Lately I’ve been trying out some dream magic from the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM). The PGM is a collection of Greco-Egyptian texts from northern Egypt in late antiquity, dating from 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE. They describe a staggering array of ancient religious and magical practices, and were originally written in Greek, Demotic, and Coptic. There are quite a few dream oracle spells in the PGM, so I took some time to sort through them to figure out what they have in common and which would be the easiest to perform.
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Working with grimoires and classical magic means needing a deeper understanding of classical and Renaissance astrology. You’ll need to be able to easily access information about the astrological houses, signs, and planets. Inspired by Giordano Bruno, I devised a mnemonic chain that can be used to memorize the twelve houses. The following should be used as an imaginal journey, with each step being envisioned in a way that is equivalent to a moving picture in your mind.
- I look in the mirror and see myself
- Over my shoulder, a pile of money – currency and specie
- I take a quarter and put it into the payphone to call
- Home, where my mother tells me a story
- About an artist who paints a portrait of her true love,
- A physician, who works hard amongst people, toiling to afford
- Their wedding, bedecked in flowers and celebration, leading to
- Fruitful partnership and joint responsibility in a ship
- That sets sail on a long journey to the Academy, where Plato still teaches
- And my father sits among them in a place of great honor and respect,
- With friends and associates around him, celebrating a long life, all of which leads to
- A moment of reflection as the face in the mirror is no longer mine, but everybody’s.
In the Asclepius, we are taught that images which possess movement are ensouled. This means that your memory images should actually move. It should be more like a motion picture than a slide show. Bruno and others also teach us that images that carry emotion along with them are more memorable, so make the images those that inspire strong emotions. Love, awe, lust, humor, and even disgust are all strong emotions that can help your memory images stick around better.
Bruno’s Third Seal: The Chain
In Thirty Seals & The Seal of Seals: A Book of the Art of Memory, Giordano Bruno describes a number of different mnemonic structures to be used for different types of memorization. The third structure is the Chain, which is used to link together related information in a fixed order. He gives an example of a memory chain for the signs of the Zodiac. The great thing about this is that it actually works! I’ve included the Latin below, and if you are interested in a translation, check out Scott Gosnell’s translation on Amazon.
The chain technique is fast and effective, and can be used to store a “linked list” of items much more quickly than a memory palace. Similar techniques are used by practitioners of the Peg System to link items together.
Dux gregis, armenti regem sublatus in iram
In geminósque pedes, impete fronte ferat.
Vindex menté vacans hinc Taurus concitus, ictu
Irruit in Geminos impaciente fratres.
Germanos iuuenes affines protinus vndae
Excipiunt. Cancer rosida prata petit.
Repens obliquó lympharum Cancer alumnus,
Villosi vultum forte Leonis adit.
Percitus inde leo crinitos surgit in harmos
Vnde vagans rapidae visa Puella ferae est.
Hanc petit: illa fugit: quae gressu insana fugaci
Librantem incurrit persica lance virum.
Aestuat hic, cupidis quem dum complexibus haeret:
Attriti Vermis cuspis adunca ferit.
Formidans laetum medicas dum currit ad artes
Poné Sagittiferum sentit adesse virum.
Qui modo stuprata, quam credit virgine laesus
Quo petit hunc iaculo, vulnerat ecce Caprum
Vt primum intrusum ferrum persensit iniqué
Effugit in rapidas praecipitosus Aquas:
Sic caper anfoelix á gurgite tractus aquarum;
Insueta inclusis Piscibus esca datur.
The original Latin version is available online at the Twilit Grotto Esoteric Archives, along with much other excellent work.