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The man who writes books on a Thelema that no beast shall divine. Founding member of Ordo Astri, Thelemic Magical Collegium. Member of Ordo Typhonis since 2000 e.v. More articles and essays are posted at https://ordoastri.org/ and https://tantrika.co.uk/

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Grimoire of Armadel Decoded

The Golden Dawn founder SL MacGregor Mathers first translated the Armadel manuscript held at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris from French and Latin. The work was hidden away for years in the Gerald Yorke collection, and has received little or no serious attention since it was first published in 1980. It has, though, received scholastic criticism, as lacking authenticity. In the introduction to the 1995 Weiser edition the work is written off as practically worthless, possessing neither literary merit nor magical value. A deeper investigation of The Grimoire of Armadel is now long overdue, for magical virtue is an elusive stone.

Operation of the Uriel Seraphim (Magically Restored)

Operation of the Ureil Seraphim from the Armadel, magically restored (Oliver St. John)

The name Armadel is obscure, but may be construed as a conjunction of ORH (a’arah), ‘to reveal’ and DLI (dali), ‘a vessel or urn’. The urn is the symbol of Aquarius and forms the name of Nuit, the starry goddess. We might expect a revelation concerning the celestial or heavenly abode.
[This essay is from Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]
There is a difference to be discerned between literary merit and magical value—which must be entirely subjective. The garbled presentation may have been deliberate, to protect the work from the profane. Or it might be the whole thing was indeed faked up, as suggested in the aforesaid introduction to the most recent edition of the book. If it was, then the unique content, arguably more useful than that of grimoires favoured for their ‘authenticity’, remains something of a puzzle. While the relationship between the spirits and the dubious Christianised biblical texts is hard to discern, that does not mean it is entirely absent. This work, which looks in places as though the pages were thrown up into the air and collected together haphazard, can indicate more, viewed in a certain way, than an orderly tabulation of powers, potencies, thrones and dominions. The Latin is undoubtedly bad, provoking an amusing storm of protest from Mathers by way of his annotations: “vile”, “mutilated”, “obscure”, and “without the slightest punctuation”. Yet some of the seals and sigils in the Armadel are beautiful, having artistic merit as well as magical value. The grimoire itself is not like any other in that its aim appears to be obtaining direct knowledge from angels involved in the cosmic war in heaven, which is said to have preceded the fall of Adam. The entire Operation of the Uriel Seraphim concerns the sphere of Daath, ‘Knowledge’—an aspect of the Qabalah that has not been explored deeply until modern times.

Grimoire of Armadel: Uriel Seraphim

The Grimoire of Armadel is worth studying for the Uriel Seraphim banner alone. The figure was hidden away at the back of the source manuscript as though it were an afterthought or appendage. Yet it is the key to the real operation, which is much obscured by the greater part of the grimoire’s content. The invocation—or possibly evocation—of Uriel is actually conveyed on pp. 27 of the Weiser edition. The section is headed, ‘In the Fields of Babylon’. There appears here a seal of the Archangel Uriel that looks like a fabrication and could well be a blind. If the content is transferred to the Operation of the Uriel Seraphim (the book’s frontispiece), the picture begins to come into focus. Curiously, there is an instruction to invoke Uriel before daybreak on a Wednesday, which would place Uriel in the class of spirits of Mercury. Uriel is not usually classed as a planetary spirit. He is traditionally understood to be a mighty angel, no less than Keeper of the Gates of Eden. However, the powers listed here conform to those of Mercury: prophecy, natural sciences and medicine. Indeed, the whole occult theme of the grimoire concerns Gemini and its ruler, Mercury.

The Grimoire of Armadel concerns duality and the discriminating path of the intellect, which comes under the auspices of the letter and Qabalistic 17th path of Zain (ZIN). Zain is ‘a sword’, and Uriel is said to wield the flaming sword that keeps the way of the Garden of Eden (from penetration by profane humans). The flaming sword itself is of the mysterious nature of the sphere of Daath, the non-sephira that acts as an ultimate ring-pass-not for human reason and intellect. As according to the book of Genesis, 3: 24:
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
In producing the reconstructed drawing of the Operation of the Uriel Seraphim (above) we have not sought to meddle with the form and design. It serves equally well as a banner to be physically constructed, a temple floor-plan or a triangle of evocation. The pennants on both sides of the triangle symbolise Chokmah and Binah, while the double circle of Uriel between them is Daath, which is traditionally viewed as the magical child of these two. We have no traffic with the biblical demiurge so have placed in the banner of Chokmah the Gnostic deity of the sphere. IAO adds to 81, or 9 x 9 (if spelled with omicron), and so the arrangement of nine squares confirms this. For the pennant of Binah we have substituted the name ALHI arranged in a Pythagorean tetractys. The total numeration of this tetractys is 105, the Mystic Number of the 14th path by which the Word (i.e., Logos) is made intelligible. The ten letters may symbolise the whole Tree of Life in Binah, or creative world of Briah. The total numeration of the pennants is therefore 186, which when divided by its factor, yields 93. Love is the law, love under will.

The two side-pennants may further be considered as the wings of Hadit, and the circle of Uriel as the globèd priest. According to Hadit in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, II: 7,
I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle.
In the centre of the circle of Uriel stands the figure of an angel (or devil), which is also the figure of the exorcist in the midst of the exorcism, as it is put in the Golden Dawn ‘Z’ formula of evocation.
I am the exorcist in the midst of the exorcism. Take on therefore manifestation before me, and be without fear. For I am the one in whom fear is not.
The figure in the centre of the circle, or magical mirror of Daath, is one of utmost curiosity. It is formed from an equal cross, stands upon two feet, and is horned; it bears an upright wand in the left hand and a reversed wand in the right. In its heart is a Maltese cross, and the word ‘ZIN’ is inscribed at each quarter to reflect the flaming sword of Genesis, as turning every way.

Detail from the Triangle of Art

Detail from Uriel Seraphim, Armadel: Magically Restored (Oliver St. John)

The image of a god holding an upraised wand, fire, serpent or branch in one hand, and the same symbol inverted in the other, is a preeval symbol of Hecate and other goddesses; that is to say, the symbol was used before the latter were demonised or otherwise relegated to inferior status. The same dual symbol is glyphed in many of the traditional Tarot decks depicting monstrous forms of the Devil. The cultural distortion that is the accretion of the ages is hinted at by Eliphaz Levi in the title he gives his drawing of Baphomet for the 15th Atu, ‘Hermetic Light’.[1] The operation of this occult light is dual, hence, diabolos or ‘double’. Likewise the alchemical term, which Levi added to his Tarot trump: Solve et Coagula. The name of URIEL adds to 247 (VRIAL).

247 ÷ 13 = 19 The number of Eve and of the Sun.


247 = 13 x 19 The priestess of the path of the lion; the woman rayed by the sun; the moon of the lion (or nocturnal angel of Leo).

By Qabalistic Gematria, the number 247 is that of RMZ, the outer level of the mysteries. Through the metathesis of ZMR, ‘singer; song or melody; one who chants a magical invocation’, we may intuit that the following of the symbol back to its source allows one to grasp the wisdom branch. Such a golden thread is the means of understanding the labyrinth or puzzle of the mysteries. It is the means of union with the source of all knowledge behind the veil of appearances.

By metathesis two more words are formed, ZRM, ‘overwhelm; a flood’ and RZM, ‘wink, hint or insinuate’. RZM is from the root RZI, ‘secret; mysterious’. The name of Ratziel, the Archangel in Chokmah of Briah, is formed thus, meaning ‘mystery of the house of God’. The correspondence to Chokmah and Binah is with the left and right eyes. A secret may be known in the wink or twinkle of an eye, whether from a symbol (RMZ), a song, or the singer of the song (ZMR). According to The Grimoire of Armadel (pp. 27, Weiser),
In this Sigil there be taught the method of understanding what and of what kind were those twin Souls (namely) Henoch.
The comment from Mathers reads, “It is noteworthy what is here said concerning the dual nature of Enoch!” Nonetheless, ‘Enoch’ means literally, ‘Initiation’. The grimoire goes on to expound the dual nature of Sophia and Logos, or Chokmah and Binah.
The faculties of the Mind and Understanding are purified, and these also in such a manner that they may be exalted from the lowest degree unto that which is most perfect of all. By the which composition also there can be a transmission made of the participating Power or that power of communication of the comprehension of Spirit.
The nature of the soul is dual, according to ancient Egyptian lore. When the name Enoch (ChNK) is considered as the verb, ‘to initiate’, the meaning of the above description becomes clear. The soul must undergo division before ascent of the planes can take place. This is evident by even a cursory glance at the Tree of Life. The Hermetic Caduceus may be placed upon the Tree to embrace all, though the twin serpents reach only to Daath. It is matter of interest that John Dee was guided by Uriel.[2] As a result, Dee obtained a significant proportion of the work that has come to be known as Enochian Magick.[3]

Grimoire of Armadel: Fields of Babylon

The title of the section that describes the Operation of the Uriel Seraphim, ‘In the Fields of Babylon’, refers to the fictitious Old Testament account of captivity and exile in the ancient Mesopotamian city. The assistance of the great angel Uriel described here may be construed as a metaphor for the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel—the soul, through initiation, achieves liberation from the prison of time and matter.

In ancient times, cities and gods were one and the same. The Babylonian goddess Ishtar, known as Babalon in the Thelemic tradition, is identical (through attributes) with the Egyptian Sekhet or Hathoor. The fields referred to in the title thus become transposed from a place of servitude to the ancient Egyptian reed fields or heavenly paradise called Sekhet A’aru. Unlike the land of the dead, which is placed in the west (sunset), eternity is placed in the east (sunrise) and requires passing through 21 gates or pylons. There are 21 major arcana in the Tarot, where zero encompasses all.

One other singular detail of The Grimoire of Armadel is its formulation of the first nine letters and paths of the Tree of Life as the names of spirits. There is an entry each for Alepta, Betel, Gimela, Dalete, Hethatia, Vau-ael, Zainael, Hetael, and Tetahatia—though these are not given in the correct order in the Grimoire. The first nine numbers produce the Mystic Number of Yesod, which is also a number of Saturn: ∑ (1–9) = 45. The image of Yesod is the magical mirror, and Daath may in some ways be viewed as a higher octave of the Moon. The first nine paths form the ‘housing’ of Daath, and five of these reach down from the Abyss to the world of the Ruach (mind-spirit) below it. The number 9 is also that of teth, the Serpent of Knowledge and letter of the 19th path of the Occult Intelligence.

Grimoire of Armadel: Conclusion

If the purpose of The Grimoire of Armadel is considered to be that of initiation and of obtaining knowledge for the perfection of wisdom and understanding—as opposed to the presentation of a magical cookbook of recipes for the gratification of purely egotistical whims—then it may reward the efforts of the theurgist dedicated to learning its secrets.


1. Eliphaz Levi, Transcendental Magic.
2. John Dee, 1527–1609. Dee was a scientist, magician and alchemist, and personal astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I.
3. The source MS is the Mysterium, in three parts (ref. Clay Holden Project).

© Oliver St. John 2017, 2019
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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