture the zeal I had this time last year when I first joined the Rune Soup Premium Members and was saying daily invocations of each planetary spirit, casting at least two sigils a day. There has been some degree of stress and there appears that, at least for me, magical practice is directly related to the amount of real world stress. The more stress, the less I practice. It should be more, what I mean to say is, I should practice more, but the poisons of money and politics are strong and can keep you from what makes you healthy and increases your fortunes. I did manage my Thursday invocations, in the 23rd hour, before dawn again, like last week. The Clavicula does state that if one is serious about magic that daily practice is required, daily prayers to the spirits of the day, but until I can find the spiritual energy to do that, I will continue to focus on Jupiter.
I began my practice like last week, reading the Saint Francis Canticle of the Sun and then a number of invocations for Jupiter and his accompanying spirits. This week, however, I through in a song, well, I didn’t really sing, but I recited this song that Hildegard de Bingen wrote in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a prayer. The quality of this invocation of the Queen of Heaven is very close in tone and metaphor to the Canticle of the Sun, I think they make a good match:
De Sancta Maria
Hail to you, O greenest, most fertile branch!
You budded forth amidst breezes and winds in search of the knowledge of all that is holy.
When the time was ripe your own branch brought forth blossoms.
Hail, greetings to you!
The heat of the sun exudes sweat from you like the balsam’s perfume.
In you, the most stunning flower has blossomed and gives off its sweet odor to all the herbs and roots, which were dry and thirsting before your arrival.
Now they spring forth in fullest green!
Because of you, the heavens give dew to the grass, the whole Earth rejoices;
Abundance of grain comes from the Earth’s womb and on its stalks and branches the birds nest.
And because of you, nourishment is given to the human family and great rejoicing to those gathered round the table.
And so, in you O gentle Virgin, is every fullness of joy, everything that Eve rejected.
Now let endless praise resound to the Most High!
Following the celestial and saintly invocations, I bowed my head to the earth and visualized my, as Gordon White terms them, my personal X-Men team of Jupiter, Satchiel on his throne, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Cyprian, Saint Barbara, and Saint Philomena, and now Saint Hildegard de Bingen, giving each one a unique request aligned with their nature. There were no particular results manifested, but I did achieve that overall body buzz and my X-Men team did easily animate in my Active Imagination.
Speaking of Active Imagination, in reading Hildegard de Bingen’s Visions, I was struck (I wasn’t really struck, such a weird phrase) by the similarities in her visions and how she processes them in her writings and my own successful Active Imagination sessions.
In her first vision, she describes a type of angel, I know it is an angel because of its wings but also because of how deeply weird it appears, with a human head growing out of one wing and a wolf’s head from the other. From atop its own head, growing out of the nimbus, is yet another head with a bearded face. This image has that quality of those beings that manifest during an Active Imagination session that blow you away with their strangeness, that generate a great surprise. The real insight for me, however, is the quality of her commentary on the vision. I recognize in her work my own process of analysis that I had previously discounted. She analyzed her vision, every detail, framing it in her own theological lens. I’ve spent many a session doing just this same thing but was discounting the validity of the insights because the ideas were already a part of my intellect. I see now that this secondary analysis is a necessary and valuable part of the Active Imagination session. For example, when addressing the surprising feature of the dual-headedness of her first vision, Hilde has this to say:
“In this circular image you see above the head also another head, which is like that of an elderly man. This [is] the... loving kindness of The Godhead, which is without beginning and end…”
She continues the literal Godhead riff throughout the subsequent analysis:
“A great band of angels lives mysteriously with God in heaven. With their light they radiate through the Godhead even as they themselves remain hidden from human beings unless recognized by luminous signs. [They] appear only rarely to men and women. In contrast, other angels, who are in contact with human beings, show themselves to us under certain forms in accord to God’s will… However varied may be the tasks they carry out, all of the angels revere the on God in devotion and knowledge.”
Moving from kneeling in the imagined circle to the armchair, I’d like to have a bit of a discussion around relics. Relics, or rather, one relic, the skull of Saint Ibide, are the feature of the historical tale by Lovecraft that we will examine this week. I am steadily working my way through Peter Brown’s fascinating book, ‘The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity’, which understandably has a great deal of insight into relics and their treatment in the 4th century and beyond. For instance, when Brown states:
“Burial customs… cannot be neatly categorized as ‘pagan’ or ‘Christian’, ‘popular’ or ‘superstitious’… the customs surrounding the care of the dead were experience by those who practiced them to be no more part and parcel of being human.”
It frames relics for me as a symbol of our human-ness and therefore, connects us with the oldest spiritual act / space that can be engaged in. Another ancient, nay, pre-human spiritual and emotional bond is that of kin, or the family unit. The grave and remains bleed into this relationship as well. Brown states that, in the shifting sands of fourth century Rome:
“The grave… could be a point of tension between family and community.”
I find this to be a very interesting distinction, the grave as between the familial and communal societal units. Where do relics fall? Relics transfigure the community into a family unit, bringing cohesion to what might be a disparate or fractious group of worshipers. What happens when saintly relics are engaged with by occultists? In the actual relic-space, there is not distinction between worshipers, the Christian and the Occultist become part of the same familial unit in the relic-space.
Now, it might be my concurrent engagement with the Game of Saturn, but this next quote from Brown seems to reveal one of those tenuous threads of conspiracy:
“in the 390s, Augustine in Hippo, attempted to restrict among their Christian congregations certain funerary customs, most notably the habit of feasting at the graves of the dead, either at the family tombs or in the memorial of the martyrs. In Augustine’s explicit opinion, these practices were a contaminating legacy of pagan beliefs:
When peace came to the church, a mass of pagan who wished to come to Christianity were held back because their feast days with their idols used to be spent in an abundance of eating and drinking.
These pagans had now entered the church, and had brought their evil habits with them.”
Now hold on, didn’t Brown note earlier in the Cult of Saints, that it was the early Christians, and not the pagan Romans, that practiced this type of veneration at the relics of martyrs. Is this evidence of a secondary current having infected the church by 390? Is this evidence of a true pagan infiltration of the church that, once achieving power, was now continuing the condemnation of the worship of relics and the practice of necromancy? The following, I think, lends weight to these thoughts:
“It is one of the strengths of the ‘two-tiered’ model that through ancient times, elites were formed who experienced the religious variations in their own society in a manner not perceptibly different from those outlined by Hume and subsequent scholars: for such elites, ‘superstition’ was primarily a question of incorrect belief, and incorrect belief had a clear social locus among the ‘vulgar’ — a ‘vulgar’ to which all women were treated as automatically belonging, as members of ‘that timorous and pious sex.’”
Here Brown is ostensibly tying the practice of necromancy to feminism and the general resistance to patriarchic structures. I know that the witch-feminist is a growing, effective, and powerful trope in the 21st century, and it seems that the precedence was set by the enemy for this trope some fifteen hundred years before. The conspiratorial flavor deepens when Brown states that:
“ostentatious and particularized loyalties to the holy dead disrupted the ideal community of believers. The practices localized the saints at tombs that could not be accessible to all, creating thereby a privileged religious topography of the Roman world from which peripheral Christian communities would feel excluded.”
So tombs and relics were, in a sense privatized by the elite at a very early stage. We are unpacking a multi-tiered strategy of oppression here. On one level, those members of the church that belonged or were in league with an elite class, one that likely had / has a lineage that goes back to pagan Rome during the imbrication of pagan and Christian beliefs, denouncing the practice of Saint veneration (necromancy) by the plebeian Christians. This would only reinforce the practice, as is human nature. On the other hand, these same elites were creating a topography of privatized pilgrimage sites inherently important to the groups they were actively inciting.
OK, let’s take a break before meeting the star of our show, Saint Ibide, and delve into some imbrications.
Our first one is a doozy, all three of them are, actually, but I never expected to find the track below. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed. This week’s post will, once again, find more concrete dates and places where Lovecraftian magic should be performed, to be the most effective. As we move through our virtual tarot deck of Lovecraft archetypes, it is inevitable that we will eventually come to wrestle with what is popularly known as the Simonomicon. The below offering is a recording of the venerable Peter Levenda reading the Simonomicon and offering commentary on how it should be used. I am going to put a pin in this for later. It will be useful.
Our next imbrication is a type of counter-narratives, of which there are many in Lovecraftian Magic, a knot garden of history and lies that all lead to the most effective and potent grimoiric magic. Below you will find a good reading of Colin Wilson’s possible origins of the Necronomicon. Take note how prevalent the US state of Wisconsin is in the below text.
SOLOMON'S TRADING POST
Ah, now for our main feature, let me introduce you to the actual patron saint of Lovecraftian Magic, Saint Ibide. According to Lovecraft’s history, simply titled Ibid, the record of Saint Ibide begins in a place of dispute:
“There is a false report… that Ibid was a Romanised Visigoth of Ataulf’s horde who settled in Placentia about 410 AD. The contrary cannot be too strongly emphasised… that this strikingly isolated figure was a genuine Roman — or at least as genuine a Roman as that degenerate and mongrelised age could produce.”
Ibidus was a roman scholar of some repute, until such time as:
“the usurpation of Vitiges, [when] Ibidus fell into disgrace and was for a time imprisoned; but the coming of the Byzantine-Roman army under Belisarius soon restored him to liberty and honors.”
Ibidus’ good fortune following his encounter with the Byzantines continued when in:
“541 he removed to Constantinopolis, where he received every mark of imperial favor both from Justinianus and Justinus the Second… Emperors Tiberius and Maurice did kindly honor to his old age, and contributed much to his immortality.”
“He passed away peacefully at his home near the church of St. Sophia on the sixth day before the Kalends of September, AD 587 in the 102nd year of his age.”
The sixth day before the Kalends of September is the 27th of August. This is the feast day of Saint Ibide.
And this is where, after his death, Saint Ibide’s story begins to connect with the larger Lovecraftian cosmos in a very real way:
“His remains, notwithstanding… were taken to Ravenna for internment; but… were exhumed and ridiculed by the Lombard Duke of Spoleto, who took his skill to King Autharis for use as a wassail-bowl. Ibid’s skull was proudly handed down from king to king of the Lombard line… Upon the capture of Pavia by Charlemagne in 774, the skull was seized… and carried… to his capital at Aix, soon afterward [presented] to his Saxon teacher… William the Conqueror, finding it in an abbey niche where the pious family of Alcuin had placed it (believing it to be the skull of a saint…), did reverence to its osseous antiquity… the rough soliders of Cromwell, upon destroying Ballylough Abbey in Ireland in 1650… declined to offer violence to a relic so venerable.”
Our now official (if by mistaken identity) Saint Ibide’s relic, his skull, made it into the hands of one Zerubbabel Stubbs, who transported it with him to the New World:
"Upon landing in Salem, Zerubbabel set [Saint Ibide’s relic] up in his cupboard, beside the chimney… and having become addicted to gaming, lost the skull to one Epenetus Dexter, a visiting freeman of Providence… [who] on the occasion of Canonchet’s raid of March 30, 1676… the asstute sachem… sent it as a symbol of alliance to a faction of the Pequots in Connecticut.”
Four years passed with Saint Ibide’s relic being carried by the Pequots. It is important to point out here, in the telling of Saint Ibide’s journey, Lovecraft takes another stab at the Dutch of a worse sort than I have yet to read visited upon a non-white ethnicity. In fact, the overwhelming amount of Lovecraft’s ‘degenerate’s’ are among ethnicities considered white today. Just two paragraphs earlier, Lovecraft expresses sympathy for the Pequots and the Narrangasset tribes, while saving his venom for Protestant Dutchmen. Perhaps the history the Dutch had in the area, the history of the New Netherland, was a point of contention for our writer on some deep level.
Our Saint’s journey to his final resting place continues when:
“in 1680 a Dutch fur-trader of Albany… secured the distinguished cranium for… two guilders… he having recognized its value from the half-effaced inscription carved in Lombardic miniscules… the relic was stolen in 1683 by a French Trader… who… recognised the features of one whom he had been taught at his mother’s knee to revere as St. Ibide… [who was subsequently] robbed and slain by the… voyageur Michel Savard… upon his death in 1710 his… son Pierre trades it among other things to some emissaries of the Sacs and Foxes, and it was found… a generation later by Charles de Langlade, founder of the trading post at Green Bay Wisconsin… and finally, early in the nineteenth century, [the relic found its way] to one Solomon Juneau… at the new trading post of Milwaukee on the Menominee River and the shore of Lake Michigan.”
For those not studied in the history of the fateful metropolis that I call home, the best and most relevant guide, one which includes the story of Solomon Juneau, can be found in the below offering, a study of our greatest necropolis, the Forest Home Cemetery.
Saint Ibide is the patron saint of Milwaukee and, while no longer there and once again lost in the corridors of history, his relic’s contact with Solomon’s Trading Shack has installed in it a distinct and potent magic. Solomon was the first president of Milwaukee and its first mayor, which, for a French Canadian trader, was an auspicious bend in probability, likely due to the influence of his trading post becoming, in essence, a contact relic through the presence of Saint Ibide’s skull.
This is, to date, one of the most powerful spots for the performance of Lovecraftian magic, and also one of the most accessible. The marker and a replica of Solomon’s 1822 Trading Post can be found at the location given in this site: Wisconsin Historical Markers. Seeing that we also have Saint Ibide’s feast day, August 27th, if one could align that day and place with one of Lake Michigan’s violent August thunderstorms, a trifecta of Lovecraftian Magical Aesthetics will have been achieved. If one also had a copy of the Simonomicon and instructions on its proper use, well, who knows what gates would then be opened.
The tarot card best associated with Saint Ibide, is the Eight of Swords.
The Eight Swords mark the eight major stops on Saint Ibide’s journey to becoming the patron Necronomiconic Saint of Milwaukee: Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey; Ravenna, Italy; Aix-en-Provence, France; Ballylough Abbey, Ireland; Salem, MA; Albany, NY; Green Bay, WI; and finally, Milwaukee, WI.
The two Etteilla keywords for the Eight of Swords are ‘incident’ and ‘critique’.
Incident, from the the Latin incidentem, means ‘to fall in, fall, find the way. Saint Ibide’s relic’s journey from near the Hagia Sophia in modern day Istanbul to the shores of Lake Michigan is the epitome of a saint finding his own way to the city that he now protects. Reversed, we have the word critique, which gives us Saint Ibide’s other divine duty, the protection of academics, academic writing, and copyright protections. Critique, from the French critics, means the ‘art of criticism’, which all academics worth their title should be well versed in. Saint Ibide, holds a book in one hand and his skull in the other, symbolizing his fall through history to Solomon’s Trading Post and his dominion over the critical thinking and extensive research that goes into producing solid academic work.