The Origins of Magick

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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16 comments

  1. HI Ben. Thanks for this excellent post and for revealing a hands-breadth of your experience, knowledge and research. Can you say more as to the power and uses and ways to actually use the name AGLA?

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    1. Thank you. AGLA is used almost as an Amen in many rituals, or as an opening. In context it can be very powerful, but it is too wide a subject to cover in a single post here, I’m afraid. You will see the word used in my forthcoming book on protection, which will be published late this year or early next year. If you read books other than mine I am sure you will see AGLA being used quite widely.

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  2. Hello Ben, first of all I want to give you my deepest gratitude for giving out to the public your book, for me it is the best book on angelic magick. I just want to drop some words about MA-RA, that word is a mystical vowel sound and you cannot found it’s origin if you just search it in books and manuscripts because it is only taught by secret mystery schools of mysticism. All that can be said about it, is that it is not an angel name but a mystical vowel sound which has more powers to it than given by Al Manning.
    By the way, when will your second book be coming out? So many are eagerly waiting for it. More power to you with much angelic blessings.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, I have come across the word being taught in various places, various schools and I’ve heard lots of different ideas about this one, but going into all that detail would have made a very long post too long, I think, so I opted to summarise my initial discomfort. Manning’s book was peculiar, especially in how the word was used, but it was the first time I saw a pre-1985 publication on the word which I why I mentioned that one. There’s actually quite a long list of places where it’s been public and of course in recent years it’s been spread online.

      Thank you so very much for saying my book is ‘the best book on angelic magick’. That is an exceptional compliment and one that makes me feel very restful and warm today.

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  3. Thank you! I love the way you explain things that you speak gently and not condescending.
    This post is particularly informative and enlightening and quite controversial since NAP is widely popular.

    We hope to read more from you and looking forward to your books.

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    1. Thank you very much. I never try to be controversial, and if people find NAP works, I can’t start a debate. I do think, however, the fact that it was one of the first books to be pirated widely (before Kindle piracy became the normal way of stealing magick) is the main reason that it’s had a renaissance. When there wasn’t much to read, it was available, so it was used. Now, I believe modern authors are providing updated alternatives of a higher quality, hopefully bringing better results. Thank you once more. Ben.

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  4. I recently bought your book on Angelic magic and I love it. It’s very clear and concise and I am starting to see some results already. I know you said you have a book on protection coming out, but do you have plans for any others? For example on demonic magick?

    I’m aware of the recent Gallery of Magick book on demons which is excellent, but wondered if this is an area you also work in? I would love to see a clear book like your Angel one on how to work with the demons of the Ars Theurgia. Gordon Winterfield of the GOM has said he has no plans to write any more books now, so just wondered if it might be something you have plans to do in the future. Many thanks.

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    1. Thank you very much. I am pleased to hear about your results. Other books are planned but nothing dealing with demonic magick. I have seen and experienced many kinds of magic and my interest is in the angelic for personal reasons, but also for what I see as practical reasons. Corwin Hargrove has a method for making the Ars Theurgia practical in his deception book, but the method is not elaborated upon. I have seen the kind of arrangement he uses before. It may be of interest, but the book is about deception, and appears only to cover a fraction of what might be possible. Thank you again for your comment on my book. – Ben

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      1. Thanks for your reply. Yes, I have Corwin Hargrove’s book on deception but he only gives instructions some of the Ars Theurgia demons, not all of them, which is a shame.
        Anyway, I look forward to reading your future books!

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  5. Thank you for this post. My magickal journey began with Geoff Grey-Cobb and has evolved as new materials become available. I own your book Angelic Sigils, Keys, and Calls and am in my third rereading of it to make sure I am completely familiar with your processes before I use it. I plan to begin this week. Once again, thank you for writing this post.

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    1. Thank you for buying the book Ruth, but thank you even more for reading it three times. I try to make the writing as clear as possible, but I am a great believer in reading well and feeling confident. There is no requirement for perfection, only sincerity, but reading well is the best possible way to start. – Ben

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  6. Ben, when you call on an angel or archangel, such as Raziel, and you are looking for guidance about a particular person or situation, what is the most common way that the angel will give you the answer? Thanks for your help.

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    1. For me it is currently intuition – a feeling and nothing more. At other times I have felt sensations, seen omens, heard voices and so on. It is worth remaining open to all that is around you, to see if you can interpret what you perceive. Or you may wish to spend some time contemplating the problem or situation without trying to solve it, each day, and then let go, and see if that stimulates a though, a reaction or something else within. The answer is not simple because it manifests in so many ways for all people – you may hear a voice, you may get a feeling or thought. Often it can feel like this is just your own thought, which isn’t very spectacular, but if it came out of nowhere see how you feel about trusting it. Sometimes, even though you hear or sense an answer you don’t want to hear or sense, you can tell that it’s true. One more thing, the next time you are with that person, following the ritual, look into their eyes without seeking answers, and see if it stimulates any insight.

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  7. I’ve been fortunate to dig deep within the knowledge and experience of this ‘renaissance’ of powerful magick. Somehow I came across your book, I felt called to it. I had no idea such a treasure existed. I have worked extensively within the library of some great authors you’ve mentioned on your blog as reference, and I have to say that your book fits perfectly within my library. When I got the book, I sat and read it, fully, to the point of understanding. I felt very honored reading it, as if to call back to an older blog post of yours where you mentioned being fortunate and walking within your responsibility coming into contact with such a gift. What was apparent at first (which I did not expect) was that you combined quite a few books (angelic classes) into one book. Placing all of that information into one solid, readable ‘tome’ is such a blessing. I have worked with the 42 angels, the 72 angels, in a variety of ways (the most popular being the 11 day form), but reading what you’ve written made sense, and did not seem all that foreign after all.

    I felt a wave of peace and grace flow over me when I was reading, without exaggeration I can say that tears welled up in my eyes. Why? I guess I felt an overwhelming sense of being welcome to something very special.

    I thank you for your work, I will purchase another copy or two for the people I care about in my life who have an understanding and yearning for the same path.

    I do look forward to your future releases, there is no pressure, indeed, for what you’ve released in one book could easily cover a lifetime of situations on its own.

    I’m still young, just hit 30 years old a couple of months back, and I’ve been ‘working’ doing the best I can for a solid year. I look forward to making life better for others and myself, part of that is offering this thanks to you, and the angels, as well as the absolute.

    I know there seem to be folks who don’t understand, can’t bother applying themselves, but just know, there are those who are sincere who totally get the gem you’ve released upon the world.

    I suppose I have but one question, what is there to say about people, like myself for example, being so immersed and up and running about this type of magick? I have always yearned for a closeness with God, and knew of magick, but nothing out there truly clicked until being lead to this type of magick. I’d love to hear your perspective.

    Thanks for all you do.
    Best,
    -A

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  8. Hi Ben,I have been wondering about this question for a while and I feel this might be the appropriate post to ask it on.Is it so that it is more important that we, as practitioners, believe in the authentic origins of the magic we use rather than that the magic has authentic origins in the distant past?By this I mean is the most important factor that we have faith in the magic or that we use particular words or methods that in and of themselves are imbued with Power?If I was, for example, totally convinced that a person could do powerful magic and I learnt and copied his methods would the magic work even if the magic was made up and had no real antecedents?Is the key to believe in magic or to trust in methodologies?Could we in fact simplify magic to desire, decision and result?I hope you understand my question, I’m trying to find the magic behind or beyond the method.Is the seperation between us and our magic an illusion?

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