A Dark Song (2017)


The ending is corny and I don’t get the use of the Reiki symbols (I can make up a reason for their use in a particular scene of the movie, but that would just be me reading into it).  Otherwise, I have never seen a more realistic film about a complex magical ritual.  Amazing, actually.

Af, the Angel of Punishment

Misery and suffering traditionally comes from hands of angels as often as from those of devils. Consider, then, what the essential difference between them may be.

Angel of anger and destruction and one of the ANGELS OF PUNISHMENT. Af means “anger.” Af governs the death of mortals. He is 500 PARASANGS tall and is made of chains of black and red fire, and he lives in the seventh HEAVEN .  In the Zohar, Af is one of three angels in Gehenna (HELL)—along with Mashit and Hemah—who punish those who sin by idolatry, incest, and murder. Af helps Hemah to swallow MOSES .

— Rosemary Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Angels

In the last heaven Moses saw two angels, each five hundred parasangs in height, forged out of chains of black fire and red fire, the angels Af, “Anger,” and Hemah, “Wrath,” whom God created at the beginning of the world, to execute His will. Moses was disquieted when he looked upon them, but Metatron embraced him, and said, “Moses, Moses, thou favorite of God, fear not, and be not terrified,” and Moses became calm. There was another angel in the seventh heaven, different in appearance from all the others, and of frightful mien. His height was so great, it would have taken five hundred years to cover a distance equal to it, and from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was studded with glaring eyes. “This one,” said Metatron, addressing Moses, “is Samael, who takes the soul away from man.”

— The Ascension of Moses

Experiencing Khamael

In Practical Qabalah Magick, Rankine and d’Este describe Khamael as “one of the seven Archangels who stand in the presence of God, whose name means ‘he who sees God.‘’”  They note that he is a warrior angel, representing Divine Justice and that he is, among other things, dedicated to helping people find holiness.  I have no cause to doubt the accuracy of this description, seeing that this entity recently made its presence manifest in my ritual chamber again.

But let me back up.  I know: explanation is necessary.  One doesn’t come out and say, “An Archangel just appeared in my apartment, dog.”  Such are the statements that state mental health vacations are made of.  But, yeah, since part of this blog—actually most of it—is dedicated to relating the truth of my experience as a magician, I feel compelled to say exactly that: Khamael has appeared not once, but twice and today was the second time.  I only have the most tentative theory about why this is, but I will try to unpack it by way of narrative.  And maybe, if there are others out there reading this, who practice the Art of spiritual evocation and invocation and who have had similar visitations, my experience will resonate with theirs.

Magicians who summon entities to visible appearance are rarely surprised by spontaneous manifestations.  While it is possible to discourage spirits from showing up unbidden in the ritual chamber (or worse, at the foot of one’s bed) by setting wards, washing the walls with mate tea or Chinese Wash, burning sage or camphor, setting out dishes of salt, or maintaining protective servitors, something gets through now and then.

Spirits don’t have to enter through the local astral image of physical structures.  They can use the practitioner’s own mind as a doorway.  Consider: you’ve slathered the walls of your apartment with Chinese Wash and burned a bushel of sage in every room.  Your living space now carries the overpowering smell of smoky lemongrass  and is locked down tighter than a virgin on prom night.  So that’s swell.  But you just finished reading Jake Stratton-Kent’s True Grimoire and the name Scirlin keeps echoing through your mind.  It sticks there like an earworm or a particularly sonorous phrase from a foreign language.  In fact, you repeat the name enough that you have a vision of the spirit late that night or a dream about him.  He didn’t enter your sphere of sensation through the washed and warded mirror above your altar.  He didn’t come through a window or that space in the floorboards of the mud room.  He entered through conduit of conscious attention you formed by focusing on him.

It happens—especially when you’ve focused so much of your will, intention, and awareness over the years on making it happen.  So the experienced evoker doesn’t get upset when something less than pleasant is standing in the half-darkness of the adjacent room.  He banishes whatever it is if it’s bugging him.  But he knows that these manifestations are a fact of life.  Spirits aren’t physical.  And, though they often make use of physical openings (because those openings semantically and energetically represent the concept of ingress), they can ride a current of thought as easily as a moonbeam.

But one rarely has the pleasure of an angelic visitation.  My theory is that angels—being essentially static, complete, beyond the exigencies of ego-fueled desire—don’t need to manifest and be recognized by mortals.  Demons, intelligences, spirits, and even some gods need the power of mortal attention in order to live, to have definition, to continue to exist in delimited, tangible forms.  But angels derive their source of being from the static oneness of the whole.  I believe they are akin to emphases—they are aspects of IAO (the All, God in the most abstract, de-personified sense).

As such, angels want and need very little from humans.  Rather, these celestial entities go about the business of maintaining the stasis of all things.  They are magicians whose single working amounts to perpetually expressing the way things are, the Dao, the Way of Heaven.  And so, I was shocked several weeks ago when, while studying the Mathers translation of The Grimoire of Armadel, I felt a deep pressure in the room and heard a voice say, “Khamael.”

At the time, I dismissed it as an affect produced by intensely reading the grimoire (which, not surprisingly, has an entry for this Archangel under the name, Camael).  Nevertheless, I could see the K-spelling of the name in my mind.  So, as I do whenever anything like this happens, I wrote it down in the margin of my magical notebook and put it out of my mind.

I wouldn’t have considered the experience again if not for the fact that today, after my morning rituals, I heard the same booming voice, saw the word in fiery letters written in my mind, and then saw something else, something amazing.  Above my permanent ritual altar, the smoke from the musk incense I was burning collected in a small cloud about the size of a dinner plate.  I watched it coalesce and then, as if I were staring through a portal or a small circular aperture, an image appeared and grew until that was all I could see.

Before me, stood a knight in soot-blackened plate armor.  The figure wore heavy black gloves and rested it’s hands on a gray-bladed scimitar held point down touching the earth.  From the grooves and openings in the armor, a thick languid smoke rolled up and around.  It was hard to make out if there was a figure inside the armor or if the smoke itself was the body.  I heard the name again and would have opened my mouth to speak, but the image was gone.

This obviously inspired me to do some research on the Archangel, who’s name had been vividly etched in my conscious mind, perhaps even more permanently and vividly than I felt comfortable admitting.  But I had to know more.  In my various reference books and on the internet, I discovered that Khamael is an angel of Mars, of fire and smoke, and is fierce.  He is said to command 12,000 lesser spirits.  Moreover, Armadel notes that “Camael giveth unto you a perfect knowledge of your Genius, who will have the power to grant you everything that you shall demand of him.”

Perhaps this is another step in my ongoing work with my Agathodaimon.  But I can’t be sure at this point.  All I know is that this being is interested in me and has now appeared more than once.  I will write again about him if and when I learn more.