Magical Vestments and Appurtenances
The practice of magic generally prescribes various items of
clothing and accessories as needful adjuncts to magical rites, in
part to assist the magician in imagining himselfherself to be in
an otherworldly setting. Their color, name, form, and substance,
which were symbolic of certain powers and elements,
supposedly added greater efficacy to the evocations.
Abraham the Jew, a magician of the Middle Ages, prescribed
a tunic of white linen, with an upper robe of scarlet and
a girdle of white silk. A crown or fillet of silk and gold was to
be worn on the head, and the perfumes cast on the fire might
be incense, aloes, storax, cedar, citron, or rose. According to
other authorities on the subject, it was advisable to vary the
robe’s color and employ certain jewels and other accessories,
according to the symbolism of the end desired.
Éliphas Lévi, whose writings stand at the fountainhead of
the twentieth-century magical revival, offers instructions for rituals,
from which the following details are taken
If the rites were those of White Magic and performed on a
Sunday, then the vestment should be of purple and the tiara,
bracelets, and ring of gold, the latter set with chrysolith or ruby.
Laurel, heliotrope, and sunflowers are the symbolic flowers,
while other details include a carpet of lionskins and fans of
sparrow-hawk feathers. The appropriate perfumes were incense,
saffron, cinnamon, and red sandal.
If, however, the ceremonial took place on a Monday, the
Day of the Moon, then the robe must be of white embroidered
with silver and the tiara of yellow silk emblazoned with silver
characters, while the wreaths were to be woven of moonwort
and yellow ranunculi. The jewels appropriate to the occasion
were pearls, crystals, and selenite; the perfumes, camphor,
amber, aloes, white sandalwood, and seed of cucumber.
In evocations concerning transcendent knowledge, green
was the color chosen for the vestment, or it might be green shot
with various colors. The chief ornament was a necklace of
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pearls and hollow glass beads enclosing mercury. Agate was the
symbolic jewel; narcissus, lily, herb mercury, fumitory, and
marjoram the flowers; while the perfumes must be benzoin,
mace, and storax.
For operations connected with religious and political matters,
the magician must don a robe of scarlet and bind on his
brow a brass tablet inscribed with various characters. His ring
must be studded with an emerald or sapphire, and he must
burn for incense balm, ambergris, grain of paradise, and saffron.
For garlands and wreaths, oak, poplar, fig, and pomegranate
leaves should be entwined.
If the ceremonial dealt with amatory affairs, the vestment
must be of sky blue, the ornaments of copper, and the crown
of violets. The magic ring must be set with a turquoise, while
the tiara and clasps were wrought of lapis lazuli and beryl.
Roses, myrtle, and olive were the symbolic flowers, and fans
must be made of swan feathers.
If vengeance was desired on anyone, then robes must be
worn whose color was that of blood, flame, or rust, belted with
steel, with bracelets and ring of the same metal. The tiara must
be bound with gold and the wreaths woven of absinthe and rue.
To bring misfortune and death on a person, the vestment
must be black and the neck encircled with lead. The ring must
be set with an onyx and the garlands twined of cypress, ash, and
hellebore; the perfumes to be used were sulfur, scammony,
alum, and assafoetida.
For purposes of black magic, a seamless and sleeveless robe
of black was donned, while on the head was worn a leaden cap
inscribed with the signs of the Moon, Venus, and Saturn. The
wreaths were of vervain and cypress, and the perfumes burned
were aloes, camphor, and storax. (See also ceremonial magic;
magic; magical diagrams; magical instruments and accessories)
Sources
Knight, Gareth. The Practice of Ritual Magic. Toddington,
England Helios Book Service, 1969. Reprint, New York Samuel
Weiser, 1976.
Lévi, Éliphas. Transcendental Magic. London G. Redway,
1896. Reprint, New York Samuel Weiser, 1970.
Waite, Arthur Edward. The Book of Ceremonial Magic. London
Rider, 1911. Reprint, New York Bell, 1969.