Since my earlier blogpost Circling Ways in Geomancy - which mused on employing cords, loops, and beaded 'circlets' as portable means of demarking ritual space and empowering magical operations carried out inside that space - I have been recommending and making these talismans for clients and colleagues more frequently. Many folks have asked for notes, suggestions, or advice on how to use such ritual tools more effectively, so it seemed high time to advance some fundamental practices, to parade a skeleton crew of brief sketches and recommendations from my own practices with these planetary circlets that have proved useful. I've started from simple notions and followed them up with a few proposals for enriching and complicating those elementary mechanics.
Shaping A Circlet
I use circlets in my planetary magic for a couple of reasons. The most obvious employ the sympathetic morphology of the circle. The loop traces and reiterates the orbital movement and course of these heavenly bodies. The appeal to "the orbit and motion" of planets is a common feature of many of the prayers I use, and an obvious enervation of their virtues stirred by sympathetic linking to their actions. We remind the planet and its spirits 'you work because you move, and you move because you work'. A positive feedback cycle is looped. The circle is also evocative of planetary spheres: both their literal astronomical shape and the understanding of their celestial domains or layers to the cosmos-onion beyond the sublunary realms. To quote Ginsberg, it seems an 'ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night' is reified in the use of a circular planetary talisman.
Lest this begin to sound too idealistic - in either the general naive or strictly Platonic senses - I should also state that the other crucial feature of my circlets are four corner-points. These frame the circlet as also a potential cross. To call quarters and trace the circle as the magical reach of one's grasp - as a seat of power, a place of protection, or an epicenter of a crucible - is an old old magic. By "squaring the circle", by laying out that which represents the heavenly endless of pure planetary sphere and virtue (and abstraction) as a crux upon the earth, as a crossroads, we may ground that virtue in tangible terms. The crossed circle is an X that marks the spot, a glyph of Malkuth, and indeed the enfolded globe and crux of majesty and Venus, further offering us opportunities to explore the mysteries of creation, manifestation, craft, and Love. In the simple ritual gesture of laying out the circlet by its corners we reiterate and honour this awakening of planetary virtues into the physical world and into our work. This is the same principle at work in astrological sigil casting, in enmattering the empyrean, in the harvesting of the fruits of the stars, in the Moon pulled down into the still waters of receptive bowls. By these reasonings, I find it especially apt to incant specific planetary petitions and general prayers for success when squaring the circlet.
These are also the reasons I recommend these talismans to be made as loops with four corner-points, either in beads or knots. I find beads, especially stones ruled by the planet in question, to be especially effective. I recommend constructing your circlets on the appropriate planetary days and in the apt planetary hours of course. Once physically constructed they can be consecrated by a range of methods: asperged, fumigated, exorcised, oiled, and blessed to dedicate them further to their patron planet and thus yield themselves better storehouses and beacons of those starry potencies vivifying those virtues embedded in natural materials. Owing to the especially earthy, worldly emphasis of my geomantic practices I can also recommend burying them in soils gathered from appropriate planetary locations: graveyard dirts for Saturnine circlets, earth from public gardens for Venusian circlets, and so on. Such lists of astrological correspondences of place can be found in many astrological handbooks, such as William Lilly's Christian Astrology, which I made available here.
When I make my circlets I also ensure the various materia of these circlets - thread and smaller beads in appropriate planetary colours - are prepared for use through these consecrations. I cleanse myself with spiritual baths, asperge and fumigate my ritual space, call to my patrons, empower the ingredients, construct and then charge the circlets on their planetary altars, often leaving them on top of the relevant kamea. I may even burn candles on the mother-bottles of the planetary oils which I use to dress the newly born talismans to further empower the oil from mother to daughter.
A Portable Altar-space
My previous blogpost on these circlet talismans emphasised my most common use of them: marking a space within which to divine. The idea of this is incredibly simple. Being empowered to lend planetary virtue to the operation at hand, one can employ a circlet of the planetary ruler of the day, or of the planet who governs the matter being divined upon. A Lunary circlet would be well-disposed for divination inquiring about the nature and meaning of a dream, for instance; or indeed for any works of divination on a Monday. This approach was developed from my geomantic divination practice, in which the planetary Ruler is appealed to before any reading can be performed. Again, for more on this I recommend at least the first part of my Circling Ways in Geomancy post.
The key for this kind of work is the "pre-loaded" empowerment of the circlet. One might therefore choose to fumigate or oil one's circlets in appropriate planetary materia before any or even every divination session, although I generally find feeding the circlets once a month is sufficient, assuming one keeps them "charging" on planetary kamea or wrapped in prepared fabrics with dried herbs, dirts, and powders.
Lighting the Way
Perhaps the most foundational operation I can think to work a circlet involves candle and prayer. I consider this primarily an operation for the magician to receive or align with planetary virtue. The use of lamps and, later, candles to stand as a ritual instantiation of the light of a wandering star is itself an ancient practice, I claim no great invention of this technique. It can serve as a potent addition to devotional recitation of planetary prayers and offertory fumigations.
When one requires a boost of a particular planetary virtue - Saturn's cold boundary-setting to ensure you are more punctual, Mars' hot bold edge of competitive energy to emerge victorious in some form of conflict - you may set out the relevant planetary circlet, present a candle to the four corner-points of the circlet as one would to the four cardinal directions, and burn the candle in the centre of this demarcated ritual space.
The candle might be prepared through any usual means of further aligning it to the planet one is courting - dressed in an oil infused with materia ruled by that planet, carved with the glyphs and various characters of spirits who partake of that planet's forms and forces. Mihai Vârtejaru's Studies in Magic blog is a treasure house of grimoiric material on planetary characters one might use for instance, and he has handily compiled many of these sets of seals into downloadable pdfs. Beyond ways the candle itself is prepared, one might burn it atop a number square about which the circlet is laid.
At the risk of sounding like I am about to attempt to flog you penis pills, there is "one neat trick" for working circlets in this manner I would like to highlight. Looping the circlet in thirds maintains the relative cardinal directionality of the four corner-points. This yoking of Four and Three is, I find, philosophically potent and presents a variety of options for further prayer, reflection, and magical utility. Christian magicians might certainly honour the Trinity with, by, and through this looping; sorcerers inspired by Renaissance practices can certainly consider the triple layers of the universe - the elemental, celestial and supercelestial realms - mirrored in the very structure of Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy; just as more Hellenically-inclined magicians might call for the effects of the operation to manifest across their Three Worlds of Heaven, Earth, and Ocean. Sets of any number of parts can be employed to address every option, every path, every eventuality; from the Four Elements, to operations calling upon all Seven classical Planets. Triplicities, triptychs, and trinities are certainly no exception.
Circlets can also be utilised to empower and themselves consecrate magical objects and materia, to bestow planetary virtues upon a container spell such as a charm bag, astrological sigil (more often a metal or wax medallion impressed with particular astrological characters than the modern DIY homebrew sigils popularised by Austin Osman Spare and later by chaos magicians), or even a new incense blend or herbal bath mix.
This can be done by simply laying out the circlet in the various manners addressed above - complete with planetary prayers - and presenting the object to the four corner-points. This works especially well with items that need to infuse, such as freshly constructed oils or steeping herbal baths and waters. For charging objects like charm-bags or other tools, the circlet might also house the waterbowl or pot by which one asperges and the censer for fumigating the object: the circlet demarcating a ritual space whereby blessing, consecration and empowerment may occur, running an astral current of the planet around and about the operation. Again, an ennobling cycle (you know, the opposite of a vicious cycle) might be created by empowering the objects used to empower one's tools and materials.
My planetary magic is heavily informed by geomancy. By the understanding of this oracle, each planet rules two geomantic figures, which I often frame as the hands of the planet reaching down into the 'elementated' world, or perhaps better yet as the feet upon which the planet stands and moves across the face of that world. For instance, Jupiter's cornucopious Horn of Plenty distributes Gain (the geomantic figure of Acquisitio) on the one hand, and dispenses thoroughly jovial Joy (Laetitia) with the other. Each geomantic figure offers a particular expression of a planet's power in the world in a (once more for those at the back) grounded and worldly manner.
Just as the circlets can align and draw planetary virtue (indeed because they can do this) we can also use these talismans to direct planetary virtue: to put it bluntly, to launch spells. One form I find particularly effective is the use of tools and signs of divination as image magic. This might be as straightforward as empowering a particular Tarot card to act as a amulet. For example, one might charge an Empress card (as one would a charm bag or bath) with a Venusian circlet and then carry in one's breast pocket, close to one's heart, to bring Venus' blessings and protection; say if one were attempting to charm an audience or attract a certain kind of attention. But it might also involve setting a geomantic figure out in some form to attract that set of virtues and/or launch them into the world.
So within the field of one's Jupiterian circlet one might set out six candles in the shape of the geomantic figure of Acquisitio, a Fiery figure, in order to draw some kind of gain - money, opportunities, customers, or even knowledge or experience. These candles might be marked with the sigils of this figure, dressed in a Jupiter oil, and surrounded by Jupiterian materia, such as mint leaves and dirts from banks and lawcourts. This should be done in a Jupiterian hour, and perhaps done at an appropriate part of the dwelling, such as in front of the door to bring these Gains in. This is but one example of the use of the forms of the geomantic figures in spell-craft. Watery figures might be ensorcelled by arranging small bowls or cups; Airy figures by several charcoals burning incense in a figural pattern; Earthy figures through small piles or bundles of dirts and powders.
There is a lot to say about this approach to geomantic sorcery, from its occult philosophical foundations to particularities of expression and implementation, and from basic correspondences of plant and stone to multi-stage operations and further empowerments, but for now I hope you have a small taste of how a circlet can be used to begin your own experimentation into geomantic sorcery. For those who now feel they should learn some more about geomancy you can download the main early modern handbooks of the divination system here, or sign up to my Geomancy Foundation Course on this still-often-underappreciated oracle which begins in July (offered once more through those handsome chaps at Wolf & Goat), or you can purchase and download my new Geomancy 101 class-bundle...
I continue to tinker with and customise my planetary circlets, and will be continuing to sell them on my site. Don't hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com with any questions or custom design requests.
For now, I'll let Ms. Springfield play us out. Happy circling.
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
Dusty Springfield, Windmills of Your Mind