Where do these angels come from? In reviews of occult books, in questions on websites, and in forums people ask; What is magick? How does it work? Where do the angels come from? The questions may be brought about by casual curiosity, serious interest, or fear.
Few angels are named in The Bible, and many readers who are new to magick become concerned when they find that most angel names are derived from Kabbalistic documents, which were in turn influenced by ancient texts, and sources like The Book of Enoch. These sources are unfamiliar, and that can make them feel strange.
Other readers have little concern about such origins, perform the magick and get what they want. If you do the magick as written in my books, it works, unless you ask for the outrageous, but it is perhaps worth considering the recent developments in modern occultism, to show that some knowledge of origins can be valuable. You don’t need an entire history of magick to get what you want, but sometimes, you want more than the author’s reassurance that everything is valid.
In the seventies, semi-popular occultism exploded, with former secrets being shared in pamphlets and books. Some were wonderful, but others were less than spectacular. One that remains popular today, largely because it has been pirated so widely, is The Miracle of New Avatar Power by Geof Gray-Cobb, which contained (amongst other things) a ritual-closing method where you traced shapes with your fingers while saying the word DEE-HAY-THOOTH. The origin and meaning of this phrase was not explained in his book, so it was hotly debated for many decades, especially when online forums became popular, and the general consensus was that this was a Thelema-style call to the Egyptian god Thoth. This is absolutely incorrect.
When Gray-Cobb’s book was first available, I guarantee that just about every reader who came across it had no idea what the phrase DEE-HAY-THOOTH meant. Even today, you hear some wild explanations for its origins. The phrase has a quite ordinary origin, being created by a female author, not that long ago. During my ongoing research into magick I found that the phrase and the ritual from The Miracle of New Avatar Power appear to be based on workings from a book called The Armour of Light by Olive Pixley, originating from 1957. That’s right. It’s not ancient. It’s from 1957.
Pixley spelled it as DEAY-THU-TH. Close, but not identical. The phrase was ‘given’ to Pixley, as she puts it, with the implication from her writings being that it was obtained by vision, trance or some form of channeling, and it has no origin other than her personal experience. There is no dusty old book from centuries ago that we can point to and say it’s real because it was written down a long time ago. It was written down in 1957.
Pixley came to believe that DEAY-THU-TH was an Aramaic form of the name Jesus, although the evidence for this was sketchy at best. What is notable, however, is that Pixley’s magic word was channeled only to her and has no other source. It did not originate from an ancient document, or through word of mouth or from private occult documents. It came to her in a vision. This does not make it invalid, but that fact may come to a surprise to readers of The Miracle of New Avatar Power. They think they are using an ancient magickal word from Egypt!
Pixley’s ritual method that went with the word included a process whereby the syllables were spoken while visualizing a blue triangle being drawn behind the head, a blue chalice appearing above the head (filled with light), and a line of light descending through the body, culminating in a spiral that felt like a small pulse in the abdomen. The syllables were to be spoken with specific in-breaths and out-breaths, at varying volumes. These were quite specific instructions.
There is no doubt in my mind that the ritual in The Miracle of New Avatar Power was based on Pixley’s material, because it contains the same components: triangle, chalice shape and the line ending in a spiral, and a word that sounds very similar, but Gray-Cobb’s description is much more basic. It contains a tracing of the shapes with an extended arm, a change in pronunciation and an absence of other details. It looks like a rehash of what Pixley created.
For decades many lone occultists were using the slightly incorrect pronunciation of DEE-HAY-THOOTH (instead of DEAY-THU-TH), assuming they were calling on Thoth, when they were actually saying a word that the ritual-creator believed to be Jesus, even though it might not mean Jesus at all. This is quite a muddle.
What are we to make of this garbled history? My observation is that the DEE-HAY-THOOTH ritual from Gray-Cobb’s book has not been very effective for most occultists, and this may be because his version is so far removed from the Pixley original. As to whether her original works, even that is quite debatable, as it was not widely practiced, and because it originates from one person it may not translate well to being used by others.
A process that modern occultists take part in is the reprocessing and simplification of old rituals into forms that are still workable. While some may say Gray-Cobb was plagiarizing, I think it is fair to say that in this case he was trying to create something new based on what he had read and experienced. But I believe he had reworked Pixley’s material too far, and by providing absolutely no background material to readers, or showing where the word came from or what it meant, those readers were left in the dark as to the intent behind the ritual.
If he had said, ‘You are closing your ritual by saying Jesus, and empowering His name with these shapes,’ the readers would have at least known what they were dealing with. It would also help if the readers knew this magick did not originate, as many assumed, from ancient Egyptian texts, but from a woman in England who came up with the idea just a few decades ago.
I believe Gray-Cobb’s New Avatar Power book was an attempt at basic, practical magick, which I support, but the book was filled with strange mispronunciations, over-simplification and calls to some entities that were reckless and, in my opinion, potentially harmful. In the case of the DEE-HAY-THOOTH ritual, he may only have wasted readers’ time by providing something that did nothing. I do find it troubling, however, that he referred to this as an evocation, because the idea of evoking Jesus to appear before you sounds more than reckless. Perhaps he was using language loosely, or perhaps he never knew about the Jesus connection.
In exploring this, I am not insisting that Pixley’s work was without value, or that its reconstruction in the seventies by Gray-Cobb was completely worthless. That is for the users of the material to decide. The point of this small history is to show that when no sources are given, and no background information provided, it is easy for the operator of the magick to get confused ideas about the intention of the work. Calling on Thoth is very different to saying the name Jesus.
Perhaps this doesn’t matter at all, if it works, but I know that many readers were drawn to the Egyptian overtones they sensed in Miracles of New Avatar Power, without knowing they were using a modern form of Christian magick, along with some extremely distorted Greek and Hebrew.
Without some understanding, it can be difficult to work magick effectively. You do not need to know the entire history of magick, but it helps if you know what the ritual is actually for. This is the most important thing to know; it’s more important than origins or meanings of words, but sometimes writers present their material in a way that means you don’t know what it’s even for. After reading The Miracle of New Avatar Power I had no concept of what the DEE-HAY-THOOTH ritual was meant to do other than a promise that it could add some vague power to a ritual. That was too abstract for my liking.
This is why I endeavor to show how the magick can be used, because knowing what it’s for is as important as its origin.
Origins are important, even if only to the author. This story of Pixley and Gray-Cobb is meant to illustrate the difficulties that modern occultists have when it comes to supplying material to readers. We need to find a balance between knowledge and heavy-handedness, but should at least let know readers what the magick is for.
To provide another example, the ‘secret magick word’, MA-RA appeared in several texts during the last half century, most famously in a book published in 1985. It was said this lost word was known only to adepts and had been kept from the public, and could help you achieve many miraculous results. Perhaps it can. What exactly these results were meant to be was not made clear enough for me. Was it a good luck charm, or a way of calling on spirits, or something else?
I have seen countless references to this word, and many claims over the decades that it was being published for the first time ever, even though it has been widely circulated well beyond living memory. Al Manning’s book, Moon Lore and Moon Magic from 1980, covers the word MA-RA, and it appears in many other places, but there are too many to list here. With minimal research, you will find there are many references to this word from long before 1985.
Given the number of times this so-called ‘secret word’ appeared as an occult revelation, both privately through personal correspondence or in publications, it is possible that it is genuinely powerful. It is also possible that it was passed on so enthusiastically only because it was supposedly secret, not because of what it can actually do. Without knowing the origin of the word, it is impossible to know what it’s for.
You can, of course, take the risk and try chanting it, but without knowing its origin, who would want to do that? And this is one of those examples where I would say that, without knowing the source, we have entered the realm of guesswork and experimentation. I would not be inclined to chant MA-RA, until I knew what it meant and where it came from.
Although I believe a knowledge of origins is important, I am also aware that the opposite can be entirely true, which is an interesting and challenging paradox. You can use magick without knowing its source or meaning, and it may work. Sometimes people chant sounds that appear to be magick words, but they are actually the names of angels, and the results come about because the ritual process is clear enough for it to work. No additional knowledge is required. Strange, but true. I still believe, however, that knowing the magickal intent of a ritual is important.
You may know there is a word used throughout magick that some, such as Éliphas Lévi, have even proclaimed to be the most powerful word within all magick. The word is AGLA, often pronounced AGG-LAH or AH-GAH-LAH. When used in certain states of mind, or at specific times within a ritual, this word can have tremendous power, even if you have absolutely no idea what it means. It is an acronym for the words, Atah Gibor Le-olam Adonai, which are Hebrew words meaning, ‘You, O Lord, are mighty forever’. Despite the simplicity of the meaning, the word AGLA is extremely powerful, and this may be because it was constructed into an acronym for the purpose of magick. That is, some words are magickal because they were designed to invoke or attract magick. This is often what is meant by Words of Power.
Readers sometimes want to know what magick words mean and hope for a translation, but these magick words are often angelic names, divine names, or acronyms of other names and phrases, as with AGLA. Some can be translated, but most cannot be translated because they are names or constructions that go beyond language, and access other levels of power. It’s like asking for a translation of the number seventeen.
When writing my books, I do not explain the origin of every name and word, and this can create doubt. You may believe the names and words could have originated anywhere, and could mean anything. I am also aware that magick often works without full knowledge of the origins. This is why I offer pointers to the areas from which the magick was derived, without a full list of my methods and sources. It is fair to say that the background material for Angelic Sigils, Keys and Calls, if piled up, would be far taller than me. I am sure you don’t want to work your way through that. You want to use magick.
Each time you work with magick to fulfil a sincere need, you sense the true origins of magick. When results come, the gratitude you feel opens you up to new ways of seeing the world. Although it has taken many paragraphs to get here, this is the point I have been building up to. If you can find the will to perform magick, you will sense everything you need to know as your life with magick begins to grow, and the results you seek manifest in your reality.
– Ben Woodcroft